Queen Draga Obrenovic

Queen Draga Obrenovic
Queen Draga Obrenovic
Dance of Queen Draga

She was born on September 23rd 1866 in Gornji Milanovac and belonged to the wealthy Lunjevica-family.

Draga’s father, Pantelija Lunjevica was the district prefect of Gornji Milanovac and her mother Andjelija was a housewife.

Her grandfather was Nikola Milicevic Lunjevica, one of the insurrectionists and a friend of Prince Milos Obrenovic.

In addition to Draga, Andjelija and Panta had the sons Nikodije and Nikola and the daughters Christina, Vojko and Ana.

At the age of nine, Draga was sent to school in Belgrade, where she completed her school-education. Then she attended the “Cermanka’s Institute “or “Women’s Institute”. There she learned several foreign languages, including Russian, French and German. During her stay in Belgrade, Draga began to write novels and short stories and to translate books for money. Despite the fact that the father took a lot of care about her, she began to earn her living as a very young girl. She even published some interesting stories for foreign journals. She liked to read and especially liked to read Stendhal.

In Belgrade for the first time she fell in love with the student Bogdan Popovic, who later became professor and a critic of literature and who three years older than Draga. They often met in the club of writers, which Draga often visited. However, the wishes of Draga’s parents were very far away from Popovic.

As soon as she was sixteen, her parents began preparing her for marriage. Mining Engineer Svetozar Masin was a good acquaintance to her father and in addition to that he also had a rich origin. Svetozar Masin was fifteen years older than Draga. His father was a prominent physician and served at court of Prince Mihailo and King Milan Obrenovic.

Draga’s brother in law, Svetozar’s brother Aleksandar Masin was later one of the leading conspirators in her liquidation, and for a while he was also the chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army. Draga Masin told Bogdan Popović that she had to marry Svetozar because of parental force, but that there was no love, but only advantages.

Svetozar and Draga were married in August 1883 in the Cathedral Church in Belgrade. Draga often went to the court of King Milan Obrenovic, who was an excellent friend of Svetozar Masin. After three years of marriage with Svetozar Masin she became a widow.

After the divorce of King Milan and Queen Natalija Obrenovic in 1888, the queen bought the castle of “Sasino” at the spa resort of Biarritz in France, which was named after her only son, Aleksandar Obrenovic. Queen Natalia also invited Draga, to escort her as lady-in-waiting.

The young King Aleksandar arrived in March 1895 in Biarritz. During that time, Draga had taken care of arranging and maintaining the beach in Biarritz.

The love of Draga and Aleksandar was born at that place, when, according to the chronicles, Draga saved the future king from drowning.

In Biarritz they began to correspond, to see each other and to go out together. Queen Natalia did not oppose to this because she wanted to prepare her son for a possible marriage with a princess of high rank. However, true love was born between them, much stronger than Natalia and Milan thought. Alexandar asked Natalia to leave him alone with Draga and to return to Belgrade, what Queen Natalia really did.

In the beginning nobody had any objections against this love, thinking that it was just a temporary adventure. The king asked Draga to leave the service with his mother and that he would care for her and her family. Draga Lunjevica remained in the service of Queen Natalia until 1897, when she returned to Belgrade.

The whole Serbia was alerted about the message announced by King Aleksandar on July 8th 1900, that he had begged for the hand of Draga Lunjevica, granddaughter of Nikola Lunjevica, a warrior in the wars for the liberation of Serbia.

The marriage was especially opposed by former King Milan, who left the country as a sign of protest and traveled to Bucharest, then to Vienna, where he died the following year. The king turned completely against his father, and he even pardoned the radicals, who were lying in jail for the attempt of the Ivandani assassination of King Milan.

King Aleksandar planned the wedding with Draga Lunjevica to be on July 23rd 1900 and called upon all well-meaning citizens to see the Queen as a true Serbian woman, marking a new policy for Serbian rulers to get married to Serbian women rather than foreign princesses.

King Aleksandar was very happy with the news that among the special guests would be the Russian Emperor Nicholas II Romanov.

On the wedding day, thousands of citizens appeared in front of Draga Lunjevica’s house, carrying paintings of her and cheering her.

The procession headed to the Cathedral Church, where the act of the wedding should take place. From early morning, the priests amounted icons, oil lamps and candles. King Aleksandar appeared that morning in a military uniform with epaulets and decorations, and Draga Lunjevica in a wedding dress of a white lace with a brilliant diamond diadem on her head.

In the church, the act of the wedding was performed by two metropolitans, bishops and twenty-six archimandrites. An honorary escort was made by officers of the Serbian army, including Dragutin Dimitrijevic Apis, who held the rank of a captain. After the wedding, when leaving the church, the people shouted: “Long live the King! Long live Queen Draga! “

It was not even a year since the wedding of the royal couple took place, when on May 8th 1901 King Aleksandar announced that Queen Draga was pregnant and that Serbia would gain the descendant of the Royal House of Obrenovic.

Before the press release was launched, Queen Draga was in the royal summer residence in Smederevo, when Dr. Cole arrived from Paris and told her that she was in a blessed condition.

However, all the dreams about a successor were dispersed by the renowned Russian physician Snjegrev, who, along with Professor Gubarev, under the influence of Queen Natialia, sent a letter to Nikolai Romanov, to confirm the findings of Dr. Cole.

A consilium of doctors came to Smederevo in May 1901 and examined Draga. The finding was that there was no pregnancy, nor was it ever.

Aleksandar was surprised by this news and asked the adjutant to take a pistol to kill the gynecologists, because he believed that they had stopped the pregnancy.

As a token of appreciation for his wife, on 23rd of May he issued a decree that the 4th Cavalry Regiment of King Milan of 23 May should be called the “Cavalry Regiment of Queen Draga”. The king had to reconcile with the decision that there was no pregnancy and, together with Draga, returned to Belgrade.

A group of “officers” – the conspirators – organized the assassination of King Aleksandar and Queen Draga Obrenovic, with the aim of bringing Petar Karadjordjevic to the throne. As the day for the beginning of this action, the night between 28th and 29th of May 1903 was determined, because then there was a conspiratorial group on duty.

That evening, the King and the Queen returned from dinner with the Queen’s relatives and went to bed. The conspiratorial action began exactly ten minutes after midnight. Thanks to the conspirators in the Dvor, the officers quickly ran into the room of King Aleksandar and Queen Draga, but there was no one in bed.

On the dressing table they found Draga’s favorite novel “La Trahison”, turned on page 80.

Officers searched the whole room, opened their cabinets and overturned things, but they could not find the King and the Queen. Before the found the hidden royal couple, the officers captured Draga’s brothers, the second lieutenants Nikola and Nikodije Lunjevica, and took them to the local command of the city, where, upon the orders of Colonel Masin, they were taken to the courtyard by subordinate Vojo Tankosic and were shot. Draga’s sisters Ana, Vojka and Kristina were brought to the railway station and were sent to Munich.

After major hassle, the conspirators brought the king’s adjutant Laza Petrovic to reveal where the King and the Queen were hiding. Then in the royal room next to Petrovic and Lieutenant Djordje Ristic, Lieutenant Velimir Vemic and Captain Ilija Radivojevic were standing. Lieutenant Vemic found a notch on one door and shouted: “The axe!” “Here’s the door!” Finally appeared behind the hidden doors the King and Queen in white pajamas, clinging to each other.

Captain Mihailo Ristic was the one who killed the King and then the Queen, who, with the first shot, threw her body against him to protect the king.

Then the other conspirators fired, emptied their revolvers and took the swords from the hurt bodies, and then threw them through the window into the yard, from where they were brought to a nearby ground-floor room, where they were prepared for the funeral, which was performed the following night, in the Church of St. Mark. At the moment when this assassination happened, it was exactly 3:50 minutes in the morning.

The bodies of the King and the Queen were put in tin trunks and under the utmost secrecy transported by carriages to the old Belgrade cemetery. The carriages arrived after midnight at the St. Mark’s Church, surrounded by soldiers. The act of burial was attended by two conspirators. Coffins were lowered, next to each other, in the tomb of the King’s grandmother Anka Obrenovic, who together with Prince Mihailo died in Kosutnjak on May 29th 1868.