Friday, September 6, 2013

Remembering Peter II

Today is the 90th anniversary of the birth of the tragic King Peter II of Yugoslavia (1923-1970). Coming to the throne at the tender age of eleven (upon the assassination of his father King Alexander by Croatian fascists) under the regency of his cousin Prince Paul (1893-1976), he briefly assumed power at 17 in 1941 to end the Axis alliance before being exiled by the Nazi invasion. Churchill assured him that he would have his throne back after the war, and the young king addressed the House of Commons to great acclaim, but he was betrayed by the Western Allies who shamefully aided Tito's Communists instead of the loyal Mihailovich's Chetnik royalists. The monarchy was accordingly abolished in 1945 and King Peter never saw his homeland again.

Unable to accept this, his marriage to the beautiful Princess Alexandra of Greece (1921-1993) failed and he sank into depression and alcoholism, dying of cirrhosis of the liver at 47 in Denver, Colorado. He was originally buried in Libertyville, Illinois, and until this year was the only King buried in the continental United States, but in January 2013 his remains were repatriated to Belgrade where he now finally lies in the land of his ancestors which was cruelly denied to him for most of his sad life. It was via reading his memoir "A King's Heritage" many years ago that I first began to question the standard "Good War" narrative of World War II. To me he will always be the boy king shown in this picture. May he rest in peace and may Serbia mitigate the injustice of 1945 by restoring his son Alexander to the throne.

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