Aleksandra's Note: On October 25, 2010, Lt. Col. Milton Friend (USAF, ret.) and his wife Shirley embarked on a very important trip overseas to Serbia. It would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime. The main objective of the visit to Serbia was for Lt. Col. Milton Friend to testify at the October 29th hearing in Belgrade regarding the Rehabilitation of General Draza Mihailovich. Milton and Shirley have graciously provided a memoir of their time in Serbia, which will be posted in its entirety on www.generalmihailovich.com over the next several weeks. This first posting does not begin with Day One of their trip, but instead begins with Day Four, the day before the hearing. Prior to their trip, Milton and Shirley Friend were invited to visit the Serbian Royal Compound and Palace, the "Beli Dvor", home of the Karageorgevich family in Dedinje, an exclusive part of Belgrade. This visit to the Serbian Royal Palace on Thursday, October 28, 2010, with HRH Crown Prince Alexander II as their host, would turn out to be one of the great highlights of their trip to Serbia. They were accompanied by a group of Serbs who were their dedicated escorts and companions during their time in Serbia. This group of people included Dimitrije Stanojevic, Dobrivoje Katunac, Bane Jevtic, Sofija Simic and Boris Tomasic. The morning of Thursday the 28th, prior to the visit to the royal compound, Lt. Col. Friend met with attorney Zoran Zivanovic and the two of them participated in a special press conference that had been arranged for addressing questions related to the legal proceedings regarding the Mihailovich rehabilitation sheduled for Friday, the 29th of October.
Below is Milton and Shirley Friend's memoir of that very special October 28th day when the American aviator met the Serbian Crown Prince in Belgrade.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Belgrade Press Conference
and the visit to the Serbian Royal Palace
By Shirley Friend
Thursday, October 28, dawned a bright sunny day in Belgrade, almost spring-like. Milton dressed in his new suit, and I dressed in a black skirt, black blouse and white jacket. We were picked up at 10:30 a.m. by Boris Tomasic and Sofija Simic, from Slovenia, who were in Belgrade making a documentary about General Mihailovich. We were on our way to the press conference that had been organized prior to our arrival in Belgrade. The press conference was being held in a large dining hall in the office building where Mr. Aleksandar Nedic and his Serbian Liberal Party are situated. Milt was introduced to the lawyer Zoran Zivanovic who was representing the group that had initiated the legal proceedings for the official rehabilitation of General Mihailovich. The whole interview process was beautifully organized. The reporters for all the news agencies were able to interview Milton. Sofija was a former TV news broadcaster and was a marvel at timing the interviews and moving things along. The news agencies had also sent photographers and in no time there were about 75 people in the room along with our protectors, the Serbs who had been our guides and companions since our arrival in Belgrade on the 26th: Ben (Dobrivoje Katunac), Bane (Jevtic), Dimitrije Stanojevic, Dragan (Krsmanovic), Michel and a few new members of the group. Then Milt and Mr. Zivanovic, the attorney, were seated at a table. Sofija translated the questions that were addressed to both Milton and the lawyer. It was very exciting for me - I had never seen anything like this. I thought Milt handled himself very well. I noticed that most of the reporters seemed to vary in age from 30 to 50 , which meant that a number of them were probably alive while Tito was still in power. What came to mind immediately was the question of whether they could report this story of Milton being in Belgrade to testify on behalf of the effort to rehabilitate General Mihailovich without bias.
After about an hour, two young men dressed formally in black appeared and informed us that we were expected at the Royal Palace, the home of the Karageorgevich family. They would escort us through traffic. When Boris, Sofija, Milton and I got to our car, the two young men were nowhere to be found because of the heavy traffic jam in front of the building. Boris, who was driving, took off, but he didn't know exactly how to get to the palace. Finally, after asking a number of the local people, we arrived at the royal compound, a beautiful white marble structure that was simple and elegant. It was only about three miles away from where the press conference had been held. The rest of the group (Dobrivoje Katunac, Dimitrije Stanojevic and Bane Jevtic) was already there before we arrived.
We were shown into a reception area known as 'the blue salon' on the first floor and were told that the Prince, HRH Crown Prince Alexander II Karageorgevich, would arrive shortly. Two maids arranged food and drinks for us, but no one ate or drank. When the Prince arrived we all stood, and he seated himself across from Milt and me. Everyone sat in unison...it seemed very funny. The Prince was very charming and had grown up in England, so his English was excellent. His wife, Princess Katherine was out of town on this day so we did not have the opportunity to meet her. Prince Alexander made small talk and then out of the blue he looked at me and asked where Milt and I had met. Did someone tell him that this was a second marriage? I couldn’t tell him that we met a JCC (Jewish Community Center) Jewish Singles Dance…so I just said 'a single's dance' and regretted it the minute I said it. Everyone laughed and thought it was very funny. They chatted about Milton's mission in Serbia and the Prince thanked him for his effort to correct an injustice. The Serbian crown prince is a pilot and was very interested in the B-24 that was used in the raids on the Ploesti Oil Fields during WWII. Milt presented him with a copy of the book “The Forgotten 500”. During our visit photos were taken by the palace photographer. Once our visit with Prince Alexander was over and we said our good-byes, we were turned over to an English speaking guide who led us through the first floor and the basement. The first floor is very plain with portraits of the Serbian Royal Family. The basement was a remnant of the Tito era and very different. The walls and furniture were bright, garish colors, and every room was a different color. The building was used as lodgings for diplomats during the Nazi occupation and the Tito era. The Royal Family was exiled and spent most of the time in England during the war. The Royal Prince and his family moved back to the palace on July 17, 2001.
We ended our visit to the Serbian Royal Palace, the 'Beli Dvor', with a walk to the chapel and a tour of the beautiful grounds.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS BELOW WERE TAKEN BY THE
on October 28, 2010
Identification of the individuals in the photos are found
underneath the full group photo.
Left to right: Two young monarchists, Dobrivoje Katunac,
Sofija Simic, HRH Crown Prince Alexander II Karageorgevich,
Shirley Friend, Milton Friend, Dimitrije Stanojevic,
Boris Tomasic and Bane Jevtic.
Serbian Royal Palace, October 28, 2010.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander II with Shirley and Milton Friend.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF
LT. COL. MILTON FRIEND AND HIS WIFE SHIRLEY.
The following (in both English and Serbian) was
posted on the official website of the
Serbian Royal Family on October 28, 2010,
the day of the visit of Lt. Col. Milton Friend
and his wife Shirley to the royal palace in Belgrade:
ПИЛОТ ВЕТЕРАН ДРУГОГ СВЕТСКОГ РАТА ПОСЕТИО ПРЕСТОЛОНАСЛЕДНИКА
Београд, 28. октобар 2010. – Његово Краљевско Височанство Престолонаследник Александар II примио је данас у Краљевском Двору потпуковника у пензији америчког ратног вадухопловства, г-дина Милтона А. Френдa, који је био оборен изнад Србије током рата. Потпуковник Фредман био је један од 512 савезничких пилота који су спашени током операције Хељард, највеће операције спасавања савезничких пилота иза непријатељских линија током Другог светског рата.
Г-дин Френд је допутовао у Београд да би сведочио у корист генерала Драгољуба Драже Михаиловића, током судског процеса за рехабилитацију генерала Михаиловића, који ће сутра бити одржан у Београду. Генерал Дража Михаиловић био је командант Краљевске војске у отаџбини, која је спасила 512 савезничких пилота током рата, и која је била под врховним заповедништвом Његовог Величанства Краља Петра II од Југославије, оца Њ.К.В. Престолонаследника Александра II.
Г-дин Френд је допутовао са супругом и био је дубоко ганут топлом добродошлицом у Краљевском Двору. Сусрету су присуствовали и представници Краљевине Србије и Српског либералног савета.
WORLD WAR II VETERAN AVIATOR VISITS CROWN PRINCE ALEXANDER II KARAGEORGEVICH
Belgrade, 28 October 2010 – His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II welcomed today at the Royal Palace retired Lt. Col. Milton A. Friend, a US Air Force pilot in World War II, who was shot down over Serbia. Lt. Colonel Friend was one of the 512 allied pilots rescued from Serbia during Operation Halyard, the largest Allied airlift operation behind enemy lines in World War Two.
Mr. Friend came to Belgrade to testify in favour of Gen. Dragoljub Draza Mihailovic, in a rehabilitation process that will be held tomorrow. General Draza Mihailovic was commander of the King’s Army in the homeland, who saved 512 allied pilots during World War Two, and which was under the supreme command of His Majesty King Peter II of Yugoslavia, the father of HRH Crown Prince Alexander II.
Mr. Friend came with his wife and was deeply touched by the warm welcome at the Royal Palace. The representatives of the Kingdom of Serbia organization and Serbian liberal council also attended the meeting.
Biography of HRH Crown Prince Alexander II
In April 1941 after Germany attacked and occupied Yugoslavia, the country’s young King Peter II left in advance of the invading German forces for Athens with the Yugoslav government. The King and his compatriots were determined not to surrender to the invaders in the best tradition of the founder of the Dynasty Karadjordje ("Black George") Petrovic who led the heroic first uprising of the Serbs against the Ottoman Empire in 1804. From Athens HM King Peter and his government went to Jerusalem and then Cairo. Finally King Peter II established the government in exile in London. In 1944, King Peter II in London married Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, the daughter of HM King Alexander of the Hellenes and Aspasia Manos.
On 17 July 1945 while living in Claridge's Hotel, Queen Alexandra gave birth to a son - HRH Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia. Crown Prince Alexander, the heir to the throne, was born on Yugoslav territory as the British Government under the orders of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill declared suite 212 in Claridge's Hotel Yugoslav territory. His Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo of Serbia baptized the newborn Crown Prince in Westminster Abbey with Godparents King George VI and HRH Princess Elizabeth (now HM The Queen Elizabeth II).
After the war, King Peter II was illegally prevented from returning to his country by the communist regime, which had seized power in Belgrade. HM King Peter never abdicated. The King and Queen lived in exile in many countries (United States, France, Italy and England).
HRH Crown Prince Alexander II was educated at Le Rosey (Switzerland), Culver Military Academy (Indiana, USA), Gordonstoun School (Scotland) and Millfield (England). He subsequently went to the British Royal Military Academy and in 1966 was commissioned an officer in the British Army. Crown Prince Alexander served in the 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers rising to the rank of captain. His tours of duty included West Germany, Italy, Middle East and Northern Ireland. After leaving the army in 1972, Crown Prince Alexander II, who speaks several languages, pursued a career in international business.
Although King Peter II died in 1970, the Crown Prince, as the heir to the throne decided at the time not to use the title of King - which he felt would have had little meaning in exile. He made it very clear at that time that he was not renouncing his title, or the dynastic right to the throne.
In 1991 Crown Prince Alexander accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses Crown Princess Katherine, Hereditary Prince Peter, Prince Philip and Prince Alexander travelled to Belgrade where they were very enthusiastically received by hundreds of thousands of people who see the Crown Prince as the embodiment of all that is best for democracy and Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy.
Before the 5 October 2000 revolution in Serbia, the Crown Prince visited Serbia in 1992, 1995 and 2000. The Crown Prince travelled to Montenegro and Kosovo in 1999 and Bosnia and Montenegro in 2000. The Crown Prince and his family have been living in The Royal Palace in Belgrade since 17 July 2001.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander has always been a very ardent defender of democracy and human rights. In 1989, he took a very active role in helping his people shake off the legacy of decades of dictatorship and the regime. During the next decade the Crown Prince Alexander conducted numerous meetings and maintained constant contact with the democratic opposition and democrats throughout the former Yugoslavia. In November 1999, Crown Prince Alexander convened a large conference in Budapest for the representatives of the Democratic Opposition in Serbia.
Another symposium followed in Bosnia in January 2000 and in April 2000 the Crown Prince convened a large conference of key opposition leaders in Athens. Following the Athens conference the Crown Prince and leaders of the opposition went to a symposium at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. These meetings led to the successful election victory of Serbia’s democratic opposition in September of that year. Crown Prince Alexander has been a tireless contributor in the process of co-operation and unity amongst the democratic political parties to make his homeland a great democracy for all citizens regardless of political belief, religion or ethnic origin.
During the previous decade Crown Prince travelled extensively, met with numerous world leaders, politicians, parliamentarians, world bodies and had many interviews to the media.
In 1972, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander married Her Imperial and Royal Highness Princess Maria da Gloria of Orleans and Bragança of the Imperial Family of Brazil in Villamanrique de la Condesa, Spain. They had three children. The eldest son and heir HRH Prince Peter was born in 1980 in Chicago, Illinois; and fraternal twin sons HRH Prince Philip and HRH Prince Alexander were born in 1982 in Fairfax, Virginia. The marriage ended in 1983.
In 1985, Crown Prince Alexander married Katherine Batis of Athens. HM King Constantine of the Hellenes was the best man and HRH Prince Tomislav, the uncle of Crown Prince Alexander was the witness. The wedding took place in the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in London.
HRH Crown Prince Alexander II enjoys skiing, sailing, water skiing, scuba diving and tennis. He was British Army Ski Champion in 1972. His other interests include music, theatre, information technology, and current affairs.
If you would like to get in touch with me, Aleksandra, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org