The Romanian government recently adopted a controversial bill that declares the Royal House of Romania "a legal person of public interest" and obliges the state to officially recognize the Head of the Royal House (whoever that is) – and to subsidize a significant amount of its operations and activities.
The phrase "a legal person of public interest" appears in the national legislation on associations and foundations. The Royal House of Romania has been legally nonexistent for the past 70 years, after the abdication of the last king and the establishment of communism.
It would only become legal now, through the government’s bill. In recent decades, the former king of Romania, King Michael, who lived in exile in Switzerland, regained ownership of numerous properties in the country, even though the return of properties confiscated by the communists is not yet complete for many other ordinary citizens.
According to the current bill, the Romanian state would finance the following:
- 99 years' rent for the Elisabeta Palace, the use of which was granted by the state, for free, to the Royal House;
- A monthly allowance for the Head of the Royal House equal to the amount received by former heads of state, i.e. 75 percent of the salary paid to the acting president of Romania (around 3,200 euros a month);
- Expenses for the operation of the Royal House (unknown for now);
- Part of the costs for conducting public activities, projects and programs by the Royal House (the amount of which is not specified, which mean up to 99.9 percent could be covered);
- Expenditure for the functioning of the administrative department of the Royal House, which will be composed by a maximum of 20 people (this amount is unknown as well).
In addition to financial concerns, there is also at least a constitutional concern about this bill. Article 11 of the bill requires the Romanian Parliament to recognize, in a declaration adopted in a joint session of the two chambers, the head of the Royal House (whoever that is).
The Parliament has to meet this obligation in a maximum of 10 days from the entry into force of the law. We have, therefore, a form of government (a republic) that must recognize and somehow coexist with a different form of government (a monarchy), while the Constitution prohibits any modification, however small, on the subject.
The bill is signed by Deputy Prime Minister Vasile Dancu, of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of Romania. Princess Margareta, heiress to the throne of Romania, recently met with the head of PSD as well as other representatives of the government.