A casket covered by the national flag, carrying the remnants of the King Petar II Karadjordjevic arrived in Serbia yesterday with state honors. The remains of King Petar II Karađorđević, who passed away and was buried in the United States in 1970, have been transferred to Serbia.
The Prince Aleksandar said in the chapel of the White Court that his father’s wish to return to the country had been fulfilled. "Welcome home, father"! he said.
People with flowers, candles and pictures of the last Yugoslav monarch, who as a young man emigrated together with then royal government on the eve of the WWII, were standing along paths of the court complex at Dedinje.
The Prince Aleksandar, Princess Katarina, their sons Petar, Filip and Aleksandar, daughter of Princess Catherine Alison, Serbia Prime Minister Dacic, Serbia President Advisor Oliver Antic, Belgrade Mufti Muhamed Jusufspahic and other officials followed the casket to the court chapel.
The burial service was held by Serbian Patriarch Irinej. "This is a happy-sad day of huge importance for the Serbian nation both in the country and in emigration. The return of the King is God’s will", the Patriarch said.
Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said that "finally yet another part of the mosaic of Serbian history has been put in place". "Serbia can solve its problems only if it is strong and it shall be strong if it respects itself and its tradition", Dacic said.
In May the King Petar II shall be buried at Oplenac hill. Until then remnants of his mother are expected to arrive from Athens as well as the remnants of his grandmother Marija from London.
According to media reports, the king was exhumed last week in Libertville "almost in secret", causing dissatisfaction among some members of the Serb diaspora in Illinois, who were not given a chance to pay their respects.
In September last year, the Serbian government decided to establish the organizing committee for the transfer of remains of the Karađorđević family members to the royal family crypt of the St. George Church, appointing Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić as chairman.
King Petar II, the eldest son of King Aleksandar I and Queen Marija, was born in Belgrade on September 6, 1923. His education commenced at the Royal Palace in Belgrade, completing which he went to Sandroyd School in England, which he left after his father's assassination in Marseilles in 1934.
At the time of the assassination, King Petar II was only 11 years old and Prince Pavle, the brother of the murdered king, was appointed Prince Regent of Yugoslavia.
In 1941, Prince Pavle decided to sign a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which resulted in severe protests in the country and led to a government crisis and a coup d'état by Yugoslav officers on March 27, 1941. As a result of the coup, King Petar 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 Petar II was forced to leave the country along with the Yugoslav government - initially to Greece, Palestine and then to Egypt.
King Petar II did not abdicate. He lived in London and spent the last years of his life in America, where he died in 1970, after a long and grave illness. He was buried at the St. Sava Monastery Church in Libertyville, Illinois.