[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 2 January, 2005, 00:47 GMT
Exiled king 'should become pilot'
Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden believed the exiled king should get a job as a pilot
Talks about the exiled king of Romania, who lived in the UK following World War II, led to the suggestion he should work as a pilot.

Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary, mooted the idea in 1954, according to official papers released at the National Archives.

It was a response to a request by Sir Winston Churchill, who asked him to give the exile "diplomatic privileges".

Exiled King Michael was struggling financially after leaving Romania.

He abdicated in 1947, prompting the creation of the communist Romanian People's Republic.

The country fought alongside the Nazis in World War II but later switched sides and fought with the Soviets. After the war Romania lost land - most of modern day Moldova - to its giant neighbour.

I do trust that he can be accorded diplomatic privileges to the utmost possible extent
Sir Winston Churchill
Prime Minister

A letter to Sir Winston, who was prime minister at the time, sparked concerns about the wellbeing of the exiled monarch.

The note, which complained that King Michael and his family paid national insurance and were not given special treatment, read: "It a pity that we should lag behind other countries in our generosity towards royalty in exile".

The concerns were taken seriously by the prime minister, who requested that King Michael be given diplomatic dispensations during his stay in the UK and wanted the Foreign Office to oversee the matter.

He wrote: "I have much sympathy with the King of Romania who acted with courage in the difficult situation of his country and was most ungratefully treated by the Soviet.

'Financial difficulties'

"I hope he may be considerately and courteously treated during his exile, which may not be permanent.

"I do trust that he can be accorded diplomatic privileges to the utmost possible extent. I should be glad if you would turn a friendly eye on this exceptional case."

Confidential Foreign Office documents reveal that the exiled monarch was experiencing "serious financial difficulties".

It says: "When he left Rumania (sic) his only asset was 500, 000 Swiss francs. A large part of this has been spent and his income is now down to 1,200 a year. He clearly cannot support his wife and children and meet his other commitments on this figure."

But it stressed there was "no precedent for special legislation on behalf of an exiled monarch", so little could be done.

Qualified pilot

This leads to the foreign secretary's solution: "Mr Eden has been considering what can be done to assist King Michael. He thinks that he should be encouraged to take a job.

"King Michael is a qualified air pilot and he knows a great deal about internal combustion engines."

The prime minister's private secretary merely suggested Sir Winston wished to be "kept informed of what comes of the proposals mentioned", according to official documents.

The exile and his family were eventually given a few minor benefits, including the provision of free identity documents and exemption from vehicle licences.




SEE ALSO:
Internment report led to fury
02 Jan 05 |  Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific