Hundreds attend funeral of members of Serb royal family

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 06, 2012 12:51 PM
Hundreds attend funeral of members of Serb royal family

TOPOLA, Serbia (Reuters) - Hundreds of mourners gathered on Saturday for the reburial of Serbian Prince Pavle Karadjordjevic, his wife and son, decades after their deaths in exile, a ceremony important for many Serbs who retain a strong sentimental attachment to the royal dynasty.

Following exhumation from a cemetery in Switzerland last month, the three coffins draped in Serbian flags and escorted by Serb Army Guards were transferred to the Oplenac royal chapel in the southwestern town of Topola, the resting place for most of the royal family.

Many Serbs cherish the Karadjordjevic dynasty as creators of an independent Serbia following an uprising against Ottoman Turks in 1804.

Pavle had briefly allied with Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan in 1941 but was toppled by his officers. He spent most of World War Two under British house arrest in Kenya.

After the war, Prince Pavle was proclaimed a traitor by the then communist rulers who also abolished the monarchy. His property was confiscated and he remained in exile until death in 1976.

The Karadjordjevic family were allowed to return to Serbia in the mid-1990s, under the administration of the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

President Tomislav Nikolic, Serb Orthodox clergy and members of the royal family attended the funeral.

"With this we want to repay a heavy historical debt to the Karadjordjevic family and Prince Pavle who was also the head of the state," Nikolic said.

(Reporting by Jaksa Scekic; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Myra MacDonald)