alt.obituaries Memorial Deadpool
est. 2005
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King Michael I of Romania


The two reigns of King Michael I of Romania, combined, spanned only a decade, and he had been out of power for nearly seventy years at the time of his death, but he was nonetheless an intriguing bit of historical trivia, as the last surviving adult head of state from World War II* and a rare leader of integrity in his country's history.

Michael first ascended to the throne as a child in 1927, following the death of his grandfather, Ferdinand I. The line of succession skipped his father, Carol II, who was forced by his family to renounce his rights to the throne a few years earlier as a consequence of his lecherous antics. Carol backtracked on his renunciation in 1930 and proclaimed himself king. As World War II brewed, the Nazis crept into Romania and forced Carol out of power in 1940, once again making Michael king.

Shy and unassuming, the young King Michael was assumed by the Nazi affiliates running the country to be little more than a figurehead. Michael defied this perception on August 23, 1944, when he overthrew strongman Ion Antonescu via coup d'etat. The risky tactic would have been fatal had the Nazis caught on to his plans, but Michael planned discreetly, and Antonescu underestimated him. The successful flipping of Romania's alliance from the Axis to the Allies, which arguably hastened the war's conclusion by several months, earned Michael prestigious accolades, including America's Legion of Merit and the Soviet Union's elusive Order of Victory (one of the world's rarest orders; for 28 years, Michael had been its only surviving recipient).

However, Michael's glory faded quickly. The vacuum created by his coup paved the way for a Soviet takeover, an occupancy that soon proved just as ruthless as the Nazis'. Though Michael showed resolve in his actions, such as appointing an anticommunist prime minister against Soviet orders, he was reduced to a bona fide figurehead as the communist grip tightened. On December 30, 1947, the communists forced Michael to abdicate and dissolved the Romanian monarchy.

Michael spent decades of exile in Switzerland, keeping largely apolitical as he pursued jobs ranging from farming to finance. In the 1990s, in light of Nicolae Ceausescu
's execution and the collapse of communism in Romania, Michael was finally allowed to return to his homeland (and even then, then-President Ion Iliescu's wariness of Michael's popularity meant that his citizenship wasn't fully restored until the next presidency, in 1997). Though the Romanian people had little appetite for the monarchy to return, Michael's quiet dignity cut a sharp contrast to the likes of the brutal Ceausescu and proved popular within his homeland, attracting enthusiastic crowds whenever he visited.

Michael was diagnosed with two forms of cancer in early 2016, and his wife, Queen Anne, died on August 1 of that year. These difficulties bolstered his standing in the deadpooling world, which had been previously unheralded despite his ripe age. Captain Howdy, Deceased Hose, Keister Button, Pan Breed, and TJS each receive two points for the hit.

*Two World War II heads of state still survive, both of whom were children at the time: Simeon II, Bulgaria's last tsar, and the current Dalai Lama.

-- TJS

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