Lost Kingdoms – Kingdoms of Serbia and Yugoslavia

By Guilherme Paula - CC BY-SA 3.0 viaWikimedia Commons

The Kingdom of Serbia began its life in 1882 when Prince Milan I of the Principality of Serbia was proclaimed King.

Natalija Keşco (public domain)

He had been married to his second cousin Natalija Keşco since 1875. Natalija thus became Serbia’s first Queen. Milan and Natalija had two sons together, though only the elder would live to adulthood. In 1888, Milan wished to divorce his wife, but the Serbian Orthodox Church met in Belgrade and declared itself incompetent to decide in the royal divorce. A bishop decided on the divorce, but Natalija refused to accept this single decision.

On 6 March 1889, Milan abdicated, and their twelve-year-old son became King Alexander I of Serbia. He was put under a regency led by former prime minister Jovan Ristic. Milan wished to limit Natalija’s contact with her son and asked the regency council not to allow her to stay in Serbia during Alexander’s minority. Natalija refused to accept this and insisted on visiting her son whenever she wished. Eventually, she was allowed to meet him every 14 days. Milan announced his intention to leave Serbia and the government asked Natalija to do the same. She asked the public for help but was eventually sent to exile.

King Alexander declared himself mature in 1893, and he deposed the regency council. Milan returned to Serbia the following year to act as deputy for his son. The former King Milan died in 1901. King Alexander wished to marry Draga Mašin, but Natalija strongly disapproved of this. She was once again exiled from Serbia and died in France in 1941.

On 5 August 1900, Alexander married Draga, but a public outrage followed. On the night of 10 June 1903, Alexander and Draga were assassinated in a military coup. Natalija was now the only remaining member of the family.

Parliament invited Peter Karadjorjević to assume the throne as King Peter I of Serbia. Peter was the son of Alexander Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia, who had been forced to abdicate.

Alexandra and her son (public domain)

He had married Princess Zorka of Montenegro in 1883. They had five children together before her death in childbirth in 1890. Only three of their children survived to adulthood. Between 1912 and 1922, Serbia was involved in a number of wars, which almost doubled its territory. On 1 December 1918, the Kingdom of Serbia united with the newly created State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to form a new southern Slav state, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Upon Peter’s death in 1921, he was succeeded by his second son, now King Alexander I Karađorđević. His eldest son had been forced to give up his claim to the throne.

Alexander married Maria of Romania in 1922, and they had three sons together. In 1929, he changed the name of the country to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1934, Alexander was assassinated during a state visit to France. Part of the assassination was actually caught on film. He was succeeded by his minor son, now King Peter II, under the regency of his father’s cousin, Prince Paul. In 1941, Peter left the country following the invasion by Nazi Germany. On 20 March 1944, he married his third cousin Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, and they had one son together.

Although the war ended in 1945, Peter and Alexandra were not allowed to return home. He was deposed by Yugoslavia’s Communist Constituent Assembly on 29 November 1945. Alexandra thus became the country’s last Queen. The Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia was internationally recognized as Yugoslavia.

The claim to the throne is currently held by Peter and Alexandra’s son, Crown Prince Alexander. He had three sons from his first marriage to Princess Maria da Gloria of Orléans-Braganza. They divorced in 1985, and he remarried to Katherine Clairy Batis that same year.

About Moniek Bloks 2740 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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