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Romania’s former King Michael I has died in Switzerland at the age of 96, a year after being diagnosed with cancer. The death of King Michael – a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh was announced by his family at his home on the shore of Lake Geneva on Tuesday.
King Michael was King of Romania twice in his lifetime. The first was from 1927 to 1930 and once again from 1940 to 1947 and then he was removed from office when the communist government ended the monarchy.
He was one of the last surviving Heads of State that was in power during World War II. His most important actions as king came in August of 1944 was when he played a role in Romania changing sides going from a State which supported Hitler’s Nazis Germany to a State that supported the Allies.
Michael I (October 25, 1921 – December 5, 2017) was King of Romania from July 20, 1927 to June 8, 1930 and then again from September 6, 1940 until his abdication on December 30, 1947.
Michael was born in 1921 at Foișor Castle, Sinaia, Romania, the son of King Carol II of Romania (then Crown Prince of Romania) and Princess Elena of Greece (The third child and eldest daughter of King Constantine I of Greece and Princess Sophia of Prussia, Elena [Helena] was bor in Athens during the reign of her grandfather, King George I). He was born as the grandson of then-reigning King Ferdinand I of Romania of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. When Carol eloped with his mistress Elena “Magda” Lupescu and renounced his rights to the throne in December 1925, Michael was declared heir apparent. Michael succeeded to the throne of Romania the death of King Ferdinand in July 1927. Michael was 6 years old at the time.
Since the new King Michael was a minor, a regency council was instituted. This council consisted of the king’s which uncle, Prince Nicholas; the Patriarch Miron Cristea; and the president of the Supreme Court, Gheorghe Buzdugan. It was the inefficiency of this council that prompted the return of King Michael’s father, Crown Prince Carol, who replaced his son as king in 1930. Michael resumed his position as heir apparent to the throne and was granted the title Crown Prince along with the additional title of Grand Voievod of Alba-Iulia.
In 1940 the ineffective King Carol II was deposed and Michael once again mounted the Romanian throne as king. The government of the time was under the control of the military dictator Ion Antonescu. Under his guidance Romania became aligned with Hitler’s Nazi Germany. In 1944, King Michael was an essential figure in a coup against Antonescu, who was removed from office. The king assigned the Allies friendly, Constantin Sănătescu, as head of the government who swiftly declared an alliance with the Allies.
In March 1945, under political pressures, King Michael was forced to appoint pro-Soviet, Petru Groza, as the head of the government. Displeased and angry over the circumstances, Michael went on a “royal strike” and in an attempt to voice his opposition toward Groza’s Communist-controlled government, the king refused to do his constitutional duties and would not sign and endorse its decrees and laws passed by the government. This occurred from August 1945 to January 1946.
In November 1947 Michael left Romania to attend the wedding of his cousins, Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom) and Prince Philip of Greece-Denmark in London. Shortly upon his return, on the morning of December 30 1947, Groza requested a meeting with Michael where he was forced to abdicate. Michael was forced into exile, confiscated of his properties, and stripped of his citizenship. In 1948 Michael married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (only daughter of Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margaret of Denmark). The royal couple had five daughters and eventually settled in Switzerland.
In 1989 Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communist dictatorship collapsed and the next year Michael attempted to return to Romania but was arrested and forced to leave upon arrival. In 1992, an estimated one million people in Bucharest came out to listen to a speech given by the king when the government allowed Michael to visit Romania for Easter.
The government was greatly alarmed by Michael’s popularity and refused to allow the king further visits. In 1997, after Iliescu’s government was defeated by Emil Constantinescu; who was more sympathetic toward the king, returned Michael’s citizenship and he was allowed to visit Romania again. Also, many confiscated properties, such as Elisabeta Palace, were returned to the Romanian Royal Family.
At his death King Michael left only daughters. The king designated his eldest daughter, Princess Margareta, as Crown Princess of Romania, despite the fact that the Romanian constitution, and the house laws of the House of Hohenzollern, prohibited the succession of females to the Romanian throne. In the coming days I will post another article discussing the complex succession to the Romanian throne and the headship of the Romanian Royal Family.
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Knightfall is an upcoming historical fiction drama television series on the History Channel. The 10-episode series is set to premiere on December 6, 2017. It recounts the fall, persecution, and burning at the stake of the Knights Templar as orchestrated by King Philippe IV of France on October 13, 1307. The series focuses on Templar leader Sir Landry, a brave warrior discouraged by the Templars’ failures in the Holy Land who is reinvigorated by news that the Holy Grail has resurfaced.
While I love historical fiction it contains just that, fiction. So here is some historical background that goes into the events of the series Knightfall.
Philippe IV (April–June 1268 – 29 November 1314), also known as Philippe the Fair and the Iron King was King of France from 1285 until his death in 1314. Through his marriage to Joan I, Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne 1274-1305, (daughter of King Henri I of Navarre and Blanche d’Artois) he was also Philippe I, King of Navarre from 1284 to 1305. Though his wife was Countess of Champagne in her own right, Philippe IV briefly took the reigns of government into his own hands by Right of his wife. Philippe IV was known as handsome, however, his obstinate character won him from friends and enemies. His fierce opponent, Bishop Bernard Saisset of Pamiers, said of the king, “He is neither man nor beast. He is a statue.”
The mounting Crisis.
In 1290, King Edward I of England (1272-1307) had ordered the Jews to leave England. In turn, Philippe IV, the Iron King, also expelled the Jews from France in July of 1306. With the Jews out of France, Philippe IV had to appoint royal guardians to collect the loans made by the Jews, with the money being passed to the Crown. These actions did not go well in France. The Jews were looked upon as honest and good businessmen who not only satisfied their customers but were held in high esteem by the general populace. In contrast the king’s money collectors were universally reviled.
In 1315 the people of France complained and complained loudly, to the point where the Jews were invited back to France and were given a guarantee of 12 years free from government interference. In 1322, the Jews were expelled once again by the King Charles IV of France and Navarre 1322-1328, third son of King Philippe IV, who did not honour his fathers commitment after the great leper scare of 1321.
Philip IV’s financial treatment of the Jews was anti-semitic, but Christians, the wealthy and poor, clergy and lay people alike all suffered due to the Kings actions. Another prominent group wounded by Philippe IV’s policies were wealthy abbots and Lombard merchants. The merchants, who had made extensive loans on the pledge of repayment from future taxation, were expelled from France and their property sized. To further demonstrate his cruelty Philippe IV reduced the value of French coinage. In 1306 these policies which had a harsh impact on all less-wealthy people of France, led to a two-thirds loss in the value of the livres, sous and deniers in circulation. This financial crisis led to rioting in Paris which forced Philippe IV to briefly seek refuge in the Paris Temple – headquarters of the Knights Templar.
Philippe IV vs. Boniface VIII.
Pope Boniface VIII 1294-1303 condemned Philippe IV for his damaging policies along with his spendthrift lifestyle and his treatment of the Jews. The king levied taxes on the French clergy, calling for at least half their annual income, causing a major conflict with the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy, prompting Pope Boniface VIII to issue a Papal Bull, Clericis Laicos (1296), which forbade the transference of any church property to the French Crown.
In response to the Papal Bull, Philippe IV convoked an assembly of bishops, nobles and grand bourgeois of Paris in order to condemn the Pope. This assemble was a precursor to the Etats Généraux, appeared for the first time during his reign. This assembly was viewed as a measure of the professionalism, order and legitimacy that his ministers were trying to implement into the government. This assembly gave support to Philippe IV’s condemnation of the pope. Pope Boniface VIII retaliated and escalated the conflict with the ground breaking Papal Bull, Unam Sanctam* (1302) which declares papal supremacy.
King Philippe IV emerged as the victor in the conflict. Philippe sent his agent Guillaume de Nogaret to arrest Pope Boniface VIII at Anagni. Prior to the arrival of the French garrison Boniface excommunicated both Philippe IV and Nogaret. However the pope was able to escape, after being beaten, but died soon afterward. With the Holy See vacant French archbishop Bertrand de Goth was elected pope as Clement V beginning the Babylonian Captivity of the papacy (1309–77), during which the official seat of the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon, an enclave surrounded by French territories, and was subjected to French control and became a virtual puppet of the French monarchy.
Suppression of the Knights Templar
With the aid and refuge given to Philippe IV by the Knights Templar the king was substantially indebted to them. The Knights Templar were a monastic military order whose original role was that of protectors of Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Crusades. By the time of Philippe IV’s war against Pope Boniface VIII the influence and need for the Knights Templar had waned. In order to free himself from his indebtedness to the Knights, Philippe IV used a disgruntled complaint of heresy ** against the Knights Templar as an excuse to move against the entire organization and destroy both its religious and financial power and influence in France.
Another prime motive for Philippe to squash the Knights Templar was in order to consolidate power into a royal theocracy where the monarchy had both secular and spiritual power/authority in France. This foundation was built upon the Franco-papal rift at the time of Boniface VIII. With the Papacy now a fixture in France, Philippe IV saw himself as the ultimate defender of the Catholic faith, and felt empowered with a Christlike function giving him authority above the pope. This places the need for the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam of 1302 by Boniface VIII, in a proper historical context.
At daybreak on Friday, October 13, 1307, hundreds of Templars in France were simultaneously arrested by agents of Philippe IV, and were later tortured into admitting heresy into the Order. In their view the Knights rejected the spiritual authority claimed by Philippe IV and believed they were only answerable to only the Pope. With Pope Clement V under the direct control of the French king, ordered the Knights Templar to disband. At first Pope Clement V did attempt to hold proper trials, but Philippe IV used previously forced and coerced confessions to condemn the Knights Templars who were promptly burned at the stake before a proper defense could be made.
* The Bull lays down dogmatic propositions on the unity of the Catholic Church, the necessity of belonging to it for eternal salvation, the position of the pope as supreme head of the Church, and the duty thence arising of submission to the pope in order to belong to the Church and thus to attain salvation. The pope further emphasizes the higher position of the spiritual in comparison with the secular order.
** The heresy levied against the Knights Templar stem from claims that were made that during Templar admissions ceremonies recruits were allegedly forced to spit on the Cross, deny Jesus Christ, and engage in indecent kissing. The Nights were also accused of worshipping idols, and the order was said to have encouraged homosexual practices. None of these claims have ever been historically verified.
1917 Letter's Patent, Duke of Albany, Duke of Clarence, Duke of Cumberland, Duke of Sussex, Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII, King George III, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince Henry of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Royal Marriages Act of 1772, Titles Deprivation Act 1919
The wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been announced to take place in May at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
One of the biggest speculations concerning the marriage is what Peerage Title the couple will receive. It has become the tradition with Her Majesty, the Queen, to elevate a member of the Royal Family to the Peerage by granting them a title of Nobility on their wedding day. Prince Andrew was created Duke of York at his wedding, Prince Edward was created Earl of Wessex at his wedding, and Prince William was created Duke of Cambridge at his; therefore it is logical to assume Prince Harry will also be granted a Peerage Title on his wedding day.
But which one? The odds on favorite seems to be Duke of Sussex, followed by Duke of Clarence. There are also other options. The Dukedoms of Albany and Cumberland have been suggested but they are forever in limbo it seems. The last holders of these titles, Prince Charles-Edward, Duke of Albany 1884-1954 (later reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) along with Prince Ernest-Augustus II, Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale 1845-1923 were deprived their Peerage titles in 1917 for bearing arms against the United Kingdom in World War I under the Titles Deprivation Act 1917.
Under the provisions of this Act the legitimate lineal male heir of the 1st Duke of Albany was allowed to petition the British Crown for the restoration of the peerages. Because subsequent descendants have married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, there were theoretically no people alive who can make such a petition according to British Law. The last person eligible to petition the Crown was Prince Friedrich-Josia of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who died in 1998. Since the the Royal Marriages Act 1772 was repealed by the subsequent Crown Act of 2013 it remains to be seen if the current heir, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, can Petition the Crown to regain this title.
In 1799 the double dukedom of Cumberland and Teviotdale, in the Peerage of Great Britain, was bestowed on Prince Ernest-Augustus, fifth son of King George III of the United Kingdom and Hanover. In 1837 Ernest-Augustus became King of Hanover and on his death in 1851 the title descended with the kingdom to his son King Georg V, and on Georg’s death in 1878 to his grandson Ernst-August II. In 1866 Hanover was annexed by Prussia but King Georg V died without renouncing his rights. His son, Ernst-August II, not only maintained his claim to the kingdom of Hanover, he was generally known by his title of Duke of Cumberland.
The title was suspended for Ernst-August II’s pro-German activities during World War I under the 1917 Titles Deprivation Act as it was for his son (Prince Ernst-August III 1887-1953, reigning Duke of Brunswick). Under the Act the lineal male heirs of the 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale have the right to petition the British Crown for the restoration of his peerages. To date, none have done so. The present heir and current head of the House of Hanover is Prince Ernst-August V (born 26 February 1954), great-grandson of Prince Ernst-August II, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Tiveotdale. He is the senior male-line descendant of George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It is very unlikely that the current head of the House of Hanover will petition the Crown to have this title restored.
Unless these two Dukedoms are formally and legally renounced these titles will likely remain in limbo. Dukedoms such as Connaught belong to Ireland where the Queen no longer reigns so that Dukedom is no longer an option. The Dukedom of Windsor is so associated (tainted) with King Edward VIII the chance it ever being re-created for another British Royal is highly unlikely.
There is also the possibility that the Queen will grant the royal couple a lesser title such as Earl or even Marquess. At this time Prince Harry is 5th in line to the throne. The Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth to their third child in April and if all goes as planned this will make Prince Harry 6th in line to the British throne. Since Prince Harry will be further down in the order of succession a lesser title becomes a possibility, however slight it is.
I know they’re not even married yet but I need to mention the titles of any subsequent Children. Under the provisions of the 1917 Letter’s Patent any children born to the Royal Couple during the life time of the Queen will NOT have a royal title. Under the provisions of the 1917 Letter’s Patent the royal title is limited to the grandchildren of The sovereign in the male line. Prince Harry and Meghan’s children will be great-grandchildren in the male line of the sovereign thus making them ineligible for a title.
The Act only provided a title for a great-grandchild in the male line of the sovereign when that child is the eldest son, of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. In this instance, Prince George of Cambridge. The Queen did amend the 1917 Letter’s Patent to include ALL children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Queen could do something similar with the children of Prince Harry and Meghan. However, in the long run it won’t be necessary. Any children born during the reign of the Queen will automatically gain the title Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when the Queen passes away; for they will no longer be great-grandchildren of the sovereign, they will be the grandchildren of the new sovereign, King Charles III.
Today it was announced that His Royal Highness, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are engaged. Watch this interview with the couple, filmed this afternoon at Kensington Palace.
The official announcement was made this morning by The Prince of Wales, who later said he and The Duchess of Cornwall were thrilled with the news.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are delighted for the couple and also wish them every happiness.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said of the engagement: “We are very excited for Harry and Meghan. It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”
Find out more about the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2zJaMpg
On this day in history, November 3, 1935. Was the referendum to restore the Greek Monarchy in 1935 rigged?
A referendum on restoring the monarchy was held in Greece on 3 November 1935. The proposal was approved by 97.9% of voters.
George II of Greece returned from exile and was restored to the throne on 30 November 1935.
After the defeat of Greece by the Turkish National Movement (the “Asia Minor Disaster” of 1922), the defeated army revolted against the royal government. King Constantine I was forced to abdicate in 1922, and died in exile in 1923. His eldest son and successor, King George II, was soon after asked by the parliament to leave Greece so the nation could decide what form of government it should adopt. In a 1924 referendum, Greeks voted to create a republic.
In 1935, Prime Minister Georgios Kondylis, a former pro-Venizelos military officer, became the most powerful political figure in Greece. He compelled Panagis Tsaldaris to resign as Prime Minister and took over the government, suspending many constitutional provisions in the process. Kondylis, who had now joined the Conservatives, decided to hold a referendum in order to re-establish the monarchy, despite the fact that he used to be a supporter of the anti-monarchist wing of Greek politics.
Observers of the time expressed serious doubts about the vote’s legitimacy. Besides the implausibly high “yes” vote, the vote was held in far-from-secret circumstances. Voters dropped a blue piece of paper into the ballot box if they supported the king’s return, or a red paper to retain the republic. Anyone who cast a red paper risked being beaten up.
On this date in History, November 1, 1894. Death of Emperor Alexander III of Russia after a reign of 13 years, aged 49, and the accession of his eldest son as Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, the last Russian Emperor.
In 1894 Alexander III became ill with terminal kidney disease (nephritis). In the fall of that year, Maria Fyodorovna’s sister-in-law, Queen Olga of Greece, offered her villa of Mon Repos, on the island of Corfu, in the hope that it might improve the Tsar’s condition. However, by the time that they reached Crimea, they stayed at the Maly Palace in Livadia, as Alexander was too weak to travel any further. Recognizing that the Tsar’s days were numbered, various imperial relatives began to descend on Livadia. Even the famed clergyman, John of Kronstadt, paid a visit and administered Communion to the Tsar.
On 21 October, Alexander received Nicholas’s fiancée, Princess Alix, who had come from her native Darmstadt to receive the Tsar’s blessing. Despite being exceedingly weak, Alexander insisted on receiving Alix in full dress uniform, an event that left him exhausted. Soon after, his health began to deteriorate more rapidly.
He eventually died in the arms of his wife at Maly Palace in Livadia on the afternoon of 1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894 at the age of forty-nine, and was succeeded by his eldest son Tsesarevich Nicholas, who took the throne as Nicholas II. After leaving Livadia on 6 November and traveling to St. Petersburg by way of Moscow, his remains were interred on 18 November at the Peter and Paul Fortress.
The new Prince or Princess of Cambridge will be 5th in line to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Due to the Crown Act of 2013 if the Prince is a boy he will not supplant HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge in the line of succession.
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Here is a little bio on Diana, Princess of Wales whom we lost 20 years ago today.
Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana Frances; née Spencer; 1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), was a member of the British royal family as the first wife of HRH The Prince of Wales, who is the eldest child and heir apparent of HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Diana was born into the Spencer family, a family of British nobility with royal ancestry (through illegitimate lines from Charles II and James II-VII of England, Scotland and Ireland. Diana was the fourth child and third daughter of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Frances Roche. She grew up in Park House, situated on the Sandringham estate, (first purchased for the Royal Family by Edward VII). She was educated in England and Switzerland. In 1975—after her father inherited the title of Earl Spencer—she became known as Lady Diana Spencer. She came to prominence in February 1981 when her engagement to The Prince of Wales was announced to the world.
Their wedding to the Prince of Wales took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on 29 July 1981 and reached a global television audience of over 750 million people. During her marriage, Diana’s official title was HRH Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, and Countess of Chester. The marriage produced two sons, the princes William (HRH The Duke of Cambridge) and HRH Prince Henry of Wales who were then respectively second and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As Princess of Wales, Diana undertook royal duties on behalf of the Queen and represented her at functions overseas. She was celebrated for her charity work and for her support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She was involved with dozens of charities including London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, of which she was president from 1989.
Diana remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage, which ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. Media attention and public mourning were extensive after her death in a car crash in a Paris tunnel on 31 August 1997 and subsequent televised funeral.