|Blic, 24 July 2011
HRH Crown Prince Alexander’s testimony
I was skiing champion in British Army
By Marija Mijatovic
My first visit to Serbia, in 1991, together with my family, was very sentimental journey. We were greeted by tens of thousands of people, and I was very emotional to be in Serbia. I felt a dream had come true to be home and that visit was one of turning points of my life, Crown Prince Alexander II starts his confession for “Blic” on Sunday.
Few days ago, on July 17, he marked two anniversaries – his 66th birthday and one decade since he was allowed to move back to his ancestors home – the White Palace in Dedinje. Upon decision of Government of FRY from 17 July 2001, Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic and members of his family were allowed to move into Royal residence in Belgrade, which was confiscated from the Royal Family after the Second World War. As he said on the 10th anniversary of his return to the homeland, the good things and the bad things have happened in Serbia in the meanwhile, but Serbia has made serious efforts to “break with the past and to go forward towards Europe”. In next ten years he sees Serbia as progressive democratic country and member of the EU.
Crown Prince instead of King
When my father, HM King Peter II died in 1970, I decided as the heir to the throne not to use the title of King - which I felt would have had little meaning in exile. I made it very clear at that time that I was not renouncing my rights and title, or the dynastic right to the throne. I sincerely believe that right path for Serbia is Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy. My role would be in helping to improve the image of Serbia in the world mostly through lobbying and appealing for the interest of foreign leaders to improve the life of people in Serbia.
Growing up in London
When I was a child, my father and my mother initially lived in London.Sadly my parents lived in many countries and my father was very homesick. I also have very nice memories of my grandmother, Queen Maria, who lived in the United Kingdom at that time. She was always very kind to me. It is maybe somehow forgotten in Serbia, but Queen Maria was really a people’s Queen. She was very popular and very active in the humanitarian field. She was the patron of the National Society of the Red Cross. Also, she actively participated in helping our prisoners of war who were held by the Germans although she lived in exile. When my wife and I visit Serbian hospitals these days, I am very proud to see many memorial plaques in many of them dedicate to Queen Maria's humanitarian involvement.
I like sports very much, but most of all skiing and scuba diving. During my days in the Army I was a skiing champion. These days I play some tennis, and scuba dive, which is especially interesting in tropical waters. Sports are very important for developing a healthy lifestyle, and can be good for promoting our country, as well. Novak Djokovic is a world mega star and a superb ambassador of Serbia, and we could only hope to have more champions like him. But we are very talented in many sports, like basketball, volleyball, swimming, so we have to do more in promotion of all sports in Serbia.
Interested in politics, but not in political parties
I am interested in what goes on in politics. My position as per that in a Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy is that I cannot be a member of a political party or take part in party politics. I would be the meeting point of all political parties, the point of unity and continuity. My role is to help promote Serbia positively especially by lobbying and assisting in improving diplomatic relations with foreign leaders and investors. Every Serbian government should know they have a friend in me. This system works well in countries like Holland, Denmark, Norway Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Australia and many constitutional monarchies. Serbian needs a neutral Head of State since this would smooth out political conflict and all our politicians would benefit from this like in the constitutional parliamentary monarchies. The prime minister and his cabinet would rule the country with parliament legislating. The king reigns.
The Royal Palaces art collection
None of the art and items, including everything that is indisputable and arbitrarily deprived of my family, cannot be either taken out of the Royal Compound Palaces or sold. Everything is fully recorded and kept as state property until a final decision on restitution is made. When that will it be I do not know. I would like to find out, however, where the missing items are that were once were in the Palaces, who is currently listed as their owner and whether the public and media are interested in their fate. In contrast to the inventory of the Palaces, of which everyone is concerned about, it seems that very few are concerned about this property, it is really our small Serbian Versailles and very beautiful. I am proud that instigated a fully dossier of the art collection and provenance which interestingly did not exist. I also opened the two palaces for the first time to the public.
Education is so important
My family strongly supported Serbian educational institutions since Vozd Karadjordje and his comrades during the First Serbian Uprising decided to invite Dositej Obradovic to come to Serbia and become its’ first Minister of education, and to create the first University in Serbia. Our very talented young people can compete with their peers all around the world and it is our duty today to provide best opportunity for their education. My Foundation for education has managed to secure scholarships for some of the top world faculties for our best students, and we will continue to do so in the future. Also, we have started career centers in all the Serbian State universities, in order to help graduating students find jobs.
I am very proud of what my wife, Crown Princess Katherine, has done in helping our hospitals, children without parental care, people with disabilities, elderly people, and all others who need help urgently in Serbia since we moved back here in 2001. But, even before we came back home, she has started Lifeline Humanitarian Organization with offices in London, Athens, New York, Chicago and Toronto, in order to collect and bring help to the most vulnerable people in Serbia. She has my full support in these efforts, and very often when we travel abroad, we manage to arrange meetings with famous doctors and hospital managers, who then decide to come to Serbia or to send equipment and provide training.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander II, the only child of HM King Peter II and Queen Alexandra, daughter of the Greek King Alexander and Aspasia Manos, was born on 17 July 1945 in London in Claridge’s Hotel where they lived. In order for Crown Prince Alexander to be born on Yugoslav territory the British Government under the orders of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill declared suite 212 in Claridge's Hotel to be Yugoslav territory for the birth. His Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo of Serbia baptized the new born Crown Prince in Westminster Abbey with Godparents King George VI and HRH Princess Elizabeth, now HM Queen Elisabeth II. HRH Crown Prince Alexander II was educated at Le Rosey and Marie-José (Switzerland), Culver Military Academy (Indiana, USA), Gordonstoun School (Scotland) and Millfield (England). He subsequently went to the British Royal Military Academy and in 1966 was commissioned as an officer in the British Army. After leaving the army in 1972, Crown Prince Alexander II pursued a career in international business. HRH Crown Prince Alexander has three sons, TRH Hereditary Prince Peter, Prince Philip and Prince Alexander. In 1985, HRH Crown Prince Alexander married Katherine Batis of Athens. HM King Constantine of the Hellenes was the best man and HRH Prince Tomislav, Crown Prince Alexander’s uncle, was the witness. The wedding took place in the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in London.