Bulgaria castles

Bulgaria’s last tsar loses battle for palace ownership

Bulgaria’s last tsar lost a legal battle to secure the return of a mountain palace and hunting lodge which was seized by the country’s communist rulers when the monarchy was abolished 75 years ago .

Simeon Sakskoburggotsky, who ascended to the throne as Simeon II in 1943 when he was 6 years old, spent 50 years in Egypt and Spain after the 1946 referendum in which 90% of Bulgarians voted for a republic.

The former monarch says a series of royal residences and timber should have been returned to his family’s control after a national court ruling in 1998 found the foreclosures were discriminatory and violated the right to property.

The former Tsar returned to Bulgaria full time in 2001 and now lives in Vrana Palace on the outskirts of Sofia, a sprawling 2,000 square meter complex surrounded by botanical gardens donated to the state by the family.

But the palace – and other properties that once belonged to the monarchy – remain at the center of a series of battles for property.

The dispute boiled beneath the surface after the king returned in 2001 as prime minister for four years after creating a political party promising to transform the country with sweeping economic ideas.

But the problem reappeared when he left politics in 2009. After efforts were made to force Simeon II and his Spanish wife out of Vrana, the former ruler in 2018 told Bulgarian media: “I feel humiliated. It’s as if the state is forcing me into exile again.

Properties taken from the royal family included a now demolished two-story house in Sofia, four palaces, a hunting lodge and a spa where the elder sister of the former Tsar, Maria-Luisa Borisova Chrobok, is currently listed as the owner. , court documents show.

The former tsar and his sister – a German-Bulgarian citizen who now lives in the United States – took the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

He ruled this week on two properties – the Sitnyakovo summer palace in the Rila mountains and a hunting lodge – and on commercial logging on former royal lands.

Eight judges at the Strasbourg court in France unanimously rejected the claims of former members of the royal family over the two properties. He said the national courts’ decisions against them were not “arbitrary or patently unreasonable”.

But he ruled in part in favor of the family on a ban on exploiting the income with damages to be decided at a later date. He ordered the Bulgarian government to pay € 5,000 ($ 5,914) in costs.

The tribunal ensures that the members of the 47 states of the Council of Europe respect the human rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Updated: September 8, 2021, 13:55

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