Judging by the notes of the visitors, among the portraits of all the European monarchs displayed in Windsor Hall, during the reign of Queen Victoria only one portrait was missing – of the King of Serbia! In Belgrade Palace, however, the portrait of the Queen and Empress of India was not the only one missing, there were no portraits of any other monarchs, either. In Windsor, that was a matter of political opinion, while in Belgrade, the result of reality! In Windsor, almost all European monarchs were relatives of the ruling dynasty, in Belgrade the dynasty had almost no relatives among the European monarchs! Great Britain was ruled by a millennium old dynasty whilst Serbia by two young dynasties for less than a century.
Of course, that was not the only difference. In London, it was believed that anyone who contested or threatened British interests or put their own interests ahead of them, was an enemy by definition; in Belgrade, the friends and the enemies could not be chosen, they identified themselves, and the definition of enemy and friend from time to time changed without special effort of the Serbs. Great Britain ruled the world; Serbia had not yet succeeded in ruling itself! Great Britain saw an ally in Turkey, Serbia – alternatively – in Austria and Russia. The choice of allies, in both cases, determined the status and importance of the relationships!
The officers’ coup of 1903 worsened the already modest links between the two courts. King Edward VII had a very sharp sense of the status and the role of a monarch, and the relations between Great Britain and Serbia progressed from the cold into a frozen stage. It was only after several years that the first discrete connections between the courts we re-established. By coincidence, that happened at the great state funeral of King Edward VII, the King of Great Britain and Ireland and the Emperor of India, in 1910. Serbia and King Peter I were represented by Crown Prince Alexander, which was recorded by a film camera. The following year, he again represented Serbia and his father, when he attended the coronation of King George V. At this time, the first official British decoration was awarded to a member of the House of Karadjordjevic: the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and the commemorative coronation medal of King George and Queen Mary. Queen Victoria received several high-level Serbian Order of the Grand Cross decorations (Order of the Takovo Cross from 1882, the Order of the White Eagle from 1883, the Order of St. Sava from 1897…).
The significantly changed situation caused by the outbreak of the First World War and the wartime alliance between Serbia and Great Britain led to the establishment of much more frequent and closer ties between the two countries, as well as between the two courts. Crown Prince Alexander, at that time Regent of the Kingdom and the Commander-in-Chief of the Serbian Army, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, and then the Royal Victorian Chain. King George VI became the holder of the highest degree of the Order of the Star of Karadjordje, the Order of the White Eagle, and his mother, Queen Mary, the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sava. Particularly close ties were established at the time of the wedding of King Alexander with Romanian Princess Maria, who herself was a close relative of the British, German and Russian royal families. God-parental connections as well as the subsequent marriage of Prince Paul Karadjordjevic with Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, led over time to the strengthening of family ties between the two dynasties.
At the time of World War Two, similar to the events from twenty-seven years earlier, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the United Kingdom once again found themselves on the same side as allies. The exiled court and the Government of Yugoslavia found refuge in wartime London, as well as the monarchs of Norway, the Netherlands and Greece. There, in London, the wartime marriage between King Peter II and the Greek Princess Alexandra took place, and there – at Claridge’s Hotel – Alexander, the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia was born. His godmother at the baptism was the future Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Elizabeth II, his godfather was King George VI.
Thanks to Queen Mary’s ancestry, family ties and genetic heritage between the Yugoslav and Serbian monarchs and England and Scotland led to unusually interesting hereditary lines, among which it is worth mentioning the descent from Kenneth MacAlpin I, the King of Scotland (844–859), Cerdic, the King of the West Saxons (519–534), Halfdan the Old, the grandfather of Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy (8th century), King Edward III Plantagenet and Viscount Ingelger of Angers (+888) the founder of the subsequent Plantagenet dynasty.
Personal and family relations between the two dynasties have long been close and direct. The fact that the House of Windsor is reigning in the United Kingdom, but that the House of Karadjordjevic had spent more than half a century in forced exile, has led to the direct interweaving of state-level politics and kinship. State-level politics significantly conditions the official position and public performance of the British House, while the absence of that level substantially limits the formal status and position of the Royal House of Yugoslavia and Serbia. These are the consequences of time and objective circumstances.
Beyond the dictates of time, are family and personal connections and relationships. In this field, between the House of Windsor and the House of Karadjordjevic, there are no issues recorded!