HRH Crown Prince Alexander was very pleased to give a very thorough interview to Danas daily newspapers, in which he spoke about many important topics: Kosovo and Metohija, parliamentarism and democracy, his views on the constitutional parliamentary monarchy, tradition, as well as other current issues.

The text, which was published in the printed edition of Danas newspapers on 15 February 2023 is also available below. We thank the journalist, Mrs. Jelena Tasić for her professionalism and the interview. The interview is also available on the website of Danas on LINK

Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic speaks for Danas on the occasion of the Statehood Day of Serbia


– On Statehood Day every year, Constitution Day is also mentioned, but the emphasis in the celebration is given to the beginning of the First Serbian Uprising, which is undoubtedly of great importance. The importance of the Uprising does not need a special explanation, but I think that the Sretenje Constitution should have an equal place in the celebration of the national holiday. The Uprising represents the beginning of the struggle for freedom, and the Constitution the beginning of true parliamentarism and democracy, which are equally important and represent a necessary condition for statehood. Freedom without democracy or democracy without freedom do not work, they simply cannot do without each other. That’s why I want to thank you for starting this conversation on the occasion of Serbia’s Statehood Day with the Sretenje Constitution – said the head of the Karadjodjevic Royal House, Crown Prince Aleksandar, in an interview for Danas.

 Today, after 188 years, how do you assess the respect for constitutionalism, democracy and parliamentarism in Serbia?

– In the period since our first Constitution was delivered, we have come a long way. There were, there are and always will be ups and downs on this path, but it is normal and inevitable. No country in the world is excluded from this when we speak about constitutionalism, democracy, and parliamentarism. Since democracy is a system consisting of people, the same as the people change it also requires changes and adaptations over time. I find that it is good that now again in Parliament we have representatives of all relevant political options, that is of those who gained the support of the people required to pass the census. It is always good that many different voices can be heard because it is the essence of democracy. What worries me is that it seems that many levels of our society have fallen under the sense of exclusiveness, that they react too “explosively” to opinions that are different from their own. Everybody has a right to her or his opinion, but we also must respect that other people have the same right. Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. That is the essence of democracy. And it is something we should all work on to improve – the culture of proper political dialogue. We should not think that it is something that happens only in our country, it is an image that can be seen in many other Parliaments and societies. But we should not “look in other people’s yards”, but try to be better than others. Same as Sretenje Constitution was so much ahead of its time, we should strive to be ahead of others now as well.

The Constitution of Sretenje of 1835, due to the demands of the great powers – at that time Turkey, Austria and Russia, lasted only 55 days. What do you think about the current constant demands, backed by the West, to change the current Serbian Constitution from 2006, especially when it comes to the status of Kosovo and Metohija in the constitutional Preamble?

– I have heard rumors and seen speculations about these demands, but I never saw or heard anything official. I do not react to gossip and rumors, only to facts. And the fact is that our Constitution says Kosovo is part of Serbia, and it will remain so. Serbia is a sovereign country and only the people of Serbia should be the ones who are asked about and who are the ones influencing the constitutional changes. Unfortunately, if history taught us something, there will always be pressures. All the potential changes in the Constitution or in laws, which would represent an improvement of the functioning of the state, are very welcome. But every change has to be done in accordance with the regulations and to be preceded by a proper public debate.

How dangerous is the often unconstitutional imposition of a presidential model of government, even though Serbia is a parliamentary republic, for democracy and normal parliamentary life in Serbia?

– My position as the member and the head of the Royal family obliges me to be above and not interfere in politics, because no matter if the country is a monarchy or republic, the Crown is there for all citizens. And I am strongly keeping this principle. I am not a lawyer, so I do not make interpretations about whether something is constitutional or not. From the point of the observer, it can be said that in Serbia, since the multiparty system was restored, which was more than 30 years ago, it is not uncommon that the position of the main political figure is being switched from the position of President to Prime Minister and back. Since the fall of Milosevic (during whose period there was no democracy or true parliamentarism at all) we had multiple changes of Governments, and parliamentary majorities, so parliamentary life continued although these switches in the position of the main political person were occurring. Everything else said would mean I am interfering in political life, and as said, I do not do that. I can only say that these kinds of switches do not occur in constitutional parliamentary monarchies.

In this regard, are parliamentary monarchies more stable government form with clearly defined rules, although it seems that history never forgave your grandfather, King Alexander the Unifier, for the Sixth of January dictatorship introduced in 1929 after the murder of a Croatian deputy in the Parliament of the Kingdom of SHS?

– As I have said numerous times, yes, constitutional parliamentary monarchy is a very stable and prosperous form of state organization, it is a system that 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 of course, the powers and duties of both the monarch and the Government are well-determined and regulated. The main decisions on running the country are made by the Government and the Parliament, while the monarch in constitutional parliamentary monarchy is the guarantor of democracy, continuity, stability, and unity.

Regarding my grandfather, although he was a significant historical figure who made great contributions to the country, he was the victim of many slanders and lies from the non-democratic communist regime after World War Two. The occurrences from the past have to be observed from the political contest in which they happened. The final judgment about occurrences in 1929 can be done only by historians, who can see all the aspects, with a clear head. I would only quote the words my grandfather told my father about this: “I have these last few years had to abolish Parliament and take upon myself duties and responsibilities which are foreign to my nature because the unity of our country was at stake. Whatever happens, whatever you do, remember that your duty, even if it makes you unpopular, is to protect the unity of Yugoslavia, for the future of the world depends on it.”

After a long period of silence in public, you recently spoke about the attack on Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, asking for a response from the international community. How do you see the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija and are you planning to visit the southern Serbian province where you used to go regularly, at least for Vidovdan?

– Now thinking of it, there has been a certain gap between official statements about Kosovo and Metohija, but I am speaking often about Kosovo, mentioning it in other statements which are not only about our southern province, social media, etc. The situation is very difficult and complex. We all know what Kosovo means to each Serb, and how important it is to us in every aspect – historically, spiritually, etc. Besides the omnipresent question of status, about which I already said what I think in one of the previous answers, there is an issue that bothers me very much, and it is the well-being of our people. Terrible attacks on Serbs remain unpunished and nothing is being done by the institutions of the so-called “State of Kosovo” that a stable environment for Serbs exists. Even when there are no attacks or violent pressures on Serbs occurring, our people are going through every day living under the shadow of fear that every second a new attack could happen. Sometimes it seems to me that almost nothing has changed in the lives of our people there from the first time my wife and I visited Kosovo, in 1999, shortly after the bombing. The pain of our people that we could see and feel then is still carved deeply into my memory, as well as from all other visits afterward. From that time until today, we are doing what we can to support them, to make some concrete actions to improve the conditions Serbs are living in, and to bring them at least some relief. Crown Princess Katherine’s Foundation with help of Lifeline Humanitarian Organization’s offices abroad is providing humanitarian aid to Serbs in Kosovo whenever possible, and I hope we will soon be able to go there again.

Given that your great-grandfather, King Peter I Liberator, after several centuries returned Kosovo and Metohija to Serbia in the First Balkan War in 1912, why do you so rarely give statements when it comes to Kosovo, even though it is a non-party and first class state and national issue?

– To be honest, I only now realized that such a form of official statement hasn’t been released in some time, but it is because, as said, I speak about Kosovo often on different levels. When you mention and think about something often, then you do not feel like it has to be solely under the title “Official statement”. And official statements only confirm what I said many times before, so they are basically a reminder of what I think, my views about Kosovo and Metohija haven’t changed for decades – Kosovo is an indivisible part of Serbia, and we should all do what is in our power to preserve the unity of our people and its existence.

How do you see a possible solution for Kosovo, taking into account the global geopolitical situation and how deep are your family and other ties in the West when it comes to the Kosovo issue and has the official government asked for your involvement?

– In the present time, we need to continue the actions taken and do everything possible to preserve the existence of our people and of our cultural, historical, and national heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. On a long-term basis, never lose hope and faith, but also continue lobbying in the international public for our cause, and take thought-out and planned steps. We see that foreign states are withdrawing previously given recognitions of unilaterally declared independence, so when it comes to international politics, nothing is set for eternity. You mentioned my great grandfather – how many centuries before 1912 Serbia did not have authority over Kosovo, and for how many centuries we did not have a state at all? But the situation changed, only because our ancestors never lost faith, and never forgot how important Kosovo is to us.

Whenever I meet foreign diplomats and other people of influence, which is very often, I speak with them about this topic and ask for them to understand Serbia’s stand. I know that they are tied by the official standing points of their Governments, but it is important for them to hear it as often as possible, to see the other side of the story as well, because the standing point of a Government can alter. I also did it most recently, during the Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. I have spoken also about it many times with my relatives from other European Royal families. It is also important for them to know this, but you must realize that they are monarchs in constitutional monarchies, who strongly honour their role in the state, and any decisions and stands about this and any other similar topic are not in the hands of monarchs, but of the Governments of those countries. That is why lobbying with political figures is of great importance.

The Karadjordjevic family is tied to both the West and Russia, what do you think about what is happening now in Ukraine and how dangerous is this war conflict for the whole world?

– It is very dangerous, and I am following the news about the Ukrainian conflict constantly. It worries me deeply. As with any other armed conflict in the world, this too only brings destruction, pain, and suffering to innocent people. Too many lives have already been lost… I am deeply worried for the future of the entire society. The consequences for the entire world are severe, we can already see the effects it is having on the world economy and all other aspects, and it will be even worse as the war continues. It worries me also when I see that some countries are “adding gasoline to the fire” because history has taught us well that conflicts like this can easily develop to a much larger scale, which would be catastrophic. The only solution is in talks, negotiations, and insisting on peace.

What do you consider to be the greatest contribution of the Royal House and you personally to the state, political, and economic interests of Serbia in the past 22 years since your return to your homeland?

– It is not easy to talk about yourself and not cross the line of good taste. The efforts made to the restoration of democracy in Serbia before our return, but also on its advancement later would be the point that stands out, but also the numerous contacts which made it possible for many prominent people of the world to become interested in our country after speaking with us, and finally bringing their businesses to Serbia. Also promoting Serbia whenever possible, so the bad image of our country from the 1990ies could finally be changed.

Did you disappoint the majority of monarchists because the question of restoring the monarchy in Serbia completely disappeared from the political scene during this time?

 – I would not agree that it disappeared. Several current political participants are standing for the restoration of the monarchy, but it is the question that is above the level of politics. In the current parliament, you also have MPs who are monarchists but are members of the parties which are for the republic by their program. There are monarchists in the government and in the opposition, as well as among the people who are not interested in politics at all. The same goes for those who are for the republic. 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 to the substantiated points of both sides, of those who are for and also those which are against the renewal of monarchy. That is something that is really missing.

Can you make a comparison of the relations you had with the authorities in Serbia from Slobodan Milosevic, through DOS – late Zoran Djindjic, Vojislav Kostunica, Boris Tadic, to Aleksandar Vučić, and how accurate is the impression that since the SNS came to power, you have been less present in public than by 2012?

– There were ups and downs with each of the authorities that changed in Serbia in this period, misunderstandings that we had, but also worked to resolve them and find a common ground. I am here to help the people of Serbia as much as I can, and in order to perform that duty, there has to be a relationship with each Government as well as understanding. I haven’t made public statements about these relations in the past or turned it into a public debate, and I am honoring that principle still.

We are not participants in the political sphere, so I do not think our media or public presence is connected with it who is in power in Serbia. It is more the question of whether something is at a particular moment interesting to the media to cover, which is something that is like that everywhere. We are performing our activities basically on the same level as we did when we came back to Serbia, but in this entire period from 2001, there were times when you could read more about us, and times when you couldn’t. For example, in 2013 we were very much presented in the media because of the State funeral of the members of the Royal family, as it was a new and current topic at the time. And similar repeated later, you could see only last year, when Queen Elizabeth II passed away, that Royals became an interesting topic for journalists, and many articles were published at that time.

There was a change in our usual public presence during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic when we were unable to be personally present at deliveries of aid, we could not attend events in the amount as we were before, but we managed to continue our activities even in that period in the only possible way, and to honour measures of precaution. Anyway, everything that we do, we are not doing it for public attention, but because it is our duty.

How do you explain that it was the SNS-SPS coalition in 2013 that enabled the transfer and burial of the remains of your father, mother, grandmother and uncle, or did they only then acquire the conditions for the royal burials in Oplenac?

– I applied an official initiative much before 2013 to the Government of Serbia of the time, and the Commission that would discuss this topic was formed. And it remained like that for years. In 2013, great efforts which did not include just simple willingness, but also concrete steps to be taken, are what made this very important issue, both for my family but also for Serbia, to be resolved and for the State funeral to happen. it was not just the transfer of the earthly remains of somebody who died abroad, but it was the transfer of members of the family that were unfairly targeted as “public enemies” for too long time. Why these concrete actions were absent before 2013, but it remained only on forming the Commission, I can’t give an answer.

We resolve disagreements within the family

As the Head of the Royal Family, to what extent do you adhere to the Royal House Rulebook drawn up by King Peter the Liberator, and have the disagreements clarified, not only about changing the order of succession among your sons, but also about the issues for which the Greek part of the family is publicly called out?

– I must respect the Family Rulebook, and I adhere to it very much. It was originally delivered by King Peter I, then updated by my grandfather, King Alexander I, and the final changes were made by me in 1997, to make it more in accordance with the current time. It would take too much time to go into details about its content, who is interested can easily find them all on our website. This rulebook is an important part of our tradition, to say it simply, a code of honor we must respect. I have made my statement last year about the change in the succession order, and I would not like to repeat myself. It was never a misunderstanding in the line of succession since it is very clear that once my oldest son Peter renounced his rights, my second son Philip as the next in line became a Hereditary Prince. But I had a problem with the procedure of how this important act was performed, and its disagreement with Family Rules. Everything else represents relations within the family, and I like to keep it that way, I do not discuss private matters in public. Any disagreements we have had, or we might have now, we have resolved and we will resolve within the family. It is the only way possible and acceptable for me.

How are your relations with your sons and other descendants of King Alexander the Unifier?

– They are good, usual family relations.

We are not inactive and silent

Does the current government really “love” only the inactive and “mute” Karadjordjevics?

– It is not a question of love, since it is a feeling reserved for the relations between family, friends, etc. Between the Royal family and all the governments that have changed since our return, including the current one, we can speak about different levels of mutual respect and cooperation. I do not see how we are inactive or mute. The fact that we are not political and that I do not comment on daily politics does not mean that we are silent. I have raised my voice many times about the issues that bother me, which were not pleasant for everybody in the government to hear. For example, the ongoing question of the restitution of my family’s private property, which still isn’t resolved, and is ongoing for way too much time it should. I am not leading myself when I speak if it will be pleasant or not for anybody to hear it, but whether I think it is the right time and place to say something, is it something that a member of the Royal family should say, and most importantly, whether it is true or not.

A delicate issue

Although Serbia is the last in Europe when it comes to legally resolving the Royal Family’s status (European champion in negative way), it was recently seen in Greece, during the funeral of your godfather and relative, the Greek King Constantine, that even deposed monarchies remain a delicate and sensitive social issue. Why is that so?

– It is a sad fact that our country hasn’t legally resolved the status of Karadjordjevics, especially looking at how much time has passed since our citizenship was restored. Being monarchist or not, in each country that once had a monarchy, the Royal family is an important and indivisible part of history and tradition. In most of these countries, monarchies have been deposed by force, not by the will of the people. That is why they are, as you said, delicate social issues. Because a lot of people have respect for the monarchist tradition, for their Royal families, and also there are a lot of important international connections that these families have, especially with the countries that are still monarchies, not only in Europe but the world. It could be very well seen in Greece at King Constantine II’s funeral – although it was not a State funeral, a significant number of crowned heads of state came to pay their respect. It is a clear message. I think that we need the law about status in Serbia as well, there were some suggestions and ideas over the years, but without real movement from point zero. But with or without official status being determined, we continue to support our people and our country and do everything we can.

On Statehood Day in the United States of America

Due to his obligations, Aleksandar Karađorđević will be outside of Serbia, in the United States of America, on the Statehood Day. Crown Prince and the Crown Princess are currently traveling, for holiday Sretenje itself they will not be in the place where the Serbian representative office exists, so they will not attend the official ceremony, but they will spend the Statehood Day with friends from the Serbian diaspora. Members of the Crown Council, Predrag Marković and Zoran Zivanovic, will lay a wreath on Oplenac in Crown Prince’s name.

Jelena Tasic