Monday, September 13, 2010

An exclusive interview with Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine

Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this coming weekend. I am looking forward to the celebrations, which will begin on Friday with a dinner at the palace. On Saturday, the celebrations will feature a luncheon cruise on the Danube and a gala dinner at the palace. Brunch at the palace on Sunday.
I cannot wait!


All the secrets of our marriage

What do you consider the greatest value and accomplishment in your marriage?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: Mutual love and friendship. We enjoy being together and doing things together.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: The upbringing of our children and the return to my husband’s homeland, and that our love is as strong today as it was in the beginning.

You met in Washington in 1984. Did you ever think what your lives would be like if you have not met then?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: I was very happy to have met Katherine and it never crossed my mind what my life would be without her. It is amazing how our lives have changed. We certainly have had an extraordinary life together and we have done so much. We are quite a team.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: I cannot think of life without Alexander. Anyway I believe in destiny.

What are your goals in the next ten years?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: To be together and take care of each other. To see our children happy and work for the common good everyone.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: To see our children creating their own families and careers and to see them happy. To see my husband takes his rightful position as King of Serbia. His unselfish love and concern for the best interests of the people of Serbia is unique and admirable. He is the symbol of unity, stability and continuity, God’s gift to Serbia. To continue supporting the Serbian people through my Foundation.

What was the beginning of your life together like?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: Very nice we did so many wonderful things together and travelled a lot throughout the world. Our lives changed in 1989 as did so many other people’s lives. There was hope to return to the homeland, but we were very sad for what happened during those very tragic and difficult years. We brought up our children, we were always there for them and we enjoyed very precious times with them.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: A real blessing until the conflict started from that moment on our lives changed dramatically. We felt the pain that everyone was feeling our homeland and helped the people as much as possible, the results were amazing mainly because of the unity my husband and I have, respect and support we have for one another. We worked together as a team and our children helped us as well.

Your best man at the wedding was Greek King Constantine, and the man of honour was HRH Prince Tomislav, who else beside them attended your wedding ceremony.

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER AND CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: We were blessed with the presence our family and friends. It was a very happy and emotional wedding day.

You moved into the Royal Palace on July 17, 2001. Can you remember the emotions you felt at the time?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: Incredible emotions going into the home were my father and grandparents had lived. I will always remember the day. My grandfather built a magnificent and warm home that we as a family have come to love very much. We are so happy to share its beauty with the people. The Royal Compound with its two palaces, the Royal Palace and the White Palace, is unique in the world and is the Versailles of Serbia. I am sad that my father was unable to come back home.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: It is difficult to describe the great emotions that were felt that day in the Royal Palace and especially by my husband. You could tell in his tearful eyes that the dream finally came true. It was even harder to believe the next morning. When we woke up and tried to convince each other that we were finally at home.

While you were living abroad, did you ever think that moment would come?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: I always had hope that one day I would go go back to my roots. After decades the dream came true, but I am sad that it took so long and that so many people went through tough times.

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: We always lived with that dream and I think my husband and his father never left the homeland mentally, only physically. Of course we thought we would come back during better times. We never expected to see the country going through such a disaster and such destruction of peoples lives. It is a pity, because all the Serbian people wanted was a normal life and so did all the people of the former Yugoslavia. We are happy to be home now.

When was the first time that you realized that you will live in your ancestor country and in the Palaces they built?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: There was some hope and thought after 1989, but things went crazy what with the use of negative religion and negative nationalism – utter madness. We were all shocked, sad about the suffering the people went through and their pain. A horrific decade passed before we came home.

Once you gave a statement, in which you said that you described every room in the Palace and where it was. Whom did you learn such details from?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: My father told me a lot about the Royal Compound and I also had some documents that described it well. In addition I met people who knew about its history and construction. When I saw the Royal Compound for the fist time in December 2000 I was very impressed and recognized most locations thanks to what I had read and heard.

Can you remember the day, twenty-five years ago, when you proposed to Princess Katherine. What did you tell her then and how did she react to your words?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: I remember well when I asked Katherine to marry me and she became very emotional and very happy.

Who was the first person you told you were planning to get married?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: My mother, children and my uncles who were all very happy for us.

Where did you spend your honeymoon?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: We took the very nice Orient Express train to Venice and spent a few days in that lovely and historic city at the Cipriani Hotel, which was magnificent. It was romantic and a pleasure walking around Venice and St Marks square.

How did Princess Katherine attract you?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: Her warmth, caring and love to me was and is magical and is always wonderful. Her love for the children and her extraordinary care is truly magnificent for the children. We have all been spoilt so much by my sweet wife.

How did Crown Prince Alexander attract you?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: His honesty, his charm, his love for the children, his love for the country, his intelligence and knowledge of the world, his humour, his gentle character, his straight forwardness, his down to earth attitude and above all the way he looked in my eyes from the first day we met made me feel the luckiest women in the world. I knew then that he is someone very special and the person who I always believe in that he wears his crown in his heart.

Were you acquainted with the family history of your future husband?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: Since I also come from the Balkans as well I was very familiar with the history, but of course I never knew I was going to be so lucky to be part of it. I am proud of the accomplishments of his family and especially proud of Alexander’s accomplishments in helping the people.

How romantic was Crown Prince Alexander at the beginning of your marriage and has that changed now?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: His is charming and very romantic. That has changed now he is even more romantic than the beginning. He know the flowers I like, the wine I like, the music I like, the music I look, the clothes I like and he is a great gentleman. He never fails to surprise me. I thank God for this gift.

What have you given Princess Katherine for your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: A very special trip next year.
Your sons are currently being educated abroad, would you like their children to live in Serbia?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: My sons like Serbia very much and always come with many friends for their holidays. They also like coming every year for Exit and enjoy it very much. The Royal Palace is home for them. They enjoy tennis and swimming in the compound.

Which places do you like in Belgrade?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: We both like St Sava temple very much and every time we go there we are impressed. We also like Kalemegdan, it is very impressive and strategic. We miss the National Museum and the wonderful art. The National Theatre is charming. We enjoy going on a board on the Danube and Sava rivers.

Could you please describe one day at the Royal Palace?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: We wake up early and go for a walk followed by breakfast around 7:15 am. We meet with the staff to discuss maintenance, tours and visitors during the day. Many people come to visit us. We talk about charity and what can be done for the people. We are also invited to events and lovely places across Serbia. There are many visitors from the Diaspora who come to see us.

How much support do you give each other in the work you do?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: We work as as team and help each other with tasks and suggestions. We discuss the programme and planning.

Regarding the fact that you were well known for your humanitarian work before founding the HRH Crown Princess Foundation in Belgrade, how much does advice and support of your wife mean in this demanding work?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: First of all I am grateful to my husband for giving me the opportunity to get to know this wonderful country Serbia and its wonderful people. His dream has always been to help the people of Serbia so his advice and support for the foundation and its offices abroad (New York, Chicago, Toronto, London and Athens) and in Serbian has made him the backbone of the whole operation. Hid dedication to the foundation has inspire many people who support our work. Without him the enormous amount of work that has been down would have been almost impossible. He sees Serbia as part of Europe and his wish is to see the Serbian people to live with same standards as the rest of Europe. We work together for a better Serbia.

Do you know how much help did you gather and given to people that needed help?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: I really don’t know how much help we have gathered. All I know is that we have been working very hard for close to twenty years and have been helping everyone regardless of religion or ethnic origin. We never look back and we try to do our best every day that God has given us working hard to complete all the projects we have undertaken and we are eager to complete successfully. What I do know is that we have been to just about every hospital in our country with donations of ambulances, medical equipment, medical supplies, helping with the education of our doctors. Supporting various institutions such as children without parental care. Mental institutions, old people’s homes and many others. It is a privilege to help those in need. We love the Serbian people and we know how much they have appreciate our efforts and there is nothing would not do for them.

In the past weeks you have gone through a sad period caused by the loss of your mother, how did Crown Prince Alexander help you in overcoming these hard times in your life?

CROWN PRINCESS KATHERINE: My husband has been the greatest support during these difficult times and he has helped me enormously during this very hard time. I cannot imagine how one can overcome the loss of a mother. My mother was a saint, the kindest woman ever, she was always so positive, such a great giver in life, such a great philanthropist, such caring person. She has left me with the biggest gift which is the joy of giving and she always told me that happiness is when you give of yourself. My mother prepared me for my role today. I love her very much and miss her. I will always be grateful to her for teaching me how to love and how to give. I am grateful to God for giving me such a great mother.

At your 60th birthday party, there were representatives from almost all European Dynasties. Will you have such a glamorous celebration for your 25th wedding anniversary?

CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER: We are expecting our family, members of royal families and friends from all over the world. We are looking forward to them joining us for this memorial day.

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