When the royal family of Serbia needed cash to rehab their palaces in Belgrade, they came hat in hand to — Hunter Biden.
Crown Prince Alexander Karađorđević of Yugoslavia and his wife, Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, met with Biden in November 2015, and didn’t hesitate asking the then-vice president’s son for an expensive favor, emails from Hunter Biden’s abandoned hard drive show.
“We were having problems with the state budget for the Royal Compound consisting of two palaces built by my grandfather King Alexander I of Yugoslavia. We were hoping that Hunter might be able to help with his father to solve the problem,” Alexander told The Post.
At the time, Vice President Biden handled a broad international portfolio for the White House that included Serbia. Two months before the call, he had met with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic when he visited the United States. And just nine months after Hunter’s chat with the royals, Joe Biden was in Serbia meeting with top leaders and held an event at the royal palace.
Alexander is the only son of Peter II, the last person to rule as King of a unified Yugoslavia. Peter was forced to flee after Nazi Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941. The monarchy was formally abolished in 1945 and Alexander grew up abroad. He and wife Katherine were eventually allowed to return and have been living in their old royal digs since 2001. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia, which became an independent nation after the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
Princess Katherine was born in Greece but studied business in the United States at the University of Denver and the University of Dallas. Her phone contact and email are contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop, which was abandoned at a Delaware repair shop in April 2019.
The royals live day-to-day in the Old Palace in Belgrade, a lavish six-bedroom abode built in 1920s Serbian-Byzantine style. Its entrance hall is paved with stone and walls are decorated with medieval frescoes. A formal dining room is decorated with wood-carved ceilings, bronze chandeliers and and paintings from old masters. The adjoining White Palace is used for receptions. The compound features a movie theater, billiard room and a vast library.
The residences received more more than a million dollars a year from the government for staffing and upkeep — which Alexander said was not enough.
“It’s a big responsibility to maintain a place like this,” Alexander told Reuters in 2010. “You have a list of repairs. Number one is the roof. Number 50 is the swimming pool.” Serbian media reported this year that the palace has soaked up $2.87 million in state revenue over the last five years.
Hunter Biden’s royal confab took place on Nov. 3, 2015 and lasted 30 minutes, according to an entry in his calendar. Eric Schwerin, Hunter’s longtime business partner and president of his investment company Rosemont Seneca, was also on the call.
Emails from the hard drive suggest Hunter Biden’s business appetites extended to the small Slavic state. The country’s ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Petrovic, appears in Hunter Biden’s contact list — and they also appear to be chummy.
“We are looking forward to you visiting Serbia at your convenience,” Petrovic emailed Hunter Biden in advance of a planned trip there in May 2010. “I had some preliminary conversations with some business people in Serbia and I think you would find some opportunities when you travel there. Please let me know if I can provide some additional information prior to your trip to Belgrade”
Mark Doyle, a one-time senior adviser to then-Sen. Joe Biden and national finance director of his unsuccessful presidential run in 2008, emailed Hunter Biden in April 2010 about plans to connect him with “high net worth individuals” in Serbia.
Petrovic “wants to start putting together a full day for you with [Serbian President Boris] Tadic, and potential investors,” Doyle wrote, adding in a follow up that “my sense from Vladimir is that they are very willing to help you with your fund.” At the time Doyle was operating as a Serbian foreign agent through his firm Prairie Avenue Advisors,
When Petrovic retired from his country’s foreign service, he emailed Hunter Biden to let him know he would now be reachable at the lobbying firm Roberti White (now Roberti Global).
The royals were grateful for Hunter Biden’s help.
“We would like to thank you very much for today. It was a great pleasure to have met you. Katherine and I are very grateful to you for being so good to us and for being so understanding,” Alexander told Hunter Biden in an email that same day — sharing a 2009 image of the royal couple with then vice president Biden and second lady Jill Biden.
Prince Alexander told The Post he believed “nothing happened” after the Biden conversation — but added that “finally the Serbian government did provide the budget” for palace maintenance.
Prince Alexander said he did not pay Hunter Biden or his business associates and was not asked to.
His highness confirmed that he was introduced to Hunter Biden by Sally Painter, a co-founder of the DC lobbying shop Blue Star Strategies. The firm took on the controversial Ukrainian energy company Burisma as a client in 2015 and is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for potential illegal lobbying on behalf of the company. At the time Hunter Biden was on Burisma’s board netting $83,000 a month.
Painter did not respond to request for comment from The Post.
The royals are known in charitable and philanthropic circles in the United States and the earliest connections between them and Hunter Biden is an invite Hunter received to a “masquerade gala” in 2011 at Cipriani to benefit Katherine’s nonprofit Lifeline New York. The organization focuses on providing medical assistance and food to those in Serbia.
Many Serbians continue to have ill feelings toward President Biden for his role as an ardent supporter of the US-led bombing campaign against Serbia in the spring of 1999.
“I am a patriot who is deeply disappointed that they would be dealing with Biden,” a friend of the royal family told The Post, adding that begging the Biden’s for cash was “a dagger through Serbian hearts.”
With additional reporting by Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein