Friday, May 31, 2024

King Ferdinand of Bulgaria's remains now in Bulgaria

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King Ferdinand of Bulgaria's coffin was placed in the Bulgarian Royal Family's crypt in Varna, Bulgaria on May 30.  The previous day, the late king's remains were flown by a military plane from Coburg, Germany, to Sofia, Bulgaria on May 29.   Arriving in Sofia, the coffin was placed in a hearse and driven to the Royal Palace in Varna.

The late king's coffin was on display in the palace's Great Hall, where his family, including his grandson, King Simeon,  government officials, and the public attended the service.  Joining King Simeon and Queen Margherita were two of his sons, Prince Kyril and  Prince Konstantin-Assen, and his wife, Maria, and his daughter, Princess Kalina,  her husband Kitin Muñoz, and their son Simeon Hassan Muñoz.

Neither Bulgaria's acting Prime Minister Glavchev nor President Radev attended the funeral ceremony.

It took about six months to finalize the arrangements.

King Ferdinand was born HH Prince Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on February 26, 1861, the fifth and youngest child of Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Clementine of Orléans.   In 1887, he was elected Prince of Bulgaria.    He proclaimed Bulgaria a kingdom on October 5, 1908, and assumed the title of Tsar, although, in English, he and his successors have been styled as King.

Ferdinand abdicated on October 3, 1918, in favor of his elder son, Boris, who succeeded as King Boris III.   He settled into exile in Coburg.  The former king said of his abdication and exile: "Kings in exile are more philosophic under reverses than ordinary individuals; but our philosophy is primarily the result of tradition and breeding, and do not forget that pride is an important item in the making of a monarch. We are disciplined from the day of our birth and taught the avoidance of all outward signs of emotion. The skeleton sits forever with us at the feast. It may mean murder, it may mean abdication, but it serves always to remind us of the unexpected. Therefore we are prepared and nothing comes in the nature of a catastrophe. The main thing in life is to support any condition of bodily or spiritual exile with dignity. If one sups with sorrow, one need not invite the world to see you eat."

In Coburg. Ferdinand could only watch from a distance as his beloved Bulgaria would soon be a Soviet vessel.  In August 1943, following a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Germany,  King Boris died in mysterious circumstances.  He was succeeded by his six-year-old son, Simeon.   Soviet troops moved into Bulgaria in September 1944.   His younger son, Prince Kyril was executed on February 1, 1945, with the two other regents for the young King Simeon, other government officials, and 67 members of the Bulgarian Parliament.  They had been sentenced to death by a People's Court.

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"Everything is collapsing around me, Ferdinand said after he was told of Kyril's death.    A referendum on September 15, 1946, ended Bulgaria's monarchy.  The following day, Simeon, his mother, Queen Giovanna, and his older sister, Princess Marie Louise, went into exile.

King Ferdinand died in Coburg on September 10, 1948, at 87. His "mortal remains were kept in a coffin" next to his parents, Prince August and Princess Clementine's sarcophagi in Saint August's Church.  It was said his last wish was to be buried in Bulgaria.

The king was married twice.  He had four children,  King Boris III, Prince Kyril, Princess Eudoxia, and Princess Nadezhda by his first wife, Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, who died giving birth to their youngest child.  The King did not have children by his second wife, Princess Eleonore Reuss zu Köstritz. 

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One Bulgarian historian said of Ferdinand's return: "This signifies, even if belatedly, a responsibility toward history."

King Simeon spoke to the press at Vrana Palace:  "I see this gesture of returning King Ferdinand to Bulgaria as something that points to another view and another reading of history.

"First of all, I am grateful for all this, because this is for our history of Bulgaria. It also shows that we respect our past like other nations and recognize and respect the merits of our rulers."

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