Monday, March 5, 2007
Serbian King Buried in U.S. May Be Returned Home
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 5, 2007
LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March
4 (AP) — King Peter II, Yugoslavia’s last monarch, who was exiled from his
homeland during World War II, ended up in a tomb inside an ornately decorated
church outside Chicago.
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Royal Archives, via Associated Press
Prince Alexander in 1955 with his parents, King Peter II and Queen
Alexandra. The prince is seeking a reburial for his father.
Peter II personally chose
the spot, St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery. But his son, Crown Prince
Alexander, has upset some Serbian-Americans by planning to take his father’s
remains back to
“The plan is — and that
is a solid plan — that he’ll be brought here,” the prince said in a recent phone
interview from his palace in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.
He had not set a date for
returning his father to Serbia, which once formed the core of Peter’s kingdom,
but he said it would be soon.
Peter II was 11 years old
when he became king in 1934 after the assassination of his father, Alexander I.
During World War II, Peter refused to ally Yugoslavia with the Nazis, prompting
Hitler to invade and drive the king into
exile. After the war, Communists seized control and confiscated his wealth.
He later devoted himself
to visiting exile communities in the United States and elsewhere, often helping
to raise money for charities. He died in Denver in 1970, at 47.
Peter II had asked to be
buried at St. Sava because of the hundreds of thousands of Serbs living in the
Chicago area. He also cited admiration for Illinois as the home of
Abraham Lincoln, according to newspaper
accounts at the time.
“I want to rest near my
freedom-loving people,” the reports quoted his will as saying. “I must always
share their destiny.”
More than 10,000 people
attended his funeral, and several thousand still visit the brilliantly frescoed
church annually to see his tomb.
think he should stay there.
“It was his own request,”
said Alex Colakovic, sales manager at the Serbian Social Center near Chicago.
“I’d rather have him stay here.”
the head of the Serbian Orthodox church in the Midwest, spoke lovingly of the
king. But when asked about the possibility of a reburial, he would say only that
the issue had prompted concern among Serbs.
“The monarch is a
symbolic representation of the life and values of Serbians,” Metropolitan
Prince Alexander said
that principle also applied to people in Serbia.
“If you visit Arlington
Cemetery, you have heroes there, and they belong there,” the prince said. “In
Europe, you have heads of state and kings and queens who are buried in their own
country. Isn’t that normal?”
The prince, who advocates
a restoration of the Serbian monarchy in a British-style parliamentary system,
returned to Serbia in 2001, after Yugoslavia had split into several independent
nations following a civil war.
Prince Alexander said
reburial in Serbia, at the royal family’s century-old Mausoleum of St. George
near Belgrade, would correct a historical mistake.
“We are now going in a
complete circle and making things wrong into right,” he said