HIS MAJESTY SIMEON II, KING OF THE BULGARIANS
His Majesty King Simeon II was born on June 16th, 1937 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the son of King Boris III and Queen Ioanna, and in virtue of the provisions of the Turnovo Constitution and the Salic dynastic laws of succession, He has been the Heir to the Throne of the Bulgarian Kings until August 28th, 1943, and from that date to the present day, He is the last sovereign and anointed King of the Bulgarians.
On the day of his birth, the whole of Bulgaria was sounded by the church bells ringing and by 101 cannon salvos which heralded the birth of the future Bulgarian King. On the occasion of the joyous event, a broad amnesty was announced for 4000 prisoners, taxes and fees were forgiven, and students received a one-point increase in their school grades. In observance of the dynastic traditions and family laws, the newly born heir to the Throne was given the titles Prince of Turnovo – a title honoring the old capital of Bulgaria held by the Crown Prince in the Third Kingdom, Duke of Saxony, and Prince Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Initially, Queen Ioanna wanted her son to be called Borislav but the host of people gathered in front of the Palace chanted the name Simeon: in the minds of Bulgarians, the son of King Boris III could bear only the name of the great Bulgarian King Simeon I, the son and glorious heir of the Saint Prince Boris-Michail, The Baptist.
On July 12th of the same year (St. Peter’s Day, in the Julian calendar), in the Royal Chapel of Archsupreme Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, the Successor to the Throne was baptized in the Orthodox faith by the members of the Holy Synod. The godfather of the newborn Prince became Danail Nikolaev, the oldest General of the infantry known as ‘the patriarch of the Bulgarian military’. The water for the baptism was brought from the Jordan River itself by a special envoy of His Majesty’s Air Forces.
H.R.H. Simeon, Prince of Turnovo, was credited in the ranks of the Bulgarian Army as a second lieutenant in the lists of the 6th Turnovo’s Infantry of H. M. King Ferdinand I Regiment, and honorary chief of the 19th Infantry Regiment of Shoumen, the 1st Artillery Regiment, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
Prince Simeon received his primary education from the Neophyte Rylski Elementary School in the capital city, the tutorials and studies being held in the Palace by some of the best teachers and educators. Colonel Bardarov was appointed for the military training, and Archpriest Father Ivan Sungarski – for the spiritual education of the Crown Prince.
On August 28th, 1943, upon the sudden death of King Boris III, only 6 years old, Prince Simeon of Turnovo ascended to the throne of the glorious Bulgarian kings, under the name of Simeon II, King of the Bulgarians. On account of the King’s minority and according to the constitutional provisions, a three-member Council of Regency was appointed composed of Prince Kyril of Preslav, Prof. Dr. Bogdan Filov, and Lieutenant General Nikola Mihov. The regents exercised their power within the limits of the king’s power and governed the Kingdom on behalf of the King.
The coup d’etat of September 9th, 1944 staged by the Fatherland Front, the communists and individual members of the army formally declared that “it would observe the constitution in its provisions”. Bulgaria kept being a Monarchy headed by its Sovereign – King Simeon II. The regents were detained and, in violation of the Constitution, by a decision of the Council of Ministers replaced by the newly appointed Prof. Todor Pavlov, communist, Prof. Venelin Ganev, non-party, and Tsvyatko Boboshevski, member of the Bulgarian Agrarian Union. On September 14th, 1944, the new regents introduced themselves to their Monarch at the Palace of Tsarska Bistritsa. The difference to the old ones is palpable – the new ones arrived each in a separate car followed by a truck of armed communist youths with waving flags and red bands.
On February 1st, 1945, after a contrived political trial by the so-called ‘People’s Court’, the three royal regents, along with royal counselors, ministers, parliament members, and generals were sentenced to death and shot by firing squad. Their dead bodies were thrown into a bomb-driven pit in the Sofia cemetery and covered with cinder. As an expression of monstrous cynicism, one of the new communist regents arrived at the
Vrana Palace to express ‘the government’s condolences’ for the assassinated regents.
On April 24th, 1946, Holy Thursday, the remains of the largely beloved Boris III, King-Unifier of Bulgaria have been exhumed from his modest grave in the Rila Monastery and moved to the Vrana Palace park. The bereaved Queen and His children were forced at night to look again at their husband and father buried three years ago. In the two years until the Monarchy’s abolition on September 8th, 1946, the Royal Family was held hostage in their home, the Vrana Palace. On September 16th that year, King Simeon II, his sister Princess Maria Louisa and Queen Ioanna were coerced to leave Bulgaria. Without abdicating the throne, the young King went into exile for 50 years.
The family settled first in Alexandria, Egypt. The choice of Egypt was not accidental – it was where the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, Queen Ioanna’s Father was living, also in exile. In Egypt, King Simeon was enrolled at the notable Victoria College, the elite equivalent for the British Eton College for Northern Africa, and Princess Maria Louisa studied at the Sacred Heart Girl’s School under the cares of Irish nuns. Several future
monarchs and statesmen from the Middle East are among the schoolmates of Tsar Simeon II in the college, which predestines his excellent relations with the Royal Families of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, and others. King Farouk of Egypt welcomes his new settlers with oriental hospitality and respect. Along with the Italian King and Queen, the Albanian King Zog and Queen Géraldine with Their son Leka lived in exile in Alexandria, with whom Queen Ioanna established a warm and amicable relationship that lasted a lifetime.
In July 1951, the Spanish government granted political asylum to the exiled Bulgarian Royal Family. In Madrid, Tsar Simeon II graduated from the Lycee Francais, studied law and political sciences.
On June 16th, 1955, the day of attaining His majority, King Simeon II addressed a special Manifesto to the people of Bulgaria, in which He proclaimed that, although deprived of the opportunity to swear the oath required by the Turnovo Constitution on that day, he would serve honestly and faithfully to the Bulgarian people and Bulgarian cause.
In 1959, He graduated from the prestigious Valley Forge Military Academy, Pennsylvania, USA. He entered the academy under the name of cadet Simeon Rylski. The prestigious military academy was recommended by George Earle, US Governor of Pennsylvania and Minister Plenipotentiary of President Roosevelt at King Boris III on the eve of the war, who had established excellent relations with the Royal Family.
On January 21st, 1962, following sustained negotiations with the Vatican and two meetings with Pope John XXIII (proclaimed a saint of the Church by Pope Francis), King Simeon II married the Spanish aristocrat Doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The royal wedding took place in the Orthodox Church in Vevey, Switzerland. From their matrimony five children were born – Kardam (* 1962-2015), Kyril (* 1964), Kubrat (*1965), Konstantin-Assen (* 1967), and Kalina (* 1972).
During all the years of exile, King Simeon II worked tirelessly for the Bulgarian cause around the world. Hundreds of meetings with Bulgarian political emigrants and refugees. Charitable initiatives under the patronage of the Queen Mother and Queen Margarita. Financial support for non returnees, as offensively communist Bulgaria, called Bulgarians fleeing the regime. In 1996 King Simeon II returned to Bulgaria after 50 years of exile.
He maintains extensive international relations in the Reigning Families, the elite of political, military, and economic circles around the world, carrying out a variety of activities that require frequent travel to different parts of the world. He visits prominent politicians and statesmen, with whom He establishes reliable contacts and personal connections. He is an official guest of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, whom the King honored with the Grand Cross of the St. Alexander Royal Order, the President of the Philippines Marcos, the US Secretary of State, and many others.
In 1983, as executor of his uncle’s will, King Umberto II of Italy, King Simeon handed over to the Vatican the ownership of the Shroud of Turin.
He visited the Holy Land, where he was welcomed by Patriarch Benedict of Jerusalem who honored him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. In Israel, the King met with the Bulgarian Jewish community who expressed their gratitude and admiration for King Boris who gave even his life for their salvation.
The King and Queen travel tens of thousands of kilometers to meet the Bulgarians living in Chicago, Toronto, Washington, New York; in the European capitals, Scandinavia, and the hundreds of Bulgarians scattered on refugee camps in Italy, Germany, Greece. In the office at his home in Madrid, the King opened a non-official service of the Red Cross to help Bulgarians around the world. Hundreds of letters of gratitude for the help and support by the Royal Family are currently stored in the archives at the Vrana Palace.
He is cordially received by the monarchical families of Europe because of his personal qualities and position, besides the kinship. He visited Queen Elizabeth in Balmoral and Windsor, the Royal Families of Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Greece. He is related to most of them by blood, either on the part of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty or, on the part of Savoy, Bourbon, and Orleans. In addition to his native Bulgarian, King Simeon II speaks excellent English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, and is an independent user of Arabic and Portuguese.
Following the political changes in East Europe, the Royal Family began to get closer to the Bulgarians in the homeland and to participate actively but discreetly in the social processes. In 1991, Princess Maria Louisa revisited Bulgaria, and in 1993, The Queen Mother Ioanna arrived for the 50th anniversary of the decease of Tsar Boris III. The miraculously surviving heart of the King Unifier was reburied in the Rila Monastery.
The gladness and rapture of the Bulgarians are indescribable. After decades of desecration and monstrous propaganda, the Bulgarians are once again approaching their Royal Family and their deliberately erased past. His Majesty King Simeon II returned to the homeland for the first time on May 25, 1996. The joy was incredible. On the day of His arrival, almost one million people flocked to the streets of Sofia. No one has even thought such a reception and national delight were possible!
In 1998, the Constitutional Court of the Republic, based on the request of the Prosecutor General and supported by the standpoint of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, unanimously decided to declare unconstitutional the law on confiscation of the Bulgarian kings’ estates adopted in 1947. Driven by the desire to be useful to His people, the King expressed discreetly an intention to run for President of the Republic, ahead of state position resembling that, for which he has been prepared, educated, and brought up since childhood. However, this possibility was rejected by the then political authorities as ineligible based on the new Constitution’s requirement for a five-year permanent residence in Bulgaria.
The Palace of Vrana, as the other private estates were restored to the Royal Family in 2000 before the King decided to act the part in the political life of the Republic.
The King has never been deprived of Bulgarian citizenship, and he never accepted a foreign one. During the years of exile, Simeon II used passavant, and later –Italian and Spanish diplomatic passports issued on the ground of His kinship with the Royal Families, Savoy, and Bourbon respectively. After He was denied the opportunity to work for his Fatherland as president, the King took a different move.
From the beginning of 2001 He finally returned to Bulgaria, and on April 6th, declared the establishment of a National Movement in His Name designated to work for the country’s revival. As the leader of this movement, after a series of deliberately created problems and vicissitudes during its court registration, the Bulgarian King ran in the parliamentary elections held on June 17th, 2001, and decisively won them. On July 24th,
2001, Simeon II was sworn in as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria using his civil surname, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In the next four years, he successfully ruled the country and prepared the route for Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and signing the Treaty of Accession to the European Union.
In 2009, Tsar Simeon II left acting the part in politics and devoted Himself to preserving the historical past, cultural and socially significant initiatives, such as supporting young and proactive Bulgarians locally and abroad. In October 2010, the Royal Family established King Boris III and Queen Ioanna Fund explicitly intending to preserve the historical heritage of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom for future generations. In March 2011, the Fund started the gradual restoration of the Vrana Palace as a cultural-historical and spiritual center.
By Decree of the President of the Republic of June 15th, 2007, His Majesty King Simeon II was awarded the highest state republican honour – the Order of Stara Planina, first degree, for exceptional services to the Motherland.
H.M. King Simeon II is honoured with over thirty state and dynastic insignia, including the highest degree of the Spanish Order of Carlos III, Grand Officer of the French Order of the Legion of Honor, Grand Cross of the Belgian Order of the Crown, Grand Cross of the Order of Independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Greek Grand Cross of the Savior, Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre by the Jerusalem Patriarch,
Grand Cross of the Order of Malta, Grand Necklace of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Grand Cross of Honour and Piety, and the highest ranks of many European dynastic and ecclesiastical orders. Apart from the many foreign orders and decorations, King Simeon II is the last Grand Master of all Royal Orders in Bulgarian history. In the historical perspective, only the Royal Order of St. Alexander remains a dynastic distinction of the Bulgarian Royal House.
On April 7, 2015, after spending seven years in a coma, the eldest son of King Simeon II, Prince Kardam of Turnovo, passed away. This is a heavy blow to the King and Queen, to the entire Royal House, and all patriotic monarchists in Bulgaria. H.R.H. Prince Kardam is married to Princess Miriam and they have two sons, Boris and Beltrán. In memory of her late husband, Princess Miriam accepted the Orthodox faith, the same a professed by both her sons in consent to the provisions of the Turnovo Constitution and the Bulgarian dynastic tradition.
On June 16th, 2017, King Simeon II celebrated his 80th birthday in the homeland, at his home, Vrana Palace. In the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, His Holiness the Patriarch and the members of the Holy Synod offered a thanksgiving prayer. As eight decades ago, the bells of this church, as of all churches in the country, were ringing in honor of the last anointed Bulgarian King. Among the guests of the High Jubilee were representatives of European dynasties, clergy, public figures, men of arts, and politicians from all Bulgarian parties, regardless of their views and convictions. King Simeon II dedicated his whole life to the unification of Bulgarians and today he dedicates his time and efforts to this unalterable cause of His!