The heir to the “throne of the Serbs, Bosnians and Croatians”, Alexander Karadjordjevic, is planning to return to Belgrade next Sunday to congratulate President Kostunica in person. He was born in exile in London and has lived his life between the United Kingdom and the United States of America but he stated recently “London welcomed me but my country is down there!” Alexander has visited his country a number of times, the last of which was in July, when he attended the funeral of his uncle, Prince Tomislav, the only member of his family who lived in Yugoslavia. Alexander will spend several days in Belgrade with the objective of “asking all the citizens to respect each other and to appeal to unity between the democratic parties”. He has always adopted an anti-Milosevic position : “In the recent past I have fought hard to get rid of that horrible man”. It is said that President Kostunica himself is not totally against the idea of a restoration of the monarchy as a symbol of national unity, beyond the Kingdom of Serbia. The former Kingdom covered the area of the former Yugoslavia, more or less. Alexander stresses that he is not in Belgrade to proclaim the monarchy and at this moment in his country’s history, there are more urgent matters to be resolved. Alexander’s father, Peter II, was the last king of Yugoslavia. He was crowned in 1941 but was forced to flee to the United Kingdom the same year as a consequence of the German invasion. The monarchy was abolished by President Josip Broz Tito in 1945. If the monarchy is to be constituted in Yugoslavia, this would not be the first time for such an event to happen after half a century. King Juan Carlos of Spain owes his monarchy to the model chosen by General Franco for his succession. Indeed, the King is the symbol of Spanish unity, above nationalisms between Basques, Catalans, Galicians, Andaluzes and Castilians. The same can be said for the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II of England, Northern Ireland and Wales (Elizabeth I of Scotland) is a symbol of national unity and is generally accepted as the Head of State by all the nationalities which constitute the Kingdom. These modern monarchies are very different from the autocratic regimes of the last century, when a small circle of royals and noble families ruled countries in a regime of intolerance and exclusion. These days, they are mere symbols and cultural references, offering a certain continuity between different phases of a nation’s history. Queen Elizabeth II, for example, was crowned before the Beatles formed their group. On a visit to the UK in the 1950s, General Secretary Kruschлv said that if he had been born in Britain, he would have been a monarchist. Modern monarchy is a model which functions well in certain countries but is treated with disinterest in others. Whether it is accepted or not, it continues to be a model which constitutes a valid alternative.
Tim Bancroft-Hinchey Correspondent of PRAVDA.Ru Lissabon
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