A king’s inheritance: The properties of the Romanian royal family

The fortune of the Romanian royal family was estimated at EUR 65 million in 2017, according to the latest edition of Top 300 Richest Romanians put together by weekly magazine Capital. This places the Romanian royal family on the 85th spot in the top, the same position it held in 2016 and down from 2015, when it ranked 81st, with an estimated fortune of EUR 58 million.

Because most of the properties owned by the royal family have a patrimony value, estimating their value is more difficult.

Up until 1948, when its properties were confiscated by the communist regime, the royal family used to own thousands of hectares of agricultural land and forests, several castles and buildings. These included six castles: the Curtea de Argeş castle, the Săvârşin castle, the Bran castle, the Mediaşul Aurit castle, the Peleş castle, and the Măneşti castle, Gandul reported. The properties also included five palaces: the Sand Fortress palace in Constanta county, the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest, the Royal Palace, the Cotroceni Palace and the Snagov Palace.

King Michael got back some of these properties after 2000. Adrian Vasiliu, the lawyer of the Romanian royal house, told Gandul in 2013 that the properties that were reclaimed were those that King Michael had inherited from his family, and not those that had belonged to the Domain of the Crown. He also explained that no claim existed at the point from the royal house. Carol I, the first king of Romania and a descendant of the Hohenzollern princely family, came to the country with his own fortune. The Royal House benefited afterwards from donations from land owners, from institutions or businessmen of the time, according to Stirileprotv.ro.

At present, the royal family owns four castles with a total of over 450 rooms, almost 20,000 hectares of forests, three buildings and a plot of land in Bucharest, a building and land in Poiana Tapului, a mountain locality in Prahova county, several lodges in Azuga – Predeal, also in Prahova country, and tens of kilometers of forestry roads, Stirileprotv.ro reported. The Sinaia royal domain, which was given back to the king in 2007, encompasses the Peles, Pelişor and Foişor castels. The other royal domain, and its castle, is in Săvârşin, in western Romania’s Arad county.

The Peles castle, which was the summer residence of the Romanian kings, was built at the initiative of King Carol I and paid for by the king. It was passed as inheritance from generation to generation in the royal family. The Romanian state attempted to buy the castle at some point and evaluated it at EUR 30 million. The negotiations for the sale however did not go through. Other estimates place the value of the castle at EUR 150 million.

The Săvârşin castle (in opening picture), where King Michael and other members of the royal family have been spending their winter and Easter holidays in recent years, was built in an initial structure between 1650 and 1680. King Michael purchased it in 1943. It was restored and reopened in 2015.

After King Michael’s abdication and departure from the country, the estate of the royal family became a target of the communist propaganda, which introduced the idea that the king left the country with an impressive fortune. In 1948, the communist regime confiscated the royal properties and estimated their value to the equivalent of today’s USD 860 million. However, the king explained on repeated occasions that he and his mother left the country only with few personal goods. During his time in exile, King Michael earned a living by successively managing a small farm, and working as a test pilot and as a stock broker.

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