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King Mihai I dies, aged 96, at his home in Switzerland


King Mihai I died on December 5, 2017, aged 96, at his home in Switzerland, as announced by the Royal House.

King Mihai I (1927-1930; 1940-1947) was born on October 25, 1921, in Sinaia, as the son of King Carol II (1930-1940) and Queen Elena, Princess of Greece.

After the death of King Ferdinand (born August 12/24 1865 — dead July 20, 1927), his grandfather, given that Prince Carol, who was supposed to accede to the throne, had officially given up succession, King Mihai I became the King of Romania, aged no more than 6. 

Given his age, the prerogatives of the royal dignity have been taken over in 1927 by a Regency (1927-1930), made of his uncle, Prince Nicolae, Patriarch Miron Cristea and Gheorghe Buzdugan, the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, according to the Website of the royal family: www.familiaregala.ro.

Despite his commitment to never claim the throne again, Carol II returned to the country in 1930 and he proclaimed himself King. In exchange, Mihai received on June 8, 1930 the title of Great Voivode of Alba Iulia. In the same month, Queen Mother Elena took the road of the exile, with King Mihai remaining in his father's care. He was educated in a school that King Carol II organized at the Palace, alongside children coming from the entire country and belonging to all social categories. Later on, he practiced various sports and began his military training, at the age of 14 becoming NGO in the Romanian Army, as according to the abovementioned Website.

After a controversial reign, Carol II was forced to transfer most of his power prerogatives, on September 5, 1940, into the hands of General Ion Antonescu, and on September 6, 1940 he transmitted the royal prerogatives to his son, Mihai, who returned thus to the throne, according to the volume "The History of Romania in Dates" (2003).

Starting with 1943, the King gathered around him many personalities who formed an opposition against General Antonescu, on the background of the changes seen on the fronts of the World War II.

On August 23, 1944, starting at 22:12, the radio stations aired the Country Proclamation, through which King Mihai announced "our exit from the alliance with the powers of the Axis and the immediate end of the war against the United Nations," according to the historical work "The History of Romanians under the Four Kings (1866-1947), volume 4 — Mihai I," by Ioan Scurtu. At the same time, it was announced that a new government of a national union was formed, with its main task to conclude the peace with the United Nations: "we are stopping the fight right now and any act of hostility against the Soviet Army, as well as the war against the UK and the United States."

After the end of the World War II, the Romanian monarch was awarded, in July 1945, the Pobeda (Victoria) order, which was one of the most important of the Soviet distinctions, "for his bravery and determination in changing Romania's political orientation through breaking away from Germany and becoming ally of the United Nations," according to the volume "The History of Romania in Dates" (2003).

After 1944, gradually, the King's responsibilities were reduced until they become only symbolical, as the result of Moscow's political strategy. In 1947, in the context of the military occupation by the Soviets and the removal from the Romanian political scene of the traditional political parties, PNT [the National Peasant Party] and PNL [the National Liberal Party], the monarchy became the last obstacle in the way of the subordination of the country to Moscow's interests. 

On December 30, 1947, the communist politicians forced King Mihai I to abdicate and leave the country, which he did in January 1948, together with his family. Soon afterwards, he made statements regarding his forced abdication. The reaction of the communist leadership came immediately: based on a decision of the Council of Ministers of May 22, 1948, the royal family was deprived of the Romanian citizenship and all its assets. 

Mihai I married Princess Ana de Bourbon Parma (b. September 18, 1923 — d. August 1, 2016), from the Danish royal family, on June 10, 1948, in Athens. In 1949 King Mihai I and Queen Ana moved to Lausanne and in 1950 to the UK, where they lived until 1956, when they moved to Switzerland, most precisely to Versoix, near Geneva. In 2004 they moved again to Aubonne, Switzerland. King Mihai supervised the activity of the Romanian National Committee, which was conceived as a Romanian government in exile. He remained in touch with the Romanian refugees abroad and sent messages to the country on New Year's Eve, through Free Europe radio station.

In April 1992, King Mihai, together with his family, celebrated for the first time after 44 years the Easter at the Putna Monastery and visited Bucharest, during a private visit. Moreover, on the occasion of the important Christian holidays and depending on his public engagements, King Mihai and Queen Ana participated in various events that took place at their Castle in Savarsin or the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest. 

On February 21, 1997, by the Government Decision no. 29, the Decision of the Council of Minister, of May 22, 1948 has been revoked and Mihai I became a Romanian citizen again.

During a private ceremony on December 30, 2007, King Mihai signed the new Dynastic Statute of the Royal Family of Romania, by which Princess Margareta became his dynastic successor and the next in line to the throne. 

Mihai I was a honorary member of the Romanian Academy (December 19, 2007) and he received the titles of Extraordinary Honoris Causa Professor and Senator ad Honorem of the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca (April 12, 2003), Doctor Honoris Causa of the Western University of Timisoara and Honorary Citizen of Timisoara (May 21, 2009), Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (USAMV) of Cluj-Napoca (October 7, 2009), the "Dr. Alexandru Safran" medal from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania (October 13, 2010), the distinction "The Freedom of the City of London" from the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, for having shortened the World War II "by at least six months" and saved thousands of lives (May 10, 2011), the title of Honorary Citizen of the Czech City Kromeriz, granted in recognition for his role in the World War II, in liberating several cities from the Nazi occupation (October 23, 2011).

On March 2, 2016, the Royal Council announced King Mihai's withdrawal from public life, after being diagnosed with leukemia and cancer and he suffered surgery, with the Royal House following to be represented in all its public actions by his daughter Margareta. "The Royal Council took note of His Majesty's health status, as he recently suffered a surgery. The diagnoses given by the medical team were: "metastatic epidermis carcinoma" and "chronic leukemia. His Majesty is getting a complex and tiring treatment, which does not allow him to appear before the public, so that, from now on, he will take some time off to recover," Andrew Popper, the head of His Majesty's House announced from Switzerland.

On November 6, 2017, the Royal House announced in a press release that King Mihai's health was deteriorating and that he is quickly becoming more weak, while adding that Crown Princess Margareta went back to Switzerland, while on November 8, 2017 the King was said to be "suffering" at his home in Switzerland, alongside Princess Margareta and Prince Radu. "Today, November 8, 2017, the great celebration of Saints Mihail and Gavril finds His Majesty King Mihai in deep suffering, at his home in Switzerland, where he is accompanied by His Royal Highnesses Crown Princess Margareta and Prince Radu. Moreover, at His Majesty's house there also were the employees of the Royal House who were brought to Switzerland and the nuns from the monasteries from Romania who are always by the King's side," reads a press release posted on the www.romaniaregala.ro Website. At the same time, the Royal House specified that on November 7, 2017, a representative of His Holiness Iosif — Metropolitan for Western and Eastern Europe, who came to Switzerland to give the king the Holy Communion.