News 24 Sep 12

Remains of Yugoslav Royals to Be Repatriated

The remains of three members of the Yugoslav royal family will be returned to Serbia in October, following the rehabilitation of Prince Paul Karadjordjevic.

Marija Ristic
 Prince Paul with his family I Photo Wikicommons

After 71 years, the remains of the Prince Paul [Pavle], the former Yugoslav regent deposed in the 1941 coup, will be returned to Serbia on October 4.

Prince Paul’s remains, together with those of his wife Olga and son Nikola, will be laid to rest on October 6, at the mausoleum of the Serbian royal family Oplenac, near the town of Toplenac in central Serbia.

In December last year, the Higher Court in Belgrade rehabilitated Prince Pavle [Paul] and quashed a state commission verdict from September 1945, which declared the Prince a criminal.

The Communist authorities accused Prince Paul of “violating the Constitution by assuming power and ignoring the people’s representatives” as well as “signing the Tripartite Pact and therefore contributing to the Axis powers’ aggressive war”.

The Pact was a treaty signed by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan in 1940, which established the Axis Powers, an alignment of great powers that fought the Allies – Russia, Britain and the US.

Prince Paul’s daughter, Princess Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic had filed the request for his rehabilitation three and a half years ago. At her initiative the remains of her family will be brought to Serbia.

“I got confirmations that the remains of my father will be buried at St. George’s church in Oplenac, in the crypt across his father Arsen Karadjordjevic. My mother and brother will be placed next to them, “ Karadjordjevic said.

Prince Paul was a descendant of Karadjordje who liberated Serbia from the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century.

The Prince took over the Regency after his cousin, King Alexander, was assassinated in Marseille, France in 1934.

When the Second World War broke out the Yugoslav government signed the Tripartite Pact, which allowed the German army to pass through Yugoslavia in order to avoid the Axis invasion. That caused popular dissatisfaction and led to a military coup that forcibly removed the Regent from power.

During the war the British government kept Prince Paul with his family under the house arrest in Kenya, Africa.  Banned from returning to Yugoslavia, Prince Pavle spent the rest of his life in exile.

Prince Paul was known for his passion for the arts.  He collected, donated and dedicated a large number of art works to Yugoslavia, including foreign masterpieces. Paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet, Van Gogh and other Old Masters which he donated are now kept in the National Museum of Serbia.

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