Friday, June 16, 2017

King Simeon - 80 years

When King Simeon of Bulgaria was born on June 16, 1937,  there were few who would have thought that this infant, a much wanted son,  would become king at age six,  in 1943 following the mysterious death of his father, King Boris III, who became ill after meeting Adolf Hitler.

Bulgaria's political instability increased during the second world war,  joining the Axis powers.  On September 5, 1944  the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria, and within three days,  the Red Army marched in Bulgaria with no real resistance.  Within a few days,  Prince Kyril, Simeon's uncle, who served as one of several regents for the young king, and two regents were deposed and arrested.  All three were executed in February 1945.

The young king, along with his mother, Queen Giovanna and his older sister, Princess Maria Luisa, remained at the Vrana Palace in Sofia as three new, pro-Soviet regents were named.  There is no doubt that the referendum on September 15, 1946 was rigged, as the Soviet army made sure that Bulgaria's citizens were aware of the country's new masters.

There was no doubt that the population (97%) would vote for a republic and the end of Bulgaria's monarchy.
Belgrade 2013 State Funeral  @Marlene A Eilers Koenig

The following day,  the royal family went into exile, first to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Giovanna's father, King Victor Emmanuel III was living, after going into exile earlier that year. A referendum in June 1946 ended the Italian monarchy, and Giovanna's brother, King Umberto and his family, were forced to leave their homeland.

The young king attended schools in Alexandria, Madrid and the Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Pennsylvania.  When he reached his majority at age 18,  Simeon II swore his allegiance to the Bulgarian people, as the Tsar of Bulgaria.
Belgrade 2010 @Marlene A,. Eilers Koenig

After returning from the United States,  he studied law and business administration, and worked in business for many years.

Simeon married Doña Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela on January 21, 1962.  The couple had five children:  Crown Prince Kardam (1962-2015), Prince Kirill (1964), Prince Kubrat (1965), Prince Konstantin-Assen (1967) and Princess Kalina (1972).  All five children have married Spaniards.  

The King and Queen have 11 grandchildren.
After the collapse of communism, the king visited Bulgaria for the first time since 1946.  It was in 2001 when the king returned to Bulgaria to form a new political party, the National Movement Simeon II, where he promised a positive change for Bulgaria after 800 days.   His party won a majority in the election in June 2001.   Simeon was named as Prime Minister.   Two of his accomplishments were to bring Bulgaria into NATO and the European Union.

His party did not do as well in the 2005 elections, and took part in a coalition government.   In 2009, the party won no seats, and Simeon resigned as the party's leader.  As Prime Minister, he swore an oath to uphold the Bulgarian republic, and he has never spoken publicly on a monarchical restoration.

King Simeon's heir is his grandson, Prince Boris, now 19 years old.  Although some sources have referred to Boris as Prince of Turnovo, a title his father bore,  this is incorrect.  King Simeon has not given the title to his grandson, and is unlikely do so in the future.  The reason for this is simple:  Boris' life is in Spain.  He was educated in Spain and in Austria, and his ties to Bulgaria are limited.

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