What is the personal significance of returning to Serbia, the land of your ancestors?
It is of great significance and very emotional. I always wanted to come home, but I was cruelly denied this human right until 2001. This is what was so painful for my father he was torn from his home. My wife reminds me that when we came to live in the Royal Palace fifteen years ago I would say “do you think my father sat here” and “I am finally home”. I know how many of our people felt the pain being torn away from the homeland.
What are your impressions about Serbia?
Serbia is a beautiful country with very warm people. I have had the chance to travel all over Serbia and meet so many wonderful people. Serbia is full of history, talent, diversity and charm. The world should know that we are good people and caring people.
YRH father, King Peter II, had to leave the country as young boy. How did he handle in that situation?
My father was not yet eighteen years old when his was torn from the homeland. It was a terrible shock for him and it had an appalling effect on him for the rest of his life. He was very homesick and wanted to come back to his home. He was surrounded by intrigue, lies and mystery that had a negative effect on his life. In short, he had a same destiny as a country he represented and as thousands of people who shared the same values. At least now he is back home in the family mausoleum at Oplenac with his parents, brothers and ancestors. I will always be grateful to our government of having made this possible three years ago.
Can YRH explain to our readers, what kind of life you had lived with the knowledge that you are were not welcome in your country?
I did as best as I could and got on with my life and work, but I was always wondering and dreaming about our homeland. I witnessed the terrible pain my father was going through and felt for him. My grandmother Queen Maria and my uncles Prince Tomislav and Prince Andrej were also going through a lot of pain and emotions. It was not only my family suffering from homesickness, but many families.
Can YRH tell, what is the future of Serbia, from your point of view and experience?
We are already a democratic country. We have been trying hard to recover from dictatorships, sanctions, aggression and a bad economic time. It is also not easy during these times especially with the horror of terrorism. I know our government has tried hard to continue with reform, economic recovery and especially with the creation of jobs and investment. I support our Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic position on entering the European Union (EU). We need the huge EU market and investments, but it is not easy nowadays in view of Brexit and the concerns about a federal Europe and Brussels. We need to have a voice in Europe and take part in the decision making. Most of our neighbors are members of the EU. We need good relations with our neighbors. We need unity and respect for each other. Serbia has a great future.
Are you expecting that National Assembly of Republic of Serbia vote for law that will enable returning of property to your family?
The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia passed the Law on Restitution of Confiscated Property and on Compensation (“Official Gazette of RS” No. 72/2011) that entered into force on 6 October 2011. The law served as the basis for the establishment of the Restitution Agency. We as a united family are working hard on restitution.
In your opinion, what are the chances for YRH to become a King of Serbia?
This depends on the will of the people.
When you come to Serbia, YRH and your family show us that you can and want to help Serbian people. Can you tell us something about humanitarian activities?
I am particularly proud of my wife Princess Katherine and the work of her foundations. In 1993 she founded Lifeline Humanitarian Organization with offices in the United States (Chicago and New York), Canada (Toronto), United Kingdom (London) and Greece (Athens). At the beginning of August 2001, the Foundation of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Katherine was established in Belgrade. Humanitarian help has been coming to Serbia since 1993. Millions of Euros and Dollars of help has flowed into Serbia that consist of specialized medical equipment, medicine, ambulances, hospital cars etc. etc. In addition, the training of doctors abroad in the United States and medical conferences in Serbia. Aid is distributed regardless of religion or ethnic origin.
My foundation for education has provided scholarships, career centers and much more.
Patriarch Irinej and the Serbian Orthodox Church support the idea of constitutional monarchy, and also there are more and more people every day who believe that monarchy is the only way for bringing Serbia back to list of strong an stabile states. Are you ready to take responsibility and lead the country?
Our Patriarch has been wonderful. The principle of constitutional monarchy is that the King reigns (in Serbian there is no exact word for “reigns” to depict the difference between reigns and rules, so I am much more in favor of the word “symbolizes”) and the government rules. The king provides (I would rather say that king symbolizes those qualities, as he hardly can provide them directly) unity, stability and continuity. The country is ruled by the prime minster and his cabinet. I am ready providing the people are.
Does government in Serbia want to give financial support for maintenance of Royal Palaces?
The Royal Compound is of great historical importance and this is understood by the government. There is much work to be done to preserve the compound exactly as it was done with Narodna Skupstina, conduct repairs and I am certain that a solution will be found shortly. The compound is of historical importance before Second World War and afterwards. It is open to the public since 2001 for tours and thousands have enjoyed their visit.
Your visits to Royal Palaces all over the Europe give us hope that the governments of those countries will support Serbian politic of progress. Do you think that this is realistic expectation?
There is no doubt that the friendship and relationship we have with other Royal Families is of great benefit to Serbia. We also have good relations with many republics. It was very positive when Prince Charles came to Serbia for a state visit. In addition, the King of Sweden who has come twice to Serbia.
What is the importance of Crown Council? What kind of help the members of Crown Council give you?
The Crown Council has always given my advice and recommendations. I value their council.
What are plans and ambitions of your sons? Do they have any plans in case YRH become a King of Serbia?
Petar, Flip and Aleksandar are earning their living and have always been of great help and support with our humanitarian activities. They have many friends and will always be with us. They are proud of their heritage.
Your great grandmother Princess Persida Karadjordjevic made a mark on the renewal of Serbia as mother of ten, and one of her children was King Peter I the Liberator. She was also renovator and builder of Monasteries and temples. Do you believe it would be good that we have such tradition today? For example, renovation of the Monastery Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple in Toplica, where mother of all Orthodox Serbs, mother of St. Sava, wife of Nemanja, St. Anastasija, Byzantine Princess from Greece have lived in Kursumlija. Would you support it as a future King of Serbia, and continue tradition of Princess Persida Karadjordjevic, Your great grandmother?
My wife and I made contributions to Hram Svetog Sava, as it symbolizes church of all Serbian churches. I also flew to Hilandar monastery right after the horrible fire in (2003 or 2004) and I think that your initiative is very noble as our monasteries are at the same time symbols of our presence and perseverance, our culture and identity and of course, of our religion.