Prince Paul of Yugoslavia was born April 27, 1893 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
He was the only son of Prince Arsen (brother of King Peter I) and Princess and Countess Aurora Pavlovna Demidova.
He married Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, a sister of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, in 1923.
King George VI, as Duke of York, was best man at his wedding in Belgrade.
On October 9, 1934, Prince Paul took over the regency of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after his cousin Alexander I was assassinated in Marseille, France.
In his will, Alexander stipulated that if he died, a council of regents chaired by Paul was to govern until Alexander’s son Peter II came of age.
Then in 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent 9 days in Berlin.
In August of 1939, the Cvetković-Maček Agreement set up the Banovina of Croatia. Croatia was to have its own legislature in Zagreb, and a separate budget.
World War II
When World War II broke out, Yugoslavia declared its neutrality.
The Tripartite Pact was signed in Berlin, Germany on September 27, 1940, which established the Axis Powers of World War II.
The pact was signed by representatives of Nazi Germany (Adolf Hitler), Fascist Italy (foreign minister Galeazzo Ciano), and Imperial Japan (Japanese ambassador to Germany Saburō Kurusu).
Hungary then joined by signing the Tripartite Pact on November 20, 1940.
Romania signed the Tripartite Pact on November 23, 1940.
Slovakia signed the Tripartite Pact on November 24, 1940.
Bulgaria signed the Pact on March 1, 1941.
Then on March 25, 1941 in Vienna, Dragiša Cvetković, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, fearing an invasion by the Axis Powers signed the Tripartite Pact on behalf of Regent Prince Paul pledging cooperation with the Axis.
Prince Paul agreed to the Pact based on three promissory notes.
The first note obliged the Axis powers to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia.
In the second note the Axis powers promised not to ask Yugoslavia for any military assistance.
In the third note they promised not to ask Yugoslavia for permission to move military forces across its territory during the war.
Massive [anti-Axis] demonstrations soon followed in Belgrade.
On March 27, 1941 the regime of Regent Prince Paul was overthrown by a military coup d’état with British support, and the 17-year old King Peter II of Yugoslavia seized power.
General Dušan Simović became King Peter II’s Prime Minister and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia initially tried to dissolve the Pact but later declared adherence to it.
The initial agreement of the document also regarded Yugoslavia’s acceptance of the free movement of German troops around the country; this was unsatisfactory to the Führer, and resulted in the Invasion of Yugoslavia.
The Germans simultaneously attacked Yugoslavia and Greece with Operation Barbarossa starting on April 6, 1941.
The royal family, including Prince Paul, escaped abroad and were interned under house arrest by the British in Kenya.
The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) bombed Belgrade for three days and nights. German ground troops (Wehrmacht Heer) moved in, and Yugoslavia capitulated on April 17, 1941.
Over the course of the war, however, effective power changed to the hands of Josip Broz Tito’s Communist Partisans.
In 1943, Tito proclaimed the creation of the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia (Demokratska federativna Jugoslavija).
The Allies gradually recognized Tito’s forces as the stronger opposition forces to the German occupation.
They began to send most of their aid to Tito’s Partisans, rather than to the Royalist Četniks.
On June 16, 1944, the Tito–Šubašić agreement was signed which merged the de facto and the de jure government of Yugoslavia.
Then in early 1945, after the Germans had been driven out, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formally restored on paper.
But real political power was held by Tito’s Communist Partisans.
On November 29, 1945, King Peter II was officially deposed by Yugoslavia’s Communist Constituent Assembly while he was still in exile.
On December 2, 1945 the Communist authorities claimed the entire territory as part of the Democratic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The new Yugoslavia covered roughly the same territory as the Kingdom had, but it was no longer a monarchy.
The post-war communist authorities had Prince Paul proclaimed an enemy of the state; he was disallowed from returning to Yugoslavia and all his property was confiscated.
Prince Paul died in Paris on September 14, 1976, at the age of 83 and was buried in Switzerland.
He was rehabilitated by Serbian courts in 2011, and was reburied at the family crypt in Oplenac, Serbia, near Topola in central Serbia, on October 6, 2012, together with his wife Olga and son Nikola.
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