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News 10 Nov 17

Deathbed Drama Surrounds Romania's Last King

Romania’s royal family has been shaken by fresh ructions after the fading 96-year-old monarch's disinherited grandson was barred from seeing him and accused of assaulting staff.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romania's ex-king Michael I with his grandson Nicolae Medforth-Mills. Photo: Nicolae Medforth-Mills/Facebook

Romania's royal household has been hit by scandal after the disinherited grandson of ex-monarch Michael I, 96 and now reportedly fading away, allegedly tried to force his way into his grandfather’s Swiss home.

The royal family issued a press release on Wednesday saying that Nicolae Medforth-Mills tried to enter into King Michael’s private residence by “forcing the door of the house”. It also said the King’s grandson “physically and verbally assaulted” three staff members, leaving one of the employees with body injuries.

The Royal Household also said it has filed a complaint with the Swiss police.

“His Majesty made it clear for several months that he refuses to see his grandson, which he had repeatedly told Mr Medforth-Mills as well,” the press release added.

Medforth-Mills who was third in line to become the head of the Royal House and was quite popular among supporters of the Romanian monarchy was disinherited in 2015, without an official explanation.

He said in a Facebook post that he felt “deeply saddened” and didn’t understand “the aggressiveness of the Royal House” in keeping him from seeing his grandfather and discrediting his image.

“I will not be a part of this dirty game. I will choose to respect my grandfather in these difficult moments, because this is the proper and Christian thing to do,” the Facebook post said.

The row continued on Thursday, with Medford-Mills’ own mother, Princess Elena, responding with an official press release stressing that the ex-king did not wish to see his grandson and adding that he was disinherited in 2015 because he refused to recognize a “love child.”

“I feel I lost a part of my soul. This is inhuman,” Medforth Mills replied again on Thursday on his Facebook account, where he shared an old picture of him as a child with his grandfather.

The king’s disinherited grandson got engaged in August to Romanian artist Ana Maria Binder, 29. They are to wed next summer.

His aunt, Princess Margareta, the current custodian of the crown, is next in line for the position of head of the Royal House once Michael dies. She is followed by her sister, Princess Elena, Medforth-Mills’ mother, and his sister, Elisabeta Karina. The fourth in line is Margareta and Elena’s third sister, Sofia, and the fifth, her daughter Elisabeta Maria Biarneix.

Another disinherited member of the Royal House is Irina Walker, King Michael’s third daughter who was stripped of her title as princess following her involvement with illegal cockfighting at Irrigon, Oregon, in 2013.

Michael, born in 1921, reigned as King of Romania from 1927 to 1930 and then again from 1940 to 1947, when the government, already by then under Communist control, declared a republic and forced him into exile. He eventually settled in Switzerland. His Romanian citizenship was not restored until 1997.

Alongside ex-king Simeon of Bulgaria, he is the last surviving head of state from World War II in Europe.

King Michael withdrew from public life in spring 2016 after being diagnosed with cancer and leukemia. 

While the chances of a royalist restoration in Romania are scant, being a member of the royal family is not without significance, not least because they have regained a number of former royal residences.

The president of Romania’s Senate, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, and the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, recently submitted a draft bill to parliament that would grant the family several benefits, including the status and privileges of a former head of state for the head of the Royal Family.

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