Rest in Deserved Peace With Your Glorious Ancestors in The Light of The One Who Defeated Death!
Homily of His Grace The Bishop of The Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand Kyr Irinej on the occasion of the burial of Serbian Prince Paul Karageorgevich and his wife, Princess Olga, and their son, Prince Nicholas
in Oplenac, 6th october 2012
In the name of The Father, and The Son, and The Holy Spirit!
Truly dawn has risen above our land giving birth with it to the sun of righteousness and liberty! A new day hovering over an ancient landscape in which truth has once again shone forth in order to gather together that which was scattered and now returned in glory!
Welcome, long-suffering Prince! Right honourable and great Serbian Prince! Faithful Prince Regent! Honourable son of brave heroes and glorious descendent of the Royal House of Karageorgevich!
Princess Olga, dear daughter of the Greek and Danish Royal Houses and the Great Russian Imperial House of Romanov, welcome beside your cherished husband and our Prince that you may once again enlighten us with the grace of your beauty!
Welcome, together with your beloved son, Prince Nicholas, in your and our Serbia, in the land which has suffered by enduring the injustice of your frightful exile and as such today she herself is resurrected from the sleep of death opening the maternal bosom of her earth so that you may rest in well deserved peace with your glorious ancestors in the light of Him who conquered death!
Your Royal Highnesses,
Your Excellency The President of Serbia,
Exalted members of The Government of Serbia,
Your Excellencies distinguished Ministers,
Highly esteemed representatives of the diplomatic corps,
Distinguised Mayor of Topola,
Most Venerable and Very Reverend Fathers,
Respected ladies and gentlemen –
Brothers and sisters all, in Christ Crucified And Risen!
We have gathered here today in this historic Mausoleum Church of the House of the Karageorgevich Family, in the church of the Holy Great-martyr George, to bury and exemplary man of letters and literacy, a man of beauty and arts, a man of culture and a true Renaissance gentleman, our great statesman, Prince Paul Karageorgevich. Together with our bishops and clergy and the faithful of our Holy Church, together with his family and representatives of other Royal Families, together with our government and the representatives of other governments, together with all of you who love your people and honour the memory of Prince Paul! Today, we have prayed to Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is The Life and Resurrection, for his noble soul and the souls of his wife, Princess Olga, and their son, Prince Nikola.
Prince Paul, the great-grandson of the glorious Serbian Leader Karageorge, was in all respects an unusual phenomenon in our midst. He was born to his father, Prince Arsen Karageorgevich and his mother, Princess Aurora Pavlovna Demidov di San Donato in St Petersburg, in Imperial Russia. Through her he heralds his ancestry from the glorious noble family Trubetskoy, and the Russian Trubetskoy princes heralded their ancestry from Rurik, thereafter from the Hungarian King Béla II the Blind and the Serbian Grand Zhupan Urosh the White from the 12th Century. He was ten years old the first time he saw Serbia, and by age eleven he became a motherless orphan. He was raised by his uncle, King Peter I the Liberator and behold, in accordance with God’s righteousness he was received next to his sarcophagus with the glory which he deserved to repose in peace under the shelter of this Royal Mausoleum.
In Belgrade the young Prince completed the classical secondary school, and then, in accordance with his own wishes, he traveled to England to study history and literature at Oxford. There it was said of him that he was, truly – beyond the imagination of subjective idealists – the perfect, the ideal, the exemplary Serb, precisely an aristocrat dedicated to beauty. And beauty is the framework and inexorable destiny of an ideal ruler, for it is the living link, this thread of ours, which we share with eternity: for beauty is the present, never yesterday, nor tomorrow. And in the words of Isidora Sekulic: “The destiny of beauty . . . is an essential expression of being . . .” And in search of lost beauty in the glossary of Serbdom – its bouquets, stands the superlative expression of beauty in tragedy. For only he who has experienced beauty in tragedy, who does not separate strength and passion from faith, transforming it into a mere façade, acceptable only to the wise of this world; only he maintains true nobility with which to enact the deeds of a true “knight of faith”.
World War I prevented him from immediately finishing his studies, as he was engaged during the war with many diplomatic missions for the Kingdom of Serbia. And then by 1918, following the war, he returned to Oxford and successfully completed his studies, earning the degree, Master of Arts. In London he met Princess Olga, daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark, and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna Romanov. The mother of Princess Olga was the daughter of Grand Prince Vladimir, the second son of the Emperor of all Russia, the Tsar-martyr Alexander II. Of Princess Olga it was said that she was the most beautiful princess in Europe! They were married in Belgrade, in October 1923. His best man was the Duke of York, later the British King George VI. Princess Olga gifted him with three children – Prince Alexander (1924), Prince Nicholas (1928-1954) and a daughter – Princess Elizabeth (1936), whose immeasurable love toward her father has indebted history with truth!
As a great patron of fine arts, especially of painting, from his early youth, Prince Paul immediately set about working on founding his museum. At the beginning of 1929, next to the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, in the Residence of Princess Lyubitsa, the Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors, an exceptional achievement of this great lover of beauty. He and his friends from Europe gifted this, the first institution of its kind in Serbia, with many paintings by renowned artists. In 1933 King Alexander I appointed him the director of all museums in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Already by the beginning of 1935 he had founded the Museum that bore his name (in today’s Presidential Offices of the Republic). That Museum, the most important institution of its kind in the more recent cultural history of the Serbian people, immediately gained worldwide renown and is recognised even today – despite its brutal abolishment (by the Communist Government immediately following the conclusion of the war) and currently does not even exist. Successfully having integrated the art of our own Serbian civilisation with the best that European art had to offer it remained as myth, a radiant memory, not only among Belgraders, but also among all sophisticated European peoples. With it Prince Paul left behind his own memorial as did all the finest Serbian rulers – of the Holy Nemanyich Dynasty – the builders of church-endowments, the masterpieces of Serbian civilisation and culture. Today it suffices merely to view his collection of paintings in the White Palace, to immediately comprehend with what refined taste he was endowed. God grant that his museum be re-opened so that it may serve as a source of inspiration, which will lead us all from beauty to truth!
At the head of state into which Serbia had invested everything that it possessed, in this most tumultuous period of modern European history, there was was a prince-benefactor of the beaux arts, a true nobleman whom Yovan Duchich had compared to the glorious Medici’s of Renaissance Florence. And, of course, he can be compared with Dostoyevsky’s enigmatic Christ-like Prince Myshkin, who as the Innocent One who suffered for all, now speaks to all of us through the ages posing the question of the young Nihilist Ippolit: “Is it true, Prince, that you once said ‘beauty’ would save the world? . . . What kind of beauty will save the world?” and the only beauty which can save the world is that which differs from all that is superficial and in which only suffering can explain the uniqueness of a creative genius.
Suddenly his cousin the knightly King Alexander I met his tragic death in Marseilles on 9th October 1934. And Prince Paul became the first Regent of the young heir to the throne, King Peter II. Assuming this responsible duty, he swore an oath that he would preserve the Kingdom until Peter reached maturity, whilst the storms of war were gathering at lightning pace, as black clouds above a state which could not be preserved.
And, an enormous responsibility immediately settled on his shoulders: preserving the integrity of the state and reconciling all of those antagonisms that surfaced with the creation of a new country. Internally, he had to contend with the divisive policies and dissatisfaction of the politicians, whilst abroad he was confronted with the increasing weakness of the allies. Deeply aware of his responsibility, he invested all of his efforts to achieve an almost impossible balance in foreign and domestic policy. He was a skilled and able diplomat under the most complicated circumstances in which many rejected politics as art, the possible in favour of presumed exalted aims. Therefore, at the time he himself wrote: “My only consolation is art and it serves to compensate me for so many things.”
During the unrest of the initial storms of World War II, on the basis of fact and logical thought, the Prince Regent realised that the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, without anyone’s assistance, must regulate its own relations with the threatening world powers. Prince Paul was deeply aware that he personally was in grave danger. However, he knew he was sacrificing himself for an exalted cause. He was a superior individual. Recalling the suffering of our people during the course of World War I, he desired at all cost to avoid new Golgothas. He became increasingly convinced that there were no insurmountable considerations which could not be crossed for the salvation of his country and the people, in order to avoid yet again, unprecedented suffering. And he, as a devoted head of state, opted for peace for his people and thus became the first victim of the inescapable burden of his tragic epoch.
Upon his arrest, the Prince said to the military chaplain in his attendance: “Poor Serbs, what shall become of them?” Alas, Prince! From the perspective of this burdensome moment in which you acted and from the distance of seven decades, you were correct! Forgive us! For the “horrible years of the occupation”, according to the words of Lovett Edwards spoken one decade later in favour of the Prince’s policies (BBC Radio, 27 March 1951), “could have turned out differently, if they could not have been avoided”.
He was given four hours to prepare for his departure. At midnight on that fateful day in 1941, Prince Paul left the capital with his family.
Exposed to scandalous treatment and undeserved harassment, he was handed over in Greece and conducted through to Egypt. Thereafter the entire family was deported to Kenya. They were forced into isolation, into the middle of a jungle on the shores of Lake Naivasha. Karageorge’s great-grandson thus began his lengthy period of exile.
He lived until 14th September 1976 and reposed in the Lord in the American Hospital in Neuilly outside of Paris. On 12th April 1954, the Prince’s younger son Nicholas, in whom he had placed such hope, lost his life in an automobile accident. Princess Olga passed away on 16th October 1997.
From their exiled grave in Lausanne, where they reposed until recently, today following seven decades the fulfillment of “the fullness of time” has come to pass and the great exile has returned to his Serbia. Today we commit the mortal remains of Prince Paul, Princess Olga and Prince Nikola to their land where they will be buried in their family Mausoleum; where they can rest in peace until the Coming of the Age, in which will be realised the mystical link that will unite beauty with the final silent threshold. The threshold over which all of us will be invited to cross, there where through the ages the Gates of Beauty will open unto us! Amen.
May the memory in blessed repose of Prince Paul, Princess Olga and Prince Nicholas Karageorgevich be eternal!
MAY GOD GIVE REST TO THEIR SOULS!