HRH Crown Prince Alexander was very pleased to give a very detailed interview to “Kragujevacke” weekly newspapers, in which he spoke about the tradition of the Royal Family, the inseparable connection of the Royal Family with the homeland and Šumadia as the cradle of our dynasty, humanitarian activities and his views on the constitutional parliamentary monarchy as an excellent principle of state regulation.
The text, which was published in the printed edition of the Kragujevacke newspapers on 28 July 2022, is also available below. We thank Mr. Jevđa Jevđević on the realization of the interview.
MONARCH IS THE GUARANTOR OF STABILITY AND UNITY OF THE COUNTRY
He gladly accepted the invitation from the “Kragujevacke newspapers” for conversation. There was not much need to elaborate much, because people of Sumadija will read it. Your family’s roots are in Topola. Do you feel like a Sumadinac?
– HRH: I do not only feel like Sumadinac, I am Sumadinac, both by my origins and by my heart, and I am very proud of it. And when I am in Sumadija, I fell like our people says it beautifully “the one on it’s own”.
I lived in many countries, I visited a great number of them, but I will say without any doubt, there is no place like Serbia, and Sumadija is its jewel. There is nothing like the morning in this part of Serbia when the sun starts bating the forests and meadows with its beams… We have a beautiful country, and the entire world must know that, and we Serbs, need to be aware of the treasure we have. One needs to travel around, to see all great places around the world, but before everything else, to know what beauty we have here, in our own homeland.
While living in unwanted and forced exile, I kept dreaming of coming here and being able to see the land of my ancestors. And when this long-lasting dream finally came true, although never being in Serbia, I knew I was home. There is something in the blood of Karadjordjevics that makes this strong connection with our Topola, Sumadija, and entire Serbia, that is like a magnet to us. We can not be separated from this land.
– Jevdja: You have been living in Belgrade for years. The first thing you did was to open the doors of the Royal Palace and make it never be a “forbidden city” again. You have daily meetings with citizens.
– HRH: It was one of my first decisions to open the doors of my family home, the Royal Complex, to the public, that was with so much love and dedication built by my grandfather, King Alexander I, with his own private funds. And it might be interesting for your readers to know that he even paid taxes for this and all other estates that the communistic dictatorship illegally confiscated from us. The legacy that my grandfather, King Alexander I, and father, King Peter II, left here, the history and memories of the Royal Compound are magnificent. It is very important that they are conveyed, especially to our younger generations. And I wanted the people of Serbia and the world to be able to see and feel all this history and tradition that our family home has. As you well said, since our arrival, it is no longer “a forbidden city”. If we are not proud of our glorious past, if we are not the ones who cherish it and inform others about it, nobody else would do it for us.
What are your impressions of Serbia and its people.
– HRH: For me, Serbia is the most beautiful place in the world, and we have so many good, talented people, who have enormous potential. Our people have so much contributed to the entire world, but without much deserved credit. Negative propaganda has done its part, too long we were, call it however you like, “the bad boys” or “the usual suspects” for everything bad. And it is something that upsets me very much. That is why I use every possible opportunity to speak in the international media, but also to my many friends abroad, to spread the good word about the people of Serbia and about our homeland. Everybody on the globe must know that.
You often travel all over Serbia. How do you see the lives of ordinary people? Has Serbia changed in relation to the period when you first came to your homeland?
– HRH: Yes it has, one must say that from 2001, when the country was still recovering from the terrible and devastating bombing, but also from the sanctions and everything else that happened in the 1990ies, until now, a lot has changed for the better, but there is still a lot of space for progress. And we must all continue working together to achieve a better tomorrow for us all. Only united we can do so.
It is not very well known in our public that during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic you were the organizer of the conferences of the Serbian opposition in Budapest and Athens. These meetings led to the absolute victory of the Serbian opposition in the 2000 elections. Do you have any plans to be more active in politics?
– HRH: No, as the head of the Royal family it is my duty to stay above the politics, same as the Crown as institution is in all constitutional monarchies in the world. The situation before 2000 was quite different, I gave my contribution to the unification of the opposition in Serbia for the 2000 Elections, because I saw that our country was dying as a result of dictatorship that was holding its iron fist around the throats of the people. No country, no people in the world can survive that kind of totalitarian, suppressive regime for so long, and our country was under dictatorship from 1945. So I invited the opposition leaders to unite and organized conferences, but even then, I stayed above the politics, because I did not participate at the elections, or influenced their program. I invited them and motivated them to work together, unified small parties, and it was up to them to perform the needed work.
Maybe it would be interesting for your readers to know that I did this through email, which was still new technology and not enough used in Serbia in that time. Few years later, Bill Gates heard about this and he wanted to meet “the Prince who brought democracy through email”.
In this year’s elections, two electoral lists based their pre-election program on the restoration of monarchy. MPs have been elected who will openly advocate for the return of the monarchy in the Parliament.
– HRH: When speaking about the monarchists parties – I am happy that the voice of those who are supporting this idea will be heard in the highest legislator body of our country, but I, again, am not taking any sides. Because there are monarchists in all parties and movements. It is the idea that goes beyond regular politics. And I think monarchy is a good solution for Serbia, but only if it is the wish and will of the people.
Because of the decades lasting negative propaganda against my family and everything that had even the slightest connection with monarchy, this is the topic that requires serious and thorough discussions, because the people of Serbia deserve to hear all the facts about the advantages of constitutional parliamentary monarchy and to listen the substantiated points of both sides, of those who are for and also those which are against the renewal of monarchy. Only then the proper answer can be given.
But I would like to emphasize that this system has proven itself to be very good and efficient in many countries – just look at modern monarchies, the Kingdom of Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and many others. These are all countries with high levels of democracy, human rights and freedoms, social justice… And it is my opinion that it could be beneficial for Serbia as well.
Monarch in constitutional parliamentary monarchy is the guarantor of democracy, continuity, stability, and unity. He is there for every citizen, regardless of their political, religious, or any other affiliation. His position as a non-party and above-party person is important for the country.
How can the image of Serbia in the world be changed and what can we do to improve the image of us in the world?
– HRH: In the modern world we live in, besides important activities and talks on high state levels, one very important aspect of spreading the good word about the country is promotion “from mouth to mouth”. Never underestimate the influence of it, when people speak to their friends and relatives about the places they visited, when they share their impressions. That is one of the reasons I opened our family home for visitors. Because I knew that when visitors come and see themselves what beauty lies in our country, how great people we are, they will speak about it when they go back home. For example, I was shocked when I heard that tourist boats going down the Danube do not stop in Belgrade. I called the owner of the company and persuaded him that the tourists must see our nation’s capital, the Royal Complex and all other beautiful sights we have.
And it is well known that Serbs are great hosts, our traditional hospitality is almost legendary. So, besides high level diplomacy, each of us can do something for our country.
You have a lot of contacts with foreign diplomats and politicians. How do they see Serbia today? Do they have a right picture of our country and is the picture of us correct?
– HRH: It is better than it was before, that is certain, but, as I said in previous questions, it can and must be improved. Systematic negative campaign was conducted for so long, it can not be taken away quickly or easily. I have witnessed that many foreign diplomats come to Serbia with prejudice, but when they come here and see for themselves the real picture, they change their way of thinking. But sometimes they need a little “help”, and I am always there to provide it.
Is Serbia closer to the EU today than before?
– HRH: Many chapters in the process of joining have been opened, so definitely yes, with some variations in speed on the journey (that were very often not caused by our side) but yes, it is closer. How much closer – it is the question for much more serious analytics, from the spheres of politics, economics, law, and it is the question for someone else.
There is an opinion, widely accepted in the public, that the greatest monarchist sentiment among the people was in 1991. Is Serbia closer to the monarchy today or not?
– HRH: According to the latest public opinion surveys that researched this question, which occurred in 2013, 39.7 % of the population in Serbia said yes to the question “Should Serbia again become the Kingdom, that is constitutional monarchy”, while 32.3% said no, remaining were indifferent or did not have the answer. These numbers speak for themselves, especially knowing that a serious, detailed discussion, with arguments from both sides, never took place in Serbia, the idea was never in an adequate way presented to the Serbian public.
You must have in mind that, after World War Two non-democratic communistic regime had been conducting serious propaganda against anything that was connected to the time of Kingdom and the Royal family. Decades of false stories cannot be erased quickly. But a lot was done for the truth to be presented, and the situation now is much better than it was, which makes a good starting point already mentioned, serious discussions about the question of monarchy to start.
But condition sine qua non is to previously have the proper discussion and presentation of attitudes of both sides, so the people of Serbia can hear all aspects and form their opinion. Because the will of the people is all that matters. As my great-grandfather King Peter I said, “Without the love of the people, thrones are weak”.
Next year we have two great anniversaries – 120 years since the accession to the throne of your great-grandfather King Peter I and 100 years since the birth of your father King Peter II. How will the Royal House mark these anniversaries?
– HRH: Yes in 2023 we will have these important anniversaries, and they are not of high matter only for my family, but for the people of Serbia, because both my great-grandfather and father were significant for our history, heads of state…
We have some plans but lets leave them for the proper time to be announced and presented.
A lot has been said and written in the press about the order of succession in your family. What does the Family Rules for the members of the Royal House say about that?
– HRH: The Family Rulebook is very old document, made originally in the time of King Peter I, and was updated later several time, but the main principles of this document remain today basically the same as they were 100 years ago. It is important part of our tradition, which we all must obey and honour. The position of the Head of the Royal House is the one from which all other titles of other members of the family are arising.
When speaking about the succession, the Rulebook is very clear about that, the oldest son of the King (in the time of the Kingdom), who is at the same time the Head of the Royal House – is next in line for the throne, after the Elderly. After him come first his sons, then brothers, after that cousins from the main line (the line of King Alexander I), everything by the rule of primogeniture. If there are some changes, then next in line moves one place up the line. But every change, every title, needs to be confirmed by the Head of the Family.
How do you see the future of the Karadjordjevics as the head of the Royal Family?
– HRH: I see Karadjordjevic’s future in Serbia, giving our contribution to our people and our country as always, and in every moment being in the service of the people. It is our main duty, the highest point of our tradition that we must follow by our every activity. I always like to quote the words of my father, King Peter II, that in the best possible way describe the role of our family in Serbia’s history, but also in the future: “For us Karadjordjevics, the Crown was only a mean by which we served to the people, not the goal of personal dynastic rule.” That is our destiny, and the only path we can follow.
Looking up to the Karadjordjevic’s ancestors
The humanitarian Foundation of your wife Crown Princess Katherine is very active. What are the most important donations and humanitarian actions that you have carried out so far in Kragujevac and what is planned in the coming period.
– HRH: The main focus of our humanitarian work is on supporting Healthcare, Social Welfare, and Education Systems in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska. The activities in the humanitarian field have always been very important to the Royal family Karadjordjevic. Inspired by my ancestors who did the same in the past, my wife, Crown Princess Katherine, has dedicated her life to helping others and providing support to the people of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, providing aid to all the people who need it, regardless of their gender, religion, race, age, or ethnicity. And she is always ready to help.
I remember that the most recent donation was an ambulance vehicle for Clinical Centre in Kragujevac, and many more before, such as beds and wheelchairs various medical equipment and supplies for this institution, protective equipment for COVID hospital, but also several schools were helped, Social Services Centre “Kneginja Ljubica”… And these are only form last 3 years, I remember our numerous arrivals in Kragujevac, delivering incubators for Clinical Centre… There will be more donations in the future, my wife’s foundation is in charge of the plans, and as she often likes to say, I will quote her “we can not help you if we do not know what you need”. So do not be shy – but ask.