Overview of Romanian Monarchy Restoration

There are significant calls to restore the monarchy in Romania. It is not clear whether they mean a restoration of a symbolic monarchy, as in the UK, or something more significant, like restoring political power to the monarchy itself. Some news articles certainly seem to be implying that the latter is a real possibility, not just the former.

The former monarch of Romania, Michael I, was forced to abdicate in 1947 by a government controlled by the Communist Party of Romania. Today, Michael I (also called Mihai I) is 92 years old. His heir, declared in a special statement in 2007, is his daughter Princess Margareta, who is 62 years old.

An article on Euractiv states:

From a constitutional point of view, Romania is a republic. But in the Republic of Romania there is a king, as well as a royal family and a Royal House. The king spends time in between Aubonne, a small Swiss village on Lake Léman, and Săvârşin Castle, in Western Romania  – a castle the royal family bought in 1943.

The Romanian Royal House family also enjoys the privacy of Elisabeta Palace, a beautiful property located in the green area north of Bucharest. There, on the first floor, King Michael was forced to abdicate on 30 December 1947, as he was blackmailed by Communists who threatened to kill the few hundreds of students they had arrested during the protests if he had not complied.

The royal family is involved in the civic and political life of the country:

But the Romanian royal family interests are far from just patrimonial propriety. The Royal House has engaged in intense activity at both civic and political level.

Still, so far, the Royal House has only take baby steps, preferring to stay, as a full-fledged institution, discreet and away from today’s noisy political confrontations.

The activities of the royal family generally include visits abroad and hosting royal families visiting Bucharest. But between 2001 and 2007, King Michael and his family members toured  many countries to promote Romania’s accession to NATO and the European Union.

At home, the royals hold conferences, meet representatives of the local government or from business persons, artists and athletes. They hand out medals, orders, and give their royal support to cultural projects.

More:

Nicholas is in the line of succession, after the King’s daughters. However, his return might change this order of things, especially because Romania has always been dominated by political machismo.

So far, the only male figure of the family except, of course, the king, was represented by the husband of his eldest daughter, Princess Margaret – a Romanian actor who now plays a completely different role, but who is not popular amongst all the monarchy’s fans.

Are all these efforts discrete preparations for a bright future of the Royal House of Romania? Or, in a republic, are they just part of the royal coquetry?

Opinion polls show that despite the existence of a compact group of monarchy enthusiasts, most Romanians would vote in favour of the republic. However, Republican leaders themselves seem to be working, albeit not consciously, in the interests of monarchy.

Here is where it seems the article is talking about the possibility of real monarchy as opposed to a republic, or at least a monarchy with an unusual amount of direct power and influence compared to others in modern Europe. Does this seem like wishful thinking on my part? Maybe, but it wouldn’t be shocking if the monarchy were restored in Romania, along with political power. It would still be a constitutional monarchy with a parliament, but it could happen. Note the examples of Liechtenstein and Monaco. A modern monarchy participating in governance, if not directing it, is already a reality in Liechtenstein. Late last year 1,000 people marched in the streets for the restoration of the monarchy in Romania.

More from the article:

Recent years have brought a sharp drop in the public confidence of the institutions of the democratic state, with sinking support for the parliament, president and political parties.

Meanwhile, according to a barometer of opinion published at the end of last year, King Michael ranked first in public confidence. This was happening in 2011, at the same time with the king’s 90th birthday. What is more, on this occasion, an initiative group managed to convince the Romanian Parliament to invite the former sovereign to make a speech on its premises, during a plenary.

The moment of the speech produced a strong wave of emotion amongst the members of society and propelled King Michael to centre stage, at a time of extreme dissatisfaction with the political, social and economic development of the country.

Hmm. Again, the tone of the article makes it seem like it is referring to enthusiasm for Micah I as a real leader, not merely a figurehead. According to a poll in Romania, Micah I has a confidence score of 36.6% whereas the President of Romania only has a confidence score of 8.6%. These numbers make it seem likely that if the monarchy were restored in Romania, the king would have real political power and not be merely symbolic.

Restoration of true monarchical power, if it ever does happen in Europe, is likely to occur in little steps. Romania, somewhat removed from the influence of core EU states by virtue of its position on the periphery, is more genuinely enthusiastic about monarchy than most other EU states, and would be a prime location for a true Restoration.

Here is a video from 2011, when Mihai I addressed a joint session of both Romanian houses of Parliament and received a standing ovation.