On December 30, 2007, King Michael signed a new Statute of the Royal House, called Fundamental Rules of the Royal House of Romania. These new House Laws were implicitly based on European Union type of legislation, specifically those laws which addresses the European Convention on Human Rights, which, however, does not guarantee any right to reign as a monarch of any country, and also on the values of the Romanian society. The document clarifies the order of inheritance of King Michael’s fortune and rights to the Romanian throne. This new Statute, thought by some to be undemocratic because it was not approved by any Parliament, is mostly symbolic but it does attempt to replace the old 1884 Statute Law. According to this new Statute, the first in line of succession is King Michael’s eldest daughter, newly titled “Crown Princess of Romania” and “Custodian of the Romanian Crown,” Princess Margarita. In 1997 King Michael had already designated her as successor to “all” his “prerogatives and rights”, indicating his desires for a gender-blind succession to the throne.
The argument has been made that Crown Princess Margarita will only become head of the royal family because King Michael, as a constitutional monarch, is unable to alter the old and inoperative succession laws which had excluded females and their descendants. King Michael was not and is not an absolute monarch who could rule via the strength of his will. It is only the Romanian Parliament that could ameliorate these laws along with the Constitution where these precepts had been included. Also, the Romanian Parliament will not alter the succession to a monarchy that no longer exists. In order to legally alter the succession the monarchy would need to be restored. There is however, an alternative view which finds that Michael is able to alter these succession laws alone, effectively making him an absolute monarch. This view stems from the rreality of the fact that during his second reign, Michael neither was sworn into office by any Parliament, nor did he take any oath to any Constitution. Instead King Michael was instead anointed king by the Romanian Orthodox Church. The second opinion ignores the fact that Michael never personally claimed to be an absolute monarch, nor had he acted as such, and he always supporting democracy and the constitutional monarchy.
During the week this came in over the news….This is copied from Royal Central…
“In a statement released yesterday, Romania’s King Michael has withdrawn his grandson’s royal title. The former Prince Nicolae of Romania, once third in succession to the throne, and only grandson of the ninety-three-year-old king will now be known as Mr. Nicholas Medforth-Mills. He became third in line to the throne on April 1st, 2010 at the age of twenty-five.
King Michael reached this conclusion by observing his grandson’s behavior in public and in private. Ioan Luca Vlad explained further, “When you are in public, you must have a certain attitude, you must comply with certain norms. If you do this, but you are not happy with it, this won’t last long, so you must make a preventive step,”
The king is merely thinking of the future, stated the Royal House’s representatives. It isn’t a punishment for the former prince, who was in agreement with his grandfather’s decision. Mr. Methford-Mills issued his statement, “The royal life means leading my life in a way I find hard to accept,” he said. “For this reason, I accept with a lot of pain in my heart the decision of His Majesty King Michael for me.”
I have given it some great thought. One problem, as I already stated it, is that these House Laws/Constitutions were written at a time when these thrones were extant. This forever sets them in stone and there is no legal means to change them. If these families were still reigning there would be a legal means of altering the House Laws.
In the majority of these former ruling families, most holding their titles in pretense, there is still considerable wealth and estates to consider and who should inherit these vast holdings are some of the problems the heads of these former ruling families face. In the past these issues were decided legally and while the courts today can rule on these issues they do not have jurisdiction over the claims of titles and thrones that no longer exist. There are limits.
Many of these former ruling families had strict marriages laws/requirements and rules on who was and was not a dynast. Why does this still matter? As I mentioned there is still wealth and land to be inherited but more than that, some of these former reigning families still hold places of privilege and high profile levels of service to their country. The heirs to the thrones of Romania, Serbia, Germany and Portugal all have some relationships with the government either on a national level or local level. For instance, the wedding of the pretender to the Portuguese throne was televised and attended by the Prime Minister and the President of Portugal as well as other foreign dignitaries. When the Prince of Prussia, heir to the German Empire, married in 2011 the religious wedding was broadcast live by local public television. The formal dinner, which many members of German and European royal families attended, was held in the Orangery Palace at Sanssouci Park.
There still is a lot at stake. For instance, the Prince of Prussia (Prince Georg-Friedrich) was under a lot of pressure to marry someone of equal status after his great-great grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm II, placed a stipulation in his will that only those of equal marriage were eligible to inherit his vast wealth and headship of the Royal House. The eldest children of Prince Georg-Friedrich’s grandfather, Prince Louis-Ferdinand (1907-1994), did not marry equally so Prince Louis-Ferdinand named his grandson (born of an equal marriage) as heir to the estate and the Headship of the Royal House. This was contested in the courts by Prince Georg-Friedrich’s uncles and although he eventually won, he too, had to marry equally. His wife, the current Princess of Prussia, was born Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie of Isenburg. Although the court could rule on the inheritance it could not rule on the Headship of the Royal House because the monarchy was no longer existing so it had no jurisdiction over pretense to titles.
Times have changed and monarchies in order to survive also need to change with the times. In 1936 King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom of Great Britain had to abdicate in order to marry the woman he loved. This caused great scandal. Today, attitudes on divorce and equal marriage have changed. When the Prince of Wales married his former mistress in 2005 it was accepted by most. When Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married a woman that had had a child from a previous relationship, it was accepted although it did cause a minor uproar. If these former ruling families want to stay relevant and not disappear into the dust bins of history I think they need to be allowed to change and adapt.
I don’t think old House Laws and Constitutions need to tie the hands of these Heads of former reigning Houses. For practical reasons they should not. As we have seen issues and problems do come up in these families and they do need to be addressed and I think the Heads of former reigning Houses need to have some freedom to address these problems and change the Laws as the times change.