The government deported Romania's former monarch, King Michael, early Wednesday, less than 12 hours after he arrived on a surprise visit, his first since being exiled by Communist rulers 43 years ago.

The 69-year-old former king returned to his homeland exactly a year after the execution of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in a popular revolution, apparently securing a visa upon arrival.The National Salvation Front that took power during the revolution and won subsequent elections had previously refused to grant Michael a visa.

After Ceausescu was overthrown, Michael had announced himself ready to return to Romania from exile in Switzerland as head of a constitutional monarchy "if my people want me to come back."

No invitation was extended. In June, he accused it of leading the country back toward communist dictatorship.

At the airport before departing for Switzerland on a government-owned plane Wednesday morning, Michael termed his expulsion "a rather sorry state of affairs." The government, already facing mounting strikes and protests by an opposition that accuses it of being a Communist regime in disguise, apparently feared the unannounced visit might stir up unrest.

Michael arrived on Tuesday night at Bucharest's Otopeni airport, flying in on his private plane from Switzerland.

But soon after his group arrived, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying the three family members had arrived without visas and "crossed the border fraudulently."

At 5:40 a.m. a government-owned An-24 turbo-prop plane took off for Switzerland with the entourage aboard, airport officials said.

Danielle Maillefer, a spokeswoman for Michael, said Premier Petre Roman had "strongly advised him not to come, but did not give a firm yes or no."

She said Michael "felt he has a role to play in Romania," and so decided to ignore Roman's advice.