Exclusive Interview with the Head of the Imperial House in "Royal Russia" No. 11

While the Canadian magazine "Royal Russia” is always of interest to readers of The Russian Legitimist for its excellent and well-researched articles on Russian Imperial history and the House of Romanoff, the latest issue (No. 11) is notable for a new, in depth and personal interview with HIH the Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna of Russia, Head of the Russian Imperial House.

The interview covers broad-ranging topics, from the Grand Duchess’ childhood in France and Spain, to the happy and inspiring marriage of her parents, and her relationships wth other Royal houses.  The Grand Duchess also addresses some more controversial topics, including her grandfather Grand Duke Kirill’s role during the Revolutionary days of February 1917,  the “Ekaterinburg remains” and the position of the Russian Imperial House on these and other issues.

In addition, the periodical has several excellent articles on the history of The Lower Dacha at Peterhof, Imperial hunting and fishing traditions, and a look at a day in the life of the court of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.  Russian Legitimist highly recommends this issue, which may be acquired by visiting the Facebook page of Royal Russia, as well as at the Royal Russia bookshop which may be found online here.

2017-01-09 An Interview With the Head of The Russian Imperial House in "Rossiia. Nasledie."

Your Imperial Highness, as both a Russian who was born and raised abroad and as a descendant of the Imperial family, tell us what Russian culture means for you.

Russian culture is a priceless treasure not only for the Russian people but for all humanity. The great works of our poets, writers, composers, artists, architects, sculptors, performers and musicians strengthen the spirit of all those who see themselves as part of that cultural space we think of as Russia, and they enrich the lives of people all around the world.

We have, as you say, lived all our life abroad, and so our contacts with foreigners are quite extensive. Among them are not only those who regard our country favorably, but also those who feel free to criticize it, who see it as a rival of their own country. But no one who genuinely comes to know and experience Russian culture can ever really be an enemy of Russia. One can be, it is true, a political rival or a critic of one or another aspect of our society and politics. But not an enemy. And when there is no hate, there is always a basis for dialogue, in the course of which both sides can come to understand each other and resolve problems calmly and peacefully, in a spirit of mutual compromise.

So Russian culture is not only a spiritually edifying influence on our lives at home in Russia. It is a powerful means for engaging with the world.

You travel often to Russia, including to the “deep interior” of the country. What achievements and challenges with regard to the preservation of our national heritage come plainly into view during your travels? What architectural monuments that you have visited have made the biggest impression on you? 

Our generation was fortunate to witness the rebirth of faith and the restoration of many religious and cultural monuments in our country. During my first visits to Russia in the early 1990s I saw the sad state that most of the churches and monasteries were in. I said to Patriarch Aleksei II at that time, “Your Holiness, how can you possibly restore all that has been lost, even if the government were ever to return to the Church all these properties? Sometimes there is nothing left but a pile of bricks.” The Patriarch replied, “With God’s help, we will restore everything.” And time has shown the truth of his words.

Today, many desecrated and damaged holy sites and icons have been restored and repaired, and many that had been completely destroyed have been rebuilt and remade. And this work is continuing still. It is necessary, I think, to restore everything that has survived from pre-Revolutionary times, and I think there should be no argument about that. But there is a lot of discussion right now about restoring some sites and other lost treasures that had been destroyed, about making “replicas” of them. Of course, we have to consider many factors, and we probably cannot recreate everything that was lost. And probably we don’t need to. But several especially significant monuments do, I think, need to be brought back to life. For many today, these will be merely “replicas” but future generations will see and experience them gradually as historically authentic. I have in mind here such architectural masterpieces as the Chudov Monastery and Voznesensky Convent in the Kremlin, the Church of the Dormition on Pokrovskoe, the Sukharev tower, the Strastnoi Convent, the Red Gates in Moscow, the Church of the Savior on Sennaya Square in St. Petersburg, and so on. Similar structures that are just as important as these existed once in other cities and towns across Russia, not just in the capitals. These include churches, mosques, synagogues, Buddhist temples, secular and military buildings, cemeteries, and so on. These structures helped to shape the spiritual and cultural landscape of Russia, and so remain important to us today.

Of course, it will take time to rebuild from scratch these historical monuments so that they evoke the same or similar emotions as those monuments that happened to survive the throes of Revolution. When a building evokes the spirit of an earlier age, it really is a unique and powerful experience. I am sometimes hard-pressed to say which landmark I visit inspires or impresses me more. Each holy place conjures its own emotional connection with the past; each uniquely offers a new way to appreciate beauty and immerse oneself in the atmosphere of a by-gone era.

The Romanoff family left a significant and important architectural legacy in Russia. In particular, the palace of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, not far from the Winter Palace, comes to mind, for example. Have you visited the former homes and estates of your ancestors? Have you ever been in contact with the current owners of these properties, or with the organizations that occupy these spaces today?

Yes, I have. From my very first visit to Russia, my itineraries have included stops at the official residences of the Imperial family, as well as private estates previously owned by them. Some today are private homes or museums, others house cultural institutions or other organizations—educational, municipal, and so on. For example, the palace in Tsarskoe Selo once occupied by my great-grandfather, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, is now a Palace of Weddings, and the home in St. Petersburg once owned by my grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, is now a kindergarten.

We are very glad that these structures are being well maintained and serve the needs of our countrymen. They are in good hands. It is of course very dispiriting to see some buildings still in disrepair or utterly ruined, as, for example, the Ropsha Palace is at present. But I’m sure that eventually the palace will also be restored.

What cultural and historical projects is the Russian Imperial House currently engaged in or spearheading? What is unique about these projects as opposed to other restoration work going on in the country? 

I’ll let others decide how unique our projects are. We continue the traditions of our family, following their example in supporting educational and cultural projects, and striving to adapt the dynasty’s past experience to current circumstances and needs. We also learn from the way these kinds of issues are tackled in other countries. I think that each project, regardless of whose idea it was or who is directing it, is in its own way unique—so long as it is motivated by love and sacrifice.

I must hasten to say, however, that I think we’ve really only gotten started on this work. There is much to do. Even so, I would like to thank the people who are helping us, and perhaps here I can highlight a few of our projects.

The Foundation for the Support and Development of Education, Creativity, and Culture, working with our Chancellery and with the Imperial Society of the House of Romanoff, which was created by our Chancellery, runs a series of competitions for young people, and now also for adults, including one called “The Living Connection Across Time” [Zhivaia sviaz’ vremen], which recognizes especially distinguished essays written on historical themes, and another called “Legal Culture—The Foundation of the Harmonious Development of the Individual and Society.” The awards ceremonies for these competitions are now accompanied by conferences, concerts, and other celebratory events.

The Russian Union of Writers has instituted the “Heritage Prize,” a literary award it presents annually. In nearly every region of Russia that I visit, I have had the opportunity to meet writers and poets who participate in this competition or are preparing to do so. Preliminary rounds of the competition are held in various regional cities, such as Kostroma and Ryazan; and looking ahead, there will be even more preliminary rounds in more cities. The winners of the competition are announced in Moscow, at a ceremony held in the Central House of Writers.

My Chancellery is also working with the Andrei Rublev Museum, where the charity event “White Blossom” [Belyi tsvetok] raises money to help those in need and helps fund the restoration of cultural monuments in Russia. The Museum also hosts the regular workshop “The Living Heritage of Memory” [Zhivoe nasledie pamiati], which supports and encourages the preservation of family history and, more generally, retells the history of Russia through the prism of the history of individuals and families.

The Imperial Orders also participate in cultural and educational activities. For example, the knights of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker have for many years supported the restoration work of the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God in Izmailovo. Members of this and other Imperial Orders also support the return to the Church of its holy relics and icons, the “writing” of replicas of traditional icons that had been lost or destroyed, and the transference to state, Church, and municipal museums of items that had in one way or another ended up in private hands.

A new tradition has also begun that we call “Gifts—Charity.” We’ve arranged that important holidays or other special commemorations in the life of the Russian Imperial House be marked by making donations to charitable and cultural projects in Russia of various kinds, such as the restoration or construction of churches, rather than sending gifts to me or to my son and heir.

Furthermore, members of my Chancellery write books on the history of Russia and of our House, and they publish studies of the ideas and spiritual values of Russian culture. The Chancellery takes part in a range of scholarly conferences, workshops, roundtables, and public events. We participate in and lead on-going discussions with governmental and Church institutions, and with cultural and civil organizations that are working with us to help preserve and defend the natural environment of Russia and our cultural heritage. Our Chancellery enjoys an excellent collaborative relationship with the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the Russian Military Historical Society, the Russia Society for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and Culture, the Russian Nobility Association, the charitable foundation “Rebirth of Our Cultural Heritage,” the Union of Orthodox Women, the “Emperor” Foundation in Arkhangelsk, and many others. All these organizations—the big and the small; the old, the revived, and the newly-formed—are united by the common goal they share with our House: the preservation and continuity of Russian history and culture.

Before the 1917 Revolution, there existed the Imperial Archeological Society, the principal purpose of which was the preservation of historical monuments. Are there plans to revive this important organization? 

This is a very serious and important question, which requires the support of both the archeological scholarly community and the government. Both must be involved. The Imperial House, as you well know, does not have the financial means or resources it had before the Revolution. But if such an idea should be taken up and gain steam, I and my son and heir, the Grand Duke George of Russia, would happily support such a plan in every possible way we can.

You live full time in Madrid. In your view, how does the appearance and spirit of southern European cities differ from that of Russian cities?

The appearance and layout of cities and towns is determined in large part by the habits of mind and national character of each individual nation. Even today, in this era of globalization and as uniformity in architectural styles spreads across the world, there remains more than a hint of national traditions and styles in architecture in various cities of various countries across the world. At the same time, large cities in all countries have a lot in common: the hustle and bustle of modern city life, the diluting of the distinctive local identity, a heavier and more burdensome emotional atmosphere. Small towns have better preserved the cordiality and warmth of the past, a sense of hospitality and goodwill. You can see this pattern almost anywhere you look. We see it better, perhaps, in our own Russian cities because we know them better, but it’s the same elsewhere. There was a time once when we in our family viewed Russian cities and life in Russia generally in a rather romanticized way. My parents always told me that everything was better in Russia—the forests, the fields, the rivers, the seas, the churches, the palaces. Even the watermelons grew larger there, and the cucumbers were more delicious.

When we finally had the opportunity to come to Russia again, we of course saw that some things were in some ways, indeed, much better there than elsewhere, and that some things were not. But for us, all these aspects of life in Russia—the things that compare better to conditions elsewhere and those that don’t—are all equally dear to us.

As the Head of the Imperial House and as a citizen of Russia, what measures do you think are most important for preserving the historical and architectural heritage of Russia?

Without a doubt, one must pay more attention overall to cultural questions. One must expand the legislative foundation that provides for public funding of preservation projects, and, in particular, one must expand the patronage of the arts. The government cannot resolve all these questions, but it can create the conditions under which private citizens can legally, conveniently, securely, and profitably donate funds for the restoration of damaged or destroyed historical monuments and other projects of social and cultural importance.

No less important is the need to instill in our youth from earliest days a love for the historical heritage of our country and a deep and well-rounded understanding of its history and culture. If we don’t do that, all our efforts will be for naught, and all that we build and rebuild today will be at risk of being ruined or neglected tomorrow.

And I would also ask us all to remember that in restoring the millennium-long heritage of pre-Revolutionary Russia, we must not be like the Bolsheviks, who forced their ideology and political symbols on the nation in cruel and often barbaric ways. Even the very best and just, in our view, policies should not be introduced into society through force or as a kind of act of revenge—humiliating or harming people of other views. This would only backfire, anyhow. Only that which is the product of careful and scrupulous education work, carried out in a spirit of love and respect for others and guided by rational dialogue and objectivity, will produce truly strong and enduring results.

This interview is published in issue no. 5 of Rossiia. Nasledie on November 27, 2016, under the title “Velikaia Kniaginia Mariia Romanova: Byt’ russkoi” [Grand Duchess Maria Romanoff: To be Russian]. See russianasledie.ru.

2017-01-04. The Russian Imperial House launches complete website redesign

2017-01-04. The Russian Imperial House launches complete website redesign

The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House quietly launched a complete redesign of the website of the House of Romanoff in time for the New Year.

The revised bilingual website lavishly illustrated with historical images and documents is a more interactive and accessible version of the previous site.  While all the information on the previous site appears to be available, the new organization of dropdown menus and choices makes the 2017 relaunch more accessible to supporters and other interested parties, such as academics and the press, eager for new information and scholarly materials about the Dynasty today.

The fresh site shows that the Imperial House takes 21st century communication methods with the public seriously, and has taken a big step forward.

To vist the new Imperial House website:


2017-01-01. The Head of the House of Romanoff and the Tsesarevich mourn the death of Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff.

2017-01-01. The Head of the House of Romanoff and the Tsesarevich mourn the death of Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff. 

The Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House is sad to announce the death on December 31, 2016, in Denmark, of the second oldest of the relatives of the Imperial House, Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff. He was 91 years old.

HH Prince Roman Petrovich of Russia, with his wife Praskovia and his sons, Nicholas and Dimitri.

HH Prince Roman Petrovich of Russia, with his wife Praskovia and his sons, Nicholas and Dimitri.

Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff was born on May 17, 1926, in Antibes, France. He was the son of His Highness Prince of the Imperial Blood Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) and his morganatic wife, Countess Praskovia Dmitrievna Sheremeteva (1901-1980). With his death, the male line of morganatic descendants of the third son of Emperor Nicholas I, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Elder, becomes extinct.

The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and heir, H.I.H. the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, mourn the passing of Dimitri Romanovich Romanoff, and express their condolences to his widow.  They ask all their countrymen to join them in praying for the soul of the newly-reposed Dimitri.


2017-01-01 Глава Дома Романовых и Цесаревич скорбят в связи с кончиной Д.Р. Романова

Канцелярия Главы Российского Императорского Дома с глубоким прискорбиемизвещает, что 31 декабря 2016 года в Дании на 91-м году жизни скончался второй по старшинству из родственников Российского Императорского Дома Дмитрий Романович Романов.

Покойный Д.Р. Романов родился 17 мая 1926 года в Антибе. Он - сын Е.В. Князя Императорской Крови Романа Петровича (1896-1978) от его морганатического брака с графиней П.Д. Шереметевой (1901-1980). С его кончиной угасла в мужском поколении морганатическая линия, исходящая от третьего сына Императора Николая I Великого князя Николая Николаевича Старшего.

Глава Российского Императорского Дома Е.И.В. Государыня Великая Княгиня Мария Владимировна и ее сын и наследник Е.И.В. Государь Цесаревич и Великий Князь Георгий Михайлович скорбят в связи с кончиной Д.Р. Романова, выражают соболезнования вдове покойного и просят всех соотечественников вместе с ними вознести молитвы о упокоении души новопреставленного Димитрия.


2016-12-25. The Head of the Imperial House expresses her condolences on the loss of life in the crash of the Russian military aircraft near Sochi

2016-12-25. The Head of the House of Romanoff expresses her condolences on the loss of life in the crash of the Russian military aircraft near Sochi



It was with enormous sorrow that I learned of the news of the crash of the Russian military transport airplane, with the loss of 92 of our countrymen.

I and my son and heir, the Grand Duke George of Russia, express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy.  We pray for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives, and that God will grant strength and comfort to their families and friends.  I had the pleasure of knowing many of the victims personally, and I knew from many of our friends in Russia of the accomplishments and service of many others on board this flight.  All who perished were gifted and talented people, deeply concerned about the suffering of others, courageous, charitable, and utterly selfless.

May the Lord grant them rest in His Kingdom! 

H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia


Madrid, December 12/25, 2016



С глубокой скорбью восприняла я известие о катастрофе самолета Ту-154, унесшей жизни 92 соотечественников.

Я и мой сын и наследник Великий Князь Георгий Михайлович выражаем соболезнования родным и близким жертв этой трагедии. Молимся о упокоении новопреставленных и об укреплении духа членов их семей и друзей. Некоторых из погибших мы имели счастье знать лично, о служении других получали сведения от наших друзей в России. Все они были светлыми и одаренными людьми, неравнодушными к страданиям ближних, мужественными, милосердными и самоотверженными.

Да приимет их Господь во Царствии Своем!


Мадрид, 12/25 декабря 2016 года

2016-12-23 The Russian Legitimist Sends Birthday Wishes to the Head of the Imperial House.

The Russian Legitimist extends its best wishes to Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, Head of the Russian Imperial House, on her birthday (December 23).  We also respectfully extend to the Grand Duchess sincere best wishes for a happy Christmas and healthy and productive New Year 2017.  

We note that during 2017, Russia will observe the centenary of the Russian Revolution (and thus of the fall of the Russian monarchy) as well as the 25th anniversary of the Grand Duchess Maria's succession as Head of the Imperial House (and thus the 25th anniversary of the passing of her beloved Father, His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Wladimir, head of the dynasty for more than 53 years). 

Многая лета!

2016-12-19 The Head of the House of Romanoff offers her condolences on the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Gennadievich Karlov

2016-12-19 The Head of the House of Romanoff offers her condolences on the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Gennadievich Karlov


I was shocked to learn the news of the murder of Andrei Gennadievich Karlov, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey.

I and my son, the Grand Duke George of Russia, extend our deepest condolences to Ambassador Karlov’s family, friends, and colleagues. We pray fervently for the repose of the soul of this servant of Russia, killed so viciously in the line of duty.

I hope that this heinous crime will be fully investigated by authorities, and that all those responsible for aiding and abetting this act of terrorism will be apprehended and swiftly brought to justice.

H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

Madrid, December 19, 2016

2016-12-19 Глава Дома Романовых выразила соболезнование в связи со злодейским убийством Посла Российской Федерации в Турции А.Г. Карлова


Потрясена известием о злодейском убийстве Посла Российской Федерации в Турции Андрея Геннадьевича Карлова.

Я и мой сын Великий Князь Георгий Михайлович выражаем наши глубокие соболезнования родным, друзьям и коллегам дипломата, принявшего смерть при исполнении своего долга, и молимся о упокоении его души.

Надеюсь, что это отвратительное преступление будет тщательно расследовано, и виновные в организации террористического акта будут найдены и подвергнутся заслуженной каре.


Мадрид, 19 декабря 2016 года

2016-09-30 An Appeal from the Imperial House to donate to the construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius


For the original Russian article from "Monarkhist", click here

2016-09-30.  The House of Romanoff urges all those who wish to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the birth of Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich to donate to the construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius

September 30/October 13, 2016, marks the 140th anniversary of the birth of Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938), the grandfather of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.

By the mercy of God, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia made an official visit to the Republic of Kalmykia shortly before the date of this significant anniversary, touring the construction site in the city of Elista where a new Cathedral of the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius is being built.

On September 21, 2016, on the Feast Day of the Nativity of the Holy Mother of God, the Head of the House of Romanoff, after attending services in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan with His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Elista and Kalmykia, went to the 7th borough of Elista, where the new cathedral is being built.  There, the Grand Duchess toured the construction site and surveyed the progress to date with the Head of the Eparchial Office for Church Construction, Sergei Sholokhov. 

Her Imperial Highness in her statements at the time noted the importance of building a new cathedral in honour of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in the capital of Kalmykia, and expressed her best wishes to all on completing the construction, promising to return for the consecration of this magnificent cathedral.

Once, during their far-ranging missionary work, the two sainted brothers traveled through the land of present-day Kalmykia.  It is thus especially appropriate that this new cathedral in Elista should be dedicated in their honour.  Ss. Cyril and Methodius, regarded by the Church as being Equal-to-the-Apostles for their missionary work among the Slavs, were the creators of the Slavic written language and were great enlighteners of the Faith among many pagan peoples.  The younger of the two, St. Cyril, is the Heavenly patron of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia and of the Emperor Kirill I Vladimirovich, of blessed memory.

The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, urges all her countrymen to pray for the soul of her grandfather, and also expresses her hope that all those who desire to do good works in his memory make a donation to the construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Elista.

In this connection, the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House calls on all traditionalist and monarchist organizations and on all our countrymen who honour the heritage of our country, to arrange for memorial services, or panikhidas, to be served on October 13, 2016, or on the nearest Sunday, for Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich, after which donations can be collected for the construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Elista.  Sums collected at that time should be sent directly to the Board of Trustees of the Elista and Kalmykia Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church for the Fund for the Construction of this Cathedral.

Of course, donations for the construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius can be made not only by groups but by individuals, as well.

When donating as part of a group, we recommend that you include a list of individual donors—last name, first name, and (where appropriate) patronymic.  A model for how to compile a donor list can be found below.

Those who respond to this call for donations from Grand Duchess Maria of Russia are encouraged to send a copy of the list of donors and the receipt of the money transfer to the email address:  keiv@mail.ru.

Russian and foreign donors who have most generously given to this cause will receive a personal note of thanks from the Head of the Russian Imperial House.


Account information for the Fund for the Construction of the Cathedral in the City of Elista

Account number:  40703810360300100653

Stavropol Branch № 5230 Sberbank Stavropol

Correspondent Account:  30101810907020000615

BIK (Bank Identification Code): 040702615

Religious Organization “Elistinskaia i Kalmytskaia Eparkhiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi (Moskovskii Patriarkhat) [The Elista and Kalmykia Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate]

Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN):  0814062969 Registration Reason Code (KPP):  081601001

The website of the Board of Trustees of the Elista and Kalmykia Eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church for the Fund for the Construction of the Cathedral of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Elista:  http://fond-hram.pravorg.ru/

A Sample Donors List:

Donors List

Donors and Donations in Memory of Emperor-in-Exile Kirill I Vladimirovich toward the Construction of the Cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius in the City of Elista



City:  _____________________, Church:  ____________________,

13 October 2016


№№    Surname, First Name, Patronymic   Donation (amount in numbers and written out)  Signature








100 лиц


                        Общая сумма (цифрой и прописью):     


Kirill Vladimirovich—Grand Duke; after July 4/17, 1918, senior most member of the Russian Imperial House; Curator of the Imperial Throne from 1922 to 1924; Emperor-in-Exile from 1924 to 1938.


H.I.H. Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich was born on September 30/October 13, 1876, at Tsarskoe Selo, of the marriage of H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (the brother of Emperor Alexander III the Peace-Maker) and H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (née Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin).

In 1891, the young Grand Duke entered the Naval Cadets Corps, and afterward all his military service was spent in the navy. 

In 1897, he raised the Russian flag over Port Arthur—the Russian naval enclave in the Chinese Empire. 

At the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, the Grand Duke was quickly deployed to the war theater.  As the chief-of-staff to Admiral Stepan Makarov, Grand Duke Kirill was next to him on the bridge of the battleship Petropavlovsk when it hit a Japanese mine and quickly sank.  Nearly the entire crew went down with the ship, but Grand Duke Kirill, semi-conscious and badly burned, was among the few who managed to swim away from the sinking hulk and wait for rescue.  When his rescuers finally noticed him in the water, he is reported to have called out them:  “I’m alright.  Save the others!”  It is perhaps significant that the day the Grand Duke was rescued from the waters off Port Arthur—March 31/April 13, 1904—is the Feast Day of St. Ipatii, Bishop of the Ganges—the Heavenly patron of Holy Trinity-Ipatievsky Monastery, where the first tsar of the House of Romanoff, Mikhail I Fedorovich, was when he was called to the throne by the representatives of the Assembly of the Land. 

As a result of his head injuries, Grand Duke Kirill was forced temporarily to take a medical leave from his naval duties, and he left for treatment in Europe.  On September 26/October 8, 1905, in Bavaria, he married H.R.H. Princess Victoria-Melita of Great Britain and Ireland, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (who, after conversion to Orthodoxy, took the name Victoria Feodorovna).  Inasmuch as Victoria-Melita’s first husband had been the brother of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (Emperor Nicholas II’s wife), the Russian empress did not at first approve of the marriage, and for a time, Emperor Nicholas II also refused to acknowledge officially Kirill Vladimirovich’s marriage.  But in 1907, the Emperor realized the injustice of his earlier attitude toward this marriage, and on July 15/28, 1907, he issued a decree formally recognizing the marriage of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna.  As a result, the relationship between the Imperial Family (the Emperor and Empress) and the Grand Duke and his wife, which had become strained since 1905, was fully restored.   

During the First World War, Grand Duke Kirill was appointed to the Staff of the Supreme Commander of the Naval Department.  On February 23/March 7, 1916, Nicholas II promoted him to Vice-Admiral. 

Up until the February Revolution, Grand Duke Kirill commanded the Navy Guards.  The Grand Duke was in the capital at the time of the uprising in St. Petersburg.  Together with his uncle, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, Grand Duke Kirill risked his life making a courageous attempt to save the throne of his cousin, Emperor Nicholas II.  But his efforts were unsuccessful because of the disloyalty of some generals and of some members of the State Duma.  Deeply disturbed and alarmed by the abdication and arrest of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, he resigned his commissions and, in June, left St. Petersburg for Finland with his pregnant wife and two daughters, Maria and Kira.  Kirill’s son, Wladimir, was born after the family’s arrival in Finland. 

After the Bolsheviks had executed Nicholas II, the Heir Aleksei Nikolaevich, and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich in 1918—that is, the entire male line of descent from Emperor Alexander III—the succession to the throne passed to the descendants of Emperor Alexander II.  The most senior of remaining members of the dynasty was now Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich. 

In 1922, when the Grand Duke was still not certain of the deaths of those members of the dynasty who were more senior to him, Kirill declared himself merely the Curator of the Imperial Throne.  When the last remaining doubts about the fate of the Royal Martyrs had finally been put away, Kirill Vladimirovich, in full accord with the provisions of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, assumed the title of Emperor in Exile on August 31/September 13, 1924. 

Kirill I did a great deal to alleviate the plight and suffering of his countrymen in exile, but his main focus was always on the situation in Russia.  Kirill I strongly condemned foreign intervention in Russia and always asserted that the Russian people themselves would overthrow the Communist regime and restore Russia to its proper, historical path of development.  The main task, as Kirill I saw it, was to preserve the monarchical traditions of the Russian nation and the legal foundations of the Russian Imperial House, so that there would always be a legitimate successor to the Russian throne, raised in the Orthodox faith, instilled with love for the homeland, and ready to heed the call if ever the People of Russia should wish the return of the monarchy. 

After 1928, the Emperor in Exile and his family spent most of their time at Ker Argonid, the home in St.-Briac (Brittany, France) that they had purchased.  The death of Empress Victoria Feodorovna in 1936 came as a heavy blow to Kirill I.  The injuries he sustained on the Petropavlovsk on March 31/April 13, 1904, plus the powerful yearning he felt for his homeland all his life in exile, all took a toll on his health.  In September 1938, it was discovered that the Emperor had gangrene on his feet, which resisted all treatment. 

Emperor Kirill I died on the eve of his birthday, in a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris.  On October 6/19, 1938, he was buried in the Family Crypt of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in Coburg, but he left instructions that he should be reburied in Russia as soon as that should become possible. 

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the late Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna of Russia, on February 22/March 7, 1995, the remains of Emperor Kirill I and Empress Victoria Feodorovna were moved to the Family resting place of the House of Romanoff, the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.  When the grave of the Emperor was opened in Coburg, it was discovered that the remains were incorrupt. 

In the history of Russia, Kirill Vladimirovich will always be known as the Tsar-Confessor, who, in the harshest conditions imaginable, preserved the holy traditions of the legitimate Orthodox monarchy