Saturday, February 6, 2010

The king who became a politician

Simeon Sakskoburggotski is the now retired Prime Minister of Bulgaria, having served from 2001-2005. His party, NMSII won 42% of the votes in the 2001 Bulgarian parliamentary election and was praised for bringing moderate liberalism back to post-communist Bulgaria.

Simeon Saksoborggotski is also known as Simeon of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and he was the King (or Tsar) of the Bulgarians from 1943 to 1946 as Simeon II. Simeon II inherited the Bulgarian throne at the age of six when his father, Boris III, died from heart failure after a visit to Hitler in Nazi Germany. Simeon, the child king, reigned under the regency of his uncle, Prince Kyril, until a communist coup in 1945 deposed the monarchy. Prince Kyril was executed, and Simeon and his sister, Princess Maria Louisa, were taken into exile by their mother, Queen Ioanna. They fled to Alexandria, Egypt, where Simeon's grandfather, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (Queen Ioanna's father) was also living in exile.


In Egypt, Simeon attended Victoria College, where his schoolmates included Crown Prince Leka of Albania and the future King Hussein of Jordan. In 1951, the Bulgarian royal family were granted asylum in Spain by Francisco Franco, where Simeon met his wife, Doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. They married in 1962 and have five children.

While living in Madrid, Simeon worked as a businessman. He attempted to form an official government-in-exile while in Madrid with hopes of
counteracting Bulgaria's oppressive communist regime, but the plan did not succeed. Then in 1990, with the collapse of communism across eastern Europe, Simeon was finally issued a Bulgarian passport. Six years later, the former Bulgarian royal family returned to Sofia and greeted by enthusiastic crowds. Some of the former royal estates that had been nationalized by the communist government were returned to the Saxe-Coburg family, but for the next five years Simeon made no announcements of any return to public life.

In 2001, however, the former king announced he was forming his own political party, NMSII, the National Movement Simeon II. The party gained a significant following and won the 2001 parliamentary elections, making Simeon II one of the only deposed monarchs to later become an elected head of state.

As prime minister of Bulgaria, Simeon championed the growth of technology and promot
ed Western business to invest in the country. However, in 2005 NMSII had lost much of its luster, and after obtaining just 3% of the votes in 2009's parliamentary elections, Simeon Sakskoburggotski stepped down as head of NMSII.

The Bulgarian royal family continues to enjoy a fairly popular existence in Bulgaria, though it is unlikely the country will ever seriously consider restoring its monarchy. Since becoming prime minister, Simeon himself has not stated his thoughts on restoring the monarchy,
since upon taking office he swore his oath to uphold the current constitution of Bulgaria.


Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, former king and later Prime Minister of Bulgaria, with former US president George W. Bush.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting article about the Bulgarian Royal Family . I am a big fan of Simeon and I've long been following his life with fascination.

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