Friday, January 10, 2014

King Peter II of Yugoslavia A King's Heritage The Memoirs

When I arrived at Belgrade's airport in May, I was greeted by several members of Crown Prince Alexander's staff.  I was considered a VIP guest at the State Funeral for King Peter II, Queen Alexandra, Queen Marie and Prince Andrej, which I considered a great honor.

Every guest greeted at the airport was handed a bag containing the official schedule (which changed several times), the VIP pass, and a copy of King Peter II's memoirs, A King's Heritage, which was first published in the 1950s.    This was the first Serbian edition, published to commemorate the State Funeral.

This special edition -- limited to 3000 copies -- is a coffee table sized book in English and Serbian.  The copies given to the guests were signed by Crown Prince Alexander.

The text has not changed, but Crown Prince Alexander dug into his family's photo albums, allowing the text to be complemented by far more photos of the King from his birth to his final years.  Many of the photos were published for the first time in this superb book.

Peter's life was fraught with sadness and turmoil.  He was only nine years old, at boarding school in England, when his father was assassinated in Marseilles.   A young fatherless boy was thrust into the role of King.  He reigned in name only, protected by a Regency headed by his father's first cousin, Prince Paul.

The 1930s were a difficult time for Balkan monarchs, especially children sovereigns.  Alexander I had established a dictatorship, which continued during the regency.  The Germans were at Yugoslavia's borders, further creating political instability within the country.  Only weeks after Peter abolished the Regency and took control,  the entire royal family was forced to flee as the Germans moved toward Belgrade,

King Peter II watched from the sidelines, forbidden by the Allies to go back and fight for his country, as Yugoslavia fell under the sway of the communists and Tito.

Peter married Princess Alexandra of Greece in 1944.  Their only son, Alexander, was born in London in July 1945.    The marriage was not a success, as  Peter and Alexandra went their separate ways.  Both wrote competing memoirs.  I see A King's Heritage and For a King's Love, as the same story, seen from different eyes and different experiences.

King Peter II died in Denver, Colorado, in 1970.  He was buried in a Serbian Orthodox cemetery in Illinois, until the spring of 2013, when his remains were brought home.

This is a lavish, well-produced book, which was displayed prominently at one of Belgrade's bookstores, on Prince Michael street, in May.

A King's Heritage is available from Dutch bookseller, Hoogstraten,   The price of the book is 59.50 Euros.  It also can be ordered from the publisher, Evro-Giunti.  Unfortunately, the site is only in Serbian.

No comments:

Post a Comment