Dom Duarte II is the current King of Portugal and the Algarves, ruling since 2 July 1932. Paternally, he is a descendent of the line of Miguel I, the absolutist King who had to relinquish power after the Liberal Wars of 1828-1834.
Duarte is, in contrast to his very apolitical predecessor Manuel II, a very ambitious monarch, who expects a certain royal prerogative to be his birthright as King of the thousand year old Portuguese monarchy. Having a troubled relationship with his Prime Minister, José Hipólito Raposo, Duarte is suspected to maintain relations with opposition members and old-guard monarchists from the Paiva Couceiro era (1922-1926), with the greater aim to achieve a "National Restoration" and to remove the Integralists from power.
Duarte Nuno Fernando Maria Miguel Gabriel Rafael Francisco Xavier Raimundo António was born at Seebenstein Castle in Austria-Hungary, the son of Miguel, Duke of Braganza and of his second wife, Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Duarte Nuno had two older half-brothers, one older half-sister and eight sisters.
His paternal grandparents were Miguel I of Portugal and Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. His maternal grandparents were Charles, 6th Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, and Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein.
Duarte Nuno’s father was the Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal who opposed his cousins, the reigning line of the House of Braganza-Saxe-Coburg and Gotha descended from Queen Maria II. Duarte Nuno’s family had been disinherited and banished by Maria II for rebellion. In spite of this, with the permission of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Portuguese soil had been placed under the bed where he was born, so that Duarte Nuno and his siblings could claim to have been born on Portuguese soil in order to comply with the Portuguese law of succession.
The day after his birth, Duarte Nuno was baptised at Seebenstein. His godparents were his aunt the Infanta Adelgundes, Duchess of Guimarães and the husband of another aunt, the Infante Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime (both of whom were represented by proxies).
Duarte Nuno’s first tutors were two Portuguese ladies, Maria Luisa Castelo and Maria das Dores de Sousa Prego. Later he was taught by the Benedictine monk Frei Estevao from the monastery of Cucujães. Duarte Nuno attended school at the Abbey of Ettal in Bavaria and the Abbey of Clairvaux in France and then completed his secondary education in Regensburg. He received a degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Toulouse.
Succession as Miguelist claimant
Duarte Nuno’s second brother, Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza, died in 1919, and on 21 July 1920 his eldest brother, Prince Miguel, Duke of Viseu, renounced his succession rights. Ten days later, on 31 July 1920 Duarte Nuno’s father Miguel abdicated his claim to the Portuguese throne in favour of Duarte Nuno. Henceforth the Miguelists recognised Duarte Nuno as King Duarte II of Portugal, even though Portugal had become a republic in 1910 when Maria II’s great-grandson, King Manuel II(still alive in 1920), was sent into exile. Duarte Nuno used Duke of Braganza as a title of pretense.
Since Duarte Nuno was only twelve years old when he succeeded as Miguelist claimant to the Portuguese throne, his aunt, the Duchess of Guimarães, acted as regent for him until he attained his majority. In 1921, she issued a manifesto outlining the family’s goals for the restoration of the monarchy.
In 1912, Duarte Nuno’s father, Miguel, met with the now in England living Manuel to try to come to some agreement so that there would not be two claimants to the Portuguese throne, both living in exile. Their representatives signed the Pact of Dover by which Miguel recognised Manuel as King, while Manuel recognised the succession rights of Duarte Nuno should Manuel and his uncle Afonso die without children.
But things changed, because shortly after the end of the Weltkrieg, political chaos would spell an end to the fragile Portuguese Republic and the monarchy was restored on 5 January 1922 following the a coup backed by most political forces in the country, including the Integralists. Manuel II was restored, and thus Duarte's chances at the throne went from daydreams to virtual facts almost overnight. The young heir was not well known in political or military circles, but was still de facto heir to the throne. Prime Minister Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro firmly believed that Manuel was going to have children, and thus he did not worry on the issue, especially since the claims were not rivaling each other anymore.
Return and Coronation
Having in mind the Pact of Dover, and the fact that Manuel still had no heirs, amendments were made with Duarte to ensure an orderly sucession, and the two met after many years in Lisbon in 1928. All but officially, that meeting decided the fate of the crown after Manuel's death; Duarte would be crowned king.
Manuel died unexpectedly in his residence on 2 July 1932 after suffocating from an abnormal swelling in the vocal folds of his larynx, or tracheal oedema, and thus Duarte II rose to the throne. He was already living in Portugal since 1930, and the olderly sucession was a stark contrast to the chaos of the republic.
However, as soon as he took the throne, Manuel realized he had no the power he always saw as his birthright, because since the disastrous Second Ultimatum of 1925 and the subsequent integralist coup of the Integralists in March 1926, Portugal had been under the firm control of the Integralismo Lusitano movement and Prime Minister José Hipólito Raposo. While pretending to be supporters of a strong Catholic monarchy in Portugal, the Integralists had in fact limited the role of the monarch to a mere symbolical one, therefore de facto ruling the country as dictators. While this had worked out quite well under the not very assertive Manuel, the ascensio of Duarte would soon cause friction between King and government: Interventionist and politically astute, Duarte expected to have a bevy of royal powers, but the agreements between Manuel and Raposo had left the King with few other powers, and broad public support for the Integralists meant they couldn't be easily ousted, not without a seriously destabilising event.
The King and the Prime Minister quickly grew to hate each other, though publically they supported each others actions. Now, as the Integralists personal support has begun to level off in recent years, the King has been making many meetings with former members of the Coucerio cabinet, as well as prominent coalition leaders outside of the Integralists. Whispers of a “National Restoration” can be heard through the Congress, though Jose Hipolito Raposo, entering his 10th year as Prime Minister, simply brushes aside the conspiracies. For all parties involved, the next few years will prove critical for the monarchy - and more importantly, Duarte's position within it.