Wednesday, September 6, 2023

100th anniversary of the birth of King Peter II


All photos courtesy of HRH Crown Prince Alexander 


Oplenac, 6 September 2023 – On the day 100 years ago HM King Peter II was born, TRH Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine went to Oplenac to pay their respect to His Royal Highness’ father. This was the first in a series of activities that will honour this important jubilee of the Royal family of Serbia.

The memorial service for the late King in the Mausoleum of the Royal Family, Saint George’s Church in Oplenac was officiated by His Grace Bishop Jovan of Sumadija. The solemn church ceremony was also attended by members of the Crown Council, Mr. Predrag Markovic, Prof. Dr. Cedomir Antic, and Mr. Darko Spasic, members of the Kingdom of Serbia Association, which is under the patronage of HRH Crown Prince Alexander, and representatives of King Peter I Foundation in Oplenac. After the service, HRH Crown Prince Alexander laid a wreath on the tomb of his late father.

To remember King Peter II one century after his birth this evening the exhibition “The Centennial of King Peter II Birth - The Link Between Past and Present” will be officially opened at the Royal Palace. At the same time, a promotion of an exclusive “Rulers of Serbia” edition, jubilee postal stamps dedicated to the 100th anniversary of King Peter II and the 200th anniversary of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic’s birth will be held at the Palace.

With the blessing of His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Timok, a regimental flag of the Timok Brigade of the Yugoslav Army in Homeland, which was only recently found after more than seven decades of hiding, was brought to Crown Prince in Oplenac, in order to be part of the exhibition in the Palace. The flag has a beautiful monogram of King Peter II and traditional words of soldiers’ oath from the time of the Kingdom: “With faith in God, for King and the Homeland”. 

In the following days, HRH Crown Prince Alexander and his Foundation for Education and Culture will present copies of King Peter II Memoires to the National Library of Serbia. Also, tours of the Royal Complex and exhibition will be organized for the best students of 7th and 8th grade of Belgrade elementary schools which bear the name of Karadjordjeviic dynasty members – Karadjordje, King Peter I, Queen Maria, and King Peter II schools.

“I am always emotional on this day, the very day when in 1923 my beloved father, HM King Peter II was born. His fate after the whirlwind of World War II is well known, he remained in involuntary exile for the rest of his life. My father's heart was filled with nostalgia for his homeland, every day he hoped to return to his people.

My heart is calmer since his earthly remains were transferred in 2013 to Oplenac, to the Royal Family’s Mausoleum, where now he can finally rest in peace, in his beloved Serbia. I fulfilled one of his last vows that he gave me, to bring him back to the homeland, even if dead. Dear father, you will always be in my prayers and in my heart”, said HRH Crown Prince Alexander. 



Biography of HM King Peter II

HM King Peter II of Yugoslavia was the firstborn son of King Alexander I and Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. King Peter II was born in Belgrade on 6 September 1923, and his Godfather was King George V of England. After his father’s assassination in 1934, he became the King of Yugoslavia, but since he was only 11 years old, a regency was formed.

After the 27th of March Coup, when the people of Yugoslavia rejected the treaty which the Government signed with Nazi Germany, King Peter II was proclaimed of age. The Yugoslav Army was unprepared to resist the ensuing invasion by Nazi Germany and Yugoslavia was occupied within eleven days. King Peter II was forced to leave the country and he joined other monarchs and leaders of German-occupied Europe in London in June 1941. There King Peter was regarded by the people of Yugoslavia as the symbol of resistance against Nazism and worked hard on getting the Allies' support for the fight of the people of Yugoslavia against occupying forces.

After the war, the nondemocratic communist regime forbade the return of the Royal family to Yugoslavia, removed citizenship, and confiscated their entire private property. King Peter II never abdicated.

The King spent the last years of his life in America. He died on 3 November 1970 in Denver Hospital Colorado, and he was buried at the St. Sava Monastery Church in Libertyville Illinois. He was the only king buried in the United States. 

The King’s remains were transferred to Royal Palace Chapel in Belgrade on 22 January 2013 and a State Funeral took place on 26 May 2013 at the Royal Family Mausoleum of St. George in Oplenac, Serbia where His Majesty joined other members of The Royal Family interned the Royal Mausoleum.


1 comment:

Christina O. said...

Thank you, Marlene, for this very touching article on the anniversary of King Peter II's birth. Reading about the regimental flag, recently found, was very meaningful to me and the special exhibition at the Royal Palace sounds extremely interesting.