Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, King Michael of Romania, my father, celebrated his 90th birthday last year, in Romania, in extraordinary circumstances: he addressed the Joint Chambers of the Parliament on his birthday, the 25th of October, and was celebrated by millions of Romanians who watched the television’s live transmission of the celebratory Gala at the National Opera House in Bucharest. Recent polls show His Majesty to be the most respected and trusted Romanian leader. The Royal Family is seen today as a permanent part of the national identity, an institutional symbol of modern Romania, an instrument of our democracy.
However, the last 65 years were a long and hard road, which called for patriotism, patience, generosity and vision. When the King left Romania on January the 3rd 1948, the last bastion of democracy in South-eastern Europe fell. The King represented the last piece of institutional Romania that was still free. In the years of the Cold War, the King represented in himself an institution that kept alight the flame of state principles, over and above issues of form of government or political circumstances. The return of the Royal Family to Bucharest in 2001 opened up the road to the reconstruction of the Romanian State.
The popularity of the King and his family, and public sympathy towards him, have steadily increased. People know and understand much more than they did twenty years ago. Young people are better informed, more connected, and they feel the need for identity and state reference points. They are sympathetic towards the courage and moral stature of the King, and towards his selflessness and charming modesty. Millions of Romanians in Europe and America, young and competent, understand better, and much more profoundly the importance of living in a country that is proud, dignified and respectable.
Even without changing the form of government, the Royal Family is a transatlantic and European argument for Romania. It is not just a historical, cultural or diplomatic argument, but also a State and political one. That is why it was possible for the King continuously since 1948 to uphold the same principles in which he believes and always has.
Some years ago, a journalist from the New York Times came to interview King Michael. He did not come to the politicians with ‘real’ power in Romania, but to the King. Because he represents that part of power which is not always visible in the democratic world, but which exists nonetheless. The King’s power is not just great, but of a quite rare essence: he is trusted, loved, believed and admired. He inspires pride and respect.
His historical labour is not yet over. Although it extends over nine decades and has been full of pain and disappointment, his story is still a beautiful one, because it is not only long lasting but also holds meaning for the future.
I thank you all, on behalf of my father, for your presence tonight. And I want to present my grateful congratulations to the Chaplain of the Royal Savoy, and to Sir Gavyn Arthur, a great supporter of the Romanian Royal House in Britain.