In an interview with Story magazine on the occasion of the Princess’s birthday, HRH Crown Prince Alexander and HRH Crown Princess Katherine spoke about tireless humanitarian work to help the people of Serbia, their marriage, life experiences and challenges, as well as many other interesting topics. The full interview can be read below.
Story magazine, 17 November 2021: Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine – Some sacrifices have to be made
Crown Princess and Crown Prince speak about what were the challenges they faced regarding the renovation of the Royal Compound, how they cherish their marriage, how often they can gather with family members scattered all over the world, and what are the favorite anecdotes they like to talk to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Since they returned to Serbia 20 years ago, the only dream of Crown Princess Katherine and Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic was and still is to help the Serbian people. With that same thought in her mind, Katherine had her birthday recently but unfortunately could not make a celebration due to pandemics. Despite that, she claims she was happy to spend another important date with her husband who surprises her every day for 36 years now and who is her strongest support. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess consider it a blessing to live in Serbia, and they are especially happy when they can help the sick, the poor, as well as those whose potential yet needs to be realized. In the open interview for Story they talk about their marriage and still current works at the Palace, their tireless humanitarian work, as well as the pride they feel about their successors Alison, David, Peter, Philip, Alexander, their children, and grandchildren.
STORY: Crown Princess, did you manage to gather at least some of your family members, despite the pandemics, on November 13 to celebrate your birthday?
Crown Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic: My husband and I are very fortunate we are young in spirit. I believe it is the energy of the people we love they provide to us that keeps us young. Therefore, we don’t look at birthdays as reminders that we are getting older, but like another year of the opportunity to make a difference. I am always truly happy when I can spend time with my family, because they are my great support, and they give me strength. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic that is still going on, it was not possible to bring my family together, as I would like very much. I was sad because of that, but I was happy at the same time knowing that they are taking care of their health and being safe. My dear Alexander always, no matter where we are or what we are doing – welcomes me on the morning of my birthday with some beautiful flowers, makes me a cup of coffee and we sit down and take some time to reflect. He has been my greatest support in all those wonderful years, a wonderful husband for 36 years, and my King.
STORY: Crown Prince, did you listen to your wife’s wishes this year, and gave her exactly what she wished the most?
Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic: After many years of marriage, raising children together and being with each other all the time, I do not have to guess what she wants. It is never material things, her dreams are always about helping others.
That energy and devotion she has, never looking to herself for what she needs – these are the things that I love the most about her. I try every day to make her happy, not just on that single day, as well as she does for me.
STORY: Crown Princess Katherine, outside of important family dates, how often do you manage to gather your family members, who live all over the world?
P.K.K: God has blessed me with wonderful children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I love them all equally, and in each of them, I see a little piece of me. Alexander and I always find a way to visit them. Nevertheless, I think we do not see each other as much as I would like. They all have their jobs and responsibilities, and my schedule is also very tight. Some sacrifices must be made, but whenever I see a smile on a face of a child who was helped thanks to the work of my Foundation in Belgrade and Lifeline Humanitarian organization abroad, that work under my patronage, it brings me such joy and motivates me to keep going.
STORY: What anecdotes from your life experience do you like to tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren?
P.K.K: There are so many wonderful stories that I remember, it is hard to single out just one. The most important message that I would like to pass on to them at an early age, as my parents did to me, is the “joy of giving”. It is the same message I give to the children who visit the palace and ask me “where is your crown” and I tell them that the crown is in my heart. I like to tell the following story to my little ones. When we visited a home for children without parental care, we handed out the gifts. One little girl who was hiding did not get one, so I took it off a small bracelet my granddaughter gave me and handed it to the girl. Then something very touching happened. The older sister of the little girl came to me and handed me her mother’s ring, the only reminder she had of her mother. She said, “you gave something of yours to my sister which made her so very happy, so I want to do the same”. This is the true nature of the Serbian people and one I want the world to know.
STORY: What would make you happy the most at this moment?
P.K.K: My husband and I have already received the biggest gift possible – and that gift is the people of Serbia. To be able to help them is a true blessing.
STORY: Crown Prince do you have unfulfilled wishes? One often gets the impression that members of the Royal family live an ideal life without problems, shortcomings, lack of something, is that so?
P.A.K: Royal origin or not, we are all just humans, with the same problems. We are the Royal family that came from the people, and it is our duty to serve the people. Of course, it is not always an easy thing to do. There are many difficulties and obstacles. Our country is so beautiful, we have excellent people, and they deserve support to achieve the high potentials they have.
STORY: In your most difficult times, your Godmother, British Queen Elizabeth II has helped you. What are you grateful for the most to her?
P.A.K: We all know what “kumstvo” (which is a word that jointly represents both relations when somebody is someone’s godparent at baptism and/or best man/maid of honour at the wedding) means to us Serbs. I will always remember my 50th birthday, when my wife organized a celebration for me in Claridge’s Hotel in London, the place where I was born in apartment 212. And the Queen also came to that party. She asked me what my greatest wish was and I said, “to return home to my country, as my father so desperately wanted as well”.
STORY: Very few people know what problems you encountered upon your arrival in Belgrade, especially when it comes to the renovation of the Royal Palace.
PAK: My wife and I have had many challenges and sufferings. For so many decades Royal Complex was a “forbidden city”. Everything was ruined, neglected and it was the duty of my wife and me to repair it, with our own personal funds even though nothing has been restituted. There is so much to say about our lives, so many stories, and so many recollections. We will publish a book one day telling these stories of how Serbia inspired us, our challenges and our accomplishments, about our life, all our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren but now is the time to focus on helping and changing for the better the lives of people in Serbia.
– Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine have close and cordial relations with the most famous royal families, such as the British and Spanish.
It is well-known that Alexander is a descendant of the English Queen Victoria and thus related to the House of Windsor, and Queen Elizabeth II is his godmother.
By Suzana Jancic