Bucharest: One person attending
Britain`s royal wedding has seen it all before: Michael I, the
taciturn former king of Romania.
Michael, who will be 90 this year, travelled from Romania
to London in 1947 to be a guest at the marriage of Princess
Elizabeth now Queen Elizabeth II to his cousin Prince Philip.
He returns to London for Friday`s wedding of their
grandson, Prince William, to fiancee Kate Middleton.
Thirty years ago, he also attended the 1981 wedding of
William`s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Michael is one of the few surviving heads of state from
World War II, and his life has been nothing if not tumultuous.
A great-great-grandson of Britain`s Queen Victoria and a
third cousin of the current queen, he was first crowned king
at age six and reigned as a boy from 1927 to 1930, and then
again from 1940 until 1947.
The young king returned to Bucharest after the 1947
wedding as communists backed by Soviet ruler Josef Stalin had
just taken over Romania.
He was forced to abdicate the throne a month later,
stripped of his citizenship and sent into exile, where he
worked as a commercial pilot and briefly as a chicken farmer.
Even as communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, the
country`s leaders remained wary of the former king. He was
unceremoniously expelled from Romania in 1990, a year after
the bloody revolt against communism in which more than 1,300
Finally, in 1997, his citizenship was restored by a
pro-European government; he was awarded compensation for his
castles that were confiscated by the communists, and given use
of former royal palaces.
This week former king will be arriving from Switzerland,
where he spent some of his 50 years in exile.
The grand nuptials of Charles and Diana were watched by
750 million people around the world, and Michael rubbed
shoulders with former US first lady Nancy Reagan, the wife of
former President Ronald Reagan, who was among the 3,500