When the father, Carol II, abdicated in 1940, Michael was reinstated as king of a country controlled by Nazi Germany. He succeeded in throwing Romania to the Allied side toward the end of World War II, but was deposed in 1947 when Stalinist communists took over in Bucharest.
When Michael tried to go home from his Swiss exile in 1990, he was deported — only to regain his citizenship six years later.
From Royal to Revolutionary
Of all these wannabe comeback kings, the one that has moved the furthest from royal trappings is King Lekka of Albanian, the 7-foot-tall son of the late King Zog.
Born in 1936, baby Lekka was spirited out of Albania in the arms of his mother, Queen Geraldine, when Benito Mussolini's Italian troops invaded Albania.
He made his first splash on the international scene in Algeria, when he tried, with a gang of international adventurers, to rescue from jail a prominent Algerian revolutionary leader.
The attempt failed, but the revolutionary is now heading a party opposing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's military-backed rule.
After communist power collapsed in Albania, Lekka turned up in Tirana in 1997 with well-armed bodyguards in an equally unsuccessful bid to return to power.
Now Lekka lives in exile on a farm near Johannesburg, South Africa, but has never abandoned his claim to rule Albania. His business card simply identifies him as "Lekka. King of the Albanians."