BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romania’s top court has recognized Prince Paul Hohenzollern as the legitimate grandson of former King Carol II, ending a 21-year-legal battle.
Paul has claimed he was illegally excluded from the royal family by his uncle, the former King Michael, who was the Romanian monarch twice.
It was unclear what effect the ruling would have or whether Paul would make claims on royal family property. Paul welcomed the ruling Wednesday as a matter of “honor for my family.”
The 90-year-old Michael, who was forced to abdicate by the communists in 1947, says Tuesday’s ruling does not give Paul any claims to the throne.
The dispute between Michael and Paul centers around a love story from more than a century ago, when the heir to Romania’s throne, Prince Carol, who is Michael’s father, secretly married Zizi Lambrino, a Romanian aristocrat. The 1918 marriage was annulled because by law Romania’s heir to the throne was obliged to marry a foreign princess.
From this short-lived liaison, a child was born, Mircea Grigore, who was regarded as an illegitimate son.
Carol’s first son, Mircea, filed a request in a Lisbon court in 1955, demanding to be recognized as Carol’s legitimate son. His request was granted. After communism ended in 1989, a Romanian court recognized the ruling passed in Lisbon, but Michael appealed it three times.
After his marriage to Lambrino was dissolved, Carol later married Greece’s Princess Elena, who bore him a son, Michael, Romania’s last king. He was king from 1927 to 1930, and then from 1940 to 1947. He abdicated after Romanian Communists threatened to kill 1,000 young Romanians if he did not renounce the throne.
Michael spent his life in exile in Switzerland and Britain. Romanian governments have often treated Michael, the only surviving leader from World War II, with suspicion and disdain.
President Traian Basescu has called Michael’s abdication “an act of treason” and refused to attend an address made by the monarch in October to mark his 90th birthday.
However, many Romanians respect Michael, and view him as a patriotic figure who has more dignity than the nation’s feuding politicians.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)