Simeon Borisov von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Bulgarian: Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски, Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski; born 16 June 1937), known formerly or by courtesy as King Simeon II or Tsar Simeon II (Bulgarian: Цар Симеон II), is a Bulgarian politician, who had served as the last reigning Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946, before later serving as Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 2001 to 2005.
Under his father, Bulgaria had reluctantly joined the Axis powers in World War II but had managed to preserve diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Still, on 5 September 1944 Stalin 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, and the boy-king Simeon was deposed.
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, DoñaMargarita 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 three of his eleven grandchildren have Bulgarian names (Boris, Sofia and Simeon).
In 1990, just months after the fall of communism, Simeon was issued a new Bulgarian passport. In 1996, fifty 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 monarchist sentiments gradually disappeared after his premiership and specifically during his coalition as a leader of NMSP with the ex-Communist Party, together with changing of generations; since by that time the majority of voters were born after the fall of the monarchy.
Various estates in Bulgaria that had been nationalised 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) (later renamed to NMSP), 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.
NMSP 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.
During his time in power, Bulgaria joined NATO. In 2002, he received the Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation.
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.
Simeon II has never formally renounced his claim to the Bulgarian throne. He left Bulgaria without signing a formal instrument of abdication. However, since he was a minor at the time, his legal capacity to sign such a document would have been questionable at best. 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 original name of his party. His triumph in the 2001 elections raised the question of a possible restoration, especially with the economic crisis, poverty, and law and order issues the country faced after the fall of communism. Upon taking office as prime minister, he took an oath to protect the country's republican constitution.
Simeon II criticised the Bulgarian government in 2018 after he was told to return his palace taken in 1946. The decision came at a time with rising support for a restoration of the monarchy.
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.
Simeon turned 80 years old on 16 June 2017, at which time Ferdinand I held the record for the longest-lived head of state in Bulgarian history, having been 87 years, and 197 days old when he died, on 10 September 1948.
24 July 2001 – 17 August 2005: His Excellency Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (within Bulgaria as Prime Minister)
17 August 2005 – present: Mr Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (within Bulgaria as a civilian)
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.
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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
Lilov, Grigor (2013). Най-богатите българи (1st ed.). Sofia: "Кайлас" ЕООД. ISBN 978-954-92098-9-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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