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Simeon II (born June 16, 1937) was the last Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946, and is the current Prime Minister of Bulgaria. He now uses the name Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski (Симеон Сакскобурготски) but is often known outside Bulgaria as Mr. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, which is the English form of his German family name Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. He is the only monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office (see Norodom Sihanouk for the nearest similar history).
Simeon was born to Tsar Boris III and Queen Joanna (of the House of Savoy), and he was baptized with water taken from the River Jordan and flown to Bulgaria by an air force major. He became Tsar on August 28 1943 upon the sudden death of his father, shortly after a dinner meeting with Hitler. Since he was still a minor, his uncle, Prince Kyril of Bulgaria and two others were appointed regents. On the 9th September 1944, Kyril and the other regents were removed by an antifascist Soviet-backed coup. Kyril was quickly tried and executed, as were many members of Bulgaria's educated governing claases . Simeon was allowed to stay on the throne with regents appointed by the new government. A 1946 referendum voted to abolish the monarchy, and the royal family left the country without Simeon abdicating, a point made in the official Bulgarian on-line biography of Simeon .
They initially went to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Joanna's father Victor Emanuel III, ex-king of Italy, was living in exile. In July 1951 the Spanish government of Francisco Franco granted asylum to the exiled Bulgarian royal family. In Madrid Simeon graduated from the Lyšee Francaise and studied law and political science. In 1958-1959 he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy in the United States, where he was known as “cadet Rylski” and graduated as second lieutenant. Once again in Spain, Simeon studied law and business administration, and went on to become a successful businessman.
In 1962 he married a Spanish aristocrat, Dona Margarita Gomez-Acebo y Cejuela. They have five children – four sons and a daughter.
Unlike many 20th-century monarchs in exile, Simeon never lost sight of the serious business of monarchy, a heritage of one of Europe's most conscientious and serious ruling families (who have included progressive, high-minded Prince Albert and Leopold I of Belgium). He spent most of his adult life working as a businessman in sectors of concern to potential heads of state: thirteen years as chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson, a French defence and electronics group and as an advisor in the banking, hotel, electronics, and catering sectors.
In all his years of exile, Simeon never lost touch with Bulgaria and Bulgarians. He is fluent in Bulgarian, which he speaks in a slightly courtly and old-fashioned manner, as well as in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish; his Arabic and Portuguese are somewhat hesitant. In 1996 Simeon was finally permitted to return to Bulgaria on a private visit and was well received, with thousands in the streets cheering him and chanting "We want our king." A court returned to him the personal properties in Bulgaria that had been confiscated by the Communists. In 2001 he made a public statement that he wished to return for good, announced the formation of a broadly inclusive National Movement for Simeon II, dedicated to reforms and political integrity. In elections held July 24, 2001, the NMS won 120 out of 240 seats in Parliament, overturning both of Bulgaria's entrenched parties. Once Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha was sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, he turned for needed coalition support to the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Further emphasizing that his term would not revert to business-as-usual, he has assembled a cabinet composed mainly of technocrats and Western-educated economic specialists, with an eye towards eventual membership in the European Union.
He has made no public commitment on whether he believes Bulgaria should restore the monarchy, saying it is a matter for the people of Bulgaria to decide. As he never formally abdicated he retains the claim to his royal title and has not renounced it.
- Republic of Bulgaria: Biography
- Financial Times July 2001 Biography
- Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's address, February 10, 2005 concerning amending the constitution to bring it in line with EU requirements
- Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's statement, July 5, 2002 concerning Bulgaria's candidacy for NATO membership: "The role of the international community should be gradually transformed from crisis response to integration. Palliative measures intended to mitigate yet another crisis cannot bring stability and prosperity. The best solution is the region's integration into the European and Euroatlantic institutions."
|List of Bulgarian monarchs||Monarchy abolished|
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