June 16, 2012
Meanwhile, Simeon’s brother sovereigns in the Balkans are doing a sterling job carrying on as shadow heads of state. Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia and his family live in the White Palace in Belgrade. (The president inhabits the Royal Palace.) Sixty-four percent of Serbs support Alexander’s restoration to the throne. After a tumultuous life filled with coups and exile, King Michael I of Romania“the only World War II-era ruler still around”now splits his time between Switzerland (the country that hosted him under communism) and Romania. His oldest daughter, Crown Princess Margarita, and her husband Prince Radu, live full-time in the country on returned property and play a large role in national life. Among other things the prince has become a sort of roving ambassador for Romanian business. Young Crown Prince Leka II of Albania has also found government employment. He acts as special advisor to his country’s ministries of interior and foreign affairs. This sort of “creeping restoration” has gone furthest in Montenegro, where Crown Prince Nicholas II and his family have had an official position alongside (and paid at the same rate as) the president.
Despite Simeon’s apparent setback, the monarchs” position in the ex-communist Balkans is rosy compared to that of Constantine II of Greece. Since the plebiscite on the monarchy in 1974, he has not been allowed even to visit his homeland for any great length of time. He fought the government in the European Court of Human Rights for his estate at Tatoi and other property. The resulting judgment may have been a moral victory for the King, but it was a financial success for the government.
The Greek Supreme Court banned the monarchist National Hope Party from the May 2012 elections while permitting the allegedly fascist Golden Dawn Party. The court removed the ban for the June elections; perhaps Golden Dawn’s success in May convinced the judges that there are worse things than monarchy. As Europe struggles to retain its identity and its soul, this would be good for the continent’s elites to ponder.