Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (or Sakskoburggotski)[a] (born 16 June 1937) is an important political figure in Bulgaria. During his reign as Simeon II, King (or Tsar) of Bulgaria, from 1943 to 1946 he was a minor, the royal authority being exercised over the kingdom on his behalf by a regency. The regents were Simeon's uncle Prince Kiril, General Nikola Mihov and the prime minister, Bogdan Filov. In 1946 the monarchy was overthrown as a consequence of a referendum, and Simeon was forced into exile. He returned to his home country in 1996, formed the political party National Movement for Stability and Progress and was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from July 2001 until August 2005, in the next elections he, as a leader of NDSV, took part in a coalition government with the ex-communist party BSP, and in 2008 after NDSV could not get into Parliament he left politics.
As of 2014, Simeon is one of the three last living heads of state from the time of World War II (the others are former King Michael of Romania and Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet), the only living person who has borne the title "Tsar", and as a former monarch, one of only two monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections (Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia is the other).
- 1 Royal history
- 2 Towards exile
- 3 Education and business career
- 4 Monarch in exile
- 5 Marriage and family
- 6 Political return
- 7 Views on restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy
- 8 Autobiography
- 9 Heir to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry
- 10 Titles, styles, honours, awards and patronages
- 11 Ancestors
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Bibliography
- 15 External links
Simeon was born the son of Boris III and Giovanna of Italy. Following his birth, Boris III sent an air force officer to the River Jordan to obtain water for Simeon's baptism in the Orthodox faith. He became tsar on 28 August 1943 on the death of his father, who had just returned to Bulgaria from a meeting with Adolf Hitler. Since Tsar Simeon was only six years old when he ascended the throne, his uncle Prince Kyril, Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and Lt. General Nikola Mikhov of the Bulgarian Army were appointed regents.
On 5 September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and three days later the Red Army entered the country without encountering resistance. On the next day, 9 September 1944, Prince Kyril and the other regents were deposed by a Soviet-backed coup and arrested. The three regents, all members of the last three governments, Parliament deputies, heads of the army and eminent journalists were executed by the Communists in February 1945.
The royal family (Queen Giovanna, Simeon II, and his sister Maria-Louisa) remained at Vrana Palace near Sofia, while three new regents were appointed (Todor Pavlov, Venelin Ganev and Tsvetko Boboshevski). On 15 September 1946, a referendum was held in the presence of the Soviet army. It resulted in a 97% approval for republic and abolition of the monarchy. On 16 September 1946, the royal family was exiled from Bulgaria. Simeon II has never signed any abdication papers—neither at that moment when he was nine years old, nor later. The royal family first went to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Giovanna's father Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy, lived in exile. There, Simeon II finished Victoria College (along with Crown Prince Leka of Albania). In July 1951, the Spanish government granted asylum to the family.
Education and business career
In Madrid, Simeon studied at the Lycée Français, but did not graduate. On 16 June 1955, upon turning 18, in accordance with the Tarnovo Constitution Simeon II read his proclamation to the Bulgarian people as the Tsar of Bulgaria, confirming his will to be king of all Bulgarians and follow the principles of the Tarnovo Constitution and free Bulgaria. In 1958, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in the United States, where he was known as "Cadet Rylski No. 6883", and graduated as a second lieutenant. Once again in Spain (between 1959 and 1962), Simeon studied law and business administration.
He became a businessman. For thirteen years, he was chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson, a French defence and electronics group. He was also an adviser in the banking, hotel, electronics, and catering sectors.
Monarch in exile
Simeon issued several political declarations during his exile through his "chancellery" in Madrid directed at the Communist regime in Bulgaria and his exiled compatriots. His early attempts at forming an official government in exile did not come to fruition, however.
Marriage and family
In 1962 Simeon married a Spanish aristocrat, doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The couple have five children – four sons (Kardam, Kiril, Kubrat and Konstantin) and a daughter, Kalina, all of whom subsequently married Spaniards. All of his sons received names of Bulgarian kings, his daughter has a Bulgarian name, although only two of his eleven grandchildren have Bulgarian names (Boris and Sofia).
- Kardam (born 1962, died April 7, 2015) married Miriam de Ungría y López. They had two sons, Boris and Beltran.
- Kiril (born 1964) married María del Rosario Nadal y Fuster-Puigdórfila. They have two daughters, Mafalda and Olimpia, and one son, Tassilo.
- Kubrat (born 1965) married Carla María de la Soledad Royo-Villanova y Urrestarazu. They have three sons: Mirko, Lukás and Tirso.
- Konstantin-Assen (born 1967) married María García de la Rasilla y Gortázar. They have twins, Umberto and Sofia.
- Kalina (born 1972) married Antonio José "Kitín" Muñoz y Valcárcel. They have one son, Simeon Hassan Muñoz.
In 1990, a few months after the fall of Communism, Simeon was issued a new Bulgarian passport. In 1996, 50 years after the abolition of the monarchy, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and was met in many places by crowds cheering: "We want our King!" He did not, at that point, make any political announcements or moves. However these sentiments gradually disappeared after his premiership and specifically during his coalition as a leader of NDSV with the ex-communist party, together with changing of generations since now-a-days voters are in majority not born during the Third Kingdom.
Various estates in Bulgaria that had been nationalized during the Communist era were returned to Simeon and his family. In 2001, Simeon, who had by this time taken the name Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, announced he would return to Bulgaria to form a new political party, the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII), dedicated to "reforms and political integrity." Simeon promised that in 800 days the Bulgarian people would feel tangible positive effects of his government and would enjoy significantly higher standards of living.
- For details on his cabinet, see: Sakskoburggotski Government
NMSII won a large victory in the parliamentary elections held on 17 June 2001, capturing 120 of the 240 seats in Parliament and defeating the two main pre-existing political parties. Simeon gave an oath as Prime Minister of Bulgaria on 24 July, forming a coalition with the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). He gave ministerial positions in his government mainly to technocrats and Western-educated economic specialists. In 2002, his efforts were recognized by his receiving the 2002 Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation. During his time in power, Bulgaria joined EC and NATO.
In the 2005 elections, Simeon's party ranked second and participated in the grand coalition government led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party and including the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Simeon II was given the unofficial ceremonial post of Chairman of the Coalition Council.
Views on restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy
Simeon II has never formally renounced his claim to the Bulgarian throne. He used the title "Tsar of the Bulgarians" in his political statements during his exile. Since his return to Bulgaria, however, Simeon has consistently declined to reveal his views on the restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy, notwithstanding the name of his party. Upon taking office as prime minister, he took an oath to protect the country's republican constitution.
Simeon II wrote an autobiography in French under the title Simeon II de Bulgarie, un destin singulier that was released in Bulgaria on 28 October 2014. It was first presented at the headquarters of the UNESCO in Paris on 22 October 2014.
Heir to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry
After the death of his distant cousin Prince Johannes Heinrich of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in April 2010 and due to the exclusion of the late prince's uncle Philipp Josias Maria Joseph Ignatius Michael Gabriel Raphael Gonzaga (Walterskirchen, 18 August 1901 – 31 December 1994) children and descendants from his morganatic marriage with Sarah Aurelia Halasz, Simeon became the Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry, former Magnates of Hungary, and heir to the castles of Čabraď and Sv. Anton, both in modern day Slovakia. In early 2012, he nominally ceded his rights to the headship of the princely house of Koháry to his sister Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria. In a statement published on its website on May 1, 2015, the Bulgarian Patriarchy announced that Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha will be referred to as king of Bulgaria in all public and private services held in the diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Titles, styles, honours, awards and patronages
King Simeon II of the Bulgarians
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- Titles in Bulgaria
- Recognised titles
- 16 June 1937 – 28 August 1943: His Royal Highness The Prince of Turnovo
- 28 August 1943 - 15 September 1946: His Majesty The King
- 15 September 1946 - 24 July 2001: Mr Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
- 24 July 2001 - 17 August 2005: His Excellency Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of Bulgaria
- 17 August 2005 – Present: Mr Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
- Informal titles (as recognition of his past)
- 28 August 1943 – 2005: His Majesty The King of the Bulgarians
- National dynastic honours
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Saint Alexander
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight Grand Officer of the Order of Bravery
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight of the Order of Military Merit
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight of the Order of Civil Merit
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight of the National Order of Labour
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight of the Order of 9 September 1944
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign Knight of the Order of People's Freedom
- Bulgarian royal family: Sovereign recipient of the Coming of age Medal of King Simeon II
- National state honours
- Bulgaria: Grand Cross of the Order of Stara Planina
- Bulgarian Ministry of Defence: Collar of the Order of Justice
- Foreign honours
- Belgium: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold II
- Greek royal family: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
- Vatican: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
- Italian royal family: Knight of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
- Jordan: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Independence
- Malta: Bailiff Knight Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- National awards
- Bulgaria: Honorary degree of the National Guards Unit of Bulgaria
- Bulgaria: Jubilee badge of honour of the Bulgarian Chitalishte community
- Foreign awards
- European Union: Paneuropean Union integration award
- Romania: Honorary degree of the University of Bucharest
- National patronages
- The Boy Who Was a King
- List of monarchs who lost their thrones in the 20th and 21st centuries
- House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
- "Bulgaria". BBC - Country Profiles. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Kate Connolly, "Once upon a time in Bulgaria", The Guardian, 20 June 2001.
- "Bulgarian Rule Goes to Son, 6. Reports on 5-Day Illness Conflict", United Press dispatch of 28 August 1943, in a cutting from an unknown newspaper in the collection of historian James L. Cabot, Ludington, Michigan
- Theo Aronson, Crowns in Conflict, p.202. London: John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-7195-4279-0
- Geoffrey Hindley, The Royal Families of Europe, p. 156. London: Lyric Books Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-07-093530-0
- Lilov 2013, p. 89.
- Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – Prime Minister of Bulgaria
- Lilov 2013, p. 91.
- Lilov 2013, p. 93.
- Path to Peace Foundation website
- "Симеон Сакскобургготски подаде оставка" (in Bulgarian). Труд. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
-  - unesco.org
- Biography H.M. King Simeon II – Official website of the king (English)
- Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (2008). "Membership of the Constantinian Order". g/ Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
- The Royal House of the Two Sicilies (2008). "MEMBERSHIP OF THE ROYAL ILLUSTRIUOS ORDER OF ST. JANUARIUS". g/ The Royal House of the Two Sicilies. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- Spanish: Otras disposiciones BOE 07-10-02, Spanish Official Journal (accessed on 30 October 2008)
- Boletín Oficial del Estado
- Ramon Perez-Maura, El rey posible: Simeon de Bulgaria, Belacqua, Madrid, 2002 (ISBN 8495894238)
- Simeon II de Bulgarie, Sébastien de Courtois , Un destin singulier, Flammarion, 2014 (ISBN 9782081314672)
In addition to the books listed in the References, the following may be mentioned:
- Walter J.R. Curley, Monarchs in Waiting. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1975. (pp. 23–25: "Bulgaria: His Majesty King Simeon II")
- Pashanko Dimitroff, Boris III of Bulgaria 1894–1943. London, 1986. ISBN 0-86332-140-2
- Charles Fenyvesi, Royalty in Exile. London: Robson Books, 1981. (pp. 153–171: "Czar Simeon of the Bulgars") ISBN 0-86051-131-6
- Stephane Groueff Crown of Thorns, Lanham MD. and London, 1987. ISBN 0-8191-5778-3
- Gregory Lauder-Frost, The Betrayal of Bulgaria, Monarchist League Policy Paper, London, 1989.
- Robert K. Massie and Jeffrey Firestone, The Last Courts of Europe. New York: Greenwich House, 1983. ISBN 0-517-41472-4
- The Daily Telegraph, Obituary for "HM Queen Ioanna of the Bulgarians", London, 28 February 2000.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Simeon II of Bulgaria.|
- King Simeon II - Personal website
- The first website about Simeon II of Bulgaria focuses on his pre-1995 history
- Financial Times July 2001 Biography
- Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's statement, 5 July 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."
- Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's address, 10 February 2005 concerning amending the constitution to bring it in line with EU requirements, Standart
Cadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: 16 June 1937
|Tsar of Bulgaria
as Tsar of Bulgaria
|Head of State of Bulgaria
as Tsar of Bulgaria
as Acting President of Bulgaria
|Prime Minister of Bulgaria
|Titles in pretence|
||— TITULAR —
Tsar of Bulgaria
HH Prince Alexander Ernst of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|Line of succession to the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha throne