One of the last survivors of World War II passes away at the age of 96. A king without a crown, but with intact dignity and love for Romania. This is my way to pay the respect to the memory of the most important Romanian of our times - an inspirational life story from a man we took for granted for too long.
These were the thoughts of a 5-year old boy who was just crowned King of Romania. It happened on July 20, 1927, after his grandfather King Ferdinand died. He was next in line, as father Carol II had abandoned his succession rights, focusing on love affairs and running away from Romania... A flourishing, wealthy country had a new leader - a kid who just wanted to play...
This abnormality lasted for three years, until Carol II was brought back on his throne. In the meantime, young Michael had to turn into an adult sooner than anyone of us. Under the wing of his mother Helen, he had to learn about politics, corruption, conflict of interests, behind-the-scene actions. Too early had he become a grown man...
September 6, 1940. Now 18, Michael becomes King again. This time as the successor of his father, who was considered too anti-German by the influential Prime Minister Ion Antonescu - one of the strongest ally of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Antonescu preferred someone more likely to play a formal role, like young Michael could.
For years, Romania fought hard in the war of others, and there was nothing young Michael could do about it... He just learned, and lived the oppressions of a war, and passively witnessed his country struggle.
Until this happened.
The most glorious moment in Michael's life, for which he earned the love of his country, the respect of the world!
August 23, 1944. The war was slowly coming to a conclusion. Despite the powerful involvement of the United States, despite the rise of the unconquered Soviet Union, there was still fight left in Hitler and his allies. Until this event undoubtedly changed the course of history...
In an unbelievably curageous act, on August 23, 1944, 22-year old Michael arrests the powerful prime minister. It was a beautifully staged plan that no one expected, but it proved to be a life saver for hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the whole world. This particular moment made the war end about 6 months earlier, as Hitler just lost his most reliable partner in Eastern Europe.
With a single brave act, young Michael had become an international hero. It is the reason why he was so respected, both in and out Romania - one action which gave him a well deserved place in history.
What next? Well, despite popular acclaim and worldwide recognition, Michael wasn't allowed to continue the wealth and glory for Romania brought by his ancestors. The country was too close to the Soviet Union. The influence of the communist movement was too strong for the isolated king.
United States and Great Britain were more interested in Greece than in Romania...
Instead of making Romania flourish again after the cruel war, Michael had to withstand heavy internal pressures from the rising communist party.
For three years, he tried to keep the monarchy alive against Russian interests. Despite his strong European connections though, the destiny of Romania had been sealed right after the end of the war.
On December 30, 1947, the new communist leaders cornered him and forced Michael to sign the abdication. In 4 days only, he had to leave the country. In 1948, he lost his Romanian citizenship as well. For almost 50 years, he had to run whereever he was welcomed, to move places, to stay far from his beloved home country.
An illustrious king who had to learn how to make a living. Rarely have we seen in history such a personality who had to work hard for him and his family...
His resume includes jobs such as test pilot or stock broker. For 6 years he has managed his own farm in UK, where he personally raised hens and geese. He has even suffered from unemployment when his jet company collapsed.
All while raising 5 daughters, taking care of his household. Having the right to visit any country in the world except one...
The former king has returned on Romanian soil in December 1990, just to be sent back home to Switzerland after a few hours. He had to wait two more years to be allowed to properly spend some time in his country, as the post-communism regime considered him too popular in Romania. Around one million people welcomed him in Bucharest on April 1992, and enthusiastically listened his speech from the balcony of his hotel. His rights were finally restored by 1997, when he was able to rightfully call himself Romanian again.
December 5, 2017 is the end of an era for Romania. An era which started in 1881, the most prolific period in Romania's history. Our country was a focal point in Europe for decades, thanks to the Hohenzollern family.
King Michael I is the last member of this family. He wasn't really allowed to follow the footsteps of his ancestors. But internationally, he played the most important role of them all.
He was the living proof that somewhere in the past, Romania was a monarchy. Now, this proof is gone, taking with him a legacy we should have cherished more. We took him for granted for so many years, and as always we forget to acknowledge our true values. Luckily he was respected everywhere he went in this world, and that's a good enough reason to be proud of this legacy...
With him living deep within his 90s, King Michael of Romania has created some kind of immortality aura around him. We perceived him as a parent figure who will be around forever, showing us what's right or wrong. His imposing voice will stay in our years, despite not always listened to and followed by those who could have done something with his expertise...
We, decent Romanians, were all raised knowing that somewhere in Switzerland lives an unparalleled royal figure that influenced the course of history.
We saw ourselves grow up, change our environment, adapt to modern times and technology.
One person always stayed the same though. Growing old as we all do, yet a constant presence in our lives: the king who impressed us everytime we heard him talk about past, present or future.
So many ups and downs, a life full of obstacles which eventually ends positively. So thank you, Your Majesty, for giving us reasons to be optimistic, to believe in the future of this country!
I am sure you will keep supporting Romania from where you are right now!
Photo source: Boston Herald
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