News 22 Jan 13

Last Yugoslav King's Remains Return to Serbia

King Peter II, who was ousted during WWII and died in 1970, will be reburied in his home country.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

“The remains of the Peter the Second were exhumed from St. Sava Monastery Church at Libertyville in the United States last week and will arrive at Belgrade airport on Tuesday,” the Karadjordjevic family, Serbia’s former royal rulers, said in a statement.

He will ultimately be reburied at the Karadjordjevic family's mausoleum Oplenac near the town of Topola in central Serbia.

“The remains of King Peter will be in the royal chapel in Belgrade until the end of this year, as we are still waiting for the remains of his mother, wife and cousin to be transferred to Serbia. The final date for their interment will be decided later,” the statement said.

King Peter II left the country at the beginning of WWII after the Axis invasion, together with the Yugoslav government, and in 1941 they reached the UK, where they joined numerous other governments in exile from Nazi-occupied Europe.

During their exile, two rival resistance groups were formed in Yugoslavia - the Chetnik royalist movement led by Dragoslav Draza Mihailovic and the Communist Partisans led by Josip Broz, better known as Tito.

A bitter civil war followed during the German occupation which resulted in the Communists coming to power, banning the Chetniks and abolishing the monarchy.

King Peter II was barred from returning to Yugoslavia but never abdicated and lived in exile in the UK and then the US, where he died in 1970.

His son, Crown Prince Alexander, returned to Serbia following the democratic changes in 2000, when Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic was ousted.

In 2005, a law was passed saying that both Chetniks and Partisans contributed equally to the fight against German occupation.

Serbia then rehabilitated several members of the exiled Yugoslav government, including Prince Paul.

The rehabilitation process for WWII Chetnik leader Mihailovic has also begun, but has caused anger among rights groups who consider him a war criminal and has been condemned in Croatia and Bosnia. 

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