Simeon Borisov of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Tsar Simeon II (Bulgarian: Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски,; Цар Симеон II; German: Simeon von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha or Simeon von Wettin) or Simeon II of Bulgaria (born 16 June 1937) is an important political and royal figure in Bulgaria. During his reign as the Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946 he was a minor, the monarchical authority being exercised over the kingdom on his behalf by a regency. The regents were Simeon's uncle Prince Kiril of Bulgaria, General Nikola Mihov and the prime minister, Bogdan Filov. In 1946 the monarchy was overthrown as a consequence of a greatly manipulated referendum won by the communist republicans. Simeon went into exile. Fifty-five years later, on 6 April 2001, Simeon resumed the role of leader of the nation upon taking office as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from July 2001 until August 2005.
As of 2012, Simeon is one of the last living heads of state from the World War II-era, the only living person who has borne the Bulgarian title "Tsar", and one of the few monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections.
Simeon was born the son of Tsar Boris III and Tsaritsa Giovanna di Savoia and is related to various European royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, King Albert II of the Belgians and the Kings Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Umberto II of Italy. Following his birth, Boris III sent an air force officer to the River Jordan to obtain water for Simeon's baptism in the Orthodox faith. He became Tsar on 28 August 1943 on the death of his father, who had just returned to Bulgaria from a meeting with Adolf Hitler. Since Tsar Simeon was only six years old when he ascended the throne, his uncle Prince Kyril of Bulgaria, Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and Lieutenant-General Nikola Mihailov Mihov of the Bulgarian Army were appointed regents.
On 5 September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and three days later the Red Army entered the country without encountering resistance. On the next day, 9 September 1944, Prince Kyril and the other regents were deposed by a Soviet-backed coup and arrested. The three regents, all members of the last three governments, Parliament deputies, heads of the army and eminent journalists were executed by the Communists in February 1945.
The royal family (Queen Giovanna, Simeon II, and his sister Maria-Louisa) remained at Vrana Palace near Sofia, while new communist regents were appointed. In her memoirs, Queen Giovanna recounts that Soviet soldiers at that time entertained themselves by shooting at random in the direction where she was walking with the children. On 15 September 1946, a plebiscite was held in the presence of the Soviet army. It allegedly resulted in over 97% approval for the Soviet established republic and abolished the monarchy. On 16 September 1946, the royal family was exiled from Bulgaria. However, Simeon II never signed any abdication papers (which were unlikely to have any legality anyway, as he was only 9 years old). The royal family first went to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Giovanna's father Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy, lived in exile. There, Simeon II finished Victoria College (along with Crown Prince Leka of Albania). In July 1951, the Spanish government of Francisco Franco granted asylum to the family.
In Madrid, Simeon studied at the Lycée Français, but did not graduate. On 16 June 1955, upon turning 18, in accordance with the Tarnovo Constitution Simeon II read his proclamation to the Bulgarian people as the Tsar of Bulgaria, confirming his will to be king of all Bulgarians and follow the principles of Tarnovo Constitution and free Bulgaria. In 1958, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in the United States, where he was known as "Cadet Rylski No. 6883" and graduated as a second lieutenant. Once again in Spain, Simeon studied law and business administration.
He became a businessman. For thirteen years, he was chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson, a French defence and electronics group. He was also an adviser in the banking, hotel, electronics, and catering sectors.
Simeon issued several political declarations during his exile through his "chancellery" in Madrid directed at the Communist regime in Bulgaria and his exiled compatriots. His early attempts at forming an official government in exile did not come to fruition, however.
In 1962 Simeon married a Spanish aristocrat, doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The couple have five children – four sons (Kardam, Kiril, Kubrat and Konstantin) and a daughter, Kalina, all of whom subsequently married Spaniards. All of his sons received names of Bulgarian kings: Kardam (born 1962) married doña Miriam de Ungría y López. They have two sons, Boris and Beltran; Kirill (born 1964) married doña María del Rosario Nadal y Fuster-Puigdórfila. They have two daughters, Mafalda and Olimpia, and one son, Tassilo; Kubrat (born 1965) married doña Carla María de la Soledad Royo-Villanova y Urrestarazu. They have three sons: Mirko, Lukás and Tirso; Konstantin-Assen (born 1967) married doña María García de la Rasilla y Gortázar. They have twins, Umberto and Sofia; Kalina (born 1972) married don Antonio "Kitín" Muñoz y Valcárcel. They have one son, Simeon Hassan.
In 1990, after the fall of communism, Simeon was issued a new Bulgarian passport. In 1996, 50 years after the abolition of the monarchy, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and was met in many places by crowds cheering: "We want our King!" He did not, at that point, make any political announcements or moves.
Various estates in Bulgaria that had been nationalized under the republic were returned to Simeon and his family. In 2001, Simeon announced he would return to Bulgaria to form a new political party, the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII), dedicated to "reforms and political integrity." Simeon promised that in 800 days the Bulgarian people would feel tangible positive effects of his government and would enjoy significantly higher standards of living.
NMSII won a large victory in the parliamentary elections held on 17 June 2001, capturing 120 of the 240 seats in Parliament and defeating the two main pre-existing political parties. Simeon gave an oath as Prime Minister of Bulgaria on 24 July, forming a coalition with the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). He gave ministerial positions in his government mainly to technocrats and Western-educated economic specialists. In 2002, his efforts were recognized by his receiving the 2002 Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation. The development of Bulgaria's capital markets moved forward, with the first Eurolev issue in 2004. During his time in power, Bulgaria joined NATO and EC.
In the 2005 elections, Simeon's party ranked second and participated in the grand coalition government with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Simeon II was given the unofficial ceremonial post of Chairman of the Coalition Council.
The party got just 3.01% of votes and no seats at the parliamentary elections of 2009. Shortly after, on 6 July, Simeon also resigned as NMSII leader.