Serbia state funeral for King Peter II

The coffins, draped in royal flags, were later laid to rest in the church crypt

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A state funeral has taken place near Belgrade for Yugoslavia's last king, Peter II, and three other members of his family.

Peter acceded to the throne in 1941, aged 17, but fled 11 days later when the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia. He never returned and died in the US in 1970.

The funeral was also held for his wife, Queen Alexandria, his mother Queen Maria, and brother Prince Andrew.

After the memorial service, they were placed in the family mausoleum.

Serb leaders, ambassadors and members of several European royal families attended Sunday's service, at St George's Church in Oplenac, near Belgrade. A large crowd was also expected outside the church.

The coffins of the four members of the royal family were laid out in the centre of the church before army guards placed them in the crypt, alongside their ancestors.

Yugoslavia's royal family

  • 1804 Founder of dynasty, Djordje Petrovic, known as Karadjordje or 'Black George', leads Serb uprising against Ottomans
  • 1811 Karadjordjevic confirmed as ruler
  • 1918 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes proclaimed
  • 1929 Kingdom of Yugoslavia declared
  • 1934 King Alexander I assassinated in Marseille
  • 1941 King Peter II goes into exile
  • 1945 Crown Prince Alexander II born in London. Tito's communists abolish monarchy
  • 1970 Peter II dies in US

Peter II had originally been interred in Libertyville, Illinois, his wife in Greece and his mother near Windsor Castle in the UK.

President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Ivica Dacic were both involved in the preparations for the funeral.

Although modern-day Serbia has the royal coat of arms on its flag, the attitudes of Serbs towards their old royal family is hard to gauge. says the BBC's Guy De Launey in Belgrade.

Peter went to school in England but returned home aged 11 when his father, Alexander I, was assassinated in France in 1934. His brother, Prince Pavle, became Prince Regent until he was overthrown in a military coup for signing a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.

For almost 50 years Serbia was part of socialist Yugoslavia. At the end of World War II, Tito's communists abolished the monarchy.

"Most people would say it's doing historical justice to a dynasty that was chased away from Serbia in 1945," says historian Vladimir Dulovic.

"Except maybe today, by spending 50 years out of the country, they've grown a little too foreign for us."

Peter II's son, Alexander Karadjordjevic, often described as crown prince, moved to Serbia in 2001.

An enthusiastic promoter of constitutional monarchy for Serbia, he argues that a king removed from the country's sometimes fractious politics would be a stabilising figure, our correspondent says.

But according to a recent newspaper poll, only about 40% of Serbs agree.

In October 2012, three other members of Yugoslavia's former royal family were exhumed in Switzerland and reburied in the Oplenac church crypt.

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