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Simeon II of Bulgaria

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Симеон Сакскобургготски
Simeon von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha
Simeone di Sassonia-Coburgo-Gotha
Prime Minister of Bulgaria
In office
24 July 2001 – 17 August 2005
President Petar Stoyanov
Georgi Parvanov
Preceded by Ivan Kostov
Succeeded by Sergei Stanishev
Tsar of Bulgaria
In office
28 August 1943 – 15 September 1946
Serving with Kiril as Regent under 9 September 1944
Prime Minister Bogdan Filov
Petur Gabrovski (Acting)
Dobri Bozhilov
Ivan Ivanov Bagryanov
Konstantin Muraviev
Kimon Georgiev
Preceded by Boris III
Succeeded by Vasil Kolarov (as Acting President)
Personal details
Born (1937-06-16) 16 June 1937 (age 77)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Citizenship Bulgarian,
previously- Spanish and Italian
Political party National Movement Simeon II (2001-2009)
Spouse(s) Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela
Children Kardam
Kyrill
Kubrat
Konstantin-Assen
Kalina
Alma mater Valley Forge Military Academy and College
Religion Bulgarian Orthodox
Ethnicity German
Italian
Montenegrin
French
Signature
Bulgarian Royal Family

HM The Tsar
HM The Tsaritsa


HRH Princess Marie Louise

Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Tsar Simeon II or Simeon II of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски, transl. Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski or Цар Симеон II; German: Simeon von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha or Simeon von Wettin; Italian: Simeone di Sassonia-Coburgo-Gotha) (born 16 June 1937) is an important political and royal figure in Bulgaria. During his reign as the Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946 he was a minor, the monarchical authority being exercised over the kingdom on his behalf by a regency. The regents were Simeon's uncle Prince Kiril of Bulgaria, General Nikola Mihov and the prime minister, Bogdan Filov. In 1946 the monarchy was overthrown as a consequence of a referendum, and Simeon was forced into exile. He returned to his home country in 1996. He resumed the role of leader of the nation upon taking office as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from July 2001 until August 2005.

As of 2013, Simeon is one of the two last living heads of state from World War II (the other is former King Michael of Romania), the only living person who has borne the Bulgarian title "Tsar", and one of the few monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections.

Royal history

Simeon was born the son of Tsar Boris III and Tsaritsa Giovanna di Savoia and is related to various European royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, King Albert II of the Belgians and the Kings Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Umberto II of Italy. Following his birth, Boris III sent an air force officer to the River Jordan to obtain water for Simeon's baptism in the Orthodox faith.[1] He became Tsar on 28 August 1943 on the death of his father, who had just returned to Bulgaria from a meeting with Adolf Hitler.[2][3] Since Tsar Simeon was only six years old when he ascended the throne, his uncle Prince Kyril of Bulgaria, Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and Lieutenant-General Nikola Mihailov Mihov of the Bulgarian Army were appointed regents.[4]

On 5 September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and three days later the Red Army entered the country without encountering resistance. On the next day, 9 September 1944, Prince Kyril and the other regents were deposed by a Soviet-backed coup and arrested. The three regents, all members of the last three governments, Parliament deputies, heads of the army and eminent journalists were executed by the Communists in February 1945.[4]

Towards exile

The royal family (Queen Giovanna, Simeon II, and his sister Maria-Louisa) remained at Vrana Palace near Sofia, while three new regents were appointed (Todor Pavlov, Venelin Ganev and Tsvyatko Boboshevski). In her memoirs, Queen Giovanna recounts that Soviet soldiers at that time entertained themselves by shooting at random in the direction where she was walking with the children. On 15 September 1946, a plebiscite was held in the presence of the Soviet army. It resulted in an implausible 97% approval for the Soviet established republic and abolished the monarchy. On 16 September 1946, the royal family was exiled from Bulgaria. However, Simeon II never signed any abdication papers (which would have been unlikely to have been valid, as Simeon was but nine years old). The royal family first went to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Giovanna's father Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy, lived in exile. There, Simeon II finished Victoria College (along with Crown Prince Leka of Albania). In July 1951, the Spanish government of Francisco Franco granted asylum to the family.

Education and business career

In Madrid, Simeon studied at the Lycée Français, but did not graduate. On 16 June 1955, upon turning 18, in accordance with the Tarnovo Constitution Simeon II read his proclamation to the Bulgarian people as the Tsar of Bulgaria, confirming his will to be king of all Bulgarians and follow the principles of the Tarnovo Constitution and free Bulgaria. In 1958, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in the United States, where he was known as "Cadet Rylski No. 6883",[4] and graduated as a second lieutenant. Once again in Spain, Simeon studied law and business administration.

He became a businessman. For thirteen years, he was chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson, a French defence and electronics group. He was also an adviser in the banking, hotel, electronics, and catering sectors.

Monarch in exile

Simeon issued several political declarations during his exile through his "chancellery" in Madrid directed at the Communist regime in Bulgaria and his exiled compatriots. His early attempts at forming an official government in exile did not come to fruition, however.

Marriage and family

In 1962 Simeon married a Spanish aristocrat, doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The couple have five children – four sons (Kardam, Kiril, Kubrat and Konstantin) and a daughter, Kalina, all of whom subsequently married Spaniards.[4] All of his sons received names of Bulgarian kings.

Political return

In 1990, a few months after the fall of Communism, Simeon was issued a new Bulgarian passport. In 1996, 50 years after the abolition of the monarchy, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and was met in many places by crowds cheering: "We want our King!"[5] He did not, at that point, make any political announcements or moves.

Various estates in Bulgaria that had been nationalized during the Communist era were returned to Simeon and his family. In 2001, Simeon, who had by this time taken the name Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, announced he would return to Bulgaria to form a new political party, the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII), dedicated to "reforms and political integrity." Simeon promised that in 800 days the Bulgarian people would feel tangible positive effects of his government and would enjoy significantly higher standards of living.

NMSII won a large victory in the parliamentary elections held on 17 June 2001, capturing 120 of the 240 seats in Parliament and defeating the two main pre-existing political parties. Simeon gave an oath as Prime Minister of Bulgaria on 24 July, forming a coalition with the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). He gave ministerial positions in his government mainly to technocrats and Western-educated economic specialists. In 2002, his efforts were recognized by his receiving the 2002 Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation.[6] During his time in power, Bulgaria joined NATO.

In the 2005 elections, Simeon's party ranked second and participated in the grand coalition government led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and including the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Simeon II was given the unofficial ceremonial post of Chairman of the Coalition Council.

The party got just 3.01% of votes and no seats at the parliamentary elections of 2009. Shortly after, on 6 July, Simeon also resigned as NMSII leader.[7]

Views on restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy

Simeon II has never formally renounced his claim to the Bulgarian throne. He used the title "Tsar of the Bulgarians" in his political statements during his exile. Since his return to Bulgaria, however, Simeon has consistently declined to reveal his views on the restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy, notwithistanding the name of his party. Upon taking office as prime minister, he took an oath to protect the country's republican Constitution.

Heir to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry

After the death of his distant cousin Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in April 2010 and due to the exclusion of the late prince's uncle Philipp Josias Maria Joseph Ignatius Michael Gabriel Raphael Gonzaga (Walterskirchen, 18 August 1901 – 31 December 1994) children and descendants from his morganatic marriage with Sarah Aurelia Halasz, Simeon became the Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry, former Magnates of Hungary, and a claimant to the holding of the castles of Čabraď and Sv. Anton, both in modern day Slovakia, lost to Czechoslovakia in 1921. In early 2012, he nominally ceded his rights to the headship of the princely house of Koháry to his sister Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria,[8] although doing so was out of his jurisdiction.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of
Simeon II
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir

Titles

  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Turnovo, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony (1937–1943)
  • His Majesty The Tsar of the Bulgarians (1943–1946)
  • His Majesty Tsar Simeon II of the Bulgarians (pretender, 1946–present)
    • Simeon Sakskoburggotski (used in Bulgaria)
    • His Majesty King Simeon II of the Bulgarians (used outside Bulgaria)[9]
  • His Excellency Mr. Simeon Sakskoburggotski (as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, 2001–2005)

Honours

Foreign honours

Dynastical honours

Ancestors

See also

References

Bibliography

Books

In addition to the books listed in the References, the following may be mentioned:

  • Walter J.R. Curley, Monarchs in Waiting. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1975. (pp. 23–25: "Bulgaria: His Majesty King Simeon II")
  • Pashanko Dimitroff, Boris III of Bulgaria 1894–1943. London, 1986. ISBN 0-86332-140-2
  • Charles Fenyvesi, Royalty in Exile. London: Robson Books, 1981. (pp. 153–171: "Czar Simeon of the Bulgars") ISBN 0-86051-131-6
  • Stephane Groueff Crown of Thorns, Lanham MD. and London, 1987. ISBN 0-8191-5778-3
  • Gregory Lauder-Frost, The Betrayal of Bulgaria, Monarchist League Policy Paper, London, 1989.
  • Robert K. Massie and Jeffrey Firestone, The Last Courts of Europe. New York: Greenwich House, 1983. ISBN 0-517-41472-4

Articles

  • The Daily Telegraph, Obituary for "HM Queen Ioanna of the Bulgarians", London, 28 February 2000.

External links

  • King Simeon II
  • The first website about Simeon II of Bulgaria focuses on his pre-1995 history
  • July 2001 Biography
  • Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's address, 10 February 2005 concerning amending the constitution to bring it in line with EU requirements
  • NATO membership: "The role of the international community should be gradually transformed from crisis response to integration. Palliative measures intended to mitigate yet another crisis cannot bring stability and prosperity. The best solution is the region's integration into the European and Euroatlantic institutions."
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Cadet branch of the House of Wettin
Born: 16 June 1937
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Boris III
Tsar of Bulgaria
1943–1946
Vacant
Government offices
Preceded by
Boris III
as Tsar of Bulgaria
Head of State of Bulgaria
as Tsar of Bulgaria

1943–1946
Succeeded by
Vasil Kolarov
as Acting President of Bulgaria
Political offices
Preceded by
Ivan Kostov
Prime Minister of Bulgaria
2001–2005
Succeeded by
Sergei Stanishev
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
— TITULAR —
Tsar of Bulgaria
1946–present
Incumbent
Heir:
Kardam
Preceded by
HH Prince Alexander Ernst of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Line of succession to the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha throne
9th position
Succeeded by
Kardam

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