Romania’s King Michael, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, has died at the age of 96 in Switzerland.
Last year, the former King was admitted to a clinic in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he received constant treatment after being in a severe stare of physical weakness, according to a statement released by His Majesty’s press office.
Princess Maria, The King’s youngest daughter, was at his bedside when he died.
King Michael had been in ill health for some time and suffered from chronic leukaemia and epidermoid carcinoma. In early November 2017, Elisabeta Palace announced that the King’s “general state of health has worsened considerably.” They added that the Romanian Royal Family would be in discussions with his doctors regarding advice for going forward.
In the year before his death, he withdrew from public duties citing his frail health as the reason.
Before his death, King Michael has decided to pass to his daughter, Princess Margareta, the responsibility to represent Romania’s Royal House after his cancer diagnosis.
In August 2016, his wife, Queen Anne died at the age of 92. The couple had been married for 68 years, but due to his ill health, the King was unable to travel back to Romania for her funeral.
The former King was born at Foișor Castle and is the son of Carol II of Romania and Princess Elena of Greece. When he was born, he was the grandson of King Ferdinand of Romania. However, when his father eloped with his mistress, Michael was declared heir apparent.
King Michael reigned in Romania from 20 July 1927 to 8 June 1930 and again from 6 September 1940 to 30 December 1947. In 1947 he was forced to abdicate by the government which at the time was controlled by the Communist Party of Romania.
After the Abdication Act was passed, the Communist Romanian authorities stripped him of his Romanian citizenship in 1948. He then lived life in exile in England, before relocating to Switzerland.
In 1992, three years after the communists lost power, the Romanian government allowed King Michael to return to Romania for Easter celebrations, where he drew large crowds of over a million people. His popularity alarmed the government, so Michael was again banned from visiting Romania for another five years.
In 1997, the Romanian government restored Michael’s citizenship and again allowed him to visit the country. He continued to live in Switzerland, with residence in Romania, until his death.
He was also a Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 10 May 2011, when he renounced this title.
King Michael was the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. Up until his death, he was one of only two last surviving heads of state from World War II, the other being Simeon II of Bulgaria.