INTERVIEW WITH PRINCE NIKOLAIY KIRILLOVICH OF RUSSIA AND PRINCE OF LEININGEN
Your Highness, it’s been seven years since you converted to Orthodoxy, and therefore became the Heir to the Russian Throne. Why is now the moment you decide to talk to the press for the first time?
Time has come to do that, because a lot of things are changing in the world right now. The economic problems in our lives are more pronounced now. We see some negative manifestations in a number of European countries; I think it’s pertinent now to talk about serious issues plaguing all Christendom. In my opinion, people are now becoming increasingly open to the information they need to achieve their everyday objectives and develop certain strategies to secure a future for their children. I believe that people in Russia are now also open to new possibilities, so maybe this interview will turn out to be timely to some of them.
By announcing your position on topical modern issues, you’re changing the existing private life of your family to some extent. Now, there’s a certain responsibility on you due to publicity. Are you ready for this?
I’m the eldest son of the Leiningen Princely House, so I’ve been brought up and groomed from my childhood for certain responsibilities, including representative and ceremonial ones. I had to inspire people for some feat or other and be a strong and, I dare hope, fair leader to them. Publicity is inseparable from that kind of service.
What was your family’s general attitude to Russia? Have you ever talked to your parents about your House’s claim to the Russian Throne?
I have. You know, when I talked about that to my Father once, he said our family was the closest to the Russian Imperial Throne after my Great-Uncle, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia who used to visit us often, and I have photographs to prove that. In 1967 the Head of the House of Romanov and his Uncle granted my Father an Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called, the highest award in the Russian Empire. Our family still keeps it. I think that was also a kind of a symbolic move on the part of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia who wanted to underline the close link between our House and the Russian Imperial House, and therefore, Russia itself. In light of all that, it’s quite natural to be particularly interested in Russia, its culture and history, as well as its current affairs.
Your Great-Grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia, is a divisive figure among the Russian monarchists, both in Russia and abroad. What do you think of him?
I’m aware of the criticisms levelled by certain people at my family and at my Great-Grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia, in particular, but let’s try and be at least a little less biased here. After the men of the House of Romanov, the descendants of Imperor Alexander III, were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, he was the one to raise the Russian Imperial banner abroad in 1922. Although that drew fire from a portion of Monarchist йmigrйs, he did what his duty demanded from him, and demonstrated genuine leadership abilities.
Your Highness, please tell us some more about your ties to the House of Romanov.
My paternal Grandmother, in other words my father’s mother, born Princess Maria Kirillovna of Russia, was the eldest daughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia, who became Emperor in Exile in 1924.
How did you come to the conclusion that you have the right to be called Heir of the House of Romanov?
As I’ve already mentioned, we have always known that in our family. But something important was missing, as it usually is. The modern Internet technologies enabled us to get the necessary data to fill in the gaps. It was all in the laws of the Russian Empire. As things stand now, after the death of my Father and Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia, I had to convert to Orthodoxy and make a declaration to that effect, which I did in 2013. The Romanov blood is in me, and I see my calling in service to the Monarchy and the Christendom. The rest is in God’s hand.
What does Russia need now, in your opinion?
Russia is an Orthodox country, so it needs a great project rooted in morality in order to develop successfully. A project like that would be able to inspire people with some positive goals and define the prospects for their forward development. Those goals should include household income growth, development of the country’s industrial, intellectual and human potential. The Russian Orthodox monarchy is particularly important in our pre-Apocalyptic times, when Europe and the entire Western world are being swallowed by conflict and strife. Maybe Russia is destined to become the Arc to save not only herself, but the entire Christian heritage of Europe.
We know you graduated from the University of Freiburg. You have vast experience in farming and forestry management. Is that because your family owns quite a lot of forest in Bavaria?
It is. The House of Leiningen has owned a lot of land in the southern Germany since the 19th century, and we still own large pieces of woodland. Naturally, that prompted my parents to give me education in forestry management. I also started a small vineyard down at the French border.
Has Your Highness ever been to Russia?
Unfortunately, no. My Father back in the day was adamant about that not being advisable. Of course, times change, and I want to hope one day I will get an opportunity to visit the country of my royal ancestors.
Why did your Father disabuse you from visiting? What was his reasoning? Many of your relatives have already been to Russia repeatedly.
My Father, Prince Emich Kyrill of Leiningen, only visited Russia once, as a private pilot and guest of the acrobatic flight World Championship held in Moscow in 1966. Something there alarmed him to the extreme. Besides, some members of our family shot by the Bolsheviks after October 1917 were not the only ones to perish; my Grandfather, Karl, Prince of Leiningen, died in the Soviet prison camp in 1946. During WWII, he fought in the German Navy, where, as everyone knows, the NSDAP wasn’t present at all; after the war he ended up in the war prisoners’ camp near Saransk, where he died in 1946. I don’t know what he died of. My Grandmother, Princess Maria Kirillovna of Russia, also died in 1951 under murky circumstances. She went to visit her brother in Saint-Briac, and died there suddenly. The official version was that it was a heart attack. Later though, because of some inconsistencies surfacing, her body was exhumed, and the repeat examination disproved the initial version.
Despite what you’ve just said, could you still imagine yourself living in Russia permanently?
That’s definitely possible. If that’s decided, I think I will move to Russia with my wife and my son. We’re a family after all, so we make those decisions together.
Could you please answer some questions about your past life? You used to serve in the German Army armoured corps in 1972-1974. Do you have any recollections of your military service?
As for my mandatory service in the Bundeswehr, it was my Father who insisted I, as Prince of Leiningen, had to become a military officer. The choice of the armoured corps was an easy one, because it was deployed close to our Amorbach residence. For me, the Army service was more of a duty than a calling, but I did what I had to do, as has been custom in our family for many generations. Both my Grandfather and my Great-Grandfather were officers; one of my ancestors even was an Admiral in the British Navy. The service itself is always fraught with difficulties and peril. For example, my cousin once removed, Prince Louis Ferdinand II of Prussia died tragically during Army manoeuvres in 1977.
There’s a photograph capturing you looking at the picture album of one of your relatives who used to be a professional race driver. Do you have any professional interest in motor racing, or is that just a hobby of yours?
My Godfather, Prince Hermann of Leiningen (1901-1971), became a professional Grand Prix driver after he’d emigrated to the United States. He took part in many races driving Auto Union, Mercedes and Bugatti race cars. With Bugatti, he won a World Champion title in mountain motor racing. In his old age, he left all his awards and memories to me. I got my passion for cars from him. Together with my friends and other car collectors, I took part in rallies over various tracks: Nьrburgring, Salzburgring, Hockenheimring and Spa-Francorchamps circuits. I have an international motor racing license (type C) for classic, rally and Formula One cars.
Your Highness, could you share your opinion on the European Union and the migration policy implemented today in Germany, among other countries?
I don’t want to seem too dramatic in my opinions, but what’s been happening in Germany and Europe in the last 15 years is simply horrible; it does really look like the Decline of the West Oswald Spengler wrote about in the early 20th century. I believe those processes are underpinned by the liberal globalist ideas promoted by some international financiers who now call the shots in the ruling circles of the European countries, Germany included. I feel deeply disturbed by that migration policy; I think it’s a mistake that leads to tensions and conflict in the public life.
During the latest Davos meeting, some offered ideas related to a so-called global reset, meaning transfer of power from national governments to global corporations and banks. What’s your take on those prospects?
Those ideas did not spring up yesterday, but today they’re indeed a real threat to the national sovereignty. Those people sitting in banks and corporations want power without responsibility for their actions, because they’re not accountable to the society through democratic elections, much less to a Sovereign. Power without responsibility leads to tyranny. The road forward should be changed sensibly. Rethinking the realities, they find themselves in, and looking for something new, people should not discount traditional values that were almost lost among the turbulent changes of the 20th century.
Do you think it’s possible to restore a monarchy, including in the modern Russia? I can’t say everyone is adamantly against it there, but the majority would think that would be going backwards, both historically and politically.
Most innovations start with a few people who consciously advocate for their views on a certain issue. Besides, every country has its own procedures for making decisions. If the statehood in a country is in the state of disjointedness, people will look for a way out of it, in their historical experience among other things. If we’re talking about Russia, that includes the Zemsky Sobor of 1613. The modern monarchies of the Northern Europe and the Arabian Peninsula show all the advantages that system of government brought to make those countries and nations develop and prosper. As I’ve said in the beginning, now’s the time for many things in the world to change. The changes are coming, and every nation can make their choice based on today’s realities and their historical past.