On Importing Royalty

I feel for Romania, they had no Royalty. Not ready for a democratic approach they elected someone to the position of monarch. The first to be elected was Alexandru Ioan Cuza. He was elected Prince of Moldavia and then Prince of Wallachia. He then had them united under the title: Domnitor of Romania. He was your traditional monarch: entitled and authoritarian. Consequently he only last four years before being overthrown in a coup d’état.

Alexandru, who they rejected as monarch, was born in Romania. The royal-well run dry they had to look at importing their next monarch. They asked Prince Karl of Hozenzollern-Sigmaringen (a German) to come and be Carol I of Romania. He loved it, they loved him and all was going well…

Except, Carol never produced a male heir. So he asked his older brother Leopold to be the next King. In a crushing blow to Romania’s self esteem, Leopold didn’t want it nor did Leopold’s son William. Leopold’s second son Ferdinand was given the choice and he accepted. He didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth either, as he accepted the position without knowing much about Romania.

He should have known at least a few things.

There is a law in the Constitution of Romania (1866 ed.) that says the hair-presumptive can’t marry a Romanian. Ferdinand became close with a local woman: Elana Văcărescu. Because of the furore he had created, she was exiled and he was required to tour Europe in search of a more suitable bride. He found a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Marie of Edinburgh.

At this point there is a German, Portuguese (Ferdinand’s mother was Portuguese), Russian (Princess Marie’s mother was Russian) and English mix in our Romanian royals.

Let’s talk about another Ferdinand. The second cousin, once removed, of the Romanian Ferdinand: Ferdinand of Austria. Not the Ferdinand that was involved in the start of World War I (That was a Franz Ferdinand). This Ferdinand was elected Kynaz of Bulgaria in 1887. Although he wasn’t the country’s first choice. They first tried princes from Denmark, Romania and the Caucuses.

Ferdinand performed better than expected and ran the country well and in 1908 declared Bulgaria: a Kingdom, free from the Ottoman empire and himself the царь (Tsar). As an ally he was erratic. First he teamed up with Greece, Serbia to attack the Ottoman Empire.

After that war he attacked Greece and Serbia! Lost momentum and then was attacked by the duo. Bulgaria was then attacked by Romania (at this point being run by Carol I –his second cousins’ uncle) and the Ottomans. Ferdinand was forced to agree to a truce.

In World War I he again attacked Serbia after teaming up with the Austrio-Hungarian empire (he was Austrian by birth) and Germany (Emperor Wilhelm II was also his second cousin once removed). And by joining with Germany meant that he was technically in an alliance with the Ottoman empire –who they had attacked only a few years before and prior to that had been a dominion of the Ottoman empire.

During the war Bulgaria picked up Serbia and Macedonia, attacked Romania again (now being run by his cousin Ferdinand) before losing out entirely. Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his son who became царь Boris III of Bulgaria. Boris III, despite his excellent name, surrendered to the allies and lost all the territory gained during the war and the prior Balkan wars.

Boris III died mysteriously in 1943 and his son Simeon I succeeded him only to be deposed in 1946. This ended the monarchy and the Bulgarian adventure into the royal rental scheme.

when: Saturday, June 21, 2014