Prince Paul of Yugoslavia Biography

Prince (1893–1976)
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, regent of Yugoslavia following Alexander I's assassination, was deposed by a Serbian military coup after the signing of the Tripartite Pact.


Prince Paul of Yugoslavia was born on April 27, 1893, in St. Petersburg, Russia. When Alexander I was assassinated in 1934, Paul became regent of Yugoslavia. In 1941 his country's prime minister signed the Tripartite Pact, prompting Serbs to launch a military coup and depose Paul. After World War II, Paul was charged him with war crimes and placed under house arrest. Once free, he moved to Paris, where he died on September 14, 1976.

Early Years

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karadjordjevic, was born on April 27, 1893, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Prince Paul's father was Prince Arsen of Yugoslavia. His mother was Princess Aurora Pavlovna Demidova. Prince Paul was his parents' only son. His paternal uncle was King Peter I. Prince Paul's maternal great-grandfathers were the Russian princes Pavel Nikolayevich Demidov and Peter Troubetzkoy. Prince Paul's cousin, Alexander I, was king of Yugoslavia from 1921 to 1934. Prince Paul was educated at Oxford University in England.

Personal Life

In 1923, Prince Paul married Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark. The wedding took place in Belgrade, with Prince Albert, Duke of York (who later became King George VI of England), serving as Prince Paul's best man. The couple had two sons, Prince Nicholas and Prince Alexander, and one daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who is otherwise known as Jelisaveta Karadjordjevic. Princess Elizabeth is the mother of actress Catherine Oxenberg, who is best known for playing Amanda Carrington on the 1980s television drama Dynasty.

Regent of Yugoslavia

Prince Paul's cousin, Alexander I, was assassinated on October 9, 1934, in Marseille, France. Since the heir to the throne, Prince Paul's great-nephew, the future Peter II, was only 11 years old at the time, Paul became regent of Yugoslavia. As World War II approached, Prince Paul struggled to stay out of the conflict. He also focused his efforts on attempting to negotiate ongoing peace between Serbs and Croats, between whom there were tensions.

When World War II started, Paul was unwilling to join the Allies, for fear that it would cause a civil war in Yugoslavia. Under increasing pressure from the Germans, Prince Paul caved in to their demands and in spring of 1941 Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic signed the Tripartite Pact, which gave German soldiers permission to move through Yugoslavia. Disgruntled Serbs led by General Dusan Simovic rebelled with a military coup that year, forcing Prince Paul to surrender his power as regent of Yugoslavia. Following his deposition, Prince Paul and his family fled to Greece. Just a few days later, the Germans invaded and occupied Yugoslavia.

Later Life and Death

For years to come, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia was viewed as a traitor to his country. After World War II ended, British forces captured Prince Paul and charged him with crimes of war. He and his family were placed under house arrest, first in Kenya and later in South Africa. Upon their release, Prince Paul and his family members were banned by newly installed Communist authorities from returning to Yugoslavia. Instead, they moved to Paris, where Prince Paul died at age 83 on September 14, 1976. In accordance with the ban from Yugoslavia, Prince Paul's body was buried in Lausanne, Switzerland.


In 2012, the Serbian government agreed to allow Prince Paul's body, along with those of his wife and his son Nicholas, to be exhumed in Switzerland and reburied in Serbia with state honors.

A memorial ceremony was held in the royal family's honor at the Cathedral Church in Belgrade in October of 2012. Afterward, their remains were placed in the Serbian royal mausoleum, and were later reburied at Saint George's Church in Oplenac, across from those of Prince Paul's father, Prince Arsen.

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