Remains of King Petar II transferred to Serbia

BELGRADE -- The remains of King Petar II Karađorđević, who passed away and was buried in the United States in 1970, have been transferred to Serbia.

Petar Karađorđević (file)
Petar Karađorđević (file)

The king's remains will be entrusted to the MUP Gendarmes, who will guard them in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Dedinje, Belgrade, until the spring burial at Oplenac.

The remains of King Peter II Karađorđević arrived at the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade on Tuesday afternoon.

Crown Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević and members of his family were present at the airport, as was Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, Oliver Antić, member of a committee set up to transfer of remains of members of Serbian and Yugoslav royal family and advisor to the Serbian president, and representatives of the Serbian Army.

Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Irinej will serve liturgy for the repose of King Petar's soul at the Royal Chapel of Saint Apostle Andrew the First-Called in Belgrade.

After that, the doors of the palace chapel will be open to all those who wish to pay their respects to the last Serbian king.

The remains of King Petar II will be laid to rest beside the remains of his ancestors in the Karađorđević dynasty Mausoleum of St. George in Oplenac and a date of the funeral will be announced later, but it is expected to take place in the spring.

According to media reports, the king was exhumed last week in Libertville "almost in secret", causing dissatisfaction among some members of the Serb diaspora in Illinois, who were not given a chance to pay their respects.

In September last year, the Serbian government decided to establish the organizing committee for the transfer of remains of the Karađorđević family members to the royal family crypt of the St. George Church, appointing Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić as chairman.

King Petar II, the eldest son of King Aleksandar I and Queen Marija, was born in Belgrade on September 6, 1923. His education commenced at the Royal Palace in Belgrade, completing which he went to Sandroyd School in England, which he left after his father's assassination in Marseilles in 1934.

At the time of the assassination, King Petar II was only 11 years old and Prince Pavle, the brother of the murdered king, was appointed Prince Regent of Yugoslavia.

In 1941, Prince Pavle decided to sign a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which resulted in severe protests in the country and led to a government crisis and a coup d'état by Yugoslav officers on March 27, 1941. As a result of the coup, King Petar 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 Petar II was forced to leave the country along with the Yugoslav government - initially to Greece, Palestine and then to Egypt.

King Petar II did not abdicate. He lived in London and spent the last years of his life in America, where he died in 1970, after a long and grave illness. He was buried at the St. Sava Monastery Church in Libertyville, Illinois.

Serbia awaits remains of three more royals

The remains of King Petar II Karađorđević will be buried after the remains of three more members of the royal family arrive in Serbia, advisor to the Serbian president Oliver Antić stated Tuesday.

The remains of the king's mother Marija, his wife Aleksandra and his brother, Prince Andrej, should be transferred to Serbia, Antić told RTS.

He added that the coffin with the remains of King Petar II Karađorđević will be put on display in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Dedinje, Belgrade, in order for the citizens to be able to honor him.

The burial of the remains of the royal family members should take place by May, Antić said.

He pointed out that the transfer and the funeral of King Petar's remains after 72 years is very important for Serbia, adding that the country thus shows the world that it has a long tradition.

As announced earlier by the White Palace, King Petar II and members of the royal family will be laid to rest beside the remains of their ancestors in the Karađorđević dynasty Mausoleum of St. George in Oplenac.

The date of the funeral will be announced later, in agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, President of Serbia, the Government and other royal families.