NICHOLAS MEDFORTH-MILLS, grandson of the late King Michael of Romania, is getting married on September 30th. To the chagrin of Romanian monarchists, it will not be the royal wedding they have longed for. Their hopes of reinstating a king or queen in Romania have stumbled over the problem of agreeing on an heir.
In recent years there have been growing calls in Romania for a restoration of the monarchy. Earlier this year, the eagle in the national coat of arms again donned its steel crown. Parliament considered (but did not approve) a referendum on restoration last year; a recent poll shows that some 70% of the public want the issue put to a popular vote. Support for the monarchy, some reckon, is tied to falling trust in elected politicians, many of them mired in corruption scandals. Going with the mood, this summer Blue Air, Romania’s largest carrier, unveiled a new series of aeroplanes featuring Romania’s past kings on their tails. But even if the idea were ever to fly, it is unclear who the new monarhists, it will not be the royal wedding they have longed for. Their hopes of reinstating a king or queen in Romania have stumbled over the problem of agreeing on an heir. Romania has had only four kings (and no queens), having been ruled until 1878 by the Ottomans and before them by various princes. Its last king, Michael (pictured), abdicated in 1947 and spent the next four decades in Switzerland. His citizenship was restored in 1997, but he never reclaimed his throne.
Princess Margareta, Michael’s eldest daughter, is the current “custodian of the crown”. In a decree in 2015 her late father declared that since she had no children, she would be the last of the royal line. He also explicitly deprived the once-promising Nicholas Medforth-Mills, the son of his younger daughter and of a professor of geography at Durham University in Britain, of his princely title and dynastic rights, after he was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock (he denies it).
An unlikely yet vocal rival is the self-styled Prince Paul of Romania, the grandson of King Carol II by a morganatic marriage (ie, to a woman of lower social rank, preventing the passing on of a title), who tried to sue King Michael to have his claim honoured. After a failed presidential run in 2000, the claimant has supported the restoration of a constitutional monarchy. But given what a tangle the family tree is, Romanians may well hesitate a bit longer.
This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline „Thirsty for blue blood”