TRH Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine together with the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Serbia, HE Mr. Edward Ferguson, and the author Colonel Nick Ilić, officially opened today the exhibition “The British and the Second World War in Yugoslavia”, at the White Palace in Belgrade, Serbia.

“This exhibition is significant testimony of the joint past of our two countries and our nations. Symbolically, it is organized on the 80th anniversary of the two important secret operations from the Second World War – Haversack and Halyard. The jubilee is the occasion, but more important is the essence, the main motive of this exhibition, and it is the truth. The true image of one of the most notorious tragedies in the history of mankind in our country was hidden for far too long, during the time of dictatorship.

This exhibition is one more testimony which undoubtedly shows what true patriots knew during all decades of imposed lies, although they were not able to speak about it publicly. That General Mihailović and soldiers of the Royal Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, were part of the allied forces, fighting against Nazi evil. Draža was my father’s “first and most loyal soldier“; King Peter II knew it very well, and highly respected the General. The reasons why the hero was portrayed as a traitor, and why was his destiny so difficult and unfair, lie within political and spy games, but it is a topic of its own.

Most important is that the truth survived and emerged from the darkness. It is not our desire to live in the past, but by knowing and respecting it, we use lessons and examples of our history to build the future”, stated the Crown Prince in his speech.

The visitors of the exhibition had a chance to see historical photos and other documents that Colonel Ilić collected and prepared with great devotion and dedication, in order to bring to life the actions of officers and soldiers of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces, British military missions who operated in occupied Yugoslavia during the World War Two. Many have never been seen or previously published in their current form. These documents were gathered from the Imperial War Museum and National Archives in London, as well as the personal collections of the relatives of those who fought alongside the Yugoslav people during the dark days of 1941-1945.

As stated by the author in the brochure accompanying the exhibition, by the time Yugoslavia was liberated from the Germans, its people suffered more casualties than the combined wartime total of the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America. “The greatest Yugoslav casualties were sustained by the Serbs. This photographic exhibition is thus dedicated to the sacrifice of the people of Serbia, in recognition of their central role in the defeat of Fascism – as well as the families of those British and Commonwealth servicemen who, along with other Yugoslavs, fought against tyranny until its final liberation.”

HE Ambassador Ferguson also spoke at the opening of the exhibition, emphasizing the importance of the culture of remembrance, as the foundation for the future. His Excellency also pointed out that it is important for us to know history, and to learn from it; to focus on working for the future based on the lessons from the past, which we can gain in the best manner by facing stories and prejudice with an open mind.

The opening ceremony was also attended by HRH Prince Alexander, youngest son of Crown Prince Alexander, representatives of the Governmental bodies of Serbia, envoy of His Hollines Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia, Father Aleksandar Sekulic, numerous Ambassadors and other representatives of the diplomatic corps, members of the Advisory Bodies of the Crown, Mrs. Betty Roumeliotis, the Crown Princess’ sister, representatives of cultural institutions, as well as many other distinguished guests from the spheres of business, art, culture, and the public life of Serbia.

The exhibition was originally opened in September 2020, in cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of Serbia and the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Belgrade. As the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the people to see it, it was Crown Prince Alexander’s wish to make this important testimony of our past available to the people of Serbia once again. Today’s exhibition has been supplemented with new pictures and documents, which were discovered in the meantime and which were not in the original exhibition.

The exhibition “The British and the Second World War in Yugoslavia” will be open to visitors on weekdays until 21 June, between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, with the prior announcement to HRH Crown Prince Alexander’s Office, by phone +38111306 4000 or via e-mail: [email protected].