King spent decades in forced exile before winning right to return to his homeland.


King Michael the first of Romania reigned twice in the country, leading his people through the Second World War but spent most of his life in exile.

King Michael was born the son of Carol II of Romania but when the latter – as next in line to the throne – eloped with his mistress and renounced his rights to reign in December 1925 Michael was declared heir apparent. He became king at the end of 1925 on the death his grandfather King Ferdinand I. Michael was just six years old.

His father returned to Romania three years later and became king.
In 1940, the pro-Nazi government of Ion Antonescu came to power. Carroll II was considered anti-German and was forced to abdicate. At 18 years of age Michael was back on the throne but as a puppet monarch.

In 1944 he joined a number of pro-allied politicians and army officers in starting a coup against Antonescu. Although the country’s alliance with the Germans ended the coup sped the advance of the Red Army into Romania.

By 1947 the Russians had occupied Romania. Michael returned to the country – against the advice of Winston Churchill to announce his engagement to Princess Anne but the authorities forced him to abdicate at gunpoint. He married Anne a year later and began a long and happy life in exile.

The fall of communism changed nothing for the status of the Romanian crown with the post-communist governments also fearing a restoration of the monarchy.

In 1990 Michael tried to visit the country but was expelled by police. Two years later at Easter he was allowed to visit for three days when more than a million turned out to see him.

He said he had visited to get a clear answer to the question of reconciliation or not. His words fell on deaf ears and he had to wait a further three years for his passport to be restored along with several of his properties.

He was finally allowed too to live in Romania and with his family of five daughters split his time between Romania and Switzerland.
In 2012 he was voted the country’s favourite personality but there have been no moves to restore the monarchy. His eldest daughter Margaret, the Crown Princess said last month “Romanians look to the Crown with respect, admiration and hope”.