King Alexander I of Yugoslavia

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

King Alexander I of Yugoslavia

King Alexander I of Yugoslavia was born on December 1, 1888, in Cetinje, Montenegro. He was the fourth child of the future King Peter I of Serbia and Princess Zorka of Montenegro, and his siblings were:

Alexander grew up in Montenegro until 1894, when the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland. He and his elder brother, George, attended the Imperial Page Corps in St. Petersburg, Russia. During this time, in 1903, a coup took place in Serbia, and Alexander’s father was proclaimed King. Alexander and his brother returned to Serbia to continue their education.

Crown Prince Alexander. source: Royal Family of Serbia

Crown Prince Alexander. source: Royal Family of Serbia

In 1909, his elder brother George renounced his rights to the throne, and Alexander became the Crown Prince. Alexander served in the Serbian military, commanding the First Army during the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913. In 1914, he became Regent when his father turned over his royal prerogatives, and just days later, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria led to the onset of World War I. Alexander continued to lead his troops, attaining several important victories over the Austrian forces before being forced to retreat in 1915. He and his father led the forces through Montenegro and Albania, eventually reaching the Greek island of Corfu.

Alexander and Maria on their wedding day. photo from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress; source: Wikipedia

Alexander’s father died on August 16, 1921, and he took the throne as King Alexander I of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The following year, on June 8, 1922, he married Princess Maria of Romania, the daughter of King Ferdinand of Romania and Princess Marie of Edinburgh. The couple had three sons:

On January 6, 1929, King Alexander abolished the Constitution and changed the name of the country to The Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He later ordered a new constitution which gave more power to the King and allowed him to personally appoint the upper house of the government.

Alexander and Maria, c.1933. source: Wikipedia/Bulgarian Archives State Agency

On October 9, 1934, while driving through the streets of Marseille, France with the French Foreign Minister, King Alexander was killed when a gunman approached the car and shot him twice. The assassin was a member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. The following day, his body was returned to Belgrade, where a state funeral was held. He is buried in the Mausoleum of the Serbian Royal Family beneath St. George’s Church, Oplenac.

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