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Repose of a Royal Relict: The Death of Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia (1926-2020)

The late Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia.

On 13 December 2020, HRH Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia died in Palm Springs, California. The widow of Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia, the princess was ninety-four years-old. She had lived in Palm Springs for many decades. Born on 26 August 1926 at Vrnjacka-Banja, Serbia, Milica "Mitzi" Anđelković was the only daughter of Milan Anđelković and Eva Jovanović. Mitzi had a brother, Milan. Her parents eventually divorced. Sometime in the 1940s, Milica Anđelković married a Mr Smiljanic. After World War II, Mitzi Anđelković fled Yugoslavia for the United States as the Communists under Tito took power.

King Peter II of Yugoslavia and Mrs Mitzi Lowe.

In 1955, Milica Anđelković married Dr Franklin P Lowe (b.2 April 1922). The couple had two children and lived in California. At some point in the 1950s, Mitzi Lowe also met King Peter II of Yugoslavia, who became friends with Mitzi and her husband Frank. It is believed that Mitzi looked after the king when he was ill, which he often was due to complications from alcoholism and depression. When King Peter II died in 1970, Mitzi Lowe was the executor of his will. Prince Tomislav writes in his memoirs that Mitzi first met Prince Andrej at the funeral of his brother the King. Dr Frank Lowe and Mrs Mitzi Lowe were divorced on 18 March 1974. By the end of the year, both had remarried. 

Prince Andrej and Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia in Palm Springs, 1983.

On 30 March 1974, Mitzi Lowe married Prince Andrej "Andy" of Yugoslavia (b.Bled 28 Jun 1929) in Palm Springs. Andrej's brother Tomislav tried to prevent Andrej from marrying that "problematic woman," as Tomislav called her, but the prince could not prevent the marriage. Andrej was the youngest son of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (1888-1934) and Queen Marie (1900-1961; née Princess of Romania). From 1956 until their divorce in 1962, the prince was married to Princess Christina "Christa" of Hesse (1933-2011), the daughter of Prince Christoph of Hesse and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, a sister of the Duke of Edinburgh. From 1963 until their divorce in 1972, Prince Andrej was married to Princess Kira zu Leiningen (1930-2005), the daughter of Fürst Karl zu Leiningen and Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Russia. After the marriage, Mitzi was styled and titled as HRH Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia. 

Prince Andrej and Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia in Palm Springs, 1984.

Prince Andrej and Princess Eva Maria were active on the social scene in California and visited Serbian communities abroad. In a November 1984 visit to Australia, the prince elaborated on his life in the United States: "Palm Springs is an extraordinary little town. In summer it has a small population with semi-retired and professional people, former USA presidents. In winter, many more people arrive." Princess Eva Maria added: "We are there for six to seven months a year and we have black-tie dinners - very formal - six to seven balls a year and lots of parties." At the time it was noted that Prince Andrej was retired, but open to getting involved in business activities again if the right opportunity presented itself. In the past, he had worked as a consultant at ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Costa Mesa, California.

Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia in Sydney, 1984.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Fairfax Media Archives

What seemed to be a good opportunity presented itself to Andrej in the form of Comparator Systems Corporation, an electronics company founded in 1976. Around 1986, the prince took the position as Head of International Marketing at the company. In a 1997 exposé on Comparator and its fallout by Orange Coast Magazine, Princess Eva Maria cooperated fully. After all, it was widely believed that her husband's role at the company, and the subsequent things that he learned about its dire financial position, had contributed to his early death. 

Prince Andrej and Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia in Sydney, February 1990.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Fairfax Media Archives.

Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia died by apparent suicide in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning inside his black Mercedes-Benz on 6 May 1990; the car was parked in the garage at the Comparator offices in Irvine, California, and the lifeless prince's body was discovered by the company's corporate secretary. Regarding her husband's passing at the age of sixty, Eva Maria recalled: "It was a terribly, terribly shocking tragedy." Andrej's attraction to Comparator was rooted in the innovative patent technology that the company was marketing: a fingerprint scanner, which would allow businesse to be able to tell whether the person whose finger was scanned was actually the individual they claimed to be. The princess elaborated: "He [Andrej] believed that the product was a good thing for security, hotels, banks and things like that. And he was always fascinated by anything mechanical, any gadgetry." Comparator's CEO Robert Rogers was charismatic, polite, and convincing; in the 1970s, however, Rogers was reprimanded by stock regulators for the unlawful issuing of securities. When Robert Rogers met Prince Andrej, he was certain that having a bonafide royal prince associated with the company would be an immense asset. Despite the apparently wonderful product on hand, Comparator's sales were not remarkable, and the company appeared to be struggling. Prince Andrej went on a business trip with the company's CEO to Switzerland and returned home in a depressed state. Andrej's wife remembered her husband confiding: "They didn't have any money so I paid the hotel bills with a credit card." This trip was a warning of what was to come. "Cars would be repossessed, telephones would be disconnected. This was when my husband came to the rescue," Eva Maria stated. When Eva Maria would raise her concerns about Comparator with her husband, Andrej would reply: "You just don't understand these things." In 1989, Andrej loaned the company $60,000 from a certificate of deposit which the couple possessed. For most of his time as the Head of International Marketing, Andrej as well as a good deal of the other twenty employees of Comparator had been compensated by being given stock in the company. However, by May 1990, Andrej wanted to recoup the money he had lent. On 5 May, Andrej and Eva Maria were being visited by Andrej's son Prince Karl Vladimir, who was visiting his father from Europe. On that day, the prince told his wife that he needed to go to the Irvine office in order to meet with Robert Rogers; Andrej phoned Eva Maria several times to confirm that he was expecting the meeting to occur that day. When the prince did not arrive back in Palm Springs for dinner, his wife became worried. It was early in the morning of 6 May 1990 that Summer Churchill, the company's corporate secretary, found the prince's body. Ms Churchill recalled: "He was sitting there slumped over. I reached in to find a carotid artery. There was no carotid. So I knew he was dead."

Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia in Sydney, 1984.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Fairfax Media Archives.

Although the princess did not think that the prince was suicidal, she did feel that when he found out about the true state of affairs at the company in which he was so invested that he might have thought there was no other solution but to take his life. Regardless, Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia would never forgive herself for the fate that befell her husband. "In a way part of this is my fault. I should have put my foot down and I didn't. Whenever I think of my husband, I blame myself." Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia was initially buried in the United States. In 2013, his remains were reburied at the Karageorgevich dynasty's mausoleum at Oplenac.

Prince Andrej and Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia in Sydney, 1990.
Photograph (c) Getty Images/Fairfax Media Archives.

In the thirty years since her husband's death, Princess Eva Maria of Yugoslavia lived a very private life. It is not known where the princess was buried.

May Princess Eva Maria Rest in Peace.

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