Military Wiki
Prince Paul
Personal details
Born (1893-04-27)27 April 1893
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died 14 September 1976(1976-09-14) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Spouse(s) Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark
Religion Eastern Orthodox
Styles of
Paul Karađorđević
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.svg
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir

Royal Standard of the Prince Regent

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (Serbo-Croatian language: Pavle Karađorđević, Serbian Cyrillic language: 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. His title in Yugoslavia was "Његово Краљевско Височанство, Кнез Намесник", (English: His Royal Highness The Prince Regent).

Early life

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, as 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 practice of destroying restaurants' property. His closest friends (including the American-born, naturalized British politician Chips Channon) and outlook on life were said to be British. He was installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1939.

Regent of Yugoslavia

On 9 October 1934, Prince Paul took the regency after his cousin Alexander I was assassinated in Marseille, France. In his will, Alexander stipulated that if he died, a council of regents chaired by Paul was to govern until Alexander's son Peter II came of age.[1] Prince Paul, far more than Alexander, was Yugoslav rather than Serb in outlook. However, unlike Alexander, he was much more inclined toward democracy. In its broadest outline, his domestic policy was 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.[2]

Meeting with Adolf Hitler

In 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent 9 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.[3]

When World War II broke out, Yugoslavia declared its neutrality.[4] On March 25, 1941, the Yugoslav government signed the Tripartite Pact with significant reservations as it received three notes. The first note obliged the Axis powers to respect 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.[5]

From this distance, Paul's foreign policy, including the signing of the Tripartite Pact, seems to have been governed by the desire to give his country as much leeway as possible in thoroughly adverse circumstances. After the fall of France 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 it was invaded by the Axis, fostered military collaboration between the Yugoslav Army and the French and spent almost three years parrying the Axis thrust toward Yugoslavia.[6]

Nonetheless, the signing of the pact did not sit well with several elements of the Yugoslav army. Two days later, with British support, they forcibly removed Paul from power and declared Peter II of age.[7]


For the remainder of the war, Prince Paul was kept, with his family, under house arrest by the British in Kenya.

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[8] 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 October 6, 2012, together with his wife Olga and son Nikola.[9]

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

Art collections

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.

See also

  • List of Knights and Ladies of the Garter


  1. Hoptner, J.B, "Yugoslavia in crisis 1934-1941". , Columbia University Press, 1962, p. 25
  2. Hoptner, p. 26
  3. Hoptner, p. 154
  4. Hoptner, p. 167
  5. Hoptner, p. 240
  6. Hoptner, p. 298
  7. Hoptner, p. 266
  8. The Times, Thursday, 16 September 1976, p. 16

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