Prince Paul of Yugoslavia gets royal resting place at last

  • World
  • Sunday, 7 Oct 2012

BELGRADE: Prince Paul of Yugoslavia was on Saturday laid to rest in a royal mausoleum in a ceremony attended by his "Dynasty" actress granddaughter Catherine Oxenberg following a long-awaited political rehabilitation of the ousted royal.

Oxenberg, known for her role in the 1980s television show, was among family members who travelled to Oplenac in central Serbia for the ceremony for Prince Paul, also known as Duke Pavle Karadjordjevic, his wife Olga and son Nikola.

The three coffins covered in the Serbian flag were carried by Serbian Army guards into the royal chapel where 22 other members of the royal family have been laid to rest.

"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 remains had earlier been exhumed from a cemetery in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The ceremony, held with full state honours, was also attended by President Tomislav Nikolic, other top officials and several hundred royalist supporters.

Jelisaveta was accompanied by Oxenberg and Prince Paul's great nephew Aleksandar, officially the heir to the throne.

Prince Paul ruled Yugoslavia as Prince Regent from the 1934 assassination of King Aleksandar I until the collapse of the kingdom in early 1941.

Prince Paul and Aleksandar I were brothers but Aleksandar's son and heir Peter, born in 1923, was too young to accede on his father's death.

The royal family, including Prince Paul, fled Yugoslavia on March 27, 1941 during World War II. The country emerged from the war as a communist federation under the rule of Josip Broz Tito.

The new communist regime banned the return of the royal family and confiscated their property.

A state commission declared him a criminal by decree in September 1945 having accused him of breaching the constitution and contributing to World War II by allegedly concluding a deal with Nazi Germany before the conflict.

In December 2011, a Belgrade court rehabilitated the royal, quashing the commission's verdict.

Prince Paul lived in exile in France, near Paris, where he died in 1976 at the age of 83.

According to the law, the prince's heirs are entitled to ask for the restitution of property.

The Oxford University educated prince donated a number of art works, including paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh to Serbia's National Museum. The Karadjordjevics have links with a number of European royal families, including Britain's.

Peter's son Aleksandar, who was born and lived in exile in London, returned to Serbia in late 2000 but lives as a private individual.

As the only son of the last king who never abdicated, Aleksandar is considered to be the rightful heir to the Serbian throne should the monarchy ever be restored.

Together with his wife, Aleksandar runs a humanitarian and educational foundation. They are known for donating medical equipment to Serbia's impoverished hospitals and for their support of orphanages.

Although in the 1990s he supported the opposition in its bid to oust late strongman Slobodan Milosevic from power, Aleksandar has never publicly requested a political role or the restoation of monarchy.

Despite their displacement, some in Serbia have maintained a sentimental attachment to the royal family. - AFP

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