25 October 2011

2011-10-25 90th Birthday Celebration of King Michael of Romania

October 25, 2011. The Head of the House of Romanoff, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna, and the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich, Attend the Celebrations in Bucharest for the 90-th Birthday of King Michael I of Romania

A grand celebration took place in Romania for the 90-th birthday of King Michael I, the last living head of government from the years of the Second World War, 1939-1945.

On his birthday, October 25, 2011, King Michael I appeared before a joint session of the Romanian parliament, which had gathered to mark His Majesty’s birthday.

The king arrived at the Parliament building just before 10 o’clock in the morning. His eldest daughter and heiress, Crown Princess Margarita, and her consort, Prince Radu, accompanied him.


The idea for this joint session of Parliament came from the National-Liberal Party, and was supported by the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party. Crin Antonescu, the leader of the National-Liberal Party, explained the position of the party: “We want to offer a tribute of respect to the person who occupies an important place in the history of our country, and in modern history.”

The Romanian Orthodox Church was represented by Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Cyprian (Spiridon). At the steps of the parliament building, the king was met by the ex-leader of the Social-Democratic Party, Mircea Geoană. Geoană opened the joint session of Parliament by wishing the king happy birthday. According to Geoană, this celebration of the king’s birthday demonstrates the complete normalization of life in Romania and respect for the country’s history. For the former leftist leader, the presence of the monarch in Parliament “testifies to reconciliation and to the acknowledgment of the past.”

Having finished, Geoană turned the podium over to King Michael I, who gave the following address:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies!

“It has been more than sixty years since I last addressed the Romanian nation from the podium of Parliament. It was with joy and hope that I accepted this invitation from the legitimate representatives of the people.

“Our first duty today is to remember all those who died for our independence and freedom in all the wars in which we have had to fight, and in the events of December 1989, which demolished the communist dictatorship. We can have no future unless we respect our past.

“The last twenty years have brought democracy, freedom and the beginnings of prosperity. People are able to travel, to fulfill their dreams, to strengthen their families and to live for the benefit of future generations. Romania has evolved greatly in the last two decades.

“The European orientation of Romania is founded on the existence of Parliament. Our irreversible path to the European Union and NATO would not have been possible if the Romanian Legislature had not been able to act freely and democratically after 1989.

“But politics is a double-edged sword. It guarantees democracy and freedoms if it is practiced with respect for the law and the institutions of state. But it can also harm the individual citizen if it is exercised without regard to ethics, if it personalizes power, or if it disregards the fundamental purpose of the institutions of the state.

“Many areas of the life of the Romanian people—small and medium-sized business ventures; the lives of young people; education; and agriculture—have been managed competently and freely, and so people have managed to move forward in spite of the economic crisis.

“People in the arts, the military, diplomats, and civil servants strive to do their duty, although they are sorely tested by lack of money and the persistence of institutional obstacles. Institutions such as the Romanian Academy and the National Bank fulfill their duty with due regard to the hierarchy of values in Romanian society.

“It saddens me that two decades after the return to democracy, the old and the sick are forced to endure humiliating situations.

“Romania needs an infrastructure. Modern motorways, ports and airports are part of our strength as an independent state. Agriculture is a sector that belongs not only to the historical past, but also to the future. Education, too, will be a cornerstone of society.

“The Queen and I, along with Our Family, shall continue to do what we have always done: we shall support the fundamental interests of Romania and the continuity of the traditions of our country.

“I cannot address the nation without speaking about the Royal Family and its importance in the life of the nation.

“The Royal Crown is not a symbol of the past, but a unique embodiment of our independence, sovereignty, and unity. The Crown is a reflection of the State in its historical continuity and in the development of its people. The Crown unites Romania through loyalty, courage, respect, honor, and modesty.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

“Democratic institutions are not governed by laws alone, but also by ethics and a sense of duty. Love of one’s country and competence are the principal criteria in public life. May you always trust in democracy, in the purpose of the institutions of state, and in the rules of those institutions!

“The world of tomorrow cannot exist without morality, faith, or memory. Cynicism, cowardice, and self-interest must have no part in our lives. Romania has moved forward thanks to the ideals of the great men and women in our history who served responsibly and selflessly.

“In 1989, authoritative voices from all corners of the globe rose up in support of Romania. These voices combined with the sacrifices being made on the ground in Romania by the young in deposing a tyranny that had brought ruin to the nation. Twenty years later, the moment has come for our public conduct to sever itself completely and definitively from the vices of the past. There is no place for demagogy, hypocrisy, base selfishness, boundless ambition, or self-interest in the Romanian institutions in the year 2011. These are things that are too reminiscent of the years before 1989.

“We should resist this and prepare for our future. By joining together with our neighbors and brothers, let us continue our efforts to restore honor and dignity.

“I have served the Romanian nation throughout a life that has been long and full of events, some of them happy, many of them unhappy. Eighty-four years after I became king, I can say the following to the Romanian nation without the slightest hesitation:

“After freedom and democracy, the most important things are identity and dignity. Here a major responsibility rests upon the Romanian elite.

“Democracy should enrich the art of governance, not impoverish it. Romania, like all the countries of Europe, needs respected and experienced rulers.

“We should never forget the Romanians and the Romanian lands that were taken from us as a result of Europe being divided into spheres of influence. It is their right to decide whether they want to live in our country or whether they want to remain separate. Europe today is a continent in which peoples and lands do not change as a result of decisions made by politicians. My oath was and remains valid for all Romanians. They are all part of our nation and so they will remain forever.

“It lies solely in our power to make this country stable, prosperous, and admired in the rest of the world.

“I see today’s Romania not as an inheritance from our parents, but as a country we have received in trust for our children.

“May God help us!”

King Michael I’s speech was met with prolonged applause from all those present in the parliamentary chamber.

The deputies presented His Majesty with a relief sculpture of the Parliament building, and in one of the rooms of the building, there was a ceremonial unveiling of a bust to the first head of state of modern Romania and the founder of the royal dynasty, King Carol I.

The culmination of the celebrations in honor of the 90-th birthday of King Michael I of Romania was a gala concert in the National Opera in Bucharest on the evening of October 25, 2011. Large special viewing screens were set up in the park in front of the Opera, which televised the events inside. More than 5000 people gathered for the event, many calling out “King Michael!”

In addition to the honor and, other members of the Romanian Royal Family were in attendance, including Queen Anne, Crown Princess Margarita and her husband, Prince Radu; Princess Elena and her husband Alexander Phillips Nixon McAteer; Princess Irina and her husband John Wesley Walker; Princess Maria; Prince Nicholas Medforth-Mills (the son of Princess Elena) and his sister Elizabeth Karina Medforth-Mills. Also present were representatives of political parties, members of Parliament and the government of Romania, hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, academics, military leaders, diplomats, scholars, businessmen, and leading public and cultural figures.

Also present to congratulate her most august second cousin was the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna, and her son and heir, H.I.H. Tsesarchevich and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich. (The grandmother of the Head of the House of Romanoff, Empress Victoria Feodorovna, was the sister of King Michael I’s grandmother, Queen Maria of Romania. The sisters were the daughters of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, son of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Aleksandrovna, the daughter of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.)

Other honored guests at the royal celebrations included: Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria; Grand Duke Henri I of Luxembourg; the Head of the Prussian Royal House, Prince Georg Friedrich, with his wife Princess Sofia, née Princess von Isenburg; the Head of the Portuguese Royal House, Dom Duarte III, Duke of Braganza, with his wife Dona Isabella; the Head of the Serbian Royal House, Crown Prince Alexander II, with his wife Crown Princess Catherine; the Head of the Montenegrin Royal House, Crown Prince Nicholas II; the Head of the Grand Ducal House of Baden, Margrave Maximilian II of Baden, with his wife Margravine Valerie, née Archduchess of Austria and Princess of Tuscany; Prince Karel zu Schwarzenberg, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic; Queen Sofia of Spain, née Princess of Greece and Denmark; Hereditary Duke Friedrich of Württemberg, and his wife, Hereditary Duchess Maria, née Princess of Wied; the Hereditary Prince Bernhard of Baden, and his wife Hereditary Princess Stephanie; Archduke Georg of Austria, with his wife, Archduchess Eilika, née Duchess of Oldenburg; Archduke Martin of Austria-Este, with his wife Archduchess Catherine, née Princess of Isenburg; Archduke Dominic of Austria, Prince of Tuscany (first cousin of King Michael I), with his wife, Archduchess Emmanuella; Archduke Mary Magdalena of Austria, Princess of Tuscany (first cousin of King Michael I), with her husband, Baron Hans Ulrich von Holzhausen; Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, with his wife, Princess Silvia; Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, with his wife Princess Sarvath; Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg, with his wife, Princess Sibilla; Prince Vladimir of Yugoslavia, with his wife, Princess Brigitte; Prince Ludwig of Baden, with his wife, Princess Marianne, née Princess of Auersperg-Breunner; Prince Wilhelm Schaumberg-Lippe, with his wife Princess Ilona, née Baroness Hentschel von Gilgenheimb; Prince Dominik zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg; Princess Lea of Belgium; Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark; Princess Muna al-Hussein of Jordan, the mother of the present King of Jordan, Abdullah II; Princess Rym Ali of Jordan; Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein, the wife of Prince Nikolaus; Princess Isabelle of Liechtenstein, the wife of Philipp; and Baron Axel de Sambucy de Sorgue (grandson of Prince Henri VI, Count of Paris). King Karl XVI Gustav of Sweden and Queen Silvia were unable to return from a trip to the United States in time to attend the celebrations.

After the concert, His Majesty walked out onto the steps of the National Opera and was greeted with thunderous applause and cheers by ordinary Romanians who had come to pay honor to their king.

Later, in the main hall of the CEC Palace, a celebratory dinner was held in honor of King Michael I, at which were present the members of the Romanian Royal Family, members of other royal houses, and foreign guests.

On October 26, in the Elizabeth Palace in Bucharest, there was a luncheon (or, in the European tradition, a late breakfast) for members of royal dynasties who had come to the celebrations of the 90-th birthday of King Michael I. The guests gathered in the Festival Hall and in a large dining room. That evening, many of the royals attended the performance “Royal Fashion” at the Sala Rapsodia Theater.

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