HRH Crown Prince Alexander and I have been friends for many years. We first met in the mid-1980s when he was working as an insurance executive in Rosslyn, Virginia. I took the train down from my home in New Jersey to interview the Prince for my book, Queen Victoria’s Descendants. He sent me an email to see how I was doing here at home .. I responded and then asked if he would agree to an interview. He did. He also provided several photographs.
Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katharine are living at the Royal Palace, which is located in the Royal Compound in Dedinje, one of Belgrade’s leafy neighborhoods
Marlene: “How is Serbia doing with COVID-19. Has there been a major outbreak in the country or is social distancing? How has the Serbian government responded to the pandemic?”
Crown Prince Alexander: “Our government in Serbia led by President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has taken the pandemic very seriously and I praise them for the strict steps that they have implemented in a timely manner. They address the nation virtually every evening on TV explaining the situation and implement and review resolutions. They have done well with the strict regulations they have enforced in the prevention of the spread of the virus. With the help of Chinese advisors, our government has implemented some of the toughest restrictions in Europe.”
Marlene: The Serbian government is requiring people 65 and older to stay in their residences. Where are you living at present: the Royal Palace or Beli Dvor (the White Palace.) [Both residences are located in the Royal Compound.] Do you have staff on-site?
Crown Prince Alexander: “People returning from abroad and those aged over 65 have been ordered to self-isolate at home. Violations are punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Citizens have been ordered to stay at home from 5 pm to 5am during the week and on weekends from Friday 5 pm to Monday at 5 am. If they don’t obey, the curfew will be extended. Borders are closed and Belgrade airport is closed except for rescue and medical aircraft.
“We are in the Royal Palace and no staff is living on the site. We fully closed the White Palace and our office too. We have conference calls every day with the staff. Yes, we take walks in the compound admiring spring blossom and enjoying the good weather, we walk twice a day. The Royal Compound is strictly closed and protected by our Ministry of the Interior security police. Food and supplies are delivered twice a week. Restaurants and shops are closed. We are very cautious with cleaning and disinfection.”
Marlene: “What are you doing to keep busy? What is a typical day for you and the Crown Princess right now? ”
Crown Prince Alexander: “We continue with our humanitarian work especially my wife with her foundation ( www.lifelineaid.org)and assists the Government and Ministry of Health. My wife organized the delivery of donation laptops and printers to the Clinical Center and medical equipment that were desperately needed. The Clinical Center in Belgrade is the center dealing with Corona.
” My wife’s foundation has offices in New York www.lifelineny.org , Chicago www.lifelinechicago.org. Both are 501(c)(3) charities. Toronto https://lifeline-canada.org, London https://lifelineuk.co.uk/, and Athens https://www.lifelinegr.org/
“We are using this opportunity to go over our computer files, paperwork and organize ourselves. Plan ahead and we look forward to opening the Royal Compound when this ends for tourists. All tours and events are on hold until further notice. We are very concerned about the economy and jobs. A lot of work will have to be done to kick start the economy when this awful tragedy is over.
“Our children and grandchildren are also strictly following the Corona restrictions in the United Kingdom and the United States. They use the internet like we do to keep up with work.
“We read books, listen to music and watch the news. A book I recommend “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” by Samuel Huntington available on Amazon. We also watch films and TV series in the evening on Netflix, Apple, and Amazon.
“We communicate with the family and friends we use What’s App and Vonage. We have also been in touch with our relatives.
“Our Orthodox Easter is Sunday, April 19 and we follow the social restrictions. We send out electronic wishes for Pesach, Easter, and Ramadan.
“We are particularly concerned about the post-economic revival, a lot of work and planning must be done.
“Joined by my wife I would like to take this opportunity to appeal that everyone must take great care and follow their government instructions. We send everyone our warmest wishes.”
Marlene: “What is the first thing you want to do when quarantine ends?
Crown Prince Alexander: “To take account of everything and start mending the damage done by Covid -19. Learn from it”.
I would like to thank the Crown Prince for taking the time to answer my questions. I have had the honor of several invitations to the Royal Palace, and I enjoyed every visit.
If you visit Belgrade — and you should — I recommend a tour of the palace, which has its own intimate movie room. after it reopens. Well worth it.