Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Government Gives Royal House of Romania Free Use of Elisabeta Palace for 49 Years

Elisabeta Palace, the headquarters of the Romanian Royal Family in Bucharest

Yesterday, 11 May 2020, the government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban of Romania gave free use of the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest to Her Majesty's Household Association (specifically, to the entity called Asociației Casa Majestăţii Sale). The decision was made by the Orban government following the April designation of the association, which is an organisation that runs the affairs of the household of Margarita of Romania, as a "public utility institution." In summary, the Household of the Custodian of the Crown has received free use of the Elisabeta Palace for forty-nine years. This news came after the celebration of 10 May (known as "King's Day" or "Monarchy Day"), at which time Orban sent a warm message to the Custodian of the Crown highlighting the important role that the royal family has had in Romania in the past and in the present.

The Prime Minister's message to the Custodian of the Crown on 10 May 2020.

This step by the Romanian government was taken for several reasons. According to Law no. 406/2001, which was passed in 2001, Elisabeta Palace was given to King Michael of Romania as a residence in his capacity as a former head of state. When the king died in 2017, an issue arose as to the future of the palace, which had been utilised for a number of years as a headquarters for Crown Princess Margarita of Romania. As Margarita was not a former head of state and not entitled to reside at the palace under Law 406/2001, in 2018 the parliament attempted to pass a law allowing for Margarita's continued occupation of the Elisabeta Palace; this legislation was opposed by the Tudose government on the grounds that the Romanian Royal Household was not a public utility institution. The measure did pass the Senate but failed in the Chamber of Deputies. The current prime minister, Ludovic Orban, took the step last month to recognise the Asociației Casa Majestăţii Sale, established in 2009, as a public utility institution, and this allowed the prime minister to take the measures for guaranteeing that Margarita of Romania will be able to retain the Elisabeta Palace as her base of operations in the capital.

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According to recent news reports, the Elisabeta Palace is valued at 44 million lei (just under $10 million). The royal family, headed by Her Majesty Margarita, also owns extensive real estate in Sinaia. Currently, the only members of the royal family to reside in Romania are the following: HM Margarita, HRH Prince Radu, TRH Prince Nicholas and Princess Alina-Maria, and HRH Princess Sophie.

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Unless a successive government tries to intervene in this matter, the Romanian Royal Household will retain the right to use Elisabeta Palace free of charge until 2069. It will be most interesting to see what the future holds for the current and, hopefully, successive royal occupants of the palace.

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