Simeon II of Bulgaria (Bulgarian: Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски, (transliteration: Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski) or Цар Симеон II (Tsar Simeon II); German: Simeon von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha or Simeon von Wettin; Italian: Simeone di Sassonia-Coburgo-Gotha; born 16 June 1937) is the last reigning Bulgarian monarch and later served as Prime Minister of Bulgaria from 2001 to 2005.
During his reign as Simeon II, Tsar of Bulgaria, from 1943 to 1946 he was a minor, the royal authority being exercised over the kingdom on his behalf by a regency led by Simeon's uncle Prince Kiril, General Nikola Mihov and the prime minister, Bogdan Filov. In 1946 the monarchy was abolished as a consequence of a referendum, and Simeon was forced into exile. He returned to his home country in 1996 and formed the political party National Movement for Stability and Progress (NMSP) and became Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from July 2001 until August 2005. In the next elections he, as a leader of NMSP, took part in a coalition government with the ex-communist party BSP, and in 2009 after NMSP failed to win any seats in the Parliament, he left politics.
Simeon is one of the two last living heads of state from the time of World War II (the other is Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet), the only living person who has borne the title "Tsar", and one of only two former monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections (the other is the now-deceased Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia).
Simeon was born to Boris III and Giovanna 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 acceded to the throne on 28 August 1943 upon 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, Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and Lt. General Nikola Mikhov of the Bulgarian Army were appointed regents.
Under his father, Bulgaria had reluctantly joined the Axis powers in World War II but had managed to preserve diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Still, on 5 September 1944 Stalin 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 three new regents were appointed (Todor Pavlov, Venelin Ganev and Tsvetko Boboshevski). On 15 September 1946, a referendum was held in the presence of the Soviet army. It resulted in a 97% approval for republic and abolition of the monarchy, and the boy-king Simeon was deposed.