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Carol II (15 October 1893 – 4 April 1953) reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until 6 September 1940. He was the first of the Hohenzollern kings of Romania to be born in the country (both of his predecessors were born and grew up in Germany and only came to Romania as adults). Carol, by contrast, spoke Romanian as his first language and was the first member of the Romanian royal family to be raised in the Orthodox faith. He possessed a hedonistic personality that contributed to the controversies and misrule that marred his reign. In 1940, he was forced to abdicate and withdraw into foreign exile.

The acceptance of the Second Vienna Award completely discredited Carol with his people, and in early September 1940, enormous demonstrations broke out all over Romania demanding that Carol abdicate. On 1 September 1940, Sima, who had resigned from the government. gave a speech calling upon Carol to abdicate, and the Iron Guard contributed to the effort to force the king’s abdication through demonstrations. On 2 September 1940, Valer Pop, a courtier and important member of the camarilla, first advised Carol to appoint General Ion Antonescu as prime minister to solve the crisis. Pop’s reasons for advising Carol to have Antonescu appointed as prime minister were partly due to Antonescu’s sympathy with the Iron Guard and his imprisonment under Carol, which lent him credibility as an opposition figure. Pop also knew that Antonescu, in spite of his affinity with the ideals of the Iron Guard, was a member of the Romanian elite and would never turn against it. As increasingly large crowds started to assemble outside of the royal palace to demand the king’s abdication, Carol considered Pop’s advice, but was reluctant to have Antonescu as prime minister. Pop feared that Romania was on the verge of a revolution that might not only sweep away the king’s regime, but also the elite who had dominated the country since the 19th century. To apply further pressure on Carol, Pop met with Fabricius on the night of 4 September 1940 to ask him to tell Carol that Germany wanted Antonescu as prime minister. This led Fabricius to call Carol to tell him to appoint the general as the prime minister. For his part, the ambitious General Antonescu, who long coveted the prime ministership, now suddenly started to downplay his long-standing antipathy to Carol and suggested that he was prepared to forgive past slights and disputes. On 5 September 1940, Antonescu became prime minister, and Carol transferred most of his dictatorial powers to him. As prime minister, Antonescu was acceptable to both the Iron Guard and the traditional Romanian elite. Carol planned to stay as king after appointing Antonescu and initially Antonescu did not support the popular demand for Carol’s abdication. But when Antonescu became Prime Minister, he had a weak political base. As an army officer, Antonescu was very unpopular with his fellow officers, above all for his arrogance and very bad temper. Antonescu’s relations with the politicians were no better, and Antonescu was initially unwilling to move against the king until he had some political allies. Carol ordered Antonescu and General Dumitru Coroamă, who commanded the troops in Bucharest, to shoot down demonstrators in front of the royal palace, an order that both refused to obey. It was only on 6 September 1940, when Antonescu learned of a plot to murder him organized by another member of the camarilla, General Paul Teodorescu, that Antonescu joined the chorus demanding Carol’s abdication. With public opinion solidly against him and with the Army refusing to obey his orders, Carol was forced to abdicate.

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