Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Little Known Daughter-In-Law of King Peter I of Serbia: Radmila Radonjić

Former Crown Prince George of Serbia and his wife Radmila.

On 4 July 1907 at Njeguši, Montenegro, Radmila Radonjić was born into a notable Montenegrin family. In 1947, she married the former Crown Prince George of Serbia (1887-1972), eldest son of King Peter I of Serbia (1844-1921) and Princess Zorka of Montenegro (1864-1890). Radmila later recounted how she encountered her future husband and how their relationship progressed: "I met my husband during the war. He came regularly to see my relatives in Dedinje. These were only short visits. Our feelings for one another came later, only in 1946, because we met again after the war. Then our wedding took place, without the usual ceremonies. It was a civil marriage. The prince did not allow any parades and ceremonies." Radmila and George religiously wed in 1955. The couple did not have children. 

Radmila Radonjić.

Radmila was widowed when Prince George of Serbia died at Belgrade on 17 October 1972. The prince, aged eighty-four, had been ill with an heart ailment for some period. His passing was briefly noted in the Yugoslavian press by the national news agency Tanjug (Танјуг): "Đorđe Karađorđević, born in 1887, was the first Serbian heir to the throne up to 1909, when he renounced all rights of succession. He was a brave fighter in the Balkan wars and in the First World War." In his old age, Belgrade residents remembered that Prince George was a frequent visit to Hunter's Café near the British embassy. The prince would dress in an old suite and a Basque beret, sitting for hours while drinking either brandy or Turkish coffee and chatting with friends. Prince George outlived all of his siblings: his sister Princess Jelena, who married Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, died in 1962; and his brother King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, who married Princess Marie of Romania, was assassinated in 1934. George of Serbia was buried at the Royal Mausoleum at Saint George's Church in Oplenac.

Prince Karl Vladimir of Yugoslavia and Radmila Radonjić in the 1990s.

Radmila Karageorgevich survived her husband by over two decades. She gave additional insights into her life with her late husband Prince George: "Never respecting the rules of the royal court, which, by the way, he considered a stupid fabrication, George did not even find it necessary to inform about his marriage to the king in exile [his nephew King Peter II]. Even less did he consider to ask or expect the king's approval of his marriage, as required by court rules. Our life in the prince's villa at Dedinje went on as usual. Since George was educated up in military schools from an early age, he knew how to follow an established order. Almost every day, we went fishing, on the Sava or at Ritopek behind Vinča.

Radmila's grave at Oplenac.

At the age of eighty-six, Radmila Karageorgevich died at Belgrade on 5 September 1993. In a similar manner to her husband, who had survived all of his siblings, Radmila outlived all of her royal in-laws. Her sister-in-law Princess Jelena's husband Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 during the Russian Revolution, and her brother-in-law King Alexander of Serbia's wife Queen Marie passed away in 1960. Radmila Radonjić Karageorgevich, who in a different world might have been Crown Princess of Serbia, was buried next to her husband at Oplenac.

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