News 12 Nov 12

Princess Seeks Return of Belgrade Villa

Princess Jelisaveta, daughter of the former Yugoslav Regent, has asked Serbia to return her family's confiscated property in Belgrade, which is currently serving as an embassy.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Princess Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic, together with her brother, is seeking the return of the villa that currently houses the Montenegrin embassy in Belgrade.

“Our property in Belgrade, with the garden and house of around 6,486 square metres, was taken away from us right after the war. We... hope they will give back to us what is ours,” the Princess said.

In September 2011, as part of a list of EU "must-do" laws, Serbia adopted a law on the restitution of property nationalised between the Communist takeover in 1945 and 1968, or payment of equivalent compensation.

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

The remains of the Prince Paul, Pavle in Serbian, former Regent of Yugoslavia, deposed in 1941, were returned to Serbia on October 4.

Together with the remains of his wife, Olga, and son, Nikola, he was laid to rest two days later in the royal mausoleum at Oplenac, near Topola, in central Serbia.

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

The Communist authorities accused him of “violating the Constitution by assuming power and ignoring the people’s representatives” and of “signing the Tripartite Pact [with Germany, Italy and Japan] and therefore contributing to the Axis powers’ aggressive war”.

The 1940 Pact established the Axis Powers, an alignment of powers that fought the Allies – Russia, the US and Britain.

Yugoslavia signed the Pact, allowing the German army to pass through Yugoslavia, in order to avoid an Axis invasion.

But it caused great popular dissatisfaction in Serbia and led to a military coup that removed the Regent from power.

Prince Paul assumed the Regency 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. 

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 in the National Museum of Serbia.

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