The Imperial Patriarchate of St. Stephen and
the Legacy of Christian Chivalry of
King Peter II of Yugoslavia

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Knightly Legacy | Biography


King Peter II of Yugoslavia

Legacy of Christian Chivalry of King Peter II of Yugoslavia

The legacy of Christian chivalry of King Peter II of Yugoslavia spanned much of Europe, Britain, and the Americas. It is a legacy that continues to this day - including in the Imperial Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate of St. Stephen. The Patriarchate holds the honour of Knight Bachelor of Yugoslavia, instituted by Peter II, an honour shared with several high officials of the curia. The Imperial Patriarchate also is empowered to confer that distinction, which is does on rare occasion to gentlemen of distinction and demonstrated service in furtherance of the Patriarchate's mission of local and global Christian service and charity. Knights are dubbed and then handed a sword with the words "Freely give as you have freely received."


Peter II in Yugoslavian Admiral's uniform

Knight Bachelor of Yugoslavia

The statutes of the honour of Knight Bachelor of Yugoslavia were signed by Peter II in 1969. The King was then in residence in Milwaukee. A copy of the statutes, signed on every page by Peter II, is maintained in the archives of the Patriarchate. The purpose of the order of Knights Bachelor was and remains to oppose atheism and Godlessness. There are two types of Knights Bachelor of Yugoslavia: Hereditary and ad vitam. The hereditary Knights Bachelor are those conferred the honour directly by Peter II, as well as their direct ancestors who inherited the rank. The ad vitam Knights Bachelor are those created by dubbing by other Knights Bachelor.


Historic brevet of a Knight Bachelor of Yugoslavia

Hereditary Knights Bachelor may augment their coats of arms with the Serbian eagle on a red shield or canton. Peter II also expressly indicated his preference that the Knights Bachelor use the title of Sir - a knightly title often incorrectly assumed to be limited to the British knights. Both types of knights are dedicated to the same purpose and also serve an important role of perpetuating Peter II's legacy of Christian faith and service in the modern world. That role is a sacred duty maintained by the Patriarchate and a cherished part of its heritage.


Document of King Peter II regarding
the title of the Knights Bachelor

Brief Biography of King Peter II of Yugoslavia

King Peter II of Yugoslavia was the eldest son of King Alexander II of Yugoslavia and Maria of Romania. On his mother's side, he was a second-great-grandson both of Queen Victoria of England and Tsar Alexander II of Russia, among others. His godfather was King George VI of England. Peter II was a member of the Karadordevic Dynasty, founded in the early 1880s after the First Serbian Uprising. Peter II's grandfather, Peter I, was the King of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The father of Peter II, Alexander II, was the first King of Yugoslavia.

Alexander II was assassinated in France during a state visit in 1934. Peter II succeed to the throne at the age of 11. A regency was established under his cousin, Prince Paul. At age 17, Peter II was declared of age. Around a week later, in April of 1941, the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia, and the young king was forced to flee. He eventually arrived in London in June of 1941, where he sought to end Nazi rule of Europe and restore his rule in his homeland.


King Peter II of Yugoslavia (left) with Sir Winston Churchill (right)

Peter II attended and graduated from Cambridge University. Afterwards, he was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Air Force. During the Second World War, the king faced much difficulty in securing support for the cause of his exiled monarchy. He had little to offer in terms of money or men. In 1942, he travelled to the United States and met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Canadian Prime Minister William King. They also failed to support the Yugoslavian monarchist cause, since they, along with Churchill, had already engaged the support of the communist government that was then in Yugoslavia towards the end of defeating the Nazis.

On 1 August 1943, Peter II married Princess Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, a cousin of Prince Philip of Greece, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort of Queen Elizabeth II. His best man was his godfather, King George VI. They had one son, Crown Prince Alexander. The couple would divorce in 1953.


King George VI of England (left) and King Peter II of Yugoslavia (right)

After the Second World War, Peter II was not allowed to return to his homeland. A plebicite, with the support of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, was held to determine if Yugoslavia would be a monarchy or a republic. On 29 November 1945, Peter II was illegally deposed of his sovereign rights by Yugoslavia's Communist Constituent Assembly. Thereafter, the king moved to the United States, serving the Yugoslavian people there. He primarily was located in Chicago, which had a substantial Yugoslav population. He also began a movement to oppose communism and atheism, achieving much support from people in the United States, Europe, Britain, and elsewhere around the world.

Peter II died on 3 Novemner 1970 in Denver, Colorado. His mortal remains were interred at the Saint Sava Serbia Orthodox Monastery in Libertyville, Illinois. He was the only reigning temporal monarch to be buried within the continental United States. In 2013, his son arranged for his remains to be returned to Yugoslavia. They were placed in the Royal Family Mausoleum in Oplenac.

 

 

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