Peter II of Yugoslavia

Peter II of Yugoslavia, known also as Petar II Karađorđević (Cyrillic: Краљ Петар II Карађорђевић) (6 September 1923 – 3 November 1970), was the third, as well as the last, King of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, previously known as Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes before 1929. He was the eldest son of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Princess Maria of Romania; two of his godparents were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.

Early life

His education commenced at the Royal Palace. He then attended Sandroyd School in Wiltshire, England. Then 11 years old, Peter, of the House of Karageorgevich, succeeded to the Yugoslav throne in 1934 upon the assassination (while on a state visit to France) of his father, King Alexander I. Because of the young king's age, a regency was established, headed by his father's cousin Prince Pavle.

World War II

Although King Peter and his advisors were opposed to Nazi Germany, Regent Prince Paul declared that Yugoslavia would adhere to the Tripartite Pact.

On 27 March 1941 Peter, then 17, was proclaimed of age, and participated in a British-supported coup d'état opposing the Tripartite Pact.

Postponing Operation Barbarossa, Germany simultaneously attacked Yugoslavia and Greece. From 6 April Luftwaffe pounded Belgrade for three days and three nights, Operation Punishment. Within a week, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy invaded Yugoslavia and the government was forced to surrender on 17 April. Yugoslavia was divided to satisfy Italian, Bulgarian, Hungarian and German demands and a puppet Croat state proclaimed.

Peter was forced to leave the country with the Yugoslav Government following the Axis invasion; initially the King went with his government to Greece, and Jerusalem, then to the British Mandate of Palestine and Cairo, Egypt. He went to England in June 1941, where he joined numerous other governments in exile from Nazi-occupied Europe. The King completed his education at Cambridge University and joined the Royal Air Force.

Despite the collapse of the Yugoslav army, two rival resistance groups to the occupying forces formed. The first was the Royalist Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland (better known as the Chetniks) led by loyalist General Draža Mihailović, the Minister of Defence in the exile government. The other was the revolutionary Partisans led by the communist Josip Broz - known to the world later as Tito. The Allies, having initially supported Mihailovic, threw their support behind Tito in 1943, as their sources came to indicate that the Partisans were more engaged in fighting the German enemy than were the rival Chetniks.


Peter married Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, in London on 20 March 1944.

Deposed and exiled

While still in exile, Peter was deposed by Yugoslavia's Communist Constituent Assembly on November 29, 1945. However, the King never abdicated. After the war he settled in the United States. After many years of suffering from cirrhosis, he died in Denver, Colorado on 3 November 1970 after a failed liver transplant.

He is interred at the St. Sava Monastery Church at Libertyville, Illinois, the only European monarch buried on American soil. His son, Crown Prince Alexander, is heir to the Yugoslavian throne.

On 4 March 4 2007 Crown Prince Alexander announced plans to return the body of his father to Serbia.* The Mausoleum of the Serbian Royal Family The plan has upset some Serbian-Americans. Peter II personally chose St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery as his final resting place because of the thousands of Serbians living in the Chicago area.



  • Marlene Eilers, Descendants of Queen Victoria



  • Petar. A King's Heritage; The Memoirs of King Peter II of Yugoslavia. London: Cassell, 1955.


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