King Michael I of Romania has taken his final path on Saturday. Romania’s last sovereign has been buried with military honours at Curtea de Arges on Saturday evening, where other former Romanian monarchs are resting in peace. His Majesty was laid to rest with all the honour of a monarch. King Michael I was buried with a 21-gun salute, while the national anthem was playing in. 16,000 people have attended the interement service, while tens of thousands have been in the street all day long in Bucharest during the military and religious services held in his honour, but also all the way up to his final resting place at Curtea de Arges, in all train stations where the Royal Train with his coffin has passed through. People threw flowers in its path, applauded and chanted his name.
The national funerals have started at the Royal Palace in Bucharest around 10:30hr, when a short religious service was held in the Throne Hall. At 10:45 the king’s coffin was laid on a catafalque in the Royal Palace Square, in front of the Palace, where a military and a religious ceremony was held and shortly after 11:00hr the coffin was place inside the hearse atop a cannon, with the funeral cortege starting to slowly walk on Calea Victoriei, to Unirii Square up to the Patriarchal Cathedral, where a funeral mass took place.
Huge crowds, estimated to over 20,000, came to the Royal Palace to escort His Majesty to his final resting place, at least to pay their last respects in the Capital, at the venues where ceremonies were public, for the access of the public is restricted at the burial religious service in the Patriarchal Cathedral and the burial at Curtea de Arges.
The body of the king was carried atop the cannon, with people bursting into a thunderous applause, acclaiming and shouting: “Your Majesty, we love you!” “Monarchy saves Romania!” or “The King and the fatherland”. They also threw white flowers on the road while the coffin was advancing on Calea Victoriei.
Monarchs of the European Royal Houses, among whom there were King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, prince Charles of Wales, King Carl XIV Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, King Simeon II of Bulgaria, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Princess Muna of Jordan, Princess Astrid of Belgium, Prince Lorenz of Belgium, are attending the funerals.
President Klaus Iohannis and his wife, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, the Senate Speaker, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, PM Mihai Tudose were also seen at the Royal Palace ceremonies and at the religious service at the Patriarchal Cathedral.
Three military squads of the Ministry of the National Defence were in formation to honour King Michael, as the former Marshal of the Romanian Army in the WWII.
The coffin with the royal flag and the Steel Crown of Romania (a replica though) was taken out of the Royal Palace according to a special military ceremony, with a soldier carrying the cross and other eight soldiers carrying the coffin. Death marches were played and the bells of all churches nearby chimed.
Tens of thousands of people were lining up on both sides of the avenue, some with their children on their shoulders, other old or young, applauding while the funeral cortege was approaching, throwing white flowers, some with tears in their eyes.
A pair of old peasants, dressed in the national folk costumes and carrying a framed photo of King Michael half wrapped in a tricolour flag, were seen in the crowd. They had come all away from nothern country, from a village in Suceava.
Patriarch: King Michael will forever remain as a symbol of the Romanian people’s endurance and hope
Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church consecrated the religious service at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest, next to eight metropolitans, stating that King Michael will forever remain as a symbol of the Romanian people’s endurance and hope.
“In these sad, but also honorific moments, when we pay our last respects to King Michael I of Romania, we pray to God to rest his soul into His Three-in-one light, peace and love, to strengthen and consolidate the mournful Royal Family of Romania and to bless all those who are cherishing King Mihai’s memory with respect and honor in those mourning days. King Michael will forever stay as a symbol of endurance and hope of the Romanian people,” the Patriarch said.
“King Michael of Romania was a deeply faithful man all through his life. His faith was not formal, but practical and existential. The King felt God was present in his life especially in the most difficult moments of his life. His faith in God was the light and help for his life (…) Faith and prayer helped King Michael to be steadfast in his love for the people and for the nation, to reject both the Nazi and the communist dictatorships, to endure the exile imposed by the communist regime, to be always brave and respectable, hard-working and forgiving, which are virtues for which he has been so cherished by the European Royal Houses, but also by the ordinary people,” the patriarch also said.
“With deepest sorrow, we laid to rest a veritable statesman, King Michael I, who, with dignity and courage, represented his country during some of the toughest times of our history. I was impressed by the crowd of people that joined the funeral procession, a true expression of the Romanians’ love and respect for King Michael I. I am convinced he will remain in our national memory as a benchmark of integrity, a symbol of solidarity and aspiration towards freedom,” President Klaus Iohannis posted on Facebook after the funeral.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed condolences on the king’s death on Saturday evening, praising King Michael’s and his mother’s involvement in saving Jews during the Holocaust. “The Government of the State of Israel shares the grief of the royal family and the Romanian people upon the death of King Mihai I. We recall with appreciation the mobilization of the royal family –especially the mother of Mihai I, Queen Elena, who was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations after saving the Jews from death in the dark days of the Holocaust in Romania“, reads a message sent by Israel’ s embassy to Romania.