Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Assassination at the Palace

June 11, 1903

King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia were assassinated early this morning in Belgrade, reports the New York Times.  This "military conspiracy, which subsequent events had the sympathy of the majority of the Serbian people,"  took place early this morning.

Queen Draga's two brothers and several Government officials were also murdered.

The Serbian army has proclaimed Prince Peter Karageorgevich as King, and it is expected that "this decision will be confirmed by the Serbian Parliament" later this month.

The revolution took place without "any opposition on the part of the people of Belgrade."

The country and the capital remain "tranquil" with no incidents.  Although details of events are "conflicting," owing to the "extraordinary secrecy" in which the plots were carried out.

The "chief conspirators were all men of high rank," and had the support of the Serbian army.

The Obrenovich dynasty had ruled Serbia for nearly a century, but the coup and assassinations were due to the King Alexandra and Queen Draga's attitude toward the army, which they "always treated with scant courtesy."

One of the final straws was the King's decision to move the War School from Belgrade to Shebatz.  This caused great offense to army officers.

Today is also the 35th anniversary of the assassination of King Alexander's grand uncle, Michael, who was killed by the agents of Alexander Karageorgevich, the then "leading member of house, which has long disputed the throne of Serbia" against the Obrenovic dynasty.

The assassinations were carried out with "consummate skill."   The King and Queen "passed the eve of their death quality."  They had supper in the Konak.  Meanwhile the conspirators were meeting at the Kalemegdan Park. The Sixth Infantry was chosen to carry out the coup d'état.

About 1 a.m., members of the sixth and seventh regiments "were called to arms" and marched toward the royal palace, which they soon surround.   Approximately, thirty officers forced their way into the palace, "shooting all who attempted to bar their passage."

They were aided by "treason within," as the aide-de-camp on duty, Colonel Naumovics, had already pledged his support, and was involved with the plan.  Dynamite was used to force open the doors leading to the royal apartments.  Col. Naumovic burst into the royal bed chamber with a bomb. 

Officers had asked the King to open his door, but he refused.  As the officers ran into the bedroom, King Alexander ran to a window and "appealed for assistance," but none came.

He soon realized the situation.  He returned to Queen Draga, and held her tightly, as Col. Naumovics and other officers entered the room.  The King was presented with a paper demanding his abdication.  The document included a statement "that by marrying Draga the King had degraded Serbia," and he needed to abdicate.

King Alexander drew his revolver and killed Naumovics.  Colone Mischics picked up the document and made the same demands.  Alexander grabbed the paper and refused to sign it.

This was the final action from King Alexander.  Within seconds other officers fired "a hail of bullets," and the king and queen fell to the ground.  The King "lingered" until about 4 a.m.

There had been some resistance as the "occupants had tried to escape into the garden."

A "single cannon announced the execution of the plot."   Prince Peter was proclaimed king.  More military filled the streets of Belgrade.

One could hear cries of "Long live Karageorgevitch!" and "Long live the Army."  One of the biggest cheers was for Queen Draga's brother-in-law, Col Maschin, who had taken part in the regicide.

The time of the assassination was given as 2 a.m.  The victims included King Alexander, Queen Draga, the Queen's two brothers, Premier Markovitch. the Minister of War, two aides-de-camp and two other officers." 

The Queen's two sisters and other government officials may have been killed as well."

Reports outside Belgrade  indicates that Serbia accepts the end of the Obrenovic dynasty "without regret."

A better future for Serbia is being forecast by the local newspapers.

One newspaper reports that the bodies of the late king and queen "were placed in shrouds and lowered from a window of the palace to the gardens," and then taken away in a "baggage wagon."

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