Official Statement about the Legal Transfer of HM King Peter II to Serbia / January 25, 2013
Belgrade, 25 January 2013 – The following statement has been prepared by the Office of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander to respond to some reckless statements and misleading information published in the press in Serbia and commented on line.
The exhumation and transfer of HM King Peter II was strictly done following legal advice and according to the appropriate rules and regulations as relate to these matters in the State of Illinois, United States where King Peter II was buried in 1970.
This is to confirm that under Illinois State law whatever notice was required was fully observed. According to that law Crown Prince Alexander, as HM King Peter II only immediate heir, had proper and full authority to initiate and complete the exhumation and transfer of the remains of the late King Peter II as advised by his Chicago based legal counsel Thomas J. Karacic.
According to United States laws, Princess Eva Marie Karageogevitch’s authority as executor of the estate of King Peter II fully expired at the time the estate was closed by a state court in 1980 and she was, therefore, at that time totally legally discharged from any further responsibility and duties.
The Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of the Mid-West United States, which is the administrative authority of the cemetery in Libertyville Illinois, had notice and concurred with the proceedings. The United States Ambassador in Serbia and the Serbian Ambassador in the United States both also had knowledge of the entire proceedings.
The focus of the move of HM King Peter II was intended to be on the return and welcome of the remains of to Serbia, to the Royal Palace Chapel in Dedinje and HM King Peter II final rightful resting place at the Royal Mausoleum at Oplenac. An important aspect of all of this will be the long overdue State Funeral of HM King Peter II, later this year, as befitting a former Head of State. As HM King Peter II was a Head of State of an Allied country during World War II those countries will now be able to send their official Royal, civil and military representatives to HM King Peter II official funeral later this year.
Remains of last Yugoslav king Peter II Karadjordjevic returned from US to Serbia / “The Washington Post” AP January 22, 2013
The Washington Post
January 22, 2013
Dusan Stojanovic contributed to this report.
BELGRADE, Serbia — The remains of Yugoslavia’s last king — Peter II Karadjordjevic, who died in the U.S. in 1970 — were flown back to Serbia in a solemn ceremony on Tuesday, despite protests by some Serb royalists in America.
The former king fled the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia at the start of World War II and never returned because Communists took over at the end of the war. He died in exile at the age of 47 and was buried at a Serbian Orthodox Church monastery in Libertyville, Illinois — the only European monarch laid to rest on U.S. soil.
His son — Crown Prince Alexander, who lives in Belgrade — wanted the remains returned to Serbia. That reportedly upset some Serbian-American groups, who claimed the remains were being secretly exhumed and that before the king had died he asked to remain buried in the United States.
However, Alexander said in a speech at the Royal Palace in Belgrade on Tuesday that his father wanted to return to his homeland and his people, “whom he loved more than anything else.”
“He spoke of that often, every time the two of us were together,” Alexander said after the flag-draped casket was brought into the palace’s chapel where the head of Serbia’s Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej said a prayer.
“We brought the king back to his land,” said Alexander, who has called for the return of the monarchy in Serbia. “Welcome back, father!”
Several dozen royalist supporters — some dressed in old Serbian uniforms — held candles, flowers and photos of Peter during the ceremony.
The government’s full support of the decision to return the king’s body to Serbia was obvious at the ceremony, whose guests included Prime Minister Ivica Dacic along with other state officials and their guests.
Even though Peter was born into a royal family, and his godfather was Britain’s King George VI, his life was often tragic and chaotic.
He was only 11 years old when his father, King Alexander I, was assassinated in 1934 in Marseilles, France. For the next six years the boy’s powers were in the hands of a three-man regency headed by his uncle, Prince Paul.
In March 1941 Prince Paul was overthrown in a military coup after signing a pact with Germany. Peter, then 17, was made the king by the Serb anti-fascists.
But when Germany invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941, Peter was forced to flee, first to Greece, then to Egypt, then to Britain, where he headed the government-in-exile. He later lived in France and ended up in the U.S.
History books portray him as a figurehead leader and a victim of cunning politicians.
On Tuesday, Serbian officials hailed the return of Peter’s remains as the way to help unify their nation, which has remained deeply divided between pro- and anti-royalists since World War II.
“Serbia has a long tradition and history,” said Oliver Antic, an adviser to nationalist Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic. “Now, even the countries that have no sympathy for us will see how strong is the tradition of this nation.”
A formal burial ceremony for King Peter II is planned for later this year.
Please click on link to see the photos.
HM King Peter II Returns Home after 72 Years
Belgrade, 18 January 2013 – HRH Crown Prince Alexander said today how proud he and his family are that his father King Peter II of Yugoslavia is finally returning home. The Crown Prince also said that this is a very moving event and of great historical importance for the people of Serbia. King Peter will finally join his ancestors in the Royal Family Mausoleum in Oplenac. In the interim His Majesty will lay in peace in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Dedinje Belgrade.
His Royal Highness wishes to warmly thank H.E. President Tomislav Nikolic of Serbia, the Government of Serbia and the Commission for Reburial of the Royal Family for all their wonderful support and advice. The final date for the internment in Oplenac will be decided later this year dependent on coordination with the Serbian Orthodox Church, H.E. President Tomislav Nikolic of Serbia, the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Royal Houses.
King Peter II of Yugoslavia was the firstborn son of King Alexander I and Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. King Peter II was born in Belgrade 6 September 1923 his Godparents were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later Queen Mother of Great Britain). His education commenced at The Royal Palace in Belgrade after which he went to Sandroyd School in England, which he left after his father’s assassination in Marseille in 1934. Since King Peter II was 11 years old and underage at the time of his father’s assassination, a regency was formed consisting of three regents including his great uncle Prince Paul of Yugoslavia.
In 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia found itself surrounded by countries that had joined the Axis as allies of Nazi Germany. Prince Paul’s decision in 1941 to sign a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany resulted in severe protests in the country and this led to a government crisis and a coup d’état by Yugoslav officers on 27 March 1941. As a result of the coup, King Peter II was proclaimed of age.
The Yugoslav Army was unprepared to resist the ensuing invasion by Nazi Germany and Yugoslavia was occupied within eleven days. King Peter II was forced to leave the country along with the Yugoslav Government – initially to Greece, Palestine and then to Egypt. King Peter II joined other monarchs and leaders of Nazi occupied Europe in London in June 1941.
Despite the collapse of the Yugoslav army two rival resistance entities were formed. The first resistance entity was the loyalist one led by Yugoslav Army Colonel Dragoljub Mihailovic who was later promoted to General and made the Minister of Defence of the Yugoslav government in exile. The other resistance entity was that of the Partisans led by Josip Broz – later known to the world as Tito. A bitter civil war followed during the Nazi occupation.
The Allies, having initially supported General Mihailovic later threw their support behind Tito. The Partisans entered Belgrade in 1944 in the wake of Soviet tank brigades and established a Government. In November 1945, the monarchy was illegally abolished without a referendum and Yugoslavia remained a totalitarian single party state under the League of Communists for more than four decades.
King Peter II never abdicated. Initially King Peter II lived in exile in London with his wife (he married the Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark in 1944, she was the daughter of King Alexander of the Hellenes and Aspasia Manos) and his son Crown Prince Alexander was born in 1945.
King Peter II spent the last years of his life in America. After a long and grave illness, King Peter II died 3 November 1970 in Denver Hospital Colorado, and he was buried at the St. Sava Monastery Church in Libertyville (north of Chicago) Illinois. He was the only King buried in the United States.
Empty former gravesite of Serbia’s King Peter II in St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, IL U.S.A.
The empty former gravesite of Serbia’s King Peter II in St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Libertyville, IL U.S.A. The remains were removed on Wednesday night/Thursday morning January 16/17, 2013 and are on their way to Serbia where they will be interred at Oplenac.
Photo by Sava Alexander Vojcanin taken on Thursday, January 17, 2013.
I know I speak for many when I say that I wish we could have been there to say “Good-bye”.