The Law and Politic of the disputed Succession to
the Headship of the Imperial Russian Family
The Romanov Agenda 2000
-A Plan of Reconciliation -

Regierungsdirektor Klaus J. Meyer (see note 1)
(MPA Harvard 1998)

2. April 1999

  1. Introduction
  2. The Arguments
  3. The Succession after Czar Nicholas II
  4. The Laws of Succession to the Imperial Throne
  5. The Claims of Nicholas Romanovitch Romanov
  6. The Claims of Maria Vladimirovna Romanova
    1. The Rights of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch
    2. The Rights of Vladimir Cyrillovitch
    3. The Rights of Maria Vladimirovna
    4. The Rights of George Michailovitch
  7. The Romanov Agenda 2000 – A plan of Reconciliation –
  8.  Conclusion

  1. Introduction

The end of the Communist regimes in central and Eastern Europe opened the gates as well for the former ruling houses. King Michael I of Romania and King Simon II of Bulgaria - both have ruled in their countries before being ousted by the Communist regimes - have paid visits to their home countries. The center of attention however lies with Russia and the Romanovs. The burial of the remains of the last Imperial Family (see note 2) on July 17th , 1998 in St. Petersburg and previously of other members of the Imperial House (see note 3), the controversy about the funeral within the Romanov - Family and the Orthodox Church (see note 4)and the effects on the Anastasia - Saga (see note 5) have received wide spread and popular interest. President Yeltsin himself has taken an active interest and attended the St. Petersburg ceremonies (see note 6). It is reported that the two missing corps of the last Tzarevitch and the Grand Duchess Maria has been found (see note 7).

The ceremonies in St. Petersburg have drawn attention as well to the dispute within the Romanov - Family about the Headship of the Imperial House. The general public was astonished to learn that the funeral ceremonies were presided over by Prince Nicholas Romanovitch Romanov, while a the remembrance ceremony held by the Patriarch of all Russia, Alexei II, was attended by the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna. These two ceremonies have given the impression of an isolated Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and a Prince Nicolas firmly in charge of the Imperial House. However, this was only the last and very public chapter in the dispute within the Imperial Family over the Headship. Since 1992 Maria Vladimirovna and Nicolas Petrovitch claim to be the legitimate Head of the Imperial House.

At the heart of the controversy lies the question of the requirements for a dynastic marriage. Only those members of the Imperial Family contracting a dynastic valid marriage can preserve their rights and the rights of their descendants in the line of succession. Disputes over the succession are not unknown in Royal and Imperial Families around the globe. The Romanovs share here same fate for example with the Imperial Families of Brazil, Germany (Hohenzollern), Austria-Hungary (Habsburg) and France (Bonaparte) and in the Royal Families of France (Bourbon-Orleans). Questions of marriage have rocked the Windsor's throne twice this century. The future marriages of the Crown Princes of the Netherlands, of Denmark and Norway seem to cause of such rifts. Each dynasty has its own set of rules governing the marriage of its members. The most famous act in this regard is possibly the British Royal Marriage Act. Marriages of members of the Imperial House of Russia were and still governed by a set of rules laid down between 1797 and 1911. This article will examine whether the rules were kept and therefore the rights to Headship of the Imperial House preserved either by Maria Vladimirovna or Nicholas Romanovitch. Further this article will look to the politics surrounding this seemingly mere legal question and the implications for the future of the Romanov Dynasty.

  1. The Arguments

This article will argue

  • that the legitimate Head of the Imperial House is Maria Vladimirovna,

  • that Nicolas Romanovitch himself must except Maria Vladimirovna as the head of the Imperial House, because his very own arguments do not support his claim,

  • that the sole interpreter of the rules governing marriages of members of the Imperial Family is the Czar/Head of the Imperial House,

  • that a lot of arguments put forward are highly motivated by politics and have no base in the laws governing the succession,

  • that the present dispute is harmful for the future of the dynasty in Russia

  • that the rules governing the marriages of members of the Imperial Family need to be revised and modernized in order to be acceptable

and proposes

  • a plan for a reconciliation of the Branches of the Romanov Family, The Romanow Agenda 2000.

  1. The Succession after Czar Nicholas II

In order to understand the present dispute it is helpful to look into the succession after Nicholas II by a simplified family tree as relevant to the succession question.

Nicholas I

1825 - 1855

Alexander II

1855 - 1881

GD Nicholas

= 1891

Alexander III

1881 - 1894

GD Vladimir

= 1909


GD Peter

= 1931

Nicholas II

1894-1917 = 1918

GD Michael

= 1918

GD Cyril

= 1938

P. Roman

= 1978




= 1992


T 1922


T 1953

T 1981

Blue                   Czars and their reigns
Green Heads of the Imperial Family since the Revolution
Red The Present Pretenders
GD Grand Duke
P Prince

Czar Nicholas II renounced for himself and his son Alexei the throne on March 2nd, 1917 in favor of his only surviving brother Grand Duke Michael. Grand Duke Michael, sometimes styled Michael II, did not accept the throne and "abdicated" the next day (see note 8). Both Nicolas II and Michael II were murdered in 1918. Therefore the line of male descendants of Alexander III became extinct and the succession passed into the next male line of Alexander II. Grand Duke Cyril, who declared himself Curator of the Throne in 1922 and Emperor in 1924 (see note 9), represented this line. After his death in 1938 his only son Grand Duke Vladimir became Head of the House (see note 10). While this was widely accept at the time, however the Headship of neither Cyril nor Vladimir was totally undisputed. With the death of Grand Duke Vladimir in 1992 his daughter Maria and Nicolas Romanov claimed the Headship. Not only the Headship but as well the titels are matters of dispute. For that reason I have used titles in the family tree only if they are not in dispute.

  1. The Laws of Succession to the Imperial Throne of Russia (see note 11)

The laws of succession to the Imperial throne have been laid down been 1797 and 1911. These sets of rules determine not only who the Czar is but as well the membership, position and titles of the Imperial Family. In order to understand and interpret the rules fully one has to look as well at the background, the time when they were enacted and intention lying behind these rules.

Since the times of Peter the Great the succession to the Russian throne had not been a very stable one. Several coup d' etats had undermined aspects of legitimacy in favor of mere power. Catherine I and Catherine II the Great had no blood claim whatsoever to the throne, except that they were the consorts of Peter the Great and Peter III respectively. Catherine II ousted her husband and put aside her own son's rights during her lifetime. Insofar it does not come as a surprise that this son, Paul I, enacted on April 4 th, 1797 the so-called Pauline Laws of Succession. The intention behind this order of succession was that law itself determines the succession and that there will be not the slightest doubt as to the successor (see note 12). The Pauline Laws were amended by a Manifesto of Nicolas I, dating August 22nd, 1826, the family statute of Alexander III (July 2nd, 1886), the Fundamental Laws of the Empire (April 25, 1906) and the Imperial Ukase No. 1289 of August 8 th, 1911 by Emperor Nicholas II. These constitute the norms and regulations for the succession to the Imperial throne by the end of the Romanov's rule over Russia.

According to these rules only the descendants of Czar Michael I from the House of Romanov were entitled to succeed to the Russian throne (Article 25 Fundamental Laws). The Czar and his spouse had to be of Orthodox faith. The succession is determined by the rules of primogeniture (Article 26 of the Fundamental Laws). Male and female dynasts are entitled to succeed; female members of the Imperial House however only in the case that there is no male dynast whatsoever (Articles 26 to 29). In such a case of female succession the rules of primogeniture apply and the succession lies with the oldest female dynast of the last male Czar. On the demise of an Emperor, his heir accedes to the throne by virtue of the law; his accession counts from the demise of his predecessor (Article 53).

Marriages of members of the Imperial Family need the consent of the Emperor (Article 183 Pauline Law). With the Emperor's consent the members of the family are allowed to marry spouses who are not member of the Orthodox Church (Article 184 Pauline Law). Male dynast in the line of succession however can only marry if their future consorts adhere to the orthodox faith before marriage (Article 185 Pauline Laws). Only marriages with spouses of corresponding rank (ebenbuertig or standesgemaess) are allowed (Article 188). Corresponding rank derives from the membership to a Royal or Sovereign House (Article 36 Fundamental laws). Only those born of such a "ebenbuertigen" marriage are Members of the Imperial Family with the right to the succession. (Article 126) Those born of not "standegemaeesse" marriage have no right to the succession. (Article 36) hey are not dynasts and not members of the Imperial Family. Entering a child's name on the order of the Emperor (Article 137) into the Genealogical Book of the Imperial Family serves as proof of the membership in the Imperial House (Article 142). The Imperial Ukase of 1911 stated that no grand duke or grand duchess might contract a marriage with a person of unequal birth, that is, not belonging to a royal or sovereign house. This is interpreted by some that the Ukase allows marriages of Princes and Princesses of Russia with persons of good standing, who do not fulfill the requirements of corresponding rank.

The titles of the members of the Imperial House were set forth in the Family Statute of Alexander III in 1886. Children and grandchildren in the male line of an Emperor were entitled to the style and title of His/Her Imperial Highness Grand Duke/Duchess of Russia. Great- grandchildren in the male line of an Emperor bear the style and title of His/Her Highness Prince/Princess of Russia. Other members of the Imperial House bore the style and title of His/Her Serene Highness Prince/Princess of Russia. Only the eldest son of an Emperor's great grandchild was entitled to the style of Highness. The Emperor is entitled to regulate the style and title of spouses and children of a morganatic marriage.

The Emperor ruled the Imperial Family as autocratic and supreme as the country. All the members of the Imperial Family had to be committed to the Emperor with complete respect, obedience and allegiance (Article 219 Fundamental Laws). It was his and only his decision whether to grant or withhold his authorization for a marriage (see Article 7 of the Ukase of 1911). No judicial recourse was provided for. For whatever reason the Emperor saw fit he could withhold his consent. Marriages of members of the Imperial House were not mere private affaires, but affaires of state and the Emperor had to have complete control of that kind of marriage policy. The rules governing Imperial marriage there set forth under which circumstances the members of the Imperial House could ask the Emperor for his consent. But still the Emperor could withhold his consent even if the spouse fulfilled all requirements for example if the marriage was political not opportune or the Emperor viewed this persona as not acceptable for more personal reasons. Only marriages having received the Emperor's authorization were dynastic valid and trigged the rights to the succession.

It is interesting to notice that these rules regulate the marriages of members of the Imperial Family, but there are no direct rules regulating the marriage of the Emperor himself. It seems that it was rather envisioned that the Emperor would come to the throne having already married when being still the Heir to the Throne. During the Imperial time only twice an Emperor married. In 1880 Alexander II married after the death of his Empress Maria, born Princess of Hesse and by Rhine, his long-standing mistress Princess Catherine Dolgurukaya (see note 13). This marriage was a morganatic marriage and Alexander II created her Princess Jurievskaya. Just after his accession Nicolas II married Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, who had converted to the orthodox faith prior to the marriage and received on that occasion the title of Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna. However, Alexander III had approved this marriage before his untimely death (see note 14). None of these marriages can therefore serve as a precedent what kind of rules applies to the marriage of Emperor himself. It seems however that to me logic that the Czar himself conforms to the rules set forth in the rules and laws governing the succession. Otherwise it would be hard for other members to accept his authority. Nevertheless because of the supreme power over the Imperial Family it is the Emperor's sole and only decision to decide whether his very own marriage fulfills all requirements and is political convenient. It is not for the members of the Family to question the Imperial decision and therefore calling into questions the succession. This lies in the logic of the supreme authority the Emperor holds with regards to the Imperial House.

MacDonnald (see note 15) pointed in her article to the fact that the rules of succession always speak of the succession after the demise of the Emperor. After the fall of the Empire there was no Imperial throne and the last ruling emperor abdicated. She seems to indicate by these statements that the rules do not apply anymore. The wording of the laws governing the succession of course do not mention that in case of a revolution or loss of the throne different rules should apply. It is hardly feasible that any of the monarchs could foresee the events leading to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. However, in all royal and sovereign families after they lost their throne the their rules of succession applied. Whatever the title was, it was replaced by the Headship of the House. This lies in the logic and rationale of a dynasty. It seems to me rather curious and bizarre to follow a different pace.

  1. The Claims of Nicolas Romanovitch Romanov

Nicolas Romanovitch Romanov was born in 1922 and is the son of H.H. Prince Roman Petrovitch of Russia (1896-1978) and his wife Countess Prascovia Dimitrievna Chewremetev (1901-1980). He married in 1952 the Italian Countess Sveva Della Gherardesca and is father of three daughters. He called himself first Prince Romanov and now Prince of Russia. As the eldest great great grandson of Nicolas I he would be indeed entitled to the style and title of H.H. Prince of Russia, but only if he would be dynast. He is the President of the Romanov Family Association (see note 16). In 1992 he laid claim to the Headship of the Imperial Family after the death of Vladimir Cyrilovitch as the eldest male agnate (see note 17).

His claims depend on whether he is dynast that is to say a member of the Imperial Family and not just of the wider Romanov Family. This depends on the question whether his father, Prince Roman Petrovitch of Russia, contracted in 1921 a marriage with Countess Prascovia Dimitrievna Chewremetev that fulfilled the legal requirements. Obviously, a Countess Chewremetev is not a member of a Royal or Sovereign House. But in the case of Prince Roman the provision of the Ukase of 1911 have to be taken into account. However, the impact of the Ukase-provisions is open to questions.

Prince Nicolas claims that by virtue of the Ukase the Princes of Russia were free to marry whomever they liked (see note 18) and that would not negatively effect their and their descendants' position in the succession. In support of his argument he points to the marriages of two Romanov princesses. In 1911 Princess Tatiana Constantinova (1890-1970) married Prince Constantine Alexandrovitch Bagration-Mukhransky. In 1914 Princess Irene Alexandrovna (1895-1970) married Prince Felix Youssoupov. Both princesses had to renounce their rights to the succession before the Emperor authorized their marriages (see note 19). Therefore, so Nicholas Romanov's argument goes, the marriages were regarded as dynastically valid and the princesses and their offspring would have retained their position in the succession. Otherwise the renunciations would have made no sense. Therefore, so he claims, the marriage of his parents were valid and he in the line of succession.

This has however not remained unchallenged. Horan (see note 20) states that the Ukases of 1911 does not mean that these marriages were dynast and the descendants of these marriages member of the Imperial Family, but were still morganatic marriages. Marlene Eilers (see note 21) argues that morganatic marriages of Princes of Russia did not confer rights to the succession to their descendants and that the Ukase of 1911 did not change this. It would otherwise mean that the children of grand dukes of morganatic marriages would not be dynasts while those of Princes of Russia would be. This defies not only common sense but would confer on junior dynasts special rights which senior dynasts do not enjoy. This is quite an alien concept for dynasties. Horan (see note 22) believes that the impetus of the renunciations was to prevent a female dynast marrying into foreign dynasty to preserve her rights and that of her descendents to the Russian succession. It should be noted that the Ukase deals not directly with the marriages of Princes of Russia, but with those of Grand Dukes. While Grand Dukes could not sought the Emperor’s consent for a morganatic marriage, the Princes could now. But the marriage would remain a morganatic one. Here the Emperor reacted to the marriage of his brother, the Grand Duke Michael, who had ask the his brother to authorize his marriage to his mistress, the twice divorced Mrs. Wulfert, later to be Countess/Princess Brassova. The Emperor refused and the Grand Duke married nevertheless. He was stripped of his rank and band from Russia. He returned only when the World War broke (see note 23). It was common for a female dynast to renounce her rights before marrying into a foreign dynasty. In the diaries of Grand Duke Constantine Contantinovitch (see note 24), father of the Princess Tatiana, is found a passage that the Emperor told him that "he would never look upon her (Tatiana's) marriage to a Bagration as morganatic, because this House …, is descended from a once ruling dynasty". A further explanation for the renunciations could be that it simply clarified the intended consequences of the Ukase of 1911. This is a typical legal concept that even if the legal provision have a certain effect, one can - without a legal necessity - confirm the impact by another act in order to avoid any disputes. Furthermore, after the death of the Grand Duke Cyril in 1938 a list of the succession (see note 25) was established. While Prince Roman took his place in the succession list, his two sons, Nicholas and Roman, were not listed. A further indication is that in 1951 Vladimir Cyrilovitch conferred on the wife and children of Prince Roman the style and title of Serene Highness Prince/Princess Romanowsky (see note 26) in accordance with the Ukase of July 28th , 1938. This act demonstrates that the Head of the House did regard the marriage of Prince Roman as morganatic.

However the dispute what the impact of the Ukase of 1911 may be does not be decided here, because the marriage of Prince Roman and Countess Prascovia lacked the authorization of the Emperor/Head of the Imperial House.Without a shadow of doubt all marriages of members of the Imperial Family - whether the Ukase of 1911 applied or not - needed the consent of the Emperor as Head of the Family (Article 183). Both, the marriage of the Princess Tatiana and of the Princess Irene, received the authorization of Nicholas II. This, even Prince Nicolas does not deny. His parents were aware of that because they thought the authorization of the Empress Mother, Maria Feodorovna, the widow of Alexander III and mother of Nicholas II, who had survived the Revolution. The Empress Mother approved of the marriage, however that had no legal consequences. Maria Feodorovna commanded great respect within the migrs community and had great moral authority. But as Empress Consort and Empress Mother she was never head of the Family and therefore not in command of the legal powers of the Head of the Imperial Family. Prince Nicholas recognizes that by stating that the consent of the Empress Mother was of no legal consequences (see note 27). In 1921 the situation was difficult because Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch had not yet claimed the Headship. In 1922 he did and in 1924 he declared himself Emperor. But it needs to be noted that the Headship passed by virtue of the rules of succession with the death of the previous Emperor/Head of the Family automatically to the next Heir (Articles 53). Latest with the execution of Nicholas II and his brother Michael in 1918, Cyril was the Head of the Family. Prince Roman could and should have asked for his permission in 1921. Latest in 1922/1924 should have sought Cyril’s consent. But he did no such thing. Here the conflict within the Romanov Family over the succession after Nicholas II comes into play. At this time the Grand Duke Nicolas Nikolaievitch, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army and widely respected figure in the migr circles had aspiration to the Headship. He never declared himself officially, but a lot of Russians were quite favorable. This of course meant to set a side the rights of Grand Duke Cyril. Prince Roman was the nephew of Grand Duke Nicholas and his heir because the Grand Duke did not have legitimate children. If he had asked Grand Duke Cyril for his authorization in 1921 or later he would have recognized him as the Head of the Family. That he wanted to avoid. The fact is that because of these political aspirations of this branch of the Romanov Family the legal requirements for a dynastic marriage were not fulfilled and the therefore the marriage of Prince Roman and Countess Prascovia a morganatic one. The descendants of this marriage very not dynasts and do not have rights to the succession. Nicholas Romanov recognizes Cyril Vladimirovitch and Vladimir Cyrilovitch as the Heads of the Family. The succession list of 1938 and the conference of the title Prince Romanovsky in 1951 clearly shows that the Head of the Family did not recognize the marriage as dynastic valid. Because the Head of the Family commands autocratic power over the Imperial Family this decision is binding and can not be disputed. Otherwise the line of succession becomes unclear. In order to avoid any such thing Paul I had enacted the Pauline Laws. The present dispute, initiated by Prince Nicholas, is in clear violation to the intent of the Pauline Laws.

In conclusion, Nicholas Romanov is not entitled to claim the Headship of the Imperial House. He is not entitled to the style and titles of H.H. Prince of Russia, but merely to the style and title of H.S.H. Prince Romanovsky.

  1. The Claims of Maria Vladimirovna Romanova

Having determined the position of Nicholas Romanov does not automatically mean that the claims of the other pretender to the Headship of the Imperial Family are valid. Therefore we need to look closely at the claims Maria Vladimirovna makes.

Maria was born in 1953 as the only child of Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovitch, the Head of the Imperial House since 1938, and his wife Princess Leonida Gregorievna Bagration-Mukhransky. In 1970 her father declared her Guardian of the Throne (see note 28) and therefore indicating that she will be Head of the House after the last male dynasts dies. When in 1989 the next and last male heir, Prince Vassily of Russia, died, Maria became according to Grand Duke Vladimir the Heiress to the Throne, because all other male Romanovs in the wider sense were not dynasts due to morganatic marriages. Maria was married from 1976 to 1982 to Prince Francis William of Prussia, who converted to the Orthodox Faith and was received the style and title of H.I.H. Grand Duke Michael Pavlovitsch (see note 29). After the divorce he reverted back to his Prussian title, but remain orthodox. Their only child is George Michailovitch, born in 1981. After the death of her father in 1992, Maria laid claim to the headship of the Imperial House.

On four levels the rights of Maria and her son and heir are called into question. The rights of her grandfather Cyril Vladimirovitch and of her father Vladimir Cyrilovitch to the Headship of the Imperial House are denied. If they were already not entitled to be Head of the House, then Maria and her son - though the argument goes - can not be entitled to the Headship. There are arguments against Maria herself. Here lies the heart of the controversy. Furthermore there are arguments against her son George. One has to look at all these levels in order to determine the position of Maria and her son.

  1. The Rights of Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch

The case against Grand Duke Cyril is based on legal and political-moral arguments.

The main argument against him is that his mother Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854 - 1920) was not a member of the Orthodox Church at the time of his birth (see note 30). This seems to violate Article 185 of the Pauline Laws. This provision demands that male dynast in the line of succession can only marry if their non-orthodox future consorts adhere to the orthodox faith before marriage. There is no dispute that Maria Pavlovna, born a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, became orthodox only in 1908 (see note 31). On that occasion Nicholas II conferred on her the title of "Orthodox Grand Duchess" (see note 32). On a first glance that there seems to be a case against the Grand Duke.

But a closer examination does not sustain this. Article 185 is not understood that all male dynasts are obliged to marry only orthodox princesses. The provision was interpreted that only the heirs to the throne and the next male or the next two males in the line of succession have to comply with the requirement of Article 185 (see note 33). When Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch married Maria Pavlovna in 1874 and when his oldest son Cyril was born in 1876 he was not one of those direct heirs to the throne. In 1874 his brother, the future Alexander III, and his sons, the future Nicolas II and his brother Grand Duke George were next in line. Therefore article 185 did not apply. That this was indeed the understanding of Article 185 prove several grand ducal marriages (see note 34). In 1884 Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovitch (1857-1905), a younger brother to Alexander III and Grand Duke Vladimir, married Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine, the elder sister of the last Empress. She converted only in 1891. Later after her husband assassination in 1905 she founded an Orthodox order and was even canonized (see note 35). In the same year the Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovitch married Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg. She never converted, but neither her position as a Grand Duchess or the position of her children as Princes/Princess of Russia in the line of succession were ever called into question (see note 36). Further, it should be noted that Alexander II authorized the marriage of his son without demanding a conversion and granted Maria the styles and titles of H.I.H Grand Duchess of Russia (see note 37). The children born out of this marriage were never denied their dynastic rights during the reigns of Alexander II, Alexander III or Nicholas II.

Further it is argued that Grand Duke Cyril married in 1905 Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha without the consent of the Emperor and without her converting to the Orthodox faith (see note 38). This marriage is supposed to violate as well the rules of the Orthodox Church on marriages of consanguinity. It is true that the marriage took place in 1905 without the Emperor's authorization. Cyril was stripped of his styles, titles and income and banned from Russia. This clearly shows that the Emperor has supreme power whether to grant his permission or not. Victoria Melita fulfilled the requirements of corresponding rank. She belonged to a sovereign house, was the daughter of the sovereign Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and indeed a grand daughter of Queen Victoria on her father's side and of Czar Alexander II of her mother's side. However, the real motives behind the Emperor's refusal were neither Article 185 nor religious doubts. Victoria Melita was the former wife of Grand Duke Ernst of Hesse and by Rhine, the very brother of the Empress. In a quite unprecedented and scandalous step Victoria Melita divorced the Grand Duke of Hesse, a slight to her family the Empress was not willing to forget or forgive (see note 39). In 1909, Nicholas II however reversed his decision and reinstated Cyril in his previous position. Victoria Melita became the Grand Duchess Victoria Fedeorovna (see note 40). In 1907 she had already converted to the Orthodox faith (see note 41). Article 185 did not applied because Grand Duke Cyril was in 1905 not one of the direct heirs. In the line of succession were the Tsarevitch Alexei, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch (Michael II), the younger brother of Nicholas II, and Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovitch. With regards to the religious implications I would like to quote in full Horan's (see note 42) statement which argues convincingly:

"… the Russian church rarely enforced the traditional canonical rules against marriage within certain degrees of consanguinity. It is important to note that not only first cousin marriages technically violated the consanguinity rules, but also marriages between first cousins once removed and even between second cousins: there was no such thing as different "degrees of validity", so all such unions would equally transgress the strict letter of Orthodox rules. Nonetheless, there were innumerable valid marriages in the history of the Russian monarchy that technically violated the consanguinity rules of the Orthodox church, including the unions of Tsar Ivan III in 1472 to Zoe Paleologa; of Emperor Peter III to Empress Catherine II (second cousins); and, after promulgation in 1797 of the Pauline laws, of Emperor Nicholas I in 1817 to Princess Charlotte of Prussia (second cousins); of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich in 1824 to Princess Charlotte of Wurttemberg (first cousins once removed); of Grand Duke Constantine Nikolayevich in 1848 to Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg (second cousins); of Grand Duchess Helen Wladimirovna in 1882 to Prince Nicholas of Greece (second cousins); of Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich (assassinated 1905) in 1884 to Princess Elizabeth of Hesse and the Rhine (murdered 1918) (first cousins once removed); of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich in 1889 to Princess Alexandra of Greece (first cousins once removed); of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich in 1894 to Grand Duchess Xenia (first cousins once removed); of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich in 1900 to Princess Marie of Greece (first cousins once removed); and even of Emperor Nicholas II in 1894 to Empress Alexandra (second cousins) ….The present writer is unaware of opposition of any kind on the part of the Holy Synod to imperial approval of the marriage. Records establish that the Empress Alexandra nursed a lingering resentment against her first cousin and ex-sister-in-law, Princess Victoria Melita, for having divorced Alexandra's German brother, but even Father Yanysheff, the Confessor of the Empress, expressed the view that the degree of kinship between the betrothed posed no significant obstacle to an eventual marriage. The marriage ultimately was performed in an Orthodox chapel by a Russian Orthodox priest. … a corollary of the Orthodox church's view of marriage as a sacrament is the notion that once an Orthodox marriage has been performed and the sacrament dispensed, the sacrament is deemed to be dispensed for all time. In other words, the marriage is valid and cannot be canonically attacked after the fact."

Therefore, the arguments surrounding the marriage of Cyril Vladimirovitch and Victoria Feodorovna fall short. Their daughters, born during the reign of Nicholas II were included in the Genealogical Book of the Imperial Family as Princess of Russia (see note 43). Inspite of the clash of wills in 1905, Cyril's own the Emperor never called position in the succession into question. If this argument would be taken serious, it would lead to the conclusion that none of the Romanows descending from Nicholas I would have had a right to succeed because his marriage to the Princess Charlotte of Prussia would be in contradiction to the rules of the Orthodox Church. That of course borders on the notion of ridicule. But this is an interesting case of the politics and partly defamatory method used in the whole discussion.

Criticism has been often leveled upon the Grand Duke Cyril that he broke his the oath of allegiance to the Emperor Nicholas II in 1917 (see note 44) and his assumption of the Imperial title in 1924 which was against the express wishes of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (see note 45) and as Petrov/Lysenko and Egorov (see note 46)claim "without taking into account the opinions of the empire's defenders". In their view no automatic succession was appropriate.

The first criticism refers to the incident of March 1st, 1917 when the Grand Duke while commanding the Marine of the Guard, the elite troop guarding Tsarskoe Selo, then the residence of the Empress and her children, took his remaining troops to the Duma and declared its allegiance to the Duma (see note 47). The different interpretation of this act and the rationale behind it are open to dispute. I believe it is worth to notice that at the very day the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievitch, the former commander-in-chief, and so highly valued by Petrov/Lysenko and Egorov asked the Emperor to abdicate (see note 48). Nicholas II regarded that as a betrayal (see note 49). Less then 24 hours later Nicholas II abdicated. The Romanov rule came to an end after a bit more then 304 years. So this is all about 24 hours and the act had no consequences whatsoever. In my view neither the act of Cyril nor the act of Grand Duke Nicholas need to be judged in this way. Both responded to a desperate and utterly new and unique situation. The Emperor has lost long control over the events. They did what they thought fit to save the dynasty. The claim that no automatic succession was appropriate in 1922/1924 contradicts the intent of the rules of succession. The law itself as Paul I put it should determine the succession. It might have been political more appropriate or wiser to proceed differently, but that is of no legal importance. The Russian migr's organizations hold different view. If the rules of succession still applied and none of the Romanovs thought differently, there is no room for "taking into account the opinions of the empire's defenders", whoever these might have been.

It is indeed true that the Dowager Empress did not support the declaration of the Grand Duke (see note 50). She believed until her death that Nicholas II and his family were still alive and kept in Russia (see note 51). The Dowager Empress commanded great moral authority but the rules of succession do not depend on this. Whatever the Dowager Empress felt about the acts by the Grand Duke the succession was not effected by that. The law itself determines the succession, not the will or the wishes of any member of the Imperial Family may his/her position as exhaled as the one of the Dowager Empress. This is of no legal consequences.

All in all there are no legal reasons to deny Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch the Headship of the Imperial House. Whatever view one takes on certain political acts of the Grand Duke, regards them as wise or unwise, this judgement does not effect the succession. Prince Nicholas recognized that too (see note 52).

  1. The Rights of Vladimir Cyrillovitch

One argument against Vladimir is that he was not born in 1917 as the son of Orthodox parents. But as seen above both his parents were in 1917 orthodox. His mother had converted in 1907. In the end, even those who oppose the claims of Maria Vladimirovna recognize Vladimir as the Head of the Family. As Broek (see note 53) puts it " … genealogically speaking with the death of the Grand Duke Kirill his son Prince Vladimir Kirillovich was the senior male and as such head of the family".

Controversial is however to which title he could lay claim to. According to the Family Statute of Alexander III at birth his style and title was H.H. Prince of Russia as a great grand child of Alexander II. When his father proclaimed himself Emperor in 1924 he conferred on Vladimir the title and style of H.I.H. Grand Duke - Tsarevitch and on his two daughters Maria (1906-1951) (see note 54) and Kira (1909-1967) (see note 55) the style and titles H.I.H. Grand Duchess. Some argue that Cyril was not entitled to confer these titles (see note 56). Raising them from prince/princess of Russia to the rank of grand duke /grand duchess Cyril violated the Family Statute of Alexander III. On the other hand, Van der Kiste (see note 57) argues that Cyril as the self - proclaimed Czar could regard that Statute as null and void. It seems to me that Cyril neither regarded the Ukase of Alexander III as null and void nor did he violate the provisions. Rather he kept within the logic and rational of the very Ukase. When assuming the Imperial Powers and Positions as Emperor and Head of the Family his children became in the sense of the Ukase children of the Emperor and were therefore entitled to the grand ducal style and title. It seems to me totally in the logic and rational of the Ukase that in the case of the succession of a Grand Duke – whether he styles himself Emperor or just Head of the Family - his children are by the very Ukase Grand Dukes or Grand Duchesses.

Therefore, Vladimir Cyrillovitch was indeed entitled to style himself H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Cyrillovitch of Russia.

  1. The Rights of Maria Vladimirovna

Maria Vladimirovna can only claim the Headship of the House if there was no male dynasts living and she herself is dynast. As seen above, after the death of Prince Vassily no male dynasts remained. Therefore, the key question is whether her father has contracted a dynastic valid marriage that preserved her rights to the succession. This question lies at core of the family feud.

In 1948 Vladimir married Princess Leonida Geogrievna Bagration-Mukhransky, daughter of the Prince George Bagration-Mukhransky (1884-1957). The Princess Leonida, born 1914, was previously married to the American Millionaire Summer Kirby. The marriage ended in divorce. It is claimed that this marriage is not in accordance with Article 1888 because the Princess Leonida is not of equal standing. Therefore the marriage is morganatic and Maria not entitled to the Headship of the Imperial House. Broek (see note 58) argues as follows:

“However, this claim (of equal rank) is obviously incorrect and inconsistent. This is proven by the marriage of Princess Tatiana Constantinovna of Russia to Prince Constantine Bagration-Mukhransky a cousin of Princess Leonida in 1911. If in 1911 the Bagration-Mukhransky family was not considered of equal rank why should have been such in 1948? Their claim to headship of the Royal House of Georgia which had anyway passed to the Emperor of Russia is based on the possible but not certain extinction of the House of Grouzinsky in 1931. Furthermore, the House of Grouszinsky itself was not recognized in Imperial Russia as being of equal rank to the Imperial Family. Therefore, Prince Vladimir Kirillovich's claim for his wife's equal rank is incorrect and rather more wishful thinking than fact. Indeed, if the Bagration-Mukhansky's claim to equal rank as descendants of the early Kings of Georgia is given credence this would also pertain to various wives of the later Princes of Russia such as the Galitzines who themselves are of royal descent. It must be obvious from the above that this is not the case.”

The House Bagration-Mukhransky is a younger branch of the Royal House of Georgia. Sargis (see note 59) has described in his Essay on “The Romanovs and the Bagration” the history of the Royal House of Georgia in great detail. The Treaty of Georgievsk (see note 60) on July 24,1783 between Catherine the Great and the King Irakli II of Georgia is a treaty between two sovereign monarchs, even with very different power. But it is not a treaty between the Russian Empress and one of her subjects. In this sense the treaty is prove of the EbenbĆrtigkeit (equal rank) of the two monarchs. In 1797, when Paul I enacted his Laws on the succession and introduced the notion of corresponding rank, the Treaty of Georgiesvk was still in force. If in 1783 the Kings of Georgia were of equal standing in a dynastic sense, why should they not be of equal standing in 1797? Especially if one takes into account that at that times Georgia was the only other Orthodox monarchy. However, in 1800 the independent Kingdom of Georgia disappeared by the annexation of Paul I in violation of the Treaty of Georgiesvk. The descendants of the last Georgian king, George XII, received the style and title of H.S.H. Prince/Princess Grouzinsky (means of Georgia) (see note 61). The last Prince Grouzinsky died in 1931. The younger Branch received the style and title of H.S.H. Prince/Princess Bagration-Mukhransky. The Bragtaions were listed in the V. Part of the Book of the Noble Families of the Russian Empire. The Marquis de Rubigny (see note 62) lists the Bagration in the Part about the mediatisied princely and noble Houses. After the death of the last Prince Grouzinsky the Princes Bagration-Mukhransky became the older Branch and there represents the Royal House of Georgia (see note 63).

As already seen, the marriage of Princess Tatiana of Russia to a Prince Bagration in 1911 serves hardly as a convincing prove that the Emperor regarded the marriage of not of equal standing (see note 64). The diaries of the Princess’ father (see note 65) do speak a different language. And the renunciation of her rights in the succession seems to indicate that she was marrying into a foreign dynasty. Of great interest however is the marriage of the Infanta Maria de Las Mercedes of Spain (1911-1953) to Prince Irakli Bragration-Mukhransky in 1946 (see note 66). Before the marriage could take place Infant Don Ferdinand, the Infanta’s father asked Grand Duke Vladimir whether the groom was of corresponding rank to that of his daughter. The Family Laws of the Spanish Bourbons allowed only marriages of equal standing; otherwise the Infant would have been required to relinquish her rights to the succession. After careful investigation and consultation, especially with Grand Duke Andrew Vladimirovitch, the Grand Duke stated in a letter to the Infant that the Bagration were of equal rank and the groom entitled to the style of His Royal Highness. The letter reads as follows (see note 67):

Act of the Head of the Imperial House, 5th December 1946:

His Royal Highness the Infante don Ferdinand…, when his daughter the Infanta Maria Mercedes was about to contract a marriage with Prince Irakly Bagration of Moukhrani, asked me whether…I could consider the proposed marriage to be an equal one. My reply, which was conveyed to the Infante through the intermediary of the Spanish minister in Berne, the Conde de Bailen, was in the affirmative, in as much as, after prolonged and diligent study of the history of Georgia and the Georgian question, and after consulting my uncle, His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Andrew, brother of my late Father,…I consider it right and proper to recognise the royal status of the senior branch of the Bagration family, as well as the right of the members to bear the title of Prince of Georgia and the style of Royal Highness. The present head of the family is Prince George. If Almighty God, in His Mercy, allows the rebirth of our great empire, I consider it right that the Georgian language should be restored for use in the internal administration of Georgia and in her educational establishments. The Russian language should be obligatory for general relations within the Empire. (Signed) Wladimir.'

The Infanta was not asked to renounce her rights in the succession. Brook’s statement that if the Bagration are of corresponding rank then families as the Princes Galitzine are as well because they are of royal descent misjudges the notion of equal rank. Equal rank derives from the notion of being member of a royal or sovereign house. It does not derive from “having same royal blood in one’s veins”. Royal House are Sovereign Houses, but not every Sovereign Houses are royal as the Princes of Monaco or Liechtenstein prove. The Galitzine might have royal blood in their veins, but they were never a sovereign house. Once the status of sovereignty was acquired it could not be lost. The former sovereign houses of the Holy Roman Empire that lost their sovereignty and were mediatisied were still regarded as of equal standing. When the rulers of Hannover, France, Naples, Tuscany, Parma, Brazil, Portugal or the Balkan monarchies were ousted, their dynasties did not loose the standing of being of equal rank. Eilers (see note 68) rights compares the statute of the former Georgian Royal Family with those former sovereign families mediatised after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire or during the reunification of Germany and Italy. Broek is wrong to state that by the annexation of Georgia in 1800 the Headship of the Royal House of Georgia passed to the Russian Emperor. In all cases, were a dynasty was expelled from their territories and their states incorporated into another state, the dynasty just lost their territory, but neither their status as a sovereign family nor the their dynastic independence.

In should be further taken into consideration that Vladimir Cyrillovitch married the Princess when he was already Head of the Imperial Family. As stated above, the rules did not provide directly for marriages of the Head of the Family. However, it could be expected and would lie within the logic and rational of these provisions that the Head of the Family complies with the rules. But as already pointed out, it is the Head of the Family who determines whether the rules are observed or not. That lies in the very nature of the autocratic powers the Emperor/Head of the Family holds. That ensured furthermore a secure succession. It is not to the members of the Family to question the Head’s decision. As seen, Nicholas II withhold his consent to the marriage of Cyril and Victoria Melita for the only reason that Victoria Melita had offended the Empress by divorcing the Empress’s brother. As hard as this may seen, but this lies in the nature of the supreme and autocratic power the Head of the Family commands over the Imperial Clan. Therefore, if Vladimir Cyrillovitch was satisfied that his marriage would fulfill the requirement of corresponding rank, this decision had to be accepted. As the previous paragraphs have shown this decision was not just based as Broek puts in “wishful thinking”, but on careful investigation and consultation. If an argument arises over the rank of a spouse, it is the Head of the Family who settles the matter, not the Romanov Family as whole or individual members of the Family.

This leads to the conclusion that the marriage of Grand Duke Vladimir and Princess Leonida was valid and therefore their only daughter dynast. Because no male dynasts are still alive in 1992, the Headship of the Imperial Family passed to the next female in the line of succession in accordance with the principle of primogeniture. The next female in the line of succession is Maria Vladimirovana. As the daughter and granddaughter of the Czar/Head of the Family and as Head of the Family she is furthermore to be styled and titled H.I.H. Grand Duchess of Russia (see note 69).

But lets view the rights of Maria Vladimirovana from the side represented by Prince Nicholas. According to this views Vladimir Cyrillovitch was only entitled to the style and title of H.H. Prince of Russia. The marriage between Vladimir and Leonida would therefore fall under the provisions of the Ukase of 1911 and would dynastic valid according to Nicholas’s own understand of the Ukase. No renunciation of rights took place. Therefore Maria would be as a great great grand daughter of an Emperor entitled to the style and title of H.S.H. Princess of Russia and would hold a perfect dynastic position. That however, does not make Nicholas Head of the Family because still the Head of the Family did not endorse his parent’s marriage and therefore the descendents of that very marriage are not in the line of succession. All these arguments about the equal rank of a Princess Bagration do not help to compensate for this flaw in his argument. However, it helps to distract and shifts the focus of attention to the question of corresponding rank. But according to his very own arguments Nicholas must recognize Maria Vladimirovna as Head of the Family, even though just with the style and title of a Princess of Russia.

Conclusion: All this proves that Maria Vladimirovna is the only legitimate Head of the Imperial Russian Family. Even if her adversaries - if they take their own arguments seriously - must recognize her as the Head of the Romanov Dynasty as does the Russian Assembly of Nobility (see note 70).

  1. The Rights of George Michailovitch

George Michailovitch is the only son of Maria Vladimirovna and Prince Francis William of Prussia, who was created H.I.H. Grand Duke Michael Pavlovitch. After the divorce from the Grand Duke in 1982 Francis William reverted to his Prussian titles (see note 71). After his mother became Head of the Imperial Family, he became Heir of the Throne.

It is claimed that George is not a Romanov dynast but a dynast of the Prussian Royal House. Massie (see note 72) cites Prince Francis William with the following as follows: “ Ich habe einen deutschen Pass hier …. Dort steht, daß er Prinz Georg von Preußen ist.” (I have a German passport here… There is said that he is Prince George of Prussia).

This is however a very highly emotional argument, because it states that the heir is not Russian, but a German prince of the Hohenzollern dynasty. But it is an argument of no substance. If Maria Vladimirovna is the lawful head of the Imperial Family she is bound by the family statute to marry a prince of a royal or sovereign house, that is to say another member of another dynasty. Otherwise she would have forfeited the rights to the succession for her descendants. Therefore, it is within the logic and rational of the Romanov Family rules which provides for female succession that this might lead to a change of the family name and dynasty. It should be noted here that the last real Romanov was Elisabeht I who died in 1761. Peter III was a son of a Romanov Grand Duchess but he was rather a German Duke of Holstein-Gottrop. This proves that this does not lead to a change of the name of the dynasty. History provides for precedents. Most recently with the accession of Elisabeth II (see note 73) in the United Kingdom the House of Windsor remained and was not replaced by the House Mountbatten. In the Netherlands the Queens Wilhelmina (see note 74), Juliana (see note 75) and Beatrix (see note 76) married German nobles, who were created Princes of the Netherlands. But the dynasty remained the House of Orange. In Monaco the House Grimaldi still reins, if though the heiress, Princess Charlotte, mother of the present sovereign Prince Rainer IIII, married a Comte Pierre de Polignac (see note 77). It seems to me that in modern times the marriage of an heiress does not lead to a change of the dynasty. But even if this would be the case, it would not undermine the rights of George Michailovitch. The “mystery” of the German passport is easily solved. First, Prince Francis William is a German citizen and therefore his son entitled to a German passport. The passport can hardly state that he is Prince George of Prussia because Germany is since 1918 a Republic, not recognizing titles. The former titles were transformed into names and the former title Prince of Prussia is now just a mere family name. The correct form therefore has to read George Prinz von Preussen. A passport issued by the Federal Republic of Germany does not deal at all with questions of rank and titles or to which dynasty a person belongs. These are purely private matters.

Therefore, these arguments have no legal substance. But it draws the attention to the politics surrounding the succession question. To state that the Heir is not Russian is however of political and emotional appeal. In my view this defamatory note is highly deplorable and it is even more deplorable that the very own father lends support to such claims. I can help the impression that this is directed rather against the Grand Duchess then Grand Duke George because of the break down of the marriage. But whatever grievances the Prince has against his former wife, he should not make his son his tool for revenge.

As the son of the Head of the family, George Michailovitch is to be styled and titled H.I.H. Grand Duke of Russia.

While writing this article I found myself more and more frustrated. The arguments set forth are basically not new, may highlight certain aspects previously not paid much attention to and expose parts of the politics. However, I do not have not much hope that one of the pretenders will relinquish its claim. Therefore not much progress can be expected and the family feud is likely to continue.

This can be neither in the interest of the parties involved, the Romanov Family as a whole and the monarchical idea as such or for Russia. The Russian people in their present state when they have to master the transition from communist rule to a modern society the majority can care less about this feud and why should they? It is in our egalitarian times hardly acceptable and even hardly understandable that a marriage to a person is unacceptable because that person lacks “equal standing”. The world has changed since 1797 and even the monarchies have changed. Sweden and Norway have Queens born a commoner. The British monarchy welcomes commoners in their ranks. The former rules on dynastic marriages are hopelessly outdated and most Royal Houses have changed. The Romanovs need a young and modern view on things and face to go with that. If the idea of constitutional monarchy should gain any hold in Russia, the Romanov family needs to be united behind one and only one Head of the Family. There should be lessons learned from the Pre – Revolution times when the Roman Family unity broke down. The Romanov legacy is one of obligations, not of rights. In our times monarchical rule is not anymore indispensable. If the monarchs and their families forget that they will have to serve their nations and will be out of touch with reality they will forfeit sooner or later the right to rule. Dynastic family feuds may be attractive to tabloids, but they are not attractive on a political level. The role of constitutional monarchs is one of unity, keeping and bringing a nation together beyond the day to day arguments of the elected politicians and the party line distinctions. But how can one unit a nation if even one’s own family is not united? Russia, with all its problems and the deeply divided party lines may need an institution which will represent the nation and its history as such and is not just representative of one of the political parties. Here the Romanovs can play an active part. There is a historical obligation, a name and a tradition in the service of Russia.

The Romanovs need to be represented by a young and modern face that can lead the Family and maybe one-day the nation into the future. Prince Nicholas is in his late Seventies, the Grand Duchess Maria in her late Forties, both somehow too much connected with the Family feud over the Headship. Both parties have to compromise, compromise for the sake of their historical mission and in recognition of their historical obligations and for the sake of a greater goal then personal ambitions and pride. I recall here the example of the Count of Barcelona, who gave up his rights to throne and later the headship of the Spanish Bourbon Family for his son in order to enable the Family to return to the Spanish throne. This is not an easy task and asks for forgiveness and understanding, because they still need to work together. Let by-gones be by-gones and look forward not backwards. Do not fight the family wars of the past all over again, but join forces to tackle the challenges of the past, be of help for the Russian people, show yourself capable of meeting the demands of your historical obligations. The Romanovs need a convincing political program for the future. The corner stone of the Romanov Agenda 2000 that must be a Family Pact. This family pact should solve the question of the Headship, should set forth the modern rules governing marriages and regulate the membership of the family and the titles and styles. The key elements of the Romanov Family Pact should be:

Elements of the Romanov Family Pact

  1. The Romanov Family should be united under the Headship of George Michailovitch Romanov.

    Both present pretenders should renounce their rights in his favor. He is a young man, brought up in the Romanov tradition, but not compromised by the family feud. He is already known in Russia and can receive his further education in Russia, can be the first Romanov who can take up residence permanently in Russia. He belongs to a new generation and can represent the family in these demanding and challenging times for Russia.

  2. Till his dynastic majority a Council of Regent should be established. This council should be jointly headed by Nicholas Romanovitch and Maria Vladimirovna with the Titles of Guardians of the Throne. It should include as its members Roman Romanovitch, the present Vice-President of the Romanov Family Association, the Patriarch of all Russia, Alexei II, the Head of the Russian Assembly of the Nobility and the head of the monarchical party in Russia.

  3. The membership of the Family will be newly defined. The distinction between Dynasts and Romanov Family in the wider sense will be abolished. There will be only one Romanov Family. The following styles and titles will be used:

  4. The dynasty should be known as The Imperial House Romanov.
  5. The Head of the Family should H.I.H. The Grand Duke of Russia.
  6. The Heir Apparent should be known and styled H.I.H. The Prince Royal of Russia.
  7. Other sons and daughters of the Head of the Family and the Prince Royal should known and styled as H.H. Prince/Princess N of Russia.
  8. All other members should be known as H.S.H. Prince/Princess Romanov.
  9. In recognition of their renunciations and as sign of the mutual reconciliation and trust both Maria Vladimirovna and Nicholas Romanovitch will be ad persona H.I.H. Grand Duchess / Grand Duke of Russia. Nicholas’s consort will be known as H.H. Princess of Russia. Princess Leonida should out of respect for the former head of the Family, her work for the Romanow Family and as the grandmother of the Head of the Family retains her style and title of H.I.H. Grand Duchess of Russia.

  10. The Romanov Family Association should be the body caring out the Family’s policy and should be headed by the Head of the Family. However, during his lifetime Nicholas Romanovitch should retain the presidency, if he wishes to do so.

  11. A Council of the Family should be established advising the Head of the Family on dynastic matters. The Council consists of the five members of the family who are next in line of the succession and have reached the age of majority. Maria Vladimirovna and Nicholas Romanovitch are ad persona members of the Council during their lifetimes.
  12. A new Family Statute on the succession and marriage of the family members should be agreed upon between the members of the family. Key elements should be that males and females have the same right to the succession determined only by the time of birth, that is to say males do not have any longer a prior right to succession. Who is born first, has a higher rank in the line of succession, independently of his/her sex. The corresponding rank of a future spouse is no longer required for any member of the Family. The consent of the Head of the Family is required for every marriage. The Head of the Family has to consult with the Council of the Family.

  1. Concluding Remarks

While examining the various legal and political positions taken in the dispute over the succession question, I felt more and more that it is time to move on from the these legalistic battles to a reconciliation within the whole Romanov Family. This has become indeed the main point of my article. All legal arguments should be put aside and in a true family spirit jointly solutions should be explored. I hope that these branches of the family will start to speak with each. I have developed some ideas, which might show a way to a compromise might build a golden bridge, serve as first base for a discussion. Maybe a neutral mediator can be found who serves as a catalyst for reconciliation. This dispute is neither dignified nor helpful. The great name and historic responsibilities of the Romanovs deserve better then the present sad state of affairs.


Alexander von Russland

Einst war ich ein Grossfuerst (Once a Grand Duke, German edition 1932)

Broek, Pieter

A Genealogy of the Romanov Dynasty from the Emperor Nicholas I to the Present time (1994)

Broek, Pieter

The Succession Question,

Burke’s Royal Families of the World Vol. II (1980) Georgia

De Cugnac/de Saisseval

Le Petit Gotha (1993)

Cyril, Grande Duke

My Life in the Russia’s Service – Then and Now (1939, reprint 1995)

Eilers, Marlene A.

Queen Victoria’s Descendants (1997)

Ferro, Marc

Nicholas, The Last of the Tsars (1993)

Genealogisches and Staatshandbuch 1827 Band 65

Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (1957)

Horan, Brien Purcell

The Russian Imperial Succession (1997),

Van der Kiste, John

Princess Victoria Melita (1991)

Klier, John

The Quest for Anastasia (1995)

Mager, Hugo

Elisabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia (1998)

Martin, Russel E.

The Treaty of Georievsk, 1783,

Massie, Robert K.

Die Romanovs – Das letzte Kapitel (German edition of The Romanoffs – The Last Chapter, 1995)

Millar, Lubov

Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia (1991)

Egorov, Georgy

The Escape of Alexei, son of Tsar Nicholas II (1998)


The Last Tsar, The Life and Death of Nicolas II (1992)

The Romanoff Family Association

The Law of the Succession of the Imperial House of Russia,

Rubiny, Marquis de

The Titled Nobility of Europe (1914)

Russian Assembly of Nobility

Official Site,

Sargis, Daniel

The Romanoffs & The Bagrations (1996),

De Saisseval

Les Maison Imperial et Royal d’Europe (1966)

Sainty, Guy Stair

The Russian Imperial Succession,

Sullivan, M.J.

A Fatal Passion, The Story of the uncrowned Empress of Russia (1997)

Varres, Ian

The Last Grand Duchess (1984)

The author is a lawyer in the Federal Ministry of Justice of Germany, a former Private Secretary of the Minister, and holds a Master of Law from the Free University of Berlin, a Master of Public Administration from The John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard) and a Diploma in International Law and History from The London School of Economics and Political Science

2 see for example reports of the ceremonies of 17.7.1998 in Hello Magazine, July 1998, and Point de Vue -Image du Monde , July 1998

3 Imperial Russian Journal 1995 (Vol.2 No. 4 page 151)

4 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.2.1997

5 Robert K. Massie,Die Romanovs - Das letzte Kapitel ; John Klier, The Quest for Anastasia (1995)

6 Daily Telegraph 31.12.1996, Imperial Russian Journal, supra, page 132, Royal Digest March 1997 (Vol. VI No 68) page 284

7 Royalty Magazine, 1998, page 37

8 on the abdication: Ferro,Nicholas II, pages 199-202;Radzinsky,The Last Tsar, pages 186-190

9 Grande Duke Cyril , My Life in Russia's Service- Then and Now, pages 245 - 248

10 Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, page 6

11 see for the chapter: Broek,A Genealogy of the Romanov Dynasty from Emperor Nicholas I to the present time; de Cugnac/de Saisseva, Le Petit Gotha, pages 644-647; de Saisseva, Les Maison Imperial et Royal d'Europe, Russia; Massie, Die Romanovs-das letzte Kapitel, page 319; Genealogisches und Staatshandbuch 1827 Band 65, page 182, Romanoff Family Association, The Law of Succession of the Imperial House of Russia

12 Brian P. Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, footnote 20

13 Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, page 14

14 Ferro, Nicholas II, pages 27-32

15 Kyle MacDonnald, Who is the Heir?

16 on the Romanoff Family Association: The Romanoff Family Association web site; Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, footnote 50

17 Massie, Die Romanovs — Das letzte Kapitel, page 335; Letter of Prince Nicholas to Point de Vue-Image du Monde 12.5.1992

18 Letter of Prince Nicholas, supra, and interview with Prince Nicholas in Point de Vue-Image du Monde 1996

19 Horan, supra, footenote 29

20 Horan, supra, page 4

21 Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants, page 81

22 Horan, supra

23 Radzinsky, The Last Tsar; Horan, supra

24 Horan, supra, page 10; Sargis, The Romanoffs & The Bagrations, 1996

25 de Cugnac/de Saisseva, Le Petit Gotha, page 647

26 Ukase of the Head of the Romanov Family of 7.5.1951; Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (1957), page 428

27 Interview of Prince Nicholas in Point de Vue-Image du Monde, 1994

28 This can be seen as Heir Presumptive as the Queen Elisabeth II had been before her accession. In contrast the Prince of Wales is the Heir Apparent

29 de Cugnac/de Saisseval, Le Petit Gotha, page 652

30 Broek, The Succession Question, page 1 and in A Genealogy of the Romanov Dynasty; Massie, Die Romanovs — Das letzte Kapitel page 319

31 Alexander von Russland, Einst war ich ein Grossfuerst, page 141

32 Manifesto of Nicholas II of 10. April 1908

33 de Cugnac/de Saisseva, Le Petit Gotha, page 646

34 Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants, page 80

35 Millar, Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia, page 60; Mager, Elisabeth Grand Duchess of Russia pages, 135-136, 340-341

36 de Cognac/ de Saisseva, supra, page 669; Broek, A Genealogy of the Romanov Dynasty

37 Eilers, supra

38 Massie, supra, page 329; von der Kiste, princess Victoria Melita page 89; Sullivan, A fatal Passion, page 227

39 Mager, Elisabeth Grand Duchess of Russia, pages 183/184

40 van der Kiste, Princess Victoria Melita, page 97; Grand Duke Cyril, My Life in Russia's Service, page 183

41 de Cugnac/de Saisseva, Le Petit Gotha page 665; van der Kiste, supra, page 96

42 Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, footnote 17

43 Horan, supra, footnote 13

44 Varres, The last Grand Duchess, page 236; Broek, the Succession Question, page 1; Kyle MacDonnald, Who is the Heir?

45 Broek supra; Massie, Die Romanovs – Das letzte Kapitel, pages 321-323

46 Petrov/Lysenko/Egorov, The Escape of Alexei, page 132

47 Petrov/Lysenko/Egorov, supra, page 22; Radzinsky, The Last Tsar

48 Telegram of Grand Duke Nicholas to the Emperor, published in Petrov/Lysenko/Egorov, supra, page 23

49 Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, footnote 33

50 note: in an interview with Royalty the Grand Duchess Leonida, wife of the Head of the Family Vladimir, pointed out that the Dowager Empress was not opposed to the headship of Cyril in principle but just to the timing, by that not calling into question his rights

51 Horan, supra, page 5

52 Letter of Prince Nicholas to Point de Vue-Image du Monde, 12.5.1992

53 Broek, The Succession Question, page 1

54 later married to the Prince (Fürst) Charles of Leiningen

55 later married to H.I. and R.H. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, Head of the Royal House of Prussia (Hohenzollern)

56 Broek, supra and in A Genealogy of the Romanov Dynasty

57 van der Kiste, Princess Victoria Melita, page 153

58 Broek, The Russian Imperial Succession, page 2; see as well Kyle MacDonnald, Who is the Heir?

59 Sargis, The Romanoffs & The Bagrations, 1996

60 Martin, The Treaty of Georgievsk, 1783

61 Burke's Royal Families of the World, Vol II (1980), Georgia, page 56

62 The Titled Nobility of Europe (1914), page 288

63 Burke's supra

64 see page 10

65 see footnote 23

66 de Cugnac/ de Saisseval Le Petit Gotha, page 338

67 Sargis, The Romanoffs & The Bagrations; Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession, page 10 and footnote 73; Burke's supra; de Cugnac/de Saisseval, supra

68 Eilers, Queen Victoria's Descendants, pages 82/83

69 Horan, The Russian Imperial Succession; Sargis, The Romanoffs & the Bagrations; Sainty, The Russian Imperial Succession

70 Official site of the Russian Assembly of Nobility, The Problems of Succession to the Russian Imperial Throne

71 see page 12

72 Massie, Die Romanovs — Das letzte Kapitel, page 325

73 The Queen is married to Philip Mountbatten, formerly Prince of Greece and Denmark, created H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh and later a Prince of the United Kingdom

74 married Duke Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

75 married Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld

76 married Freiherr Claus von Amsberg

77 he was created a Prince of Monaco

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