Politika, 30 January 2010
Interview: Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic
We came here to give, not to take away
Those who believe that the Royal Family shouldn’t be financed have to
realize that we do not have any personal benefits, but that a monument, a
cultural good is being financed
- We maintain excellent cooperation with the Government of the Republic of
Serbia, have good communication with its ministers, who are always there to
listen to our suggestions and to support thoroughly our efforts. We did have
certain misunderstandings when it comes to the question of the national budget;
yet, I believe that they are striving to correct this matter, because they
understand the true state of things, for which I am grateful to them. What is
frequently forgotten is that we did have a home before we had arrived to Serbia
and that, since the year of 2001, we have spent several millions of Euros of our
own money to the restoration of the Royal Palace. People should not be envious,
but grateful for us staying here, and focused upon the good side of the Royal
Family’s presence in Serbia. I believe that the Serbian people know that they
are the only reason why we are here, and that everything we do – we do it for
them: their concerns are our concerns as well. I feel like a mother – when they
cry, I cry as well, and when they smile, so do I – Princess Katherine
Karadjordjevic says for our magazine, while getting ready for a trip to the
United States, where she well be fundraising for Serbia at the February 5th
Birthday Ball of Princes Peter, Philip and Alexander, for the campaign against
breast cancer, as well as for equipping units for neonatal intensive care in
Serbia. Her husband Crown Prince Alexander will be in Washington D.C, trying to
attract foreign investors through contacts with foreign ambassadors and United
States Senators. When they return to the country, a traditional fashion show is
awaiting for them to organize, funds will be collected for women suffering from
After we commenced our conversation in Serbian, we continued to speak in
English, which was followed by a remark that neither Tito did not speak the
Serbian language very well. Princess Katherine says that she is in the process
of learning Serbian and that she would be delighted to read the Serbian press in
Serbian, but that due to her numerous commitments, she does not always manage to
follow the pace. Every day, she says, she makes a deal with her husband for them
to watch a movie in the cinema (located in the basement of the Palace), to enjoy
pop-corn, but that each and every time this plan ends up differently and is just
a wishful imagination.
- People imagine that when you live in a palace, you live a wonderful life.
What is truly important is not a crown on your head, but one in your heart, and
that one has to keep working a lot, because if you lack a crown in your heart,
you will not be able to take good care of your people. I was raised with the
knowledge that in this world you do not exist purely for oneself, but for the
others as well, and I come from a family in which giving is as necessary as
oxygen. It is true that sometimes I like to gratify myself, and particularly my
husband and children, but this is not always possible, because we do have a lot
of things to work on. People expect us to help them to improve their lives and
when one knows this fact, one cannot just stop. We always say: one more phone
call, only one more thing to do, and then the night falls… My husband often
suggests that I go to sleep, because “everybody is sleeping, you cannot help
anyone right now“. I know for sure that my husband is as happy now as he has
never been since I have known him, for his destiny has been fulfilled, because
he works for his people and helps his compatriots. My husband has become the
symbol of unity, stability, and continuity, and I believe that he really has
much to offer.
Do you believe that one day Serbia will become a monarchy?
- I trust the people and I do not believe they will let us down. I believe
that the Serbian people would love to have a king who reigns, and a prime
minister rules. I believe that Serbia would be better off as a monarchy and that
the image of this country would change over night. Let me remind you that King
Peter never abdicated. What would Serbia lose if it has a King one day? It would
only benefit. When my husband celebrated his 50th birthday, all the crowned
heads of the world came to the reception, including his godmother – Queen
Elizabeth. He has numerous contacts, and always uses them for the benefit of the
Serbian people. How many Serbs do you know with such a list of invitees? He is a
gift to Serbia, because now you have a respected person, with good contacts,
someone who respects and loves this country, and love is always followed by
success. The Serbian people know that we came here to give and not to take
anything away. So, if you want Serbia to be a successful country, it has to be a
Constitutional Monarchy. You must know that half of the initial members of the
European Union are Monarchies.
However, many people believe that the State should not finance the Royal
Family, bearing in mind the fact that Serbia is not a monarchy?
We have been invited to come here, we forced nobody. And when you invite
someone to come, you should take care of him as well. Those who believe that the
Royal Family is not supposed to be financed, have to realize that nothing is
done for our personal benefit, but for the financing of a monument, a cultural
asset. This palaces need conservation. They represent a pearl for this country
and the people, this is a tradition, attracting thousands of tourists… Those who
contemplate in that direction do not know the whole truth. Nobody employed
efforts to explain them what is the purpose of us living here. This is not a
question about a monarchy, it is a question about whether you accept the gift or
you decline it. And the gift is my husband, of which care should be taken in
means of demonstrating respect for the estate built by his family. In any case,
I believe that small amounts are in question, regarding the enormous benefit
that is raised. Tens of millions of Euros worth medical equipment, scholarships,
new jobs, relationships with investors and global promotion that my husband and
I brought during last 20 years are for the benefit of this country.
Who are your donors?
Most people who help us are not from Serbia. Personally, I would not feel
very uncomfortable if I were to collect money from the people who already live
in poor conditions, while at the same time they deserve finally to live a normal
life and to be part of Europe. The Foundation’s donors are spread throughout the
world, and they include foreign nationals as well as our people who live abroad.
They have an ear for my honest voice. When I talk to them I have tears in my
eyes, I describe what I have witnessed and their reaction is that of a true
affection. Usually they end up saying to me – Tell us what we can do for you, it
sound like your country is a beautiful one… We keep inviting them to come and
see for themselves whether my words are true, and once they come they become
good will ambassadors. And this is precisely what helps to change our
international image. There are lots of people around who are willing to help,
without knowing how. It is our duty to inform them about the way.
Do you decide where the money goes?
No, I do not. A Royal Medical Board exists, in which doctors of various
fields of medicine are represented. Together we make an analysis on who needs
the most help. For example, at the moment, the most in need are pregnant women
suffering from diabetes, as well as people diagnosed with cancer. People know
that we are very honest and that we deliver what we promise. My foundations in
the United States, Canada, England, Greece, have been registered for 17 years,
and throughout this period of time the accomplishments have been visible.
Therefore, people know precisely for what purpose they are giving money for –
whether it is for incubators, ambulance vehicles, best students, or orphans… I
believe that, since their earliest ages, children should be educated to give.
Our children are just like that, the proof of which is the Charity Ball to be
held in Manhattan, says Princess Katherine at the end and kindly asked us to
publish website addresses ( www.princesball.org , www.pkfond.rs ) in order to
raise as much money as possible for people in Serbia.