Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

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Prince Paul
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia.jpg
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia in 1935
Prince Regent of Yugoslavia
Regency 9 October 1934 – 27 March 1941
Monarch Peter II
Born (1893-04-27)27 April 1893
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died 14 September 1976(1976-09-14) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Burial St. George's Church, Serbia
Spouse Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark
Issue Prince Alexander
Prince Nicholas
Princess Elizabeth
Full name
Pavle Karađorđević
House Karađorđević
Father Prince Arsen of Yugoslavia
Mother Aurora Pavlovna Demidova
Religion Eastern Orthodox
Styles of
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia
Royal Monogram of Prince Paul Yugoslavia.svg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (Serbo-Croatian: Pavle Karađorđević, Serbian Cyrillic: Павле Карађорђевић, English transliteration: Paul Karageorgevich; 27 April 1893 – 14 September 1976), was regent of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I.

Early life[edit]

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia was the only son of Prince Arsen (brother of King Peter I) and Princess and Countess Aurora Pavlovna Demidova (a granddaughter of the Finnish philanthropist Aurora Karamzin and her Russian husband Prince and Count Pavel Nikolaievich Demidov, and Russian Prince Peter Troubetskoy and his wife Elisabeth Esperovna, née Princess Belosselsky-Belozersky). He married Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, a sister of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, in 1923. King George VI, when Duke of York, was best man at his wedding in Belgrade.

Paul was educated at the University of Oxford, where he was a member of the exclusive Bullingdon Club - a dining club notorious for its wealthy members, grand banquets and boisterous rituals. Cultivated and bisexual[1] like his closest friends Prince George, Duke of Kent and Sir Henry Channon,[2] his outlook on life was said to be British. He was installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1939.

Regent of Yugoslavia[edit]

Standard of the Prince Regent

On 9 October 1934 Vlado Chernozemski assassinated Paul's cousin King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseille in France, and Prince Paul took the regency. In his will, Alexander had stipulated that if he died, a council of regents chaired by Paul should govern until Alexander's son Peter II came of age.[3]

Prince Paul, far more than Alexander, was Yugoslav rather than Serb in outlook. However, unlike Alexander, he inclined much more toward democracy. In its broadest outline, his domestic policy worked to eliminate the heritage of the Alexandrine dictatorship's centralism, censorship, and military control and to pacify the country by solving the Serb-Croat problem.[4]

In 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent nine days in Berlin.

In August 1939, the Cvetković-Maček Agreement set up the Banovina of Croatia. The central government retained control of foreign affairs, national defence, foreign trade, commerce, transport, public security, religion, mining, weights and measures, insurance, and education policy. Croatia was to have its own legislature in Zagreb, and a separate budget.[5]

When World War II broke out in 1939, Yugoslavia declared its neutrality.[6] On March 25, 1941, the Yugoslav government signed the Axis Tripartite Pact with significant reservations as it received three notes. The first note obliged the Axis powers to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia. In the second note the Axis promised not to ask Yugoslavia for any military assistance. In the third note they promised not to ask Yugoslavia for permission to move military forces across its territory during the war.[7]

Paul's foreign policy, including the signing of the Tripartite Pact, seems[original research?] to have aimed to give his country as much leeway as possible in thoroughly adverse circumstances. After the fall of France in 1940 left the United Kingdom essentially alone to face the Axis, Paul saw no way of saving Yugoslavia except through adopting policies of accommodation to the Axis powers. But even under those circumstances Paul, outwardly neutral, remained determinedly pro-Allied. He aided Greece when Italian forces invaded that country (28 October 1940); he fostered military collaboration between the Yugoslav Army and the French and spent almost three years parrying the Axis thrust toward Yugoslavia.[8]

Nonetheless, the signing of the pact did not sit well with several elements of the Yugoslav army. On 27 March 1941, two days after Yugoslavia signed the Tripartite Pact, Yugoslav military figures with British support forcibly removed Paul from power and declared Peter II of age.[9]


Paul's coat of arms

For the remainder of the war, Prince Paul was kept, with his family, under house arrest by the British in Kenya. His sister-in-law the Duchess of Kent and her husband the Duke, appealed to Winston Churchill, hoping he would allow Paul and Olga to take refuge in Britain. Churchill, who viewed Prince Paul as a traitor and a war criminal, denied the request in no uncertain manner. After the Duke of Kent's death in 1942, the Prime Minister relented to King George's insistence, and allowed Princess Olga to fly to London to comfort her sister, although without her husband, who had been extremely close to the late Duke.[10][11]

Princess Elizabeth, his only daughter, obtained information from the Special Operations Executive files in the Foreign Office in London and published them in Belgrade, in the 1990 edition of the Serbian-language biography of her father. The original book Paul of Yugoslavia was written by Neil Balfour, the first was published by Eaglet Publishing in London in 1980.

The post-war communist authorities had Prince Paul proclaimed an enemy of the state; he was disallowed from returning to Yugoslavia and all his property was confiscated. He died in Paris on 14 September 1976, aged 83[12] and was buried in Switzerland. He was rehabilitated by Serbian courts in 2011, and was reburied at the family crypt in Oplenac, Serbia, near Topola in central Serbia, on 6 October 2012, together with his wife Olga and son Nikola.[13]

Prince Paul was father of Princess Elizabeth, Prince Alexander and Prince Nikola, and a grandfather of author Christina Oxenberg and American actress Catherine Oxenberg.

Art collections[edit]

Prince Paul collected, donated and dedicated a large number of art works to Serbia and the Serbian people, including foreign masterpieces. There are especially significant Italian, French and Dutch/Flemish pieces. Most of the works are in the National Museum of Serbia, including work by artists such as Rubens, Renoir, Monet, Titian, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin etc.


Serbian and Yugoslavian decorations
Order of the Karađorđe's Star, Knight Grand Cross
Order of the White Eagle, Knight Grand Cross
Order of the Yugoslav Crown, Knight Grand Cross
Order of St. Sava, Knight Grand Cross
Serbian Service Medals
Commemorative Medal of the Election of Peter I as King of Serbia
Commemorative Medal of the Albanian Campaign
Foreign Honours
Order of Carol I, Grand Collar
Royal Victorian Order, Knight Grand Cross
Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Cross
Order of the Garter, Knight
Order of Saint Stephen, Knight
Order of Saint John, Bailiff Grand Cross
Order of the Elephant, Knight
Legion of Honour, Grand Cross
Order of the Redeemer, Knight Grand Cross
Order of George I, Knight Grand Cross
Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, Knight Grand Cross
Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Knight Grand Cross
Order of the Crown of Italy, Knight Grand Cross


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bradford, Sarah Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain's Queen, Riverhead Books 1997, p46
  2. ^ Channon, Paul Chips: The Diaries of Sir Henry Channon, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1967, p192
  3. ^ Hoptner, J.B, "Yugoslavia in crisis 1934-1941". , Columbia University Press, 1962, p. 25
  4. ^ Hoptner, p. 26
  5. ^ Hoptner, p. 154
  6. ^ Hoptner, p. 167
  7. ^ Hoptner, p. 240
  8. ^ Hoptner, p. 298
  9. ^ Hoptner, p. 266
  10. ^ "Obituary: Princess Paul of Yugoslavia". The Independent. 1997. 
  11. ^ Aronson, Theo (2014). The Royal Family at War. Thistle Publishing. pp. 204, 205. 
  12. ^ The Times, Thursday, 16 September 1976, p. 16
  13. ^ Balkaninsight
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia
Born: 27 April 1893 Died: 14 September 1976
Military offices
Preceded by
Position established
Deputy Commander in Chief of the Yugoslavian Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Petar Bojović