Yugoslav royal interred after 36 years in exile
Yugoslavia’s only reigning regent was laid to rest in a royal mausoleum Saturday, 36 years after he died in exile.
The coffins were covered with the Serbian flag and were carried by Serbian Army guards.
The remains had been exhumed from a cemetery in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Paul ruled Yugoslavia as Prince Regent from 1934, following the assassination of King Alexander I, until the collapse of the kingdom in 1941.
Paul and Alexander were brothers but Alexander’s son and heir Peter, born in 1923, was too young to accede to the throne on his father’s death.
Alexander had been king of Yugoslavia since the death of his father, Peter I, in 1921, three years after the nation’s formal creation.
In early 1941, Paul announced that Yugoslavia would join the Tripartite Pact – albeit with several concessions – on March 25, 1941, thereby aligning itself with Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.
However, the 17-year-old King Peter II and his advisers were opposed to Nazi Germany.
On March 27, 1941, Peter was proclaimed “of age” and participated in a British-supported coup opposing the Tripartite Pact.
Paul and other family members fled the country and the Axis Powers, led by Germany but assisted by Italian, Hungarian and Bulgarian forces, overran Yugoslavia.
Paul and the rest of his immediate family were kept under house arrest by the British in Kenya.
The country emerged from the war under the rule of Communist strongman Josip Broz Tito, and the new regime banned the return of the royal family and confiscated their property.
A state commission declared Paul a criminal by decree in September 1945, accused him of breaching the constitution and contributing to World War II by allegedly concluding a deal with Nazi Germany before the conflict, according to Agence France-Presse.
Paul lived out his life in exile in France, near Paris, where he died in 1976 at the age of 83.
In December 2011, a Belgrade court rehabilitated Paul, quashing the commission’s verdict, the wire service added.
Among those on hand for the ceremony this past weekend was Prince Paul’s grandaughter, actress Catherine Oxenberg, who is known for her role in the 1980s television show “Dynasty.”
“It was his only dream, to return here and ever since he died I wanted to bring him back here,” said Prince Paul’s daughter Jelisaveta, who is Oxenberg’s mother.
The ceremony, held with full state honors, was also attended by President Tomislav Nikolic, other top officials and several hundred royalist supporters.
King Peter II was deposed in late 1945 and later settled in the US. He died in 1970 and was interred at the St. Sava Monastery Church at Libertyville, Ill., the only European monarch buried on American soil.
(Above: The coffin of Prince Paul is carried by a Serbian honor guard this past weekend. Photo credit: Agence France-Presse.)