Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (or Sakskoburggotski) (born 16 June 1937) is a Bulgarian politician and former monarch. 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 abolished as a consequence of a referendum, and Simeon was forced into exile. He returned to his home country in 1996 and formed the political party National Movement for Stability and Progress and became 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 2009 after NDSV failed to win any seats in the Parliament, he left politics.
As of 2016, Simeon is one of the three last living heads of state from the time of World War II (the others are former King Michael I of Romania and Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet), the only living person who has borne the title "Tsar", and one of only two former monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections (the other is the now-deceased Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia).
Simeon was born to 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.
They joined the Axis powers during World War II and on 5 September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria. 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 and his legal capacity to sign such an instrument would be questionable in any event, nor at any time 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 issue
On 21 January 1962, Simeon married a Spanish aristocrat, Doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The couple have had 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 (1962 - 7 April 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 today a majority of voters were born after the fall of the monarchy.
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.
The party got just 3.01% of votes and no seats at the parliamentary elections of 2009. Shortly after, on 6 July, Simeon also resigned as NMSII leader.
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 and 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 and 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 (and those of his children) 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 1 May 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 dioceses of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Titles, styles, honours and awards
Simeon II of the Bulgarians
|Reference style||His Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- 16 June 1937 – 28 August 1943: His Royal Highness Prince Simeon of Bulgaria, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
- 28 August 1943 – present: His Majesty The King of the Bulgarians
- legally in Bulgaria 15 September 1946 – 24 July 2001: Mr Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
- legally in Bulgaria 24 July 2001 – 17 August 2005: His Excellency The Prime Minister of Bulgaria
- 17 August 2005 – present: Mr Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
National dynastic honours
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Royal Order of Saint Alexander
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Chain of the Royal Order of Bravery
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Civil Merit
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Military Merit
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight of the National Order of Labour
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight of the Order of 9 September 1944
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Sovereign Knight of the Order of People's Freedom
- House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: 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
- Albanian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Fidelity, Special Class
- Belgium: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold II
- Greek Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Redeemer
- Italian Royal Family: Knight Grand Collar of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation
- Vatican: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Bailiff Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 1st Class
- Calabrian Royal Family of Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Januarius
- Calabrian Royal Family of Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Parmese Ducal Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross of the Parmese Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
- Jordan: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Independence
- Russian Imperial Family: Knight Grand Cordon with Collar of the Imperial Order of St. Andrew
- Spain: 1, 192nd Knight with Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece
- Spain: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III
- Sweden: Recipient of the 70th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf
- Bulgaria: Honorary degree of the National Guards Unit of Bulgaria
- Bulgaria: Jubilee badge of honour of the Bulgarian Chitalishte community
- European Union: Paneuropean Union integration award
- Romania: Honorary degree of the University of Bucharest
- 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 | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "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". web.archive.org. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- Lilov 2013, p. 91.
- Lilov 2013, p. 93.
- "The Path to Peace Foundation homepage". Thepathtopeacefoundation.org\accessdate=24 July 2015.
- "Симеон Сакскобургготски подаде оставка" (in Bulgarian). Труд. 6 July 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
- "Simeon II of Bulgaria presents a preview of his autobiography at UNESCO". UNESCO. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Google Books
- Paul Theroff. "Bulgaria". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Enthroned by Holy Synod – News – BULGARIAN NEWS AGENCY". Bta.bg. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Letter from Prime Minister Simeon Saxe Coburg Gotha to President Bush (September 13)". Bulgaria-embassy.org. 13 September 2001. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Blogspot.com, King Simeon wearing his orders and medal at the Luxembourg Royal wedding
- Blogspot.com, King Simeon wearing his orders at the Swedish Royal wedding
- http://www.kingsimeon.bg/en/, King Simeon wearing his orders in an official photo
- "Photographic image" (JPG). Kingsimeon.bg. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Великият магистър на българските ордени". Kingsimeon.bg. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Oct 19 – King Simeon II of Bulgaria and Queen Margarita of Bulgaria attend the Gala dinner in Luxembourg. | BULGARIA ( NO REINANTE )". Pinterest. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- http://www.kingsimeon.bg/en/, page with Simeon's honours
- "One World magazine – COUBURGS". Oneworld-bg.net. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Симеон II получи най-високото отличие на Министерството на правосъдието". Kingsimeon.bg. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Queen Anne of Romania and Princess Lilian of Belgium followed by King... News Photo". Getty Images. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Photographic image" (JPG). 1.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Photographic image" (JPG). Tb.ziareromania.ro. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "radical royalist: 25 years ago Empress Zita of Austria passed away". Radicalroyalist.blogspot.co.uk. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- 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.
- 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.
- King Simeon behind Crown Prince Leka wearing the Collar
- BOLETIN OFICIAL DEL ESTADO (2 October 2004). "BOE 238 de 02/10/2004 Sec 3 Pag 33224 a. 33224" (PDF). Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "King Simeon II of Bulgaria Photos – Zimbio". M.zimbio.com. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "7 julio 1955 B. O. del E—Núm. 188" (PDF). 28 May 2009. p. 4084. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Н.В. Цар Симеон ІІ получи медал и грамота в чест на 125-ата годишнина на 9-и пехотен полк на Княгиня Клементина". Kingsimeon.bg. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Негово Величество получи почетния знак на българските читалища". Kingsimeon.bg. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Н. В. Цар Симеон ІІ бе удостоен с наградата на Паневропейския съюз за големия му принос за европейската интеграция на България". Kingsimeon.bg. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Под заглавие "Ексклузивно от Букурещ - Симеон II посрещнат с почести" списание Hello публикува три страници за посещението на Техни Величества в румънската столица". Kingsimeon.bg. 16 December 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- "Н.В. Цар Симеон II | Новини -> Царят е патрон на Деня на България в Загреб". Kingsimeon.bg. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
- Ramon Perez-Maura, El rey possible: 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
- 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
| Succeeded by|
as Acting President of Bulgaria
|Prime Minister of Bulgaria
| Succeeded by|
|Titles in pretence|
||— TITULAR —
Tsar of Bulgaria
HH Prince Alexander Ernst of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|Line of succession to the former Saxe-Coburg and Gotha throne
| Succeeded by|