news 25 Jun 13

Yugoslav Princess Wins Back Confiscated Villa

Serbian court says Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, together with her brother, is entitled to get back her family's confiscated Belgrade villa, which is serving as an embassy.


Serbia's Agency for Restitution has ruled that a villa confiscated by the Communists after the Second World War should be returned to Princess Jelisaveta (Elizabeth) of Yugoslavia and her brother, Prince Alexandar Karadjordjevic, children of the former Regent of Yugoslavia, Prince Paul.

This is the first property returned to the former royal family since Serbia in September 2011 adopted a law on the restitution of property nationalised between the Communist takeover in 1945 and 1968, or payment of equivalent compensation.

The Princess filed a request for the return of the property on November 8, 2012.

Montenegro is currently using the villa as an embassy on the basis of a contract signed with the Serbian government.

Gordana Jovanovic, of the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry, said that Montenegro and Serbia were discussing the issue as part of their talks on succession matters related to the former Yugoslavia.

"This and all the other issues Montenegro and Serbia will address in a spirit of good will and best diplomatic practices," Jovanovic told the Serbian broadcaster RTS on Tuesday.

The villa contains 875 square metres of space and also has a yard and garden of 6,846 square metres, besides a small pool and fountains.

Prince Paul assumed the Regency of Yugoslavia in 1934 after his cousin, King Alexander, was assassinated in Marseille, France.

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

The villa was bought in the name of Paul's wife, Princess Olga, in 1940. The Communist authorities in Yugoslavia confiscated it in August 1947 after which Edvard Kardelj, the chief ideological theoretician of Yugoslav Marxism, moved in.

Last December, the Higher Court in Belgrade rehabilitated Prince Paul and quashed the 1945 verdict that had pronounced him a war criminal.

The remains of Prince Paul, who was deposed in a coup in 1941, were returned to Serbia on October 4, 2012.

Elizabeth Karadjordjevic, who was only four when she left Yugoslavia, visited the villa for the first time in the 1990s, when she first returned to Serbia.

She said back then that the house did not look like she remembered it as it had been renovated and modified in the meantime.

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