Celebrities in Switzerland: Michel Roumanie
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Roumanie, Michel (1921 - ) Romania / King / VD

The King of Rumania has lived in exile in Switzerland since 1956. Born in 1921, Michael I of Rumania is the son of Prince Carol. Upon the death of Ferdinand I in 1927, the crown logically should have gone to Prince Carol. But his open relationship with Jewish socialite, Hélène Lupescu, forced him into a golden exile in Paris. Ferdinand I thus made him renounce his rights to succession to the benefit of his legitimate son, which is how Michael I was proclaimed King of Rumania at the age of six. A Regency Council effectively assumed management of his affairs.

But this reign was short lived. The economic crisis brought Maniu's National Peasants' Party to power, who begged Prince Carol to return to the country immediately. On June 5, 1930, Carol arrived by plane and, three days later, was proclaimed King of Rumania under the name Carol II. Michael I was thus relegated to count of the province of Alba-lulia.

Irredentist movements contested the borders of the great Rumania, which dated from the First World War. Their claims were substantiated by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Hungary and Rumania was carved up in 1940. The people's discontentment was channeled by pro-German nationalists and they turned against Carol II. General Antonescu thus summoned him to abdicate the throne to his son Michael. The second reign of Michael of Rumania thus began under the aegis of Antonescu's military dictatorship. The country became a satellite for Nazi Germany.

The postwar purging dangerously isolated King Michael. The Communists progressively took all power. When he left for Great Britain to attend Princess Elisabeth's wedding, the Rumanian rulers made it known that his return was not desired. He returned, despite the warnings, but his guards were disarmed and his councilors placed under arrest. On January 2, 1948, King Michael and his family left the country definitively. Rumania became a Republic and very quickly a people's democracy.

Michael I of Rumania currently lives in Versoix, near Geneva. Forbidden from sojourning in Communist Romania, he was deprived of his civil rights and did not regain them until 1997. His return to Romania is going in the right direction, as shown by the fact that the Château de Savarsin was returned to him. This 17th-century property in Western Rumania was confiscated in 1947. Ever since his exile in Geneva, King Michael has fought to restore a constitutional monarchy in his country.

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