"GLORIA" MAGAZINE, 06.01.2004.
Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic, personally
GOOD FAIRY FROM THE SERBIAN TALE
The wife of Alexander II Karadjordjevic in an exclusive interview for “Gloria”, talks about her first marriage, about how she met her present husband in Washington and decided to dedicate herself to the young Princes, about why she only misses children with the Crown Prince, in their life filled with strong emotions.
Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic was born in the Greek capital Athens, on 13 November 1943, in the family of wealthy Greek merchants. Her father Robert and her mother Ana Batis sent young Katherine to a private girls’ boarding school in the Swiss city of Lausanne, after her elementary education in Greece, in the years following the WW 2. There she was educated in a strict manner, learned how to find her way outside the warm family home, and gained knowledge that was highly esteemed in the mid twentieth century.
- I was born in a traditional Greek family, and my parents raised me and my sister with a lot of love. After my elementary education in Greece, I went to Switzerland and that time was very strenuous and intense. I used to study a lot, and often faced problems and challenges without fear. I have always liked to make friends, so I had many friends then, like I have them now. I went to America with my first husband, enrolled a university, because I wanted to learn more about business. I became a successful business woman and I am very proud of it. I think one of my basic qualities is that I am always honest and I always try not to make a promise that I can’t fulfill.
Her life, before she met Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic in America, meant constant moving. Journeys were a major part of her life, and she used to live abroad and for the longest in America. She met her first husband when she was a girl of 19. She fell in love, got married and soon had children, a son David and a daughter Alison.
- I got married when I was very young and dedicated myself to my family. Ever since my youth, I was engaged in humanitarian work and even then I achieved big results in helping people. After two decades of my marriage we no longer had much in common and we got divorced. The children were already grown up, on their way to start their own lives independently.
Today they live in America. David is the vice chairman of a major bank, he is 39 and single, my daughter Alison is 38, she has four children and together with her husband runs a private telecommunications company. I am proud of my grandchildren. The eldest, Amanda, is 17, Stephanie is 16, Nicholas has turned 14, and young Michael is 11. I am glad that Amanda and Stephanie are studying seriously and I am proud of that. The boys prefer football, but that is usual for their age.
At the time, the future Princess was living in America, just like Prince Alexander, where they met, and they later moved to and lived in London.
- I was in Washington when some friends of mine invited me to lunch. Today it seems to me that it was no coincidence at all that our mutual friends had seated us next to each other. I didn’t know his title at first, but I liked Alexander being very honest, well educated and realistic. It was love at first sight. From the moment we saw each other something happened. We talked a lot, and we arranged to see each other by all means. And so it happened. He was also freshly divorced from his first wife, Princess Maria of Orleans with whom he had three sons Peter, Philip and Alexander, the twins who were 18 months old when they started living with us, and Peter was three and a half. We got married in London, on 21 September 1985, and the children came to live with us. Our best man was the Greek King Constantine, and the witness was Prince Tomislav, the uncle of my husband. When Alexander asked me if I would marry him, he also asked if I could be a mother to his children. At that time his wish to come back to Belgrade was only a dream, but he suffered all the time, just like his father King Peter, and was getting ready for the day that was sure to come.
- When the children came to live with us Peter who was 4 and a half, and the twins were 2 and a half. They were very young and they needed all the love of this world, so I decided to dedicate myself entirely to them. And as much Alexander and I wanted to have our own children, I renounced that so that Peter, Alexander and Philip would feel secure and happy. They were very close to me and started calling me mommy. But Alexander and I always made sure that they spend their summers and holidays with my husband’s first wife. We have a very good relationship with her, which is so important for the boys as well. Alison and David were already adults and I directed all my love to the young Princes, so that they can grow up to be good young men of quality. They are wonderful boys, all three are studying and just like other young people of their age can sometimes be a little difficult, but they have never made any serious problems. Like all children, they didn’t quite always finish their homework on time, they used to stay up playing and be late for bed. They are smart and talented young men. I have often thought how wonderful it would have been if Alexander and I had our own children, but when I look at Peter and the twins and how wonderful they are, I know this was the right thing to do. Since there are three of them ,they are constantly in a rush and it is always two of them who come up with jokes on the third’s account. Usually the third is Philip who is a very nice boy, and very handsome too. Alexander is very much like his father, while the eldest Peter is a spitting image of his grandfather King Peter.
THE RETURN HOME
Princess Katherine talks about her first visit to Belgrade with pauses, a lot of emotions and mixed memories. After six years of marriage to Prince Alexander and constant hope that the borders of Serbia would finally open for The Royal Family, the wish eventually came true in 1991.
- It was a very emotional time, especially for my husband. The dream that we had for so many years was becoming true. It was his greatest joy to bring the children and me to the land of his ancestors, to his country, where he finally came back. Back then we still could not imagine that our greatest wish, to live among our people, would be fulfilled one day. My husband is a very realistic, rational man, and this whole two days event, the first visit to Belgrade, was an incredible experience for him. And the welcome was wonderful. Many people came in the streets and squares to see the son of King Peter who was loved by everybody. The welcome was exciting and warm, people were on balconies, in the streets and all around us. Our emotions were so aroused that it was as if we were in a trans.
Remembering those days of early parliamentarism in Serbia, and the invitations to come here, the Princess describes the feelings that overwhelmed her. She remembers how her husband, while sitting in the plane, kept asking the same question again and again: Is it really true that I’m coming home?
- As if it was not enough to hear the answer once. I constantly repeated that it was true, that we were really going to Serbia, but he kept asking on and on. He needed to hear that again and again, he needed time to comprehend the fact. He was the one whose wish came true, the decades long wish of his whole family. He came back to his country with honors and loved. And the young Peter was preparing to deliver a speech to our people, in our language. He was barely eleven. When we finally landed in Surcin airport, my husband was overwhelmed with emotions. He cried and kissed the ground of his roots. Those two days that we spent in Serbia were the most emotional experience that I had ever had.
Just like King Peter’s wife, Princess Alexandra, the daughter of the Greek King Alexander and Aspasia Manos, Princess Katherine is Greek, too. As for her life in Serbia, she says it is not much different than the one in Greece.
- I am also from the Balkans. The Greek and Serbian people are very much alike, and over the years of living with my husband in London, I met so many people from here that I already knew what they were like and what their mentality was. Learning about habits, food, and customs of the Serbs, I discovered amazing similarities with the people I come from. I adjusted easily. During my second visit I had the opportunity to travel throughout the country, to visit hospitals and children’s institutions. I was immensely concerned by the fact that our people, especially our children, don’t always get adequate medical treatment due to the shortage of medical equipment and medicines, and to see some conditions, which no longer exist in the civilized parts of the world. I completely dedicated myself to humanitarian work. I simply could not sit with my arms crossed, and I helped as much as I could to people of all nationalities and all religions who have been affected by the recent wars. Since children are our greatest wealth, and at the same time the most endangered population group, my work is focused on them above all, as well as on the old people. I take care of how to rally funds for medical equipment, medicines and food for the children. In my free time I talk to my children. They are not nearby, so I want to know in some way at least what is going on in their lives.
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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