The King of the Romanians (Romanian: Regele Românilor)[1] or King of Romania (Romanian: Regele României), was the title of the monarch of the Kingdom of Romania from 1881 until 1947, when Romania was proclaimed the Romanian People's Republic following Michael I's forced abdication.


The state had been internationally recognized as a principality since 1862, after the creation of the United Principalities, a personal union between Moldavia and Wallachia, at that time vassal states of the Ottoman Empire. Alexander I became domnitor (ruling prince) after the official unification of the two formerly separate states, being elected prince of both states in 1859. He was deposed in 1866 by a broad coalition of the main political parties, after which parliament offered the throne to Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen who subsequently became the new "Domnitor of Romania" (as Carol I).

Romania's independence from the Ottoman Empire was recognized in 1878 by the Treaty of Berlin. In an expression of full sovereignty, the principality was elevated to a kingdom in 1881, with Carol I becoming King of the Romanians.[2] Carol I died in 1914, and was succeeded by his nephew, Ferdinand I.

In 1927, Ferdinand I died, and the country was left in the care of a regency headed by Prince Nicholas of Romania, during the reign of Ferdinand's young grandson, Michael I (who was only six years old at the time), his father (Carol II) having renounced the throne in 1925. Carol II, unlike Carol I, in the beginning had no desire to rule Romania, and was frequently out of the country exploring the rest of Europe with his mistress. Michael's first reign would be short lived at only three years, until his father Carol II came back to contest the title at the behest of a dissatisfied political faction that staged a sudden 'coup d'état' (in spite of the fact that only a few years earlier he had renounced in official documents, written and signed in front of his own father, all his future claims to the throne of Romania).

After a ten-year rule, Carol II was forced to give up his crown in the wake of an outcry over the Second Vienna Award, which forced Romania to surrender northern Transylvania to Hungary. After the war, he married his longtime mistress, Elena Lupescu. The couple ultimately settled in Portugal, and the "playboy king" never returned to Romania.

The kingdom of Romania was a constitutional monarchy for most of its existence with the exception of 1938–1944, during the dictatorships of Carol II (1938–1940) and Ion Antonescu (1940–1944). On 23 August 1944, Michael I restored the last democratic royal Constitution of 1923. However, during his second reign (1940–1947), Michael I reigned mostly as an extraconstitutional king, without a parliamentary vote. Parliament was initially suspended and reinstated only later, in 1946. Michael I was crowned[3] and anointed by the Orthodox Patriarch, Nicodim Munteanu, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest, on the day of his second accession, 6 September 1940.[4] However, legally, Michael I could not exercise much authority besides some prerogatives such as being the Supreme Head of the Army and designating a plenipotentiary prime minister Conducător ("Leader").[5]

On 23 August 1944, with the Soviet Army already deep inside Romania's territory, Michael I deposed the German-allied dictator Ion Antonescu at the urging of the opposition parties and aligned the country with the Allies. Helped by the presence of Soviet forces, communists gradually took control of the administration. On 30 December 1947, King Michael I was forced to sign his abdication. The same day, Parliament proclaimed the country a people's republic. The young former king and former queen mother Elena were forced to leave Romania on January 3, 1948, in the royal train, at the request of the communist-dominated government. Royal properties were nationalized later that year.

Return from exile

After the Revolution of 1989, the former king visited Romania to an enthusiastic reception in the streets of Bucharest; The royal estates and properties in Romania were restored. However, the country preserved its republican character.

The former king is respected and recognised by the Parliament. His grandson[6] regularly visits different organisations in Romania. Princess Margareta and her husband bestow royal orders in name of the former king for selected Romanians.

The royal house is still popular[7] and in 2014 Prime Minister Victor Ponta promised a referendum on whether or not to reinstate the monarchy if he were re-elected.[8] A square was named in honor of King "Mihai" in 2012.[9]

Kings of Romania (1881–1947)

Name Lifespan Reign start Reign end Notes Family Image
Charles I
  • Carol
(1839-04-20)20 April 1839 – 10 October 1914(1914-10-10) (aged 75) 15 March 1881 10 October 1914 Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen elected Sovereign Prince of Romania 20 April 1866 Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Carol I of Romania
Ferdinand I
  • Ferdinand
(1865-08-24)24 August 1865 – 20 July 1927(1927-07-20) (aged 61) 10 October 1914 20 July 1927 Nephew of Carol I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Ferdinand I of Romania
Michael I
(1st reign)
  • Mihai
(1921-10-25)25 October 1921 – 5 December 2017(2017-12-05) (aged 96) 20 July 1927 8 June 1930 Grandson of Ferdinand I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Michael I of Romania
Charles II
  • Carol II
(1893-10-15)15 October 1893 – 4 April 1953(1953-04-04) (aged 59) 8 June 1930 6 September 1940 Son of Ferdinand I Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Carol II of Romania
Michael I
(2nd reign)
  • Mihai
(1921-10-25)25 October 1921 – 5 December 2017(2017-12-05) (aged 96) 6 September 1940 30 December 1947 Son of Carol II; Restored Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen Michael I of Romania

Queens consort of Romania

Name Lifespan Reign start Reign end Notes Family Image
Elisabeth (1843-12-29)29 December 1843 – 2 March 1916(1916-03-02) (aged 72) 15 March 1881 10 October 1914 Consort of King Carol I Wied Elisabeta of Romania
Marie (1875-10-29)29 October 1875 – 18 July 1938(1938-07-18) (aged 62) 10 October 1914 20 July 1927 Consort of King Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Maria of Romania


This is a graphical lifespan timeline of Kings, Heirs and Pretenders to the Romanian throne. The kings, the heirs and the pretenders are listed in chronological order.

Princess Elena of Romania Princess Margareta of Romania Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Hohenzollern Michael I of Romania Prince Nicholas of Romania Carol II of Romania Ferdinand I of Romania William, Prince of Hohenzollern Leopold, Prince of Hohenzollern Carol I of Romania Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders Alexandru Ioan Cuza

Royal Standards

See also


  1. ^ "Gold set 1939". Romanian Coins. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ Kremnitz, Mite; Sidney Whitman, Sidney (1899). Reminiscences of the King of Roumania. Harper& Brothers. 
  3. ^ "Fundamental Rules of the Royal Family of Romania" (PDF). The Romanian Royal Family website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-21. 
  4. ^ "The Joys of Suffering," Volume 2, "Dialogue with a few intellectuals", by Rev. Fr. Dimitrie Bejan – "Orthodox Advices" website as of June 9, 2007 (in Romanian)
  5. ^ Ioan Scurtu, Theodora Stănescu-Stanciu, Georgiana Margareta Scurtu, "The History of the Romanians between 1918-1940" ("Istoria românilor între anii 1918–1940"), p. 280. (in Romanian)
  6. ^ http://www.euractiv.com/countries/romania-discreet-scent-monarchy-analysis-515175
  7. ^ https://www.economist.com/blogs/eastern-approaches/2011/10/romanias-ex-monarchy Long live the ex-king
  8. ^ http://royalcentral.co.uk/foreignroyals/romania-may-hold-a-referendum-on-the-return-of-monarchy-38884 Romania may hold a referendum on the return of Monarchy
  9. ^ Patran, Iona (25 October 2012). "Romania government honors ex-king on 91st birthday". Reuters. 
  10. ^ Nicholas ruling as Prince Regent.
  11. ^ With Ion Antonescu as Conducător, from 6 September 1940 to 23 August 1944.