Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia to deliver Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture


Image: Princess ElizabethPrincess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, among the first to launch an international aid effort for her war-torn homeland, will deliver Fairfield University's annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture on Monday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Her appearance, which is part of the popular Open VISIONS Forum series in affiliation with the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, is made possible by a grant from the Frank Jacoby Foundation.

Princess Elizabeth left the former Yugoslavia as a child nearly 50 years ago, but her heart has always been with the people of the region. To that end, she launched an international effort for humanitarian aid through the United Nations and her own Princess Elizabeth Foundation. For the past 15 years, she has worked with world leaders, including Mother Teresa, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama, to promote peace among all ethnic and religious groups.

"I do not understand how people can feel superior to those of another faith or race," she has said. "Such intolerance is deeply rooted in fear, which helps to perpetuate injustice and hatred. This deep programming prevents people from honoring and celebrating life's differences."

Princess Elizabeth need look no farther than her homeland to see the devastating effects of intolerance. While Eastern Europeans celebrated the end of Communism, which fell in Yugoslavia in 1989, they also saw the rise of historic religious and ethnic rivalries that had been suppressed by the Communists. Within the next few years, the former Yugoslavia would evolve into one of the most explosive trouble spots in Europe since World War II.

Princess Elizabeth was among the first prominent individuals to recognize the growing threats to peace and attempt to stem the tide. She spoke out in Europe and the United States about ethnic hatreds, working behind the scenes with several United Nations programs. In 1989, she traveled to the Vatican to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to help improve relations between Catholic and Orthodox communities in Yugoslavia.

At the end of 1990, the princess created the Princess Elizabeth Foundation, a non-profit, non-political organization that strives to bring humanitarian aid to the region. Since the civil wars, the Foundation has focused on transporting medical supplies, food, clothing and blankets to refugees, finding homes for children victimized by war and placing older students in schools and colleges in the United States.

Praised by the Associated Press for her early and lasting efforts, Princess Elizabeth strongly believes that religious leaders on all sides should work together to forge a lasting peace.

"Love and compassion are one language, yet religions do little to foster that common language because they're all on different tracks," she has said. "If they worked together, this horrible killing, committed in the name of God, would not happen. Humanitarian inroads work through ecumenical aims."

In recent years, Princess Elizabeth has continued her work for the urgent needs of the people of the former Yugoslavia, now divided into the states of Slovenia, Croatia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. In 1998, she brought physicians and staff from the Tennessee-based International Children's Heart Foundation to operate on 18 children with congenital heart defects. Later that year, she organized a symposium in Belgrade on orthotics and prostheses.

Now a U.S. citizen, Princess Elizabeth has strong ties to many of the royal houses of Europe. The daughter of Prince Paul, the Prince Regent of Yugoslavia after the assassination of his cousin King Alexander in 1934, she is a second cousin to Charles, Prince of Wales, and Queen Sophie of Spain. On her mother's side, she is a descendant of Catherine the Great of Russia and she is the great-great-granddaughter of Karageorge, a near-mythic figure who started the first uprising against the Turks in 1804.

The Jacoby-Lunin Lectureship is an endowed series now in its seventh year at Fairfield University. It was started by Frank Jacoby, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, who found his way to Bridgeport, Conn., and became a successful businessman and philanthropist. He founded the lecture series bearing his name to promote brotherhood and humanitarianism. Past speakers have included Morris Dees, civil rights activist and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; singer/humanitarian Harry Belafonte; former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke; Walter Turnbull, founder and director of the Boys Choir of Harlem; and Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan.

Tickets are $25 with discounts available for seniors and students. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 27, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 80