by Scott Mehl
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:
- Princess Jelena (1884) – married Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, had issue
- Princess Milena (1886) – died in infancy
- Prince George, Crown Prince of Serbia (1887) – renounced his rights to succession in 1909; married at the age of 60 to Radmila Radonjić, no issue
- Prince Andrew (1890) – died at birth along with his mother
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.
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’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:
- King Peter II (1923) – married Princess Alexandra of Greece, had issue
- Prince Tomislav (1928) – married (1) Princess Margarita of Baden, had issue, divorced; (2) Linda Mary Bonney, had issue
- Prince Andrej (1929) – married (1) Princess Christina Margarethe of Hesse, had issue, divorced; (2) Princess Kira of Leiningen, had issue, divorced; (3) Eva Maria Andjelkovich, no issue.
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.
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.