|Prince Peter and friend|
|Crown Princess Margarita, Marlene Koenig and King Michael|
|Royal Cousins: Princesses Lavinia and Katarina of Serbia|
|King Constantine II giving a speech|
|Princess Birgitta and Prince Vladimir|
|Princess Isabelle and Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein|
Back on land, we got back on the buses for the trip back to the hotel for a respite before the gala dinner at the Royal Palace. Some took a rest, others went for a swim in the pool, while the noted royal expert and art dealer Guy Stair Sainty and I went stopping. Guy's wife Elizabeth was having her hair done, and had run out of time to buy presents for their children. I knew where the shopping center was so Guy and I walked to the USCE Shopping Center, which was only a few blocks from the Hyatt. I had hoped that the mall would have kiosks selling Serbian products. No such luck, although we both enjoyed the display of all the towns in the US with the name of Belgrade.
I remembered seeing dolls and other items on sale at tables at the entrance to the Kalmegdan. Guy hailed a cab, and we were off across the Branko bridge to Prince Michael Street and the Kalmegdan. It was a successful trip. Guy found presents for his children, and I bought a hand made lace runner for my cocktail table. Women sit at the entrance every day selling their home-made lace products. As state pensions are small, this small group of entrepreneurial women are able to supplement their meagre incomes. The quality of the work is excellent.
The shopping adventure over, we got into another cab for the ride back to the Hyatt, and time to get ready for official dinner.
It was back on the bus at 6:45 p.m. The dress code for the dinner was black tie and long gowns. I must say everyone looked elegant ... and spiffy!
Even with the police escort, it was difficult to get through the maze of Belgrade traffic. There are only two bridges linking Belgrade and New Belgrade, and there are many more drivers as Serbians can now get credit to for car loans.
The stairs to the palace were decorated with flowers and luminations. We all went through the formal receiving line, and then into the reception rooms for cocktails. Princess Lavinia walked over to me to have a chat. I also met the American Ambassador Mary Burce Warlick, who was sworn in as ambassador in January. Her husband is the ambassador to Bulgaria.
Dinner was free seating. Lavina and her husband asked me to join them at a table, but others were already sitting at the table as well so I decided to sit another table, joining Prince Vladimir, Princess Birgitta, Prince Nikola, Guy and Elizabeth Sainty, and several Serbians, including the head of the Heraldic society. Suffice to say it was a lively table.
The Serbian wine flowed, and the meal was delicious. The main course included beef, potatoes, vegetables and a salad, served with Serbian rolls, made with a hint of salt. King Constantine, who was Crown Prince Alexander's best man, made a funny speech that elicited laughter and applause. Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine's children, Princes Alexander, Peter and Philip, and Allison and David Andrews, all spoke glowingly of their parents. The princes' introduced a video on the lives of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess also made brief speeches. It is evident that this is a couple who are so much in love, and also love Serbia. Then came the cake which sparkled -- literally!
The cake was served ... and more wine ... and eventually, the clock struck twelve, and it was time to get back on the buses. On the way out, the guests were handed a gift bag. Inside the bag was a glass commemorating the event.
Back on the bus, I could do one thing that I could not have done at the palace: I took my shoes off!