Tuesday, September 6, 2011

King Peter reaches his majority

Marlene A. Eilers Koenig collection

September 6, 1941

King Peter II of Yugoslavia, a refugee now living in England, celebrates his 18th birthday today, reports the Associated Press.  He is a "tall, slim, shy youth," who is convinced that the "time is ripe for a British invasion of Italy."

He also has "definite ideas about the prosecution of war," and the part he wants to play in it.

"I believe the British should invade Italy," he said during an interview.  "I think the time is ripe."

The interview took place in "the quiet garden surrouding his mother's country house seventy miles from London."   "I have no regret about the decision I took to fight it out with Hitler."

King Peter has been living with Queen Marie since June, when he arrived in England by airplane "with only an extra suit, shoes and a pair of pajamas."  He plans to remain in England for now.
"If I can't be with my people in my own land, I would rather be here."

He plans to enter Cambridge this fall, but he is most interested in becoming a RAF pilot.  He has been "itching to get at the controls of a plane" ever since he arrived here.   He recently spoke of his flight from Yugoslavia to Athens, when he "piloted the plane most of the way because the pilot was exhausted from three straight nights of aerial combat."

As the head of an exile government, King Peter "has marched through munition plants, has shot off anti-aircraft guns, crawledthrough planes, and walked over ships," always showing "an interested expression."

His coming of age will be celebrated with a thanksgiving mass at the Greek Orthodox church in London.  This will be followed by a reception.  King Peter does not like receptions, however, as he finds them "stuffy."

King Peter succeeded to the throne in 1934 following the assassination of his father, King Alexander, in Marseilles.   A regency, headed by Prince Paul, ruled his his name until March 27 of this year when he overthrew the regency in a military coup d'etat not long before the German invasion of Yugoslavia. 

If the invasion had not taken place, and the Regency overthrown,  Peter would have assumed the throne today on his eighteenth birthday.

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