The unifier of the principalities of Romania, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, was forced to abdicate in 1866 and he was replaced with a prince of the German Empire, Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who quickly changed his name in the Romanian correspondent: Carol.
The new Constitution in June 1866, Carol realized he would have limited prerogatives, which he found hard to accept. In addition to this, Romanians didn’t really like their new prince, as they were skeptical towards foreigners and towards his mistakes that he made in his first years, but Carol’s will gain more sympathy during the Independence War against the Ottomans, as he was greatly involved in the war, and lead the country to independence; an independence after which Romania is proclaimed into a Kingdom with Prince Carol as first King of Romania in 1881.
King Carol had the longest reign in Romania’s history, 48 years in which the greatly secured the image of the country, guaranteeing political stability and development.
In 1889, he appoints his nephew Ferdinand as heir apparent, because Carol and Elizabeth’s, his wife, only child died at the age of 4.
The controversies over whose part should Romania take in the incoming First World War overwhelmed the old Carol. The tragedy of war led Carol to die at 75 years of age, in 1914.
His successor, Ferdinand I, takes Carol’s place in times of trouble. The heads of state along with Carol previously settled Romania’s path of neutrality in the World War I, but the politicians knew they will be forced to join one side. Unlike Carol I, Ferdinand did not insist on joining his country of origin, Germany, as he was rather influenced by his English wife, Mary, who was absolutely sure that the Allied Powers would win. Therefore, Ferdinand joins France, England and Russia hoping it will bring the union with Transylvania. In the end, the regions of Bessarabia, Bucovina and Banat were handed over and finally Transylvania was united with Romania, creating Greater Romania.
Ferdinand lost much of his popularity after his sympathy towards Ion I.C. Bratianu, leader of the National Liberal Party. Ironically, the two died in the same year, 1927, just months apart, leaving the country in front of new challenges.
The throne was meant to go to Carol II, Ferdinand’s eldest son. Carol II was quite a controversial prince, with his many flings and 2 marriages of two “normal” women, outside of the royal cast. After his annulled marriage with Zizi Lambrino, Carol II is pressured to marry Elena of Greece. In 1921, Michael I is born, at the same time Carol begins his second affair with Elena Lupescu.
Carol II renounces the throne and runs away with Lupescu, and as Michael I was heir apparent, he accedes to the throne at the age of 6, in 1927, after the death of Ferdinand. Carol returns to the throne after three years and will have a different reign from those of his predecessors, with his personality cult as the center of Romania. Carol II gives himself more power through replacing the Constitution in 1938.
What put an end to Carol II’s reign is losing Bessarabia, Bucovina, Transylvania and Dobruja in 1940. This fall of Greater Romania forced him to abdicate and the throne went to Michael I, who was then 19 years old.
Young Michael I was again kept away from political affairs, signing off general Antonescu for full powers to govern. The King played an important role in removing the authoritarian and Nazi-oriented Antonescu government, struggling to reinstate democracy. He was heavily confronted by the rising Communist Party and forced to abdicate and exiled in 1947.