THE ROMANOVS’ DESCENDANTS TODAY
THE ROMANOVS’ DESCENDANTS TODAY
The Russian Throne has no problem with legitimate successors
One hundred years have elapsed since the fall of the Russian Empire. Despite such a historically substantial period of time the topic of monarch resurrection in Russia is still on the agenda, and the succession to the Throne remains a debatable issue for many. There are a few approaches to this issue, one of which – common since the Soviet era – proceeds from the assertion that no person alive in today’s world may become the Russian Emperor because all legitimate successors perished in the revolution while those who left the Empire are not entitled to this status. Such an approach contradicts the law of the Russian Empire whose legislature was formulated in such a way that even after 100 years and the death of 18 members of the Romanov House in 1918-1919, according to provisions of the imperial legislature, a successor to the Russian Throne has existed and will exist for all times.
Today, nearly 200 descendants of the Russian Grand Duchesses live outside of Russia who, in a certain succession have the right to the Russian Throne. We mean those potential successors who really have the right to the Russian Throne in accordance with laws of the Russian Empire and whose parents and more distant ancestors had not been in unequal or morganatic marriages. It’s extremely important to know this since many people interested in the monarchial form of government in Russia are embarrassed by the issue of who might be the future monarch.
Anyone wishing to study the Romanov House may find a wealth of modern and, naturally, pre-revolutionary literature on this subject. In tsarist era a yearly Courtier Calendar was published, which enumerated all members of the Imperial Household. Its last publication, specifying all members of the Russian Imperial Household, is dated 1916. By the early 1917 the Romanov Imperial House consisted of descendants of four sons of Emperor Nicholas II, who had formed four lines of the Imperial House, i.e. the Aleksandroviches, descendants of Emperor Alexander II, the Konstantinoviches, i.e. descendants of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich, the Nikolayeviches, i.e. descendants of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Sr., and the Mikhailoviches, i.e. descendants of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich.
In 2018, there are in the world a total of 12 male representatives of the Romanov clan, descending from direct male lines. Three of them are offspring of Alexander II, Princes Dmitry and Mikhail Romanovsky-Ilinsky, grandsons of Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich and Prince Georgiy Yuryevsky, great-grandson of Tsar the Liberator by his second morganatic spouse Yekaterina Dolgorukova, in marriage Her Grace Princess Yuryevskaya, and nine representatives of the junior line of the Mikhailoviches, all of whom come from Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Kseniya Aleksandrovna (elder daughter of Emperor Alexander III).
It seems, at first sight, that with the surviving male descendants of the Dynasty they should enjoy the priority right to the Throne, but given that there were two articles (36 and 188) in the Fundamental State Laws of the Empire which unequivocally precluded descendants of unequal and morganatic marriages from succession to the Throne, all currently living male descendants belong to the Romanov clan, but cannot be considered successors to the Throne and members of the Russian Imperial Household as a juridical institution of the Russian monarchy. Three Aleksandroviches – Romanovsky-Ilinskys and Yuryevsky hold legitimate ducal titles whereas representatives of the junior branch of the Mikhailoviches are just masters Romanov since they stem not only from unequal wedlocks but also those not allowed by Heads of the Romanov House.
Based on the fact that two middle lines of the Romanov House – the Konstantinoviches in the male line in 1973 and in the female line in 2007 – physically ceased while the Nikolayeviches in 2016 physically ceased though they lost the right to the Throne as early as 1978, de-jure all the male descendants of Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich ceased. It means that physically there are still male descendants of the Romanov House, but they cannot be regarded as members of the Imperial House of Russia on the account of their forefathers’ violation of articles 36 and 138 prohibiting Grand Dukes’ morganatic marriages. “Children born in wedlock of a member of the Imperial Family with a person without an adequate status, i.e. not belonging to any of the reigning or ruling house, have no right to succeed to the Throne.” (article 36 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, FLRE).
References to the fact that articles 36 and 188 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire do not apply to Prince of Imperial Blood are not – to put it mildly – correct. The emperors’ grandchildren could contract morganatic marriages, retaining the titles Prince of Imperial Blood, which however gave their offspring – born into such wedlocks - no right to the Prince/Princess of Imperial Blood title or the right to succeeding to the Russian Throne. Information about this is available from studying the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire as well as the documents and correspondence of the time, as for instance in the famous 1911 letter of count Fredericks, the Imperial Court Minister, to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, Jr.
As of today, there is no single male descendant of the Romanov House coming from the male members of the Dynasty. However, there are descendants having all the rights to the All-Russian Throne, female representatives of the Romanov House, who meet qualifications of the Law on Succession to the Throne. Emperor Paul I wisely instituted a provision specified in article 30 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, to wit, “Once the Emperor’s last male generation of sons ceases, the inheritance will retain its pattern, but in the female generation of the latest ruler being nearest to the Throne in which form it will abide by the same procedure with preference of the male over the female; but under all such conditions no female ever loses her right, from which female this right has stemmed.” That is to say that following the death of Nicholas II, his son and successor to the Russian Throne, Tsarevitch Alexei, and the Emperor’s brother Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich, the right to the Throne passed on to the next in seniority line of the Romanov House: that of Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich, and his elder son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich. Despite the fact that his right is continually disputed by some apology experts, it is – according to the laws of the Russian Empire – indisputable. On page 40 of the above mentioned year 1916 Courtier Calendar one can read the following: “His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich”.
Following the demise in 1992 of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and his son Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, the Imperial House of the Romanovs had no male who could occupy the Russian Sovereign’s post in full accordance with laws on succession to the Throne because they were of illegitimate and morganatic origin. Thus there emerged a right to the Russian Throne for persons descending from the Russian Grand Duchesses who had contracted dynastic marriages with representatives of foreign royal and regal houses. Given that the daughters of Emperor Nicholas II had died together with the Sovereign in 1918, and all the offspring of Nicholas II’s sisters had contracted morganatic marriages, the descendants of Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich, i.e. his granddaughters, daughters of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, became the Romanov House’s elder female line, to wit, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna, Princess of Leiningen, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, in marriage Princess of Prussia, and descendants of his sole daughter, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, in marriage Princess of Greece and Denmark.
Correspondingly, the descendants of these two sisters form the first and second order of priority, while the descendants of their aunt Elena Vladimirovna form that of the third order in succeeding to the Russian Empire’s Throne in foreign royal and regal dynasties. If Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich contracted a dynastic marriage with a representative of a regal or royal house, his daughter, Maria Vladimirovna, would have a priority over descendants of her elder aunts, Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna of Leiningen and Princess Kira Kirillovna of Prussia. However, given that the Bagration-Mukhransky clan had no regal status, being an ordinary aristocratic family of Russia and Georgia, the sole daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich and his spouse Leonida Geogiyevna, nee Duchess Bagration-Mukhranskaya, has no right to succeeding to the Russian Throne. There is an extensive study on this issue, but the most exhaustive information about this is available in investigations by professor V.A.Zakharov, who treats in detail various aspects of this marriage, paying special attention to Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich’s endeavors to grant the status of the royal house to the Bagration-Mukhransky Dukes’ clan. His investigation is based on the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire. It states, in particular, that according to item 86 of the Russian Empire Fundamental Law, no new act can be adopted without approval by the State Council and the Russian Empire State Duma with an appropriate registration by the State Senate. Therefore such acts on recognizing the Tsarist status cannot be passed without an appropriate procedure.
On cessation of male descendants in the Romanov House de jure, the FLRE provides for eight sequences of succession to the Russian Throne, according to which the Empire’s Throne ought to be transferred. After the three above mentioned Grand Duchesses Maria Kirillovna and Kira Kirillovna and Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, pursuant to the principle of primogeniture, there are the following priorities of succeeding to the Russian Throne: priority IV belongs to the daughter of Alexander II, Grand Duchess Maria Aleksandrovna, in marriage Duchess of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; priority V belongs the elder daughter of Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich, Grand Duchess Olga Kostantinovna, in marriage Queen Consort of the Hellenes; priority VI belongs to the sole daughter of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich, Grand Duchess Anastasiya Mikhailovna, in marriage duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; priority VII belongs to the third daughter of Emperor Paul I, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. At least three male representatives professing Russian Orthodoxy, Princes Nikolay, Boris, and Hermann of the Leiningen House, hold priority I for succeeding to the Russian Throne. There are now over thirty persons, Russian Orthodox Christians, among descendants of Emperor Paul.
“The state should at all times have heirs, and heirs should at all times be appointed by law itself, and there should never be a shade of doubt who is the heir” – this is the fundamental principle instituted by Emperor Paul, which subsequently became a guarantee against mess and muddle in affairs of the Imperial Throne, and was set down in 1792 in his Act on Succession to the Throne.
If by the Lord’s grace Russia regains her traditional form of state rule, the issue of Succession to the Throne may arise for finding, pursuant to the legal regulations of the Russian Empire, an authentic and hence legitimate Emperor, which would help restore the spiritual continuity with the cathedral oath of 1613.
Evgeny Valeryevich Alekseyev