TRH Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine attended today the memorial service on the 53rd anniversary of HM King Peter II’s death in the Mausoleum of the Royal Family, Saint George’s Church in Oplenac.
The solemn church ceremony was performed by the priests of the Oplenac Parish, and together with Their Royal Highnesses it was attended by members of the Crown Council, Messrs. Vladan Zivulovic, Darko Spasic and Zoran Zivanovic, members of the Kingdom of Serbia Association, which is under the patronage of HRH Crown Prince Alexander, Mr. Dragan Reljic, Director of King Peter I Endowment in Oplenac. After the service, Crown Prince laid a wreath on the tomb of his late father.
“On this day in 1970, the heart of my dear father, HM King Peter II, stopped beating. His life was not easy, marked by the early loss of his father and turbulent times that shook the whole world at the time he became the monarch. Many times throughout history, the will of the great powers shaped the fate of small countries and their rulers, and that was the case with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and its last monarch. My father was left without a crown by an arbitrary act of an undemocratic regime, but they could never take away the essence of what that crown represents, so he always, both before and during and after the great historical turning point of the Second World War, always did everything in his power to be in the service of his people and the homeland.
At the beginning of the Second World War in our country, my father, like most other monarchs and heads of state from countries under Nazi occupation, was forced to evacuate to London. After the war, the communist authorities in Yugoslavia forbade him to return to his homeland, which he dreamed of for the rest of his life.
As I said, his life was not easy, but may his legacy and memory be respected. We should always have in our minds who he really was. Beloved son of his parents, taught to sincerely love his family and his country, and whom his people looked upon as a son. The monarch of a country whose foundations were undermined by many, the last King of Yugoslavia, my beloved father – Petar II”, said HRH Crown Prince Alexander.
Biography of HM King Peter II
HM King Peter II of Yugoslavia was the firstborn son of King Alexander I and Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. King Peter II was born in Belgrade on 6 September 1923, and his Godfather was King George V of England. After his father’s assassination in 1934, he became the King of Yugoslavia, but since he was only 11 years old, a regency was formed.
After the 27th of March Coup, when the people of Yugoslavia rejected the treaty which the Government signed with Nazi Germany, King Peter II was proclaimed of age. The Yugoslav Army was unprepared to resist the ensuing invasion by Nazi Germany and Yugoslavia was occupied within eleven days. King Peter II was forced to leave the country and he joined other monarchs and leaders of German-occupied Europe in London in June 1941. There King Peter was regarded by the people of Yugoslavia as the symbol of resistance against Nazism and worked hard on getting the Allies’ support for the fight of the people of Yugoslavia against occupying forces.
After the war, the nondemocratic communist regime forbade the return of the Royal family to Yugoslavia, removed citizenship, and confiscated their entire private property. King Peter II never abdicated.
The King spent the last years of his life in America. He died on 3 November 1970 in Denver Hospital Colorado, and he was buried at the St. Sava Monastery Church in Libertyville Illinois. He was the only king buried in the United States.
The King’s remains were transferred to Royal Palace Chapel in Belgrade on 22 January 2013 and a State Funeral took place on 26 May 2013 at the Royal Family Mausoleum of St. George in Oplenac, Serbia where His Majesty joined other members of The Royal Family interned the Royal Mausoleum.