King of Romania Michael
Former King of Romania Michael makes a rare appearance at the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest on November 8, 2013 Getty

Romania's former King Michael, who was forced to abdicate from the throne in 1947 following a post-war Stalinist takeover, has died aged 96.

King Michael, who twice ruled Romania between 1927 to 1930 – which began when he was just six years old – and again between 1940 and 1947, died in Switzerland following years of ill health.

A cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, Michael had lived in exile for decades after the Soviets took over Romania and abolished the monarchy.

He withdrew from public life completely in 2016 because of illness, having gone through surgery for skin cancer and leukaemia.

Romania's Royal House said Michael's body will be brought to the Peles Castle in Sinaia before being moved to the Royal Palace in Bucharest. The king will be buried at Curtea de Arges.

A books of condolence will be open at the Peles Castle in Sinaia and the Royal Palace and the Elisabeta Palace in in Bucharest on 6 December. Details surrounding the funeral will be announced in the coming days.

Michael returned to Romania in 1990 following the country's revolution in 1989, which resulted in the Christmas Day execution of Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, before being expelled by police.

His three-day visit in Easter 1992, which saw more than one million people flock to see him, resulted in a ban of any more visits by then president Ion Iliescu.

The country's unofficial queen, Anne of Romania, died in hospital in Switzerland on 1 August 2016 aged 92.

Romanian King Michael
Former Romanian King Michael and his wife Anne pictured in 1951 Getty