Speech given by Her Excellency Madame Christine Moro, Ambassador of the Republic of France, during the ceremony awarding Crown Prince Alexander with the Legion d’Honneur Commander Rank
Embassy of France in Belgrade, May 15, 2015
Your Royal Highnesses, Madame Speaker of the Parliament, distinguished Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you tonight to the French embassy on the occasion of the awarding the Order of the Legion of d’Honneur with the rank of Commander to Crown Prince Aleksander Karadjordjevic.
Your Royal Highness, by this decoration the President of the French Republic wanted to honour your many years of working for the benefit of your country, which is close to the hearts of the French.
Your personal destiny determined that you were born away from your country in 1945 in London, where your father, King Peter II Karadjordjevic of Yugoslavia, was forced into exile in 1941. However, you were born on Yugoslav soil since the United Kingdom made an elegant gesture to cede to your father sovereignty over the apartment 212 at Claridge’s Hotel, where you saw the light of day.
You grew up and lived far away from your homeland until 1991 when for the first time you came back to the land of your ancestors.
You followed closely the earth shattering events that occurred after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Central Europe and the Balkans, while your greatest desire was to contribute to the emerging democracy in your country.
Thus, using a wide array of your acquaintances and your own personal prestige, you spurred many meetings of democratic leaders since 1989 and during all those dramatic years. The guiding principle behind these efforts was to encourage the evolution of the country towards democracy by uniting all the forces that opposed the dictatorship and war.
You also took to mobilize the whole world to support your country, morally and politically, but also economically – like through the Business Opportunity Initiative, that you started in November 2000 together with HRH The Prince of Wales. You raised significant humanitarian aid aimed at wherever enormous needs existed, and urged to ensure distribution of the aid throughout the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation.
After your first return to Belgrade in 1991, it will only be with the arrival of the new millennium that you permanently returned to Serbia with full honours. Indeed, in 2001, the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia restored citizenship to you and all your family members. Thus today you are recognized as the Crown Prince, a descendant of the Royal Dynasty of Karadjordjevic, with the right to enjoy the Royal Palace, which is known as the “White Palace”. Since that time it has become, under your and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Katherine’s care, a prestigious place for a number of humanitarian and cultural activities.
In the field of medicine – one of fields that have highest priority for both of you, you are especially engaged in modernization of equipment in hospitals, clinics and obstetrics units in Serbia, as well as supporting the exchange of experience between Serbian doctors and doctors abroad, most prominent experts in their fields.
You are aware about the importance of promoting of young talent for each country, and you contribute to that goal through one of your foundations, by awarding best high school students, giving them computers and other means, as well as scholarships, so their efforts could be more fruifull. I would like to emphasize that your Foundation and the French Institute have signed an agreement last year to include French Universities among possible destinations of these young students.
You of course you never forgot about the culture, and foster the tradition of donations. You are trying to re-discover and present cultural treasures kept at the Royal Palaces – as we have witnessed last October when you organized the Exhibition of French Baroque painters at the Royal Art Collection.
Your Royal Highness,
I have to mention a fact that we today, through you personally, are paying respect to centuries old French – Serbian friendship, that connects our nations, and especially your great grandfather Serbian King Peter I Karadjodrjevic and you grandfather Yugoslav King Alexander I Karadjodrjevic, and your father, who have hold the Legion of Honour before you.
I know that you remain faithful to that friendship, that played such an important role in the destiny of our nations during the First World War. You deemed important to participate in events remembering those historic days, by organizing exhibition “The First World War and the Balkans Front” last June at the Royal Palace, and documentary series for RTS “Centenary of the Great War, from the assassination to war – telegrams”.
I would like to remind all of us of your grandfather, King Alexander I, who was shot dead by bullets of a political opponent during his official visit to France in Marseille on 9 October 1934. The 80th Anniversary of that event was marked on October 9, last year in Marseille, at the ceremony that you and Princess Katherine took part in, as well as representatives of the President of the Republic and Government of Serbia.
Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen present at this ceremony, that is very rich personal and historical background that is behind the decision of the President of Republic, Monsieur François Hollande to award you the order that is France so fond of, the Legion d’Honneur.
Your Royal Highness, Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic, on behalf of the President of the Republic of France, and according to my authority, I promote you to the rank of Commander of the Legion d’Honneur.