December 11 1918, Helsinki–After the Whites’ victory in the Finnish Civil War, they decided to make Finland a kingdom. In a feat of spectacularly bad timing, in October they invited Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse, husband of the Kaiser’s youngest sister, to serve as King of Finland. Germany’s defeat and the fall of the Kaiser made this arrangement untenable, and in December Frederick Charles renounced the throne without ever having set foot in the country. Finland was now a kingdom without a king, and its parliament decided to declare Mannerheim, hero of the Civil War, as Regent of Finland, on December 11. Mannerheim had left Finland after his victory in the Civil War, not wanting to associate further with the Germans whose intervention he had opposed (though they had been instrumental in the Whites’ victory). Mannerheim was popular among the Whites and, perhaps more importantly, with the Allies, and was able to secure substantial food aid for Finland, often called “Mannerheim bread” in his honor.
In 1919, Finland decided to become a republic, and Mannerheim stepped down as Regent. He ran for President of Finland, lost, and largely remained out of politics until the 1930′s.