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Romanians join European royals for king’s state funeral

World News | Published:

The Prince of Wales was among those attending the service for King Michael.

(Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Tens of thousands of Romanians joined European royals on Saturday to pay their respects to late King Michael as he was given a state funeral in Bucharest.

Michael, who ruled Romania twice before being forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, died in Switzerland on December 5 at the age of 96.

Britain’s Prince of Wales, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and Spain’s former King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were among those at a pre-funeral service at the Royal Palace where Michael’s body had been lying in state for the past two days. The Swedish king saluted as Michael’s coffin was placed on a dais.

Non-European royals attending the funeral included Princess Muna al-Hussein, mother of King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Bishops wafted incense in the small cathedral where Michael was crowned for the second time on September 6 1940.

Michael, who was a great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, first became king at the age of five after his father, Carol II, eloped with his mistress and abdicated.

A funeral procession carrying his coffin drove slowly through the Romanian capital to a railway station, where, accompanied by a phalanx of priests, the casket was put on a royal train.

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Honour guard soldiers carry the coffin of the late Romanian King Michael (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
Honour guard soldiers carry the coffin of the late Romanian King Michael (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

It was taken to the central town of Curtea de Arges for burial next to his wife, Anne de Bourbon-Parme, who died last year.

In the hours before Michael’s coffin was taken out of the palace, Romanians gathered silently, many in tears, in Revolution Square. Church bells tolled around the country and a choir of priests sang as the coffin was taken out and was laid on a dais in the square.

Mourner Georgeta Anastasiu, 60, said the late king had been “demonised by the communists but in the end we found out the truth about him”.

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She called the king “the last moral example for Romanians”.

The Prince of Wales among the royals at the funeral (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
The Prince of Wales among the royals at the funeral (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Earlier, the crowd cheered and shouted “King Michael!” as the coffin, led by Orthodox priests and a guard of honour, was transported by an army jeep towards the cathedral.

Michael’s five daughters and his estranged grandson, Nicholas Medforth-Mills, who was stripped of his title for allegedly fathering a child out of wedlock, walked behind the coffin.

Journalist Vlad Mixich summed up the mood on social media.

“Today Romania is burying what it could have been; today is the funeral of a dream,” he tweeted.

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