“Politika”, 8 June 2003
The Karadjordjevics and the public
THE MAGIC OF DEDINJE PALACES
Is Prince Alexander’s significant presence in the public a proof of our orientation towards Monarchy or it is just our guilty conscience and “mending” of history
The Prince, the Crown Prince or perhaps just Alexander? Any way you address Alexander II Karadjordjevic, whether you are monarchy or republic supporter, the pretender to the Serbian throne who resides in the vast parks of Dedinje Compound, is one of the most frequent personages in our public scene. He lit a candle on the tomb of Alexander and Draga Obrenovic, and he went to London to attend the glamorous celebration of the 50th anniversary of the coronation of the British Queen Elizabeth II, who is his godmother. Just before the journey, he received five hundred of our secondary school graduates, and he surprised all the “agents of Belgrade’s jet set” when he appeared at Sava Centre, at the charity concert organized by Princess Elizabeth. Perhaps the Karadjordjevics have finally made peace?
Dinners at the Prince’s
The dinners at The Royal and The White Palace have become a sort of a challenge for all political leaders in our county. Lynne and William Montgomery also like to have tea and cakes, served in the tea cups and saucers with the coat of arms of SFRY, belonging to Tito’s set. The American presence at the Palace, together with relations to the British Crown, have led certain circles to consider the issue of “the King and the Fatherland”. Or the romantic dreams of return of the lost Princes to the thrones are just a political utopia? Is Prince Alexander’s significant presence in the public a proof of our orientation towards Monarchy, or is it just a sentiment, re-establishment of tradition that was disrupted, which is something that Professor Ratko Bozovic, a sociologist of culture, agrees with.
The Professor has not been invited to the Palace and he doesn’t care about it. He is convinced that the broad range of our public scene should be composed of different political options and tolerance.
“We must renounce the harmful logic of dominance and resistance toward dominance. Life is between those extremes. Alexander is, by the way, present with acceptable attributes. He could not set his foot here, he was proclaimed to be the enemy of the state as soon as he was born – and that is why his presence is perhaps a kind of mending our misfortunate history”.
There is some justice in it. When the leading politicians are fascinated by going to the Palace, Ratko Bozovic takes it as a benign lightness of political being. Anthropologically wise, the Palace is not in Dedinje, it is in our minds. That is why it is a favorite place. The Palace in Serbian society is a metaphor. So is the camarilla. Among the Serbs it is more of a metaphysical category. Those are irrational forces for which, this time only, Ratko Bozovic has understanding.
Velimir Curguz Kazimir, manager of EBART – Media documentation, has found 146 texts titled “The Crown Prince”. He has found another 129 under “Prince Alexander”. “That seems much, but compared with our political elite, that is rather slim. Natasa Micic appears in 741 texts, Zoran Zivkovic in 1,100 and Vojislav Kostunica in 2,076” says Curguz Kazimir.
This information is derived from a base of 168,290 texts, from 3 January to 5 June. However, having in mind that Alexander was compared with state officials and opposition leaders, he had a really Royal treatment. How was the image of Karadjordjevics created?
Creating an image
For eight months, Borislav Miljanovic was the official public relations representative of “His Royal Highness”, as “the Palace protocol” always refers to Alexander.
“It was a great challenge – how to build the image of the Royal Family in Serbia. We used personal experience of the Crown Prince and Princess Katherine, we searched the Internet, gathered experiences from the Courts of European parliamentary monarchies. And we spent a lot of time with Dragomir Acovic, the member of the Crown Council and one of the closest Alexander’s associates”.
The image of the Princely couple was based on the humanitarian activities of Princess Katherine, with Alexander’s political ambitions in the background.
During Milosevic’s period, Alexander had no media presence, or he was presented in a negative way. The Prince did not want to use his sons in the media, aware of what he had gone through during his exile.
“The size of presenting a family like this to the public and creating their image, could be viewed through the fact that at least 150 public relations experts work for the British monarchy”, clarifies Miljanovic, pointing out that Alexander is in the media as much as the media want him to be.
“I know for a fact that he has no political or economic influence on the media. He can’t, like some top party officials or representatives of the financial structures can, call the editors and tell them to run a story”.
Researching co-existence between the Dynasty and our society, Dr. Mile Bjelajac, associate of the Institute for Modern History of Serbia, points out that our society should get used to the presence of Karadjordjevics in the public, for it is a part of our tradition, as well as to the fact that the “Palace” can exist in the republican surrounding. Of course, on the private budget.
Minorities and the Dynasty
But, Bjelajac is against re-establishment of monarchy, because he believes that in a multi ethnic society like ours, at the time when the state union is “de facto” being redefined, re-establishment of monarchy is likely to be abused.
“That would not be for the first time, particularly between Serbia and Montenegro, because the conflicts of the two Dynasties were the source of misunderstandings. Also, the relationship of the minorities in Serbia toward the Dynasty is not the best one, which is something that should be considered by everybody who create politics here”, estimates Bjelajac. His colleague from the Institute Dr. Dragan Aleksic reminds that restoration of monarchies in Europe in the 20th century was achieved in to cases only – in Spain and in Greece. After the WWII six European dynasties were permanently dethroned and the same number of monarchies were abolished. In the countries of South East Europe that were incorporated into Soviet interest sphere, the republics were established based on fictitious referendums.
When it seemed that the issue of monarchies in this part of Europe was forever solved, notes Dr. Aleksic, at the end of the 80’s of the last century, it was reopened again. In every country of the former socialist block, pretenders to the thrones appeared. Political reality, however, soon dispersed their romantic illusions. Except Bulgaria, with Coburg Dynasty heir as the Prime minister, and legitimate heir to the Serbian throne who lives in the Palace of his ancestors in Serbia, the representatives of monarchies remained mostly as a décor, a testimony of the time that is forever gone, as it seems, with no active participation in the politics.
The new democratic politicians, points out Aleksic, who came to power in a miraculous way, have no interest to share even the formal role of the head of State with already forgotten Princes. In addition, they don’t even think to take into consideration the positive side of monarchy as the keeper of citizens’ awareness, national identity and tradition, the link to the Christian European civilizational circle.
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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