Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another interview

Frankfurtske vesti, 19.09.2010.
Ruler by bloodline Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic
We are not an imported dynasty
Prince Alexander II and Princess Katherine, together with family and distinguished guests from Serbia and abroad, marked their 25th wedding anniversary during two days celebration. That was a good occasion for Crown Prince Alexander to talk to “Vesti” about Serbia today and the Karadjordjevic dynasty. The silver wedding anniversary is an important jubilee. What could you tell us about your marriage?

- Wonderful 25 years with Katherine who has been so good to me and the children. We have done so much together and seen a lot. The last 9 years have been extraordinary since I came back to my roots in Serbia and Katherine has valiantly stood by me. Katherine has done so much helping the people of Serbia with her valiant humanitarian work

Having in mind that your sons are of age for marriage, is there another wedding or a baby at the Palace in sight?

- Not yet. The boys are still young.

Next year will be 10 years of your return to Serbia. How would you rate those ten years from the aspect of the Government treatment towards you, and how from the aspect of citizens?

- My relations with both the people and all democratically orientated politicians was always open, sincere and honest. It was like that in 1991 when I first came to Serbia, and it is the same today. Everything that my wife and I have been doing during all this time, is just a confirmation of our attitude. I do not feel any difference in how people treat us now in regards how it was in the past. However, I must admit that my contacts with people from the establishment are not so regular and frequent as they were during 1990s and for some years after the 5 October Revolution. This is a pity, because I know that I can still contribute very much in our mutual struggle for our country’s better future. Sometimes it is easier for me to get in touch with some high ranking people abroad than in my own country, but I hope that it will change for better.

Next month will be 10 years of October 5 revolution, which you have strongly supported even before the changes actually occurred. How far did Serbia go in these 10 years?

- My efforts in the unification of the Serbian opposition in 1990s are still almost unknown in our country, but I never did that for the sake of self promotion, but rather for our country’s democratic future. Unfortunately, after the 5 October Revolution, there was the tragic assassination of my good friend, Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, then the global economy crisis hit hard, not only Serbia but all the countries in the world. Our economy is still very fragile and it depends very much on foreign investments. Attracting these investments should not only be the task for Government officials, but also for all people of good will with good contacts. Certainly there have been some good moments since the 5 October Revolution, but much time has been lost due to lack of unity and planning. It would have been good if the government following the 5 October Revolution had taken on a global PR firm to promote and improve the image of Serbia abroad, it would have been money well spent that would have given us good returns now close to the tenth anniversary of the 5 October Revolution. I would also have hoped for more work on human rights.

Montenegro has passed a law on the status of the Petrovic dynasty. How far is Serbia when it comes to the final resolution of the status of the Karadjordjevic dynasty, and are there any problems and of what kind?

- It is good that the Montenegrin Government intends to define the status of the Petrovic dynasty. However, the first reaction of Prince Nikola indicates that the definition of his status was simplified by granting him a state salary. This is not the point. It is also very difficult to expect any kind of political status given by a country which is a republic. It is not appropriate even in countries which are monarchies, as the monarch must be neutral. However, the domestic dynasties like Petrovic or Karadjordjevic, were the only ones in the Balkans which were not “imported” from abroad. As such, they were always an inseparable part of the people, history, tradition, and it would be a logical extension, to be recognized as guardians of identity, or even if you want, of comparative advantage to other countries in the region within our European Union future. After all, this is the only link of the ongoing broad civic reconciliation which is missing at this moment.

What is the status of Karadjordjevic Palaces in Serbia today, since communists confiscated them and they still belong to the state, concerning investment funding and current maintenance?

- My grandfather, King Alexander I gave the New Palace downtown, today the Presidential Palace, as a donation to the National Museum, and I find this as a noble gesture. The Royal Palace in the Dedinje Compound, which was the residence of my grandfather and father, and the White Palace, which was built with the purpose of being the residence of my father King Peter II and my two uncles Prince Tomislav and Prince Andrej, was illegally confiscated in 1947 and has been state property ever since then. It was maintained by the state during Tito, during the regime, and it suddenly stopped in 2001 when I was given the right to use it as the head of the Royal Family. In the period from 2001 until 2004, I financed the maintenance of the Dedinje Compound with my own funds which was extremely difficult. However, the state resumed with the care of its own confiscated property in 2004 and this functioned well until 2008 when something changed. The maintenance of such a historical monument needs constant care and maintenance. I sincerely hope that the people from the Government, despite their priority problems, are able to understand this. I hope that this is only a temporary drawback and that all will be resolved with good faith.

How are the family relationships in Karadjordjevic dynasty today, and especially between direct ancestors of King Alexander I, the Unifier?

- My relations with the descendants of my both uncles, Prince Tomislav and Prince Andrej, are both regular and very cordial. We frequently gather in the Dvorski Complex for our Slava St. Andrej and for other occasions, such as the forthcoming wedding anniversary, in London and many other times. However, the media is frequently digging for gossip, and sometimes they come across the members of the parallel branches of the family who have different opinions. The fact that understandably journalists are not aware or comprehend well enough the family structure and history, unfortunately helps this confusion to go on.

How do you regard situation with Kosovo and Metohija at international scene?

Kosovo is another very tragic story. This government inherited almost an impossible situation from the past, and did whatever it could within the frame of international law and diplomacy. I wish there was much more understanding and tact in some countries, as we could have reached a just solution before. It is not the first time in our history, that we stand as small country between great powers with confronted interests. We should learn more from our past, not only from the great battles, but also from our great diplomats such as Despot Stefan, Knez Milos or Nikola Pasic in their time.

English Queen the Godmother
Crown Prince Alexander II Karadjordjevic, the only son to the King Peter II and Queen Alexandra, was born in exile on 17 July 1945 in London. According to dynastic rules of Yugoslavia, the heir to the throne had to be born on Yugoslav territory. The British Government declared suite 212 in Claridge's Hotel, where the Crown Prince was born, Yugoslav territory. His Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo baptized the newborn Crown Prince in Westminster Abbey with Godparents King George VI and HRH Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen Elizabeth II).

He was educated in Switzerland, America, Scotland and England. He subsequently went to the British Royal Military Academy and in 1966 was commissioned an officer in the British Army. His tours of duty included West Germany, Italy and Middle East. After leaving the army in 1972, Crown Prince Alexander II pursued a career in international business and got married with Princess Maria da Gloria of the Imperial Family of Brazil in Spain. They have got hereditary Prince Peter was born in 1980 in Chicago and fraternal twin sons Prince Philip and Prince Alexander were born in 1982 in Virginia. First marriage was finished in 1983, and two years later Alexander II married Katherine Batis from Athens, on 21 September 1985. HM King Constantine of the Hellenes was the best man and Prince Tomislav Karadjorjdevic was the witness, at the ceremony at Serbian church in London. Alexander II came to Serbia for the first time in 1991. The Crown Prince has been living in The Royal Palace in Belgrade since 17 July 2001, at the home built by his grandfather King Alexander the Unifier.

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