The Romanian royal descendant who France refuses to extradite

DEC 2, 2023 LISTEN

Following a French court's refusal this week to extradite a descendant of one of Romania's last kings, RFI looks at the man who says he may have a right to the Romanian throne.

On Wednesday, the Paris Appeals Court ruled that extraditing the man known as "Paul of Romania" would present "a real risk of violation of the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights".

Paris-born Paul-Philippe al Romaniei, 75, who has triple French-British-Romanian nationality, has been found guilty in Romania of working with a gang of con artists to recover properties he claims are his as the heir to Romania's last king but one, Carol II.

The French court ruled that the conviction was politically motivated.

"In France, I knew I would receive what was denied me in Romania: a fair trial based on evidence and impartial application of the law," Paul said in a statement via his lawyers.

Also known by the names Paul-Philippe Hohenzollern and Paul Lambrino, he declared that the French ruling "constitutes full recognition of my rights as the legitimate heir of Carol II".

Paul was the target of a European arrest warrant issued in December 2020 after a Romanian court sentenced him to three years and four months in jail for influence peddling and aiding and abetting a crime.

The royal was among 18 people convicted over the schemes, believed to have cost the Romanian state €145 million. 

Illegitimate son

Paul's father, Mircea Grigore Carol, was born in Romania in 1920. He was an illegitimate son of Carol II, who ruled from 1930 until he abdicated in 1940 in favour of his younger son, Michael I.

The royal family was expelled from Romania in 1947 by the Communists, and all its properties confiscated.

Paul's father was recognised as Carol II's son in Portugal in 1955 and in France in 1963, but the link was only acknowledged by Romania in 2012.

Paul returned to live in the country in the 1990s.
His uncle Michael, the last king of Romania, did not acknowledge him as part of the royal family and died in 2017.

Paul now claims that his attempts to reclaim his royal inheritance of property, land and classic artworks are the real reason for his prosecution.

He has also launched legal action in Paris to recover paintings removed from Romania by his uncle Michael in 1947, including two works by Renaissance master El Greco.

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(with AFP)