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Still Having Trouble with Geography / Revisiting Belgrade

Apparently I’m a bit behind in the news.

Peter II of YugoslaviaA few years ago I posted this terribly written piece about Peter II of Yugoslavia that ended up complaining about my own lack of geographical knowledge specifically and American’s lack of knowledge of anything we can’t blow up in general.

It had started because of the mention of the anniversary of Peter II’s death, and his status as the only foreign dignitary to be buried on US soil. It makes sense, why wouldn’t they be reinterred in their native land if they died while in the US? Still, that’s a cool bit of trivia.

Except it isn’t anymore. And it hasn’t been for a while.

Peter II’s history was interesting to read about; his ascension to the throne of a country not much older than he was, having been formed in the aftermath of World War I, his exile from that country due to World War II, marriage to a Greek princess, his removal by the Communist government that seized power following the war, and his death in 1970 in Colorado after a failed liver transplant.  He had one son, Crown Prince Alexander, born during World War II, who would very much like to see the monarchy restored to power in Serbia and who was mentioned as intending to return his father’s remains to Serbia.

| Whet Moser offered a more thorough view of Peter’s life for Chicago Magazine |

I would Google-around from time to time to see if it had happened, but beyond a few articles I found mentioning Prince Alexander’s intentions, I never came across any more details about it. The other day I was looking through the stats for Gas Station Burrito and saw that my post had popped up a couple times for people. It reminded me of the whole thing, so I went looking to see what was going on with Peter II’s remains.

It turned out that Prince Alexander did return the king’s remains to Serbia. Back in January 2013. In May that year Peter was buried alongside his wife, and nearby to his cousin and mother, who herself was reinterred from the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore where she was buried in 1961. Like I said, I’m a little behind. Look, I had to watch all of Dexter and a good chunk of Sons of Anarchy this year, not to mention read an obscene amount of Amos Walker books, I don’t always have time to keep up on the Google news alerts I have set for the Serbian royal family, I apologize.

As a fan of quirky trivia/historical facts I liked that there was this one foreign king buried in the United States. I can’t be the only one who liked it either. A few things I’d read implied it was a source of pride and comfort for Serbians living in the US, that this symbol of their country was interred here.

Peter II had chosen his interim burial site at St Sava Monastery Church knowing that he couldn’t return to his homeland. I’m pretty nearly positive that the Wikipedia entry was edited after his re-interment in Serbia to refer to St Sava’s as “interim”. I don’t think he ever expected to return. Death from cirrhosis at 47 would imply he wasn’t entirely optimistic about ever making it back to Yugoslavia, living or dead. It didn’t imply he was optimistic about much of anything.

However, as someone who likes the world to not be a horrible place, I enjoy that Crown Prince Alexander has returned with his family to Serbia and worked towards generating a national Serbian spirit in his country. I enjoy that he was able to bring his father home; that after more than forty years since his death, after his country was torn apart by world war, communism and civil war, a man—not even a king, forget the royal titles for a minute—has finally returned to his homeland.

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