The Karadjordjevic dynasty is over two centuries old. In 1804, a wealthy Serbian clan chief and leader George (Djordje) Petrovic – known to his followers as “Karadjordje” or “Black George”, after his dark looks – led the Serbs in an uprising against the Ottoman Empire which controlled the Balkans at that time. This first revolt against the Ottoman occupation in the Balkans is known in Serbian history as “The First Serbian Uprising” (Prvi Srpski Ustanak).
The Serbian uprising was successful for a while. Karadjordje established a government in Belgrade and in 1811 was confirmed the lawful ruler of Serbia and the right of succession was then vested in the family.
In 1813, the Turkish forces recaptured Belgrade and Karadjordje went to Austria. His son Prince Alexander returned to rule Serbia in 1842 but was deposed in 1858.
In 1903, the Parliament of the Kingdom of Serbia requested that Prince Peter Karadjordjevic, grandson of Karadjordje ascend the throne as King Peter I of Serbia. The new King brought democracy and leadership to Serbia. It was King Peter I who had John Stuart Mills‘ essay “On Liberty” translated into Serbian.
While the Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 resulted in the expansion of Serbia, the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, formerly under Ottoman rule, by Austria enraged both neighbouring Serbia and the people of Croatia. Nationalist aspirations among the Southern Slavs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire for independence finally led to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 and within days the First World War had begun.
In 1918, before the end of the First World War, representatives of three southern Slavic peoples proclaimed by mutual consent the “Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” and the monarch was King Peter I. King Peter I, however, had been ailing since 1914 at which time his son HRH Crown Prince Alexander assumed the duties of Regent.
King Peter I died in 1921 and he was succeeded by his son King Alexander I. The young King Alexander I had earned national and international fame as a soldier and commander in the Balkan Wars and the First World War. In 1922, King Alexander married HRH Princess Maria of Romania. King Alexander and Queen Maria had three sons: Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Peter, Prince Tomislav and Prince Andrej.
The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes faced many threats. Neighbouring states coveted much of the country’s territories and internal rivalries between the Serbs and Croats increased tension even further. By 1929, it was clear the King had no option but to impose reluctantly a Royal dictatorship.
King Alexander I promised to restore democracy to the newly renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia once unity had been achieved and bureaucratic corruption expunged. In 1934, he was assassinated while on a state visit to France in Marseilles by a Macedonian terrorist working with Croatian extremists, with Hungarian and Italian support. The French Foreign Minister Monsieur Louis Barthou was also killed in the attack.
King Alexander’s son, Crown Prince Peter, was only 11 years old at the time of the death of his father when he became King Peter II. Since the King was under age, three Regents were appointed and one was King Peter’s great uncle HRH Prince Paul Karadjordjevic.
– Karađorđe Petrović, Leader of the First Serbian Uprising (1804–1813)
– Alexander Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia (1842–1858)
– Peter I, King of Serbia (1903–1918), King of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (1918–1921)
– Alexander I, Prince Regent (1918–1921), King of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes/Yugoslavia (1921–1934)
– Peter II, King of Yugoslavia (1934–1945), King-in-exile from 1945 until his death in 1970.
– Prince Paul, Prince Regent (1934–1941)