April 9, 2013
There’s no such thing as a final resting place when it comes to royal remains
Andrej Cukic/EPA/Keystone Press
The coffin containing the remains of the last king of Yugoslavia, Peter II, was dug out from a tomb in the floor of St. Sava Monastery in Libertyville, Ill., on the evening of Jan. 16 on the order of his son, Alexander, before being put on a plane to Belgrade. Instead of the old marble grave marker, a new layer of concrete indicated where the monarch had lain for nearly 43 years. Only a handful of people knew the royal bones were being taken for internment in the family crypt in Serbia.
The thousands of Serbian-Americans who visited the U.S. tomb each year believed Peter asked to be buried near the Chicago-area diaspora. “It was cloak and dagger,” John Bosanac, who’d attended Peter’s funeral in 1970, complained of the removal. He would have liked a public farewell, a sentiment echoed by Vera Dragisich, 50, a University of Chicago lecturer who often visited Peter’s tomb. “We weren’t allowed to say goodbye. There was a more formal and respectful way to do the exhumation, where those who wished to be present at this historical event could do so.” Such was the uproar that the king’s son issued a press release saying the exhumation and transfer “was strictly done following legal advice.” The reason for the haste, Alexander told Sky News, was that the last in a series of obstacles, including decades-long Communist objections, had finally been overcome.
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