by Scott Mehl
January 30, 1993 – Death of Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia
Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia was born March 21, 1921, in Athens, the daughter of the late King Alexander of Greece and Aspasia Manos. Her grandfather, King Constantine I returned to the throne following the death of King Alexander and deemed his son’s reign to be simply a regency and therefore invalidating Alexander’s marriage. Alexandra was then considered to be illegitimate. However, the following year, thanks to the effort of Alexander’s mother, Queen Sophia, a law was passed allowing the King to recognize the validity of the marriage. In September 1922, King Constantine did just that, making Alexandra legitimate again, and making her HRH Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark. However, she remained without any succession rights to the Greek throne.
The following year a coup brought about the abdication of King Constantine I and the exile of the Greek royal family. Alexandra and her mother were permitted to remain in Greece and did so until 1924 when they settled in Florence with the dowager Queen Sophia. During this time in Florence, Alexandra spent time with many of her Greek relatives, including two of her first cousins, Prince Michael of Greece and Prince Philip, now the Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1927, Alexandra and her mother moved to England, settling near Ascot where the young Princess was enrolled in a boarding school which proved to be very unpleasant for her. Unhappy being separated from her mother, Alexandra stopped eating and became ill, eventually contracting tuberculosis. Her mother took her to Switzerland to recuperate. They then settled in Venice, and after the restoration of the Greek monarchy in 1935, Alexandra made several visits to her homeland. At the onset of the war in 1940, Alexandra and Aspasia returned to live in Greece, however, this was short-lived. In 1941, along with the rest of the Greek royal family, they were forced to flee, settling briefly in Egypt and South Africa before King George VI of the United Kingdom gave them permission to settle in England.
It was in London, in 1942, that Alexandra met her future husband, King Peter II of Yugoslavia who had been living in exile in London since the previous year. The couple married on March 20, 1944, at the Yugoslav Embassy in London, with guests including King George VI of the UK, King George II of Greece, King Haakon VII of Norway and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
The new Queen gave birth to a son, Crown Prince Alexander (now known as Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia), on July 17, 1945, in a suite at Claridge’s Hotel in London. To ensure that the child would be born in Yugoslav territory, the British government ceded sovereignty of the suite for the day. Just 4 months later, the Yugoslavian monarchy was overthrown. The couple moved several times, to France and Switzerland, before settling in the United States in 1949. The marriage was increasingly strained, with constant struggles to find sources of income and the King’s numerous affairs. During the next few years, Queen Alexandra made several attempts at suicide, and their son was sent to live with friends. Despite several attempts at reconciliation, Queen Alexandra and King Peter eventually went their separate ways. He settled permanently in the US while she returned to her mother’s home in Venice.
1970 saw the death of her husband, King Peter II, followed shortly by the death of her mother in 1972, and the marriage of her son (which she did not attend). She remained in Venice for several years before selling her mother’s property and returning to the UK in 1979. She would live there until her death, from cancer, on January 30, 1993.
Queen Alexandra was initially buried in the Royal Burial Grounds at Tatoi Palace in Greece along with her parents. However, in 2013, her remains were returned to Serbia where they were re-buried in the Royal Mausoleum at Oplenac, along with her late husband, King Peter II and mother-in-law, Queen Marie (born Princess of Romania).