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Prince Peter
Grand Voivode of Zahumlije
Personal details
Born (1889-10-10)10 October 1889
Cetinje
Died 7 May 1932(1932-05-07) (aged 42)
Merano
Spouse(s) Violet Wegner

Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Voivode of Zahumlije (10 October 1889 – 7 May 1932)[1] was a soldier in the Balkan and First World War and a member of the Royal Family of Montenegro.

Early life[]

Prince Peter was born in Cetinje the youngest son of Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro and his consort Milena Vukotić. He was baptised on 19 January 1890 in Rijika, his sponsors were Emperor Alexander III of Russia and the Duchess of Edinburgh.[2] He was educated in Heidelberg.[3] Prince Peter who served in the Montenegrin army, had been hoping for a war since the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, writing to his nephew Crown Prince George of Serbia at the time, he stated his wish that they would meet on the "Crimson field".[4] It would be another four years before the outbreak of the First Balkan War (1912–1913) meant he finally saw action. Prince Peter symbolically began the conflict firing the first shot at the Turkish forces.[5] As the youngest son of the king and thus unlikely to inherit to the Montenegrian throne, Prince Peter was talked about as a candidate for the throne of Albania after that country achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.[6] However nothing ever came of it and in the end the throne was given to the German prince William of Wied.

First World War[]

Prince Peter saw more action during the First World War. In late August 1914 during the first month of the war, Prince Peter was in command of the defence of Lovćen when it was attacked by the Austrians. With the help of an Anglo-French Naval Fleet he managed to lead a successful counterattack and his army managed to kill and capture many Austrian soldiers and artillery guns.[7] By March 1915 his army had progressed into Austrian territory holding a 30 mile stretch from Spizza to a southern fortress in the Bay of Cattaro.[8] In May 1915 a highly controversial meeting took place at Budua between Prince Peter and the Austrian Colonel Hupka, former military attaché at Cetinje. All that Prince Peter would acknowledge took place at the meeting was a request from him for the Austrians to stop the bombardment of towns by their aeroplanes, and that he was acting on instruction from his father. However a number of arrangements also took place, these included supplying the Austrians with Serbian national sandals, so that they climb the rocks more easily; and giving a verbal, then written order to his two brigadiers that they must not resist the Austrians and allow them to capture Lovćen.[9]

After Prince Peter's surrender of Lovćen by 1916 the war had turned against Montenegro in favour of the numerically superior Austrians. In January of that year along with his parents Prince Peter left Montenegro heading first to Rome and then France where they joined the rest of the Royal Family, all expect for his brother Prince Mirko of Montenegro who was left behind to organise the defence of the country.[10][11]

Exile and marriage[]

In the Autumn of 1918 while still in exile in France, Prince Peter met a married woman named Violette Brunet whose husband was in the service of his father King Nicholas. Having fallen in love and wishing to marry her, Prince Peter wrote to his father instructing him to arrange the marriage. When his father objected Prince Peter tired to blackmail his father threatening to reveal damaging secrets about the surrender of Lovćen.[9] With the end of the First World War Prince Peter and the Montenegrin Royal Family were denied the chance to return to their kingdom when the Podgorica Assembly chose to unite Montenegro with the other Slav lands as part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In Paris at the bedside of a dying friend, Prince Peter met the music hall performer Violet Emily Wegner, daughter of William Wegner, a policeman, and his wife Arabella Eliza Darby. After his marriage proposal was accepted Wegner's mother persuaded the couple to wait as Prince Peter had a claim of compensation against the Yugoslav government, totalling $6,000,000, for the confiscation of the Royal Families property in Montenegro. Wegner's mother feared that if Prince Peter married her daughter, a commoner, it could jeopardise his claim so instructed him to collect the money before he wed her daughter. After a number of years of failed attempts to secure the money Prince Peter attempted to strike a deal with the Yugoslav government whereby he would drop his claim to $6,000,000 if they paid him $2,000,000. After going to Belgrade and signing paperwork he was told by the government that having agreed to accept $2,000,000 he would still have to wait like before for the money.[12] Prince Peter eventually gave up waiting and married Wegner in Paris on 29 April 1924. After the marriage his wife became Princess Violet Ljubica of Montenegro.[1]

Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Voivode of Zahumlije died in Merano. His wife Princess Violet Ljubica of Montenegro died in Monte Carlo on 17 October 1960. They had no children.[1]

Titles and styles[]

  • 1889–1910: His Highness Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Voivode of Zahumlije
  • 1910–1932: His Royal Highness Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Voivode of Zahumlije

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Burkes Royal Families of the World. Volume 1 Europe and Latin America, p 414. Burkes Peerage, 1977.
  2. Prince Peter, the third son of the Prince of Montenegro, was christened at Rijika yesterday. The Morning Post, 20 January 1890.
  3. The Balkan Trouble. Grey River Argus, 18 October 1912.
  4. Two Warlike Princes; Prince Peter Wants to Meet Prince George on the Crimson Field. New York Times. 13 October 1908
  5. The Cosmopolitan. Boston Evening Transcript. 9 November 1912
  6. The inner history of the Balkan war, p 239. London Constable, 1914
  7. Allies' Ships save Montenegrin City; Drive off Austrians. The Pittsburgh Press. 31 August 1914
  8. Our Smallest Ally. Poverty Bay Herald, 4 March 1915
  9. 9.0 9.1 Baerlein, Henry. The Birth of Yugoslavia p 263, 271. Volume 1. Leonard Parsons, London. 1922
  10. Montenegrin King is in France now. Youngstown Vindicator, 25 January 1916
  11. King Nicholas leaves for France. Evening Post, 24 January 1916
  12. Gave Up a Throne To Marry a Policeman's Daughter. The Milwaukee Sentinel, 1 September 1929

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