CorD Magazine, May 2011
Interview with H.R.H. CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER II KARAGEORGEVITCH
GREAT DAY GREAT MEMORIES
Exclusive: By Philomena O’Brien
I have never seen so many people lining the streets, rows deep. Westminster Abbey was amazing - it was the first time I've seen trees inside the Abbey.
H.R.H. Crown Prince Alexander II Karageorgevitch and H.R.H. Princess Katherine were among 1,900 guests invited by the British Royal Family to attend the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. A day earlier, the Serbian Royal couple had attended a reception held by Queen Elizabeth for other Royal guests. It is for this reason that we decided to interview Crown Prince Alexander II who revealed the details of' the wedding of the decade' exclusively for CorD from London on the day of the ceremony. He talked about the atmosphere, the mood, the details and the protocol. When we spoke to Crown Prince Alexander he was looking toward to attending the post-wedding party organised for the older guests and told us he was not that keen on attending the disco being put on for the younger guests at Buckingham Palace.
- Your Highness, can please tell us a little of your impressions from the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton?
It was one of the great weddings; I think it was the wedding of the century so far. We are often invited to functions like this... weddings, birthday parties, etc. This is one of the occasions where die relatives are able to get together, and this was a big occasion. It was an amazing wedding due to the immense level of interest in Prince William and Princess Catherine. I have never seen so many people lining the streets, rows deep. Westminster Abbey was amazing- it was the first time I've seen trees inside the Abbey. It was like spring with all the live trees decorating the interior.
Prince William arrived with Prince Harry and they looked impeccable in their uniforms. They made their way to the front of the altar which was very close to us. Then Kate arrived; she was actually wearing a veil and when she took it off there was an audible sigh. It was beautiful. The attention of the people was amazing, and I think the Queen, who was seated near us, must have been very happy for her grandson.
- Where exactly were you seated, and who did you sit with?
- Looking from the altar toward the back of the Abbey we were seated on the left hand side. At the front, the British Royals, including the Queen, and Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Edward were seated. We were in the next row with the Queen of Denmark, the Queen of Spain and the Crown Prince of the Netherlands and so on. Behind us was the British Prime Minister David Cameron with members of the House of Lords, and behind this was the large area where all the other guests were seated.
- What impressed you the most at the wedding?
-I think the most impressive part was when they said "I will". They were both absolutely firm when they said it. By the way, when you shake Prince William's hand he gives you a very firm handshake and looks yon straight in the eye. It's really very nice. He is very confident. He is really a fine young man and she is so sweet. I think they are very well suited.
- Although the guest list for this wedding of the decade' was significantly reduced, according to the British media, you were one of the first people to be invited to the wedding. Could you please explain your connection with London and the British Royal Family?
- I was born on 17 July 1945 at Claridge's Hotel Suite 212. The British government under the orders of the then Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill declared Suite 212 at Claridge's Hotel to be Yugoslav territory. His Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo of Serbia officiated my christening in Westminster Abbey, with my Godparents King George VI and HRH Princess Elizabeth, now Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- Did you have the opportunity to meet with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at all?
- Yes. We had dinner with her the night before the wedding at the Mandarin Hotel, formerly the Hyde Park Hotel. It was a lovely dinner - a family affair with friends and so on. About 200 to 250 guests attended.
- The bride and groom asked for donations to be made to their favourite charities in lieu of wedding gifts. Did you accommodate their request?
- Yes we did however like members of the other Royal families we also gave them a small traditional wedding gift.
- As members of a Royal Family, did you have any specific obligations?
- No we didn't; it was a modern wedding. We just had to make sure we turned up on time. Nowadays there is a lot more security and so they bussed everyone into the wedding. We drove ourselves to Lancaster House which is next-door to where the Queen Mother lived. On the way we had to go through a number of security points which were highly organised and at each point they had books with pictures of all the royals and they matched the picture to our faces as we passed through. I've never been to a wedding before with a special guard every ten yards or so with a sub-machine gun. The security was immense. Once we arrived at Lancaster House we gathered and coffee. They then loaded us into buses to take us to Westminster Abbey - there must have been about 10 buses altogether.
- Analysts have predicted that the Royal Wedding will have benefited the economy of the United Kingdom by nearly one billion pounds (1.6 billion dollars), mainly through retailers, hotel bookings, shopping, etc. However, the real prize for the tourism industry is arguably the estimated two billion people who were watching Prince William and Kate live around the world on television. This royal wedding will have certainly strengthened the image of the United Kingdom as a great destination with a rich culture, history, architecture and tradition, but will also have raised the profile of the Royal Family. It will also have helped the United Kingdom economically - providing a needed marketing boost during these tough economic conditions. London was expected to gain the biggest tourism boost but other regions will also have benefited.
This Royal Wedding will have certainly strengthened the image of the United Kingdom as a great destination with a rich culture, history, architecture and tradition.
- After the wedding there was a canapé reception for 650 guests at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen. Did you attend this and what was it like?
-Yes, we went from Westminster Abbey straight to Buckingham Palace. This reception was initially just for the Royals and it was then opened up to other guests. In the beginning there were just 50 or 60 of us. They served champagne and some extraordinary juices - one I was particularly impressed with was a combination of pomegranate and elderberry juice.
- Did people at the wedding or dinner happen to ask you about Serbia at all? What sorts of questions did they ask?
- Yes, many asked about Serbia, enquiring whether the economic situation is as bad as is it is there. Questions also included those about how we travelled from Belgrade to London, what it is like living in Serbia, what sort of condition the Royal Palaces are in, things like that.
- How did you answer these questions?
- In term of the palaces I told the relatives that it has been pretty tough. When we first arrived in Serbia we financed die repairs of many problems, then we were put on the budget and then we were sort-of forgotten. Just recently the government has approved a law to go through parliament to help restore these historical palaces. They have the same problems - I remember Buckingham Palace used to have lots of leaks many years ago but they are more careful now.
- What are your thoughts in regards to the Montenegrin government's initiative in resolving the status of the Petrovic Dynasty?
- I welcome the initiative of the Montenegrin government to resolve the legal and formal status of the Petrovic Dynasty. As I have stated before, I sent my warmest congratulations to Prince Nikola and his family. However the Serbian government has not approached us so far with any proposal. It is probable that after the restitution law this issue should be resolved as well as the transfer of the remains of my father His Majesty King Peter II of Yugoslavia and my grandmother Her Majesty Queen Maria of Yugoslavia to the Mausoleum at Oplenac, where the Royal Family is buried. Currently King Peter is buried in Libertyville Illinois, the only king to be buried in die United States. Queen Maria is buried in Frogmore, Windsor next to Queen Victoria. It would be only proper and dignified for the Serbian government to put to rest this issue since it involves a former head of state and the widow of a former head of state.
- What are your first thoughts whenever you return to Belgrade?
- Is the roof still leaking? No seriously, it's always very nice to be home, particularly in the spring. I think it is one of the best times of the year in Belgrade. We are lucky to have a nice garden in Dedinje and when die roses start coming out, it is beautiful.
H.R.H. Crown Princess Katherine: Wedding fashion
It was magic. They say it has been 30 years since the last big Royal wedding and they have waited for a long time to celebrate. Kate's dress was just beautiful and featured very delicate lace. It was quite fitted on her body with long sleeves - it really suited her. Kate entered the Abbey very modestly and sweetly with her veil down, and then she put the veil behind her and we could see the tiara she wore. She was just full of smiles - I hope they will be as happy for the rest of their lives as they were today.
We were required to dress formally - I wore a dress with a coat, a hat and of course gloves. My dress featured Swarovski beading and the entire outfit was of a champagne-colour. I had the hat made with matching lace. People made a lot of effort to look good at the wedding. My husband wore a morning suit and looked very smart.