The 85th Birthday of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia

Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, 1961.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.

Today, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia celebrates her eighty-fifth birthday!

Prince George, Duke of Kent, with his niece Princess Elizabeth during one of the duke’s visits to Yugoslavia. The Duke of Kent was a good friend of his brother-in-law Prince Paul.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Hutton Archive.
Prince Paul and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia with their children: Alexander, Nicholas, and Elizabeth.
Princess Olga of Yugoslavia with her sons Prince Alexander and Prince Nicholas and her daughter Princess Elizabeth.

On 7 April 1936, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia was born at the White Palace, Belgrade, as the first daughter and youngest child of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and his wife Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark. Her godmother and namesake was her maternal aunt Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark, Countess of Törring-Jettenbach. Paul and Olga married in 1923. Elizabeth had two elder brothers: Prince Alexander (1924-2016) and Prince Nicholas (1928-1954). After the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, Paul and Olga together with their children lived under British watch (i.e. house arrest) in Kenya. Their daughter Elizabeth was educated in Kenya, Switzerland, and France.

Mr Howard Oxenberg and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia with her daughters Catherine and Christina Oxenberg.
Elizabeth wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels bib necklace consisting of diamond horseshoes with a large round diamond in their centres and with seven pendant pearl drops. Pendant pearl drop earrings to match.
The princess is photographed here in the jewellery she wore to the Diamond Ball in New York, 1964.  

On 21 January 1961, the attractive twenty-five year-old Elizabeth married Howard Oxenburg (1919 – 2010), who was seventeen years her senior, at Manassas, Virginia. The couple had been an item for over a year; indeed, the news rags had incorrectly reported that the couple had eloped in either June or July of 1960. Almost eight months to the day after their wedding, Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and Howard Oxenberg welcomed the arrival of their first child, Catherine Oxenberg, who was born in New York City on 22 September 1961. On 27 December 1962, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, Mrs. Howard Oxenberg, gave birth to her second daughter, Christina, in New York City. Princess Olga of Yugoslavia had flown in from Europe to be with her daughter and to be present at her granddaughter’s birth. Queen Mother Helen of Romania was Christina’s godmother: Queen Mother Helen and Christina’s grandmother Princess Olga were first cousins. Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and Howard Oxenberg divorced in 1966.

 
Neil Balfour and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.

On 23 September 1969, Princess Elizabeth married Neil Roxburgh Balfour (b.1944), the son of Archibald Roxburgh Balfour and Lilian Helen Cooper. Elizabeth and Neil couple had one son, Nicholas Augustus Roxburgh Balfour, in 1970. The princess and Mr Balfour divorced in 1978. Neil Balfour went on to serve as the member of the European Parliament for Yorkshire North from 1979 to 1983.

 
Manuel Ulloa Elías and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, late 1980s.

On 28 February 1987, Princess Elizabeth married a third time to Manuel Ulloa Elías (1922–1992), a former Prime Minister of Peru. Manuel had been married three times previously: his first wife was Carmen García Elmore; his second wife was Nadine van Perborgh; his third wife was Isabel Zorraquín y de Corral, the mother of Isabel Sartorius y Zorraquín (a youthful beau of Felipe, Prince of Asturias) and the former wife of Vicente Sartorius y Cabeza de Vaca, who subsequently married Princess Nora of Liechtenstein. Manuel and Elizabeth separated in 1989, but they never divorced. Upon the death of Ulloa Elías, the princess became a widow.

 
Prince Alexander, his sister Princess Elizabeth, and his wife Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia at the funeral of Princess Olga of Yugoslavia in 1997.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Pool Benainous Cochard.
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia died in Paris in 1976, aged eighty-three. In 1997, his widow Princess Olga passed away in Paris at the age of ninety-four. The couple were buried at the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery in Lausanne with their son Prince Nicholas, who had tragically died in a car accident in 1954.
 
Princess Elizabeth with her son Nicholas Balfour and daughter Catherine Oxenberg oversee the exhumation of the graves of Elizabeth’s father, mother, and brother in Switzerland, September 2012.
Photograph (c) Alamy/Reuters/Denis Balibouse.
Catherine Oxenberg and her mother Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia attend the reburial of Prince Paul, Princess Olga, and Prince Nicholas at St. George’s Church in Oplenac, October 2012.
Photograph (c) Alamy/Reuters/Marko Djurica.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia at the reburial of her father, mother, and brother.
Beginning in the 1980s, Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia started a campaign to rehabilitate the legacy of her father. The image of Prince Regent Paul had been terribly maligned since his regency. A man deeply devoted to peace and maintaining the neutrality of Yugoslavia during World War II, Paul did his utmost to keep his homeland safe and from falling under the tyranny of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Alas, many historians had painted the prince regent as a Nazi sympathiser, which could not have been further from the truth. Princess Elizabeth’s relentless desire to rehabilitate her father was ultimately met with success in 2011, when the Serbian courts ruled that the prince regent had not been an “enemy of the state,” as he along with other members of the royal family had been designated after the Communists overtook Yugoslavia. In 2012, the remains of Prince Paul, Princess Olga, and Prince Nicholas were brought to rest in Serbia, where they were granted a quasi-state funeral. This event was attended by the President of Serbia, Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, Hereditary Prince Peter of Serbia and his brother Prince Philip, Prince Alexander and Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia, as well as by Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and her daughter Catherine Oxenberg and her son Nicholas Balfour. Several other members of the Serbian royal family and other relatives were also present. 
 
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and Princess Alexandra of Kent.
Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, Queen Marie-José of Italy, and Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia.
Princess Olga of Yugoslavia; Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent; Prince Paul of Yugoslavia; Archduchess Helen of Austria; Prince Edward, Duke of Kent; Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, 1956.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia lives in Belgrade.
 
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, 1971.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Lord Litchfield.
 
Many happy returns of the day to Princess Elizabeth!
 
To learn more about the princess, you may visit her official website: Princess Jelisaveta
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