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Sunday, 8 July, 2001, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Yugoslav royalty to return to ancestral home
Crown Prince Alexander and family
The royal family - set to return to ancestral home
The Yugoslav royal family has been told it will be allowed to live in one of the palaces once occupied by the monarchy in Belgrade.

The current head of the royal family, Crown Prince Alexander, expressed delight after Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic told him he would be able to live in Stari Dvor - the Old Palace - in the exclusive residential area of Dedinje.
Stari Dvor - the Old Palace
Luxury living for a 21st century royal

His father, King Petar II, once lived in Stari Dvor. He was exiled in 1941 and died in the USA in 1970.

Regret

Belgrade-based Radio B-92 reported that Mr Djindjic had held talks with the crown prince and had "reached agreement for the Karadjordjevic family to return and live in their home".

Mr Djindjic said the family could "also start proceedings for the return of its property", although it was unclear exactly how much property would be involved.

Mr Djindjic said he "regretted this had not happened earlier".

Room in the Old Palace
Elegant interior
The crown prince, who was granted Yugoslav citizenship in March after parliament abolished the communist decree stripping the monarchy of its rights, said he was happy to be back.

"I do not want to stay in a hotel. I have a house here in our country. I am a Yugoslav, a Serb. This is my country, as much as it is yours.

"My wife and I are very happy to come here once again, but we do not want to come here as if we were arriving in a foreign country. We would like to come to our home," he said.

Return from exile

Crown Prince Alexander was born in Claridges hotel in London in 1945 and was barred from visiting Yugoslavia by the communist leader, Josip Broz Tito.

He first visited the country in 1991, when half a million people lined the streets of Belgrade to greet him. He has since returned many times, but continued to live in London.
Inside the Old Palace
Fit for a palace

The crown prince welcomed the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic last October, but said at the time he was unsure whether he would return permanently to Yugoslavia.

However, he did say: "My future is in the homeland and in the family. In going back, which was always my desire, to help the country, to serve the people, but not to create any problems.

"The monarchy provides unity, the continuity and the stability of the state," he said.

But unlike his royal counterpart in Bulgaria, King Simeon, who could soon be prime minister, the crown prince has yet to reveal any aspirations to become actively involved in politics.

Beli Dvor - The White Palace
Weekend retreat?
The then newly elected President, Vojislav Kostunica, told the crown prince that another former royal palace, the White Palace - also in Dedinje and recently occupied by Slobodan Milosevic - could be returned to him.

It is not clear whether this is still scheduled to go ahead, or whether Crown Prince Alexander would want it if he is to take over Stari Dvor.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Europe
East European royalty in exile
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