Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Untimely Death of King Peter II of Yugoslavia

Today, fifty years have passed since the death of King Peter II of Yugoslavia on 3 November 1970. The office of Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia, the king's only child, issued the following communiqué on 2 November 2020:

A memorial service for His Majesty King Peter II (son of the great unifier His Majesty King Alexander I) is going to be officiated tomorrow Tuesday, 3 November 2020 by His Grace Bishop Jovan of Sumadija at the Church of Saint George in Oplenac.

According to protocol the first wreath will be laid by Mr. Dragomir Acovic, chairman of the Advisory bodies of the Crown on the behalf His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander head of the Serbian Royal Family (son of Hs Majesty King Peter II) on the tomb of the late King.

In New York His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America will officiate a memorial service for His Majesty King Peter II in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine who will light candles in memory of the Crown Prince’s father, HM King Peter II, at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava. His Majesty King Peter II was very close to the cathedral during his time in the United States.


King Peter II of Yugoslavia in London, 1968.

On Thursday, 5 November 1970, Lieutenant Colonel C. Stojilkovic, a member of the Royal Yugoslav Airforce and former staff member to Yugoslavia's last king, announced that His Majesty King Peter II of Yugoslavia had died on Tuesday, 3 November 1970, in Los Angeles, California, in hospital after suffering from cardio-respiratory failure caused by pneumonia. The king was forty-seven years-old and had been a resident of Playa del Rey, California. Peter had been residing there with Dr and Mrs Frank Lowe. The delay in announcing the king's death was attributed to the fact that his entourage had to wait to contact his next of kin. It was reported that since April 1970 King Peter had been in and out of hospital in Los Angeles, suffering from kidney problems and other ailments that were brought on when he was diagnosed with pneumonia in September 1970. King Peter II of Yugoslavia lay in state for several days at Christ the Savior Serbian Orthodox Church in Arcadia, California. His attorney Sam Silverstein noted that the king's will stipulated that the monarch be buried at the Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. 

King Peter II and Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia in Paris, 1967.

King Peter's widow, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia (née Greece), his son Crown Prince Alexander, and his brother Prince Tomislav had filed a court motion at the Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the Libertyville burial. The royals stated that Peter had wanted to be buried in London. Queen Alexandra and Crown Prince Alexander also filed a motion in the Lake County, Illinois, Circuit Court asking that the funeral services for King Peter be performed by Bishop Firmilian Ocokoljich, who served as chaplain to the royal family in London during World War II. The family's attorney, Thomas J Karacic, stated that it would be "sacrilegious" to have services for the king be performed by the group controlling the Saint Sava Monastery near Libertyville. The North American diocese opposed the government of Yugoslavia, while the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch in Belgrade did not. Mr Karacic noted that if services went ahead under the Saint Sava leadership, then Queen Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexander, and Prince Tomislav would boycott the ceremony. Alas, Circuit Court Judge L Erie Carey ruled that the services would be conducted at the monastery by Bishop Iriney and Bishop Dionisije, in accordance with the king's wishes.

The funeral service of King Peter II of Yugoslavia at Saint Sava in Libertyville, Illinois.

On 15 November 1970, around fifteen thousand mourners filed past the bier in the Byzantine chapel of Saint Sava's Eastern Orthodox Church in Libertyville, IL, to render their last homage to their late king. The king's body lay in a brown, metallic coffin, the front half covered with glass. Clad in a Yugoslav Air Force uniform, he looked more like an eighty year-old than his age of 47, it was written. A World War II amputee who had served in the king's armed forces said, "He was an unhappy man. He helped thwart Hitler's movement into Russia and then his country was given the Russians." Bishop Iriney of Pennsylvania delivered a moving eulogy: "He was a unique and unusual man and he lived and reigned under even more unusual circumstances. One of his brothers wanted him to be buried in Westminster Abbey in London. King Peter could have been buried there with the rulers and all the dignitaries of the world in attendance. Instead, he rejected world glamour and brought himself to the level of his people. His choice to be with the Serbian people and lead them against the Axis war machine was of great historical importance. He delayed Hitler three months in attacking the Soviet Union. He could have stayed in the palace and enjoyed the everyday privileges of the royalty. He knew that any resistance would result in the sacrifice of many lives and wholesale destruction. But he also knew that any temporary security for himself and his people would result in the erosion of his people's essential liberties." Neither Queen Alexandra, who was estranged from her husband, nor Crown Prince Alexandra attended the funeral of King Peter in Illinois. The only member of the king's family to attend his burial was his youngest brother Prince Andrej.

The grave of King Peter II of Yugoslavia at Saint Sava's Eastern Orthodox Monastery in Libertyville.

It was not until Friday, 20 November 1970, that it emerged through Denver Post reporting that King Peter II of Yugoslavia had actually died at Denver General Hospital on 3 November. The king had been admitted to Denver General on 7 October and on 8 October underwent a liver transplant. Peter had been suffering from advanced cirrhosis of the liver for some years, and on 7 October the king had been flown from California via a private chartered jet to Denver, where he underwent the transplant surgery the next day. The liver intended to prolong the monarch's life had come from Barbara Virginia Peterson, aged fifteen, who died on 7 October after an automobile accident on 3 October in Garden Grove, California. The Denver Post reported that Peter had died in hospital while still recovering from the operation. On his death certificate, which was filed with the Colorado Health Department, the king's name was given as Peter Petrovich. Following his death, the king's body was immediately flown by private jet back to Los Angeles. A friend of the royal family gave the following statement: "He [King Peter] had been in and out of hospitals (John Wesley and Queen of Angels) most of the year, and the doctors were trying to keep him alive long enough to find a donor for a liver transplant. When an acceptable donor was located in Denver, he was flown there." When questioned as to why the truth behind the king's death was not given earlier, the source replied, "Because the queen [Alexandra] had kept up the pretext of his being here [in California], and she couldn't very well suddenly admit he'd been in Denver for almost a month. Besides, she didn't want to discourage potential liver transplant recipients and donors." At the time of King Peter's death, his wife Queen Alexandra was living in Venice, Italy. 

Crown Prince Alexander at the memorial service held in London for his father King Peter.

Crown Prince Alexander attended a memorial service for his late father King Peter at the Serbian Orthodox Church in Notting Hill, London, on 11 August 1971.

On 26 May 2020, King Peter II of Yugoslavia was reburied in the mausoleum of the Karadjordjević dynasty at the Church of Saint George in Oplenac. Along with the king, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia (his wife), Queen Marie of Yugoslavia (his mother), and Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia (his younger brother) were also reburied in the family mausoleum. 

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Crown Prince Peter of Yugoslavia was born at Belgrade on 6 September 1923 as the eldest son of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and his wife Queen Marie (born Princess of Romania). Peter was joined by two younger brothers: Prince Tomislav and Prince Andrej. The crown prince became King Peter II of Yugoslavia in 1934 after the assassination of his father Alexander. In 1945, Peter lost his throne due to the Communist takeover of Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War II. 

In 1944, King Peter II of Yugoslavia married Princess Alexandra of Greece (1921-1993), the daughter of King Alexander I of the Hellenes and his wife Princess Aspasia of Greece (née Manos). King Peter and Queen Alexandra had one child, Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia (b.1945). 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Princess Hélène of France, Countess de Limburg Stirum

Princess Hélène of France and Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum.

Just as stunning as her mother, Princess Hélène of France married Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum at the Chapel Royal St Louis de Dreux, France, on January 17, 1957!

Hélène was born in Brussels in 1934, the third child of his parents. She was preceded by Isabelle and Henri. She was followed by: François, Anne, Diane, Jacques, Michel, Claude, Chantal, and Thibaut.

Count Evrard was the son of Count Thierry de Limburg Stirum and his wife the former Princess Marie-Immaculé of Croÿ. He was born at the Château d'Huldenberg, his family's ancient home, on October 31, 1927.

Thierry and Hélène had four children: Catherine (b. 1957), Thierry (b. 1959), Louis (b. 1962), and Bruno (b. 1966). They have given their parents a total of ten grandchildren!

Princess Hélène became a widow in 2001. She continues residing at Huldenberg surrounded by many of her descendants.

Count Evrard and Princess Hélène, with the Count de Clermont and the Prince of Asturias (later King Juan Carlos I of Spain).


Princess Hélène of France.

You can learn more about this very interesting royal personage by subscribing to Eurohistory and reading a detailed article in Issue CXXVIII – Winter 2020 about Princess Hélène and Count Evrard.

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Lovely Photos of Princess Geraldine of Albania with Her Crown Princely Parents

 




Crown Prince Leka and Crown Princess Elia of the Albanians have released several wonderful photographs of the new parents with their daughter Princess Geraldine. Enjoy! 



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EUROHISTORY: Issue CXXVIII, Volume 23.4 – Winter 2020



Nothing like being busy!

As our Fall Issue (CXXVII – Volume 23.4) is printing, we decided that it would be best to get busy with EUROHISTORY WINTER 2020 – Issue CXXVIII, Volume 23.4

Inside the last Issue of 2020 subscribers will find the following articles:

1. Victoria Milford Haven ... upon the Seventieth Anniversary of Death, by Ilana D. Miller

2. A Very Autocratic Grand Duchess: Marie Alexandrovna, by Coryne Hall

3. Obituary: Countess Maria Immaculata zu Toerring-Jettenbach (1925-2020), by Arturo E. Beéche

4. The Puppet King: Alexander of the Hellenes, by Coryne Hall

5. Who Is In the Photograph: Four Generations of the Swedish Royal Family, by Alexander Borg

6. Peggy Watson: Princess Marguerite d'Orléans...The Story of the Only American Woman To Marry into the French Royal Family, by Seth B. Leonard

7. The Wedding of Princess Hélène d'Orléans and Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum – January 17, 1957, Royal Chapel St Louis de Dreux, by Arturo E. Beéche

8. Book Reviews

9. Royal News




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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

All In The Family: King Albert and Queen Paola Meet Princess Delphine


On Sunday afternoon, King Albert of Belgium and his wife Queen Paola met with his daughter Princess Delphine at the couple's Belvédère residence.

This is the first time that King Albert has seen his daughter in at least thirty years, and it is the first occasion when Queen Paola has ever met Princess Delphine.

The following statement was released by the king, queen, and princess after the meeting.
 
This Sunday, October 25, a new chapter opened, filled with emotion, appeasement, understanding and, also, hope.

Our meeting took place at the Château du Belvédère, a meeting during which each of us was able to express, calmly and with empathy, our feelings and our experiences.

After the turmoil, the wounds and the suffering, comes the time for forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. This is the path, patient and at times difficult, that we have decided to take resolutely together.

These first steps open the way which it is now up to us to pursue peacefully.

Delphine, Paola and Albert

 



Monday, October 26, 2020

The Grand Ducal House of Hesse – Authoritative review!


To purchase:

 

“Royal Collections IV. The Grand Ducal House of Hesse” by Arturo E. Béeche and Ilana D Miller. (Eurohistory.com), 324 pages, illustrated throughout.

 

The Grand Ducal House of Hesse is among the most important of all the German dynasties, providing links to just about every other ruling family in Europe. There are particularly strong ties with Imperial Russia and the Royal family of Britain, which makes for an engrossing read.


The story begins in 1567 when the sons of Landgrave Philipp “the Magnificent” divided his vast lands among themselves. From this territorial division stem all the branches of the Hesse family. The Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt became an independent Duchy that same year. 


The early years are a succession of reshuffling of territories, as lands were traded, exchanged or inherited when branches of the family died out. Not until Ludwig IV (died 1626) was primogeniture established. 


Darmstadt was also in the front line during various wars. The sons of the house were soldiers and patrons of the arts. Landgrave Ernest Ludwig built Wolfsgarten in the 1720s, which became beloved by later generations.


In 1806 Landgrave Ludwig X became Grand Duke Ludwig I, courtesy of Napoleon and the Confederation of the Rhine. At this time the Old Palace was built.


Schloss Heiligenberg came into the family in the time of Ludwig II. It later became the scene of many family gatherings between the Hesse and Romanov families. Ludwig’s wife Wilhelmine had a second family, believed to be fathered by August Senarclens de Grancy but officially recognised by the Grand Duke as his own. One of these children, Marie, married Alexander II of Russia; the other, Alexander, made a morganatic union with Countess Julie von Hauke and became the ancestor of the Battenberg family.




Ludwig II was succeeded by the childless Ludwig III and it was the latter’s nephew the future Ludwig IV who brought in the British connection when in 1862 he married Princess Alice, second daughter of Queen Victoria.  Their daughter Victoria married Alexander and Julie’s son Prince Louis of Battenberg and became the mother of Princess Alice (wife of Prince Andrew of Greece), Queen Louise of Sweden, George the Marquess of Milford Haven and Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Princess Alice of Greece was the mother of the Duke of Edinburgh. 


The family of Alice and Ludwig IV suffered tragedy after tragedy. Two daughters, Alix (wife of Nicholas II) and Ella (wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich) met their deaths in 1918 at the hands of the Bolsheviks. Ernest Ludwig died just a month before his son George Donatus, his wife Cecile of Greece and their two sons were wiped out in an air crash in thick fog on their way to the wedding of George’s brother Ludwig and Margaret Geddes. Their third child died shortly afterwards from Meningitis. Despite all this Ludwig and Margaret (or Lu and Peg as they were known) devoted themselves to the welfare of the people of Darmstadt, becoming humanitarians and patrons of the arts. Unfortunately, their marriage remained childless and marked the end of the line. The royal turn-out for Peg’s funeral in 1997 shows how popular she was among her adopted family.


The final chapter looks at the women of the Hesse-Darmstadt family (who vastly outnumbered the males). The often-neglected female line provides the ancestors of just about every Royal family in Europe, the daughters of Landgrave Louis IX being particularly active in his respect.


The authors had the advantage of interviews with many members of the extended Hesse family, including the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma and Prince Alfred of Prussia, who provided some fascinating insights into the life of his father Prince Sigismund in Costa Rica. Prince Alfred attended a Eurohistory Conference in California in 2000 (I never forgot the sight of his queuing with the rest of us in a fast food chain). 


As usual with Eurohistory, the book is packed with magnificent photos, many of them previously unpublished. They show that there was a lot of mingling between the various branches of the family, something that has often been played down more recently because of the German links The Duke of Edinburgh’s sisters all married Germans and there are some wonderful pictures of Prince Philip with his German relations, which in the U.K. we don’t often see. I found it particularly interesting to see photos of buildings in Darmstadt destroyed in the Second World War and I also spotted a rare image of a smiling Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia among a group on page 135.


The text is authoritative, well researched and easy to read. This work is a “must” for all devotees of European royal history.  A fascinating read, highly recommended.


By Coryne Hall


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