The Time Yugoslavia Owned British Soil For A Day

By Michael Van Duisen on Sunday, September 22, 2013
yugo
“In a shared fish, there are no bones.” —Democritus

In A Nutshell

During World War II, many royal families of Europe sought refuge in Britain. Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, the wife of King Peter II of Yugoslavia, was pregnant and wished to give birth on Yugoslav soil. So Winston Churchill declared her hotel suite to be temporarily part of her home country until the baby was born.

The Whole Bushel

As World War II raged across the European landscape, much of the royalty fled to Britain, including the kings of Greece and Yugoslavia, as well as the queen of the Netherlands. A large number of those who temporarily emigrated took refuge in a hotel located in London called Claridge’s. (A story from the time says a diplomat called Claridge’s and asked to speak with the king. The clerk’s response: “Certainly, sir, but which one?”)

One of the guests of Claridge’s was Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, who was the wife of King Peter II of Yugoslavia. (They had fled because Germany had tried to force the country to join the Axis powers during the war and they refused.) She was pregnant during her stay, and she expressed a strong desire to give birth to her son on Yugoslav land, which was deemed impossible, since returning to Yugoslavia was out of the question. After a lengthy negotiation with the British government, an ingenious plan was formed.

Winston Churchill formally turned over Suite 212, the room in which the pair were staying, declaring it to be temporarily part of Yugoslavia for a day. Crown Prince Alexander II, who was only able to return to his home country in 2001, was born on July 17, 1945 and legend tells us that the employees of Claridge’s actually had soil from Yugoslavia flown in and they were said to have placed it underneath the Princess’ bed. (However, this part of the story is most likely a myth, as it would have been nearly impossible to accomplish this task.)

Show Me The Proof

Yugoslavia restores citizenship to prince
The History of Claridge’s