Like his grandfather King Michael I, Nicholas de Roumanie believes he has an important role to play in Romania as the representative of the young generation of royals.
Although he was disinherited by the royal family in 2015 in still unexplained circumstances, the 36-year-old says he doesn’t need a title to be able to do things he believes in.
Nicholas is a keen ecologist and is dedicated to cycling and literacy. He is popular due to his hands-on unstuffy approach and down-to-earth manner.
“I don’t need a position in the royal family and a title to do what I want to do in Romania and benefit society,” he told Universul.net in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, a day after what would have been Michael’s 100th birthday.
In the rare interview where he attempts to shed light on an unseemly row in the family, the Swiss-born Nicholas de Roumanie says he moved to Romania and took up a public role in 2012.
At first he was welcomed by the family, but “after my 30th birthday, there was a huge shift.”
“I tried to get involved projects that benefit society… maybe I became too popular, maybe not. There was a shift in attitude which was inexplicable,” the distant relative of Queen Elizabeth II said by telephone.
Nicholas says his aunt, Princess Margareta, acted as a surrogate mother to him when he was a teenager and struggling to find his feet after his parents divorced. He is the son of Michael’s second daughter, Princess Elena. “My grandparents (too) were constant figures from day 1, especially my grandfather.”
“(Margareta) was very positive and very encouraging (when I returned)…. ‘I adopted Romania and Romania had adopted me,’ she said… and then overnight things changed.”
He says there has been no direct contact with Princess Margareta since 2015 when he was disinherited after having been third in line for the throne.
His family sued him in 2017 for forced entry and alleged assault of staff after attempting to bid farewell to his dying grandfather in Switzerland. He was acquitted of those charges by a Swiss court on Oct. 6.
The turn of events paints a bleak picture. Romanians first saw Nicholas, who is the only grandson of Michael, on a Bucharest hotel balcony in 1992. Crowds cheered the king who had finally been allowed back to the county he was banished from in 1947 when the communists tightened their grip on Romania.
During the communist years, the king’s role was diminished; he was smeared and blacklisted. The king and his young grandson seemed like a breath of fresh air for the country slowly emerging from the ruins of the Ceausescu era.
Somewhere things turned sour. Maybe over the question of succession, although Romania is a republic, or maybe over the family’s assets.
“They were looking to control the assets, the financial aspect; there was always a little bit of friction and it goes back to 1923,” constitution which would have meant that as the only male he was first in line to succession. That rule was later changed and Margareta was named the custodian of the crown.
‘Delicate and complicated’
“I wish their attitude was much more open and much more (geared towards) unity rather than trying to split the family,” Nicholas said.
He describes the relationship with other family members as “delicate and complicated.” He was apparently stripped of his title after admitting he had fathered an illegitimate girl. He married in 2017 and has a daughter with his wife Alina-Maria.
“My mission and my views have not changed. I believe I have a role to play, and I want to serve country in whatever circumstances I can,” he added.
“Any royal family has to use every generation to modernize and move forward and be connected to society. And this has to happen in Romania (too).”
“Unfortunately, there is no option for reconciliation” at the moment. He hasn’t ruled out patching things up with Margareta and her husband Prince Radu in the future.
“I am optimistic, I have time on my hands. I have patience and this is what it is going to take.”
Although “relieved” to have been acquitted, he has regrets about not being allowed to say a final farewell to his grandfather a month before he died in Switzerland at the age of 96.
“(The verdict) isn’t going to change things. I can’t go back in time,” he said by telephone in Bucharest. “I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye one last time.”
He refuses to be drawn on the unpleasantness which was described at the time in as “an undignified spat.”
“Family is family, and I don’t like to speak negatively about family,” he said.
He’d prefer to linger on his grandfather’s achievements and take pride and inspiration from that. Romania’s last king hasn’t been given the recognition he deserves,he believes.
“He had an extraordinary life. He was a symbol of unity… of values and morals. He was a leader and he played an extremely important role during World War II.”
He stood up to terrible people, to Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, and for someone who didn’t have huge experience as a king, it was quite extraordinary. He had this courage and the confidence.”
“ I don’t think Romania or Europe have valued this enough.”
„He was loved as man. He was a modest person… his mission was to be of benefit to Romanian society.”
He insists that even as he became popular, he had no designs to push aside Margareta, the custodian of the crown.
Symbols for society
“I never really wanted overthrow them and push myself as no. 1… that wouldn’t have been right and fair and at the end of the day. What is important is to have certain values and morals and as people we can be symbols for society,” he said.
He has a warning for the role of the royal family which is still respected in Romania despite the family row.
“Margareta has to be connected and involved in society, and they have to evolve and modernize , otherwise it dies off,” he said, “If we look at Belgium, UK, Holland, Spain, these things have been happening.”
„Margareta has to do what she can to be connected to the (younger) generation, to modernize and be open to the public.”
“I am here. I am the next generation. I have time on my side. My mission continues, whether people like it or not. ”