In a recent speech in New York City, the senior member of the Romanoff family called on the branches of the Romanoff family to stop fighting and to unite. H.S.H. Prince Dmitri Romanovsky-Ilyinsky, whose name in the United States is Dmitri Romanoff Ilyinsky, issued his call for family unity on May 5, 2017, weeks after the 100th anniversary of the fall of the Russian monarchy in March 1917. He delivered the message in a short speech to the attendees of the Russian Nobility Ball, the annual fundraising gala of the Russian Nobility Association in New York.
For those who understand the genealogy of the Romanoff family, it is particularly significant that Prince Dmitri should be the one to call for the branches of the Romanoff family to stop arguing and to unite. He is the genealogically senior living male descendant of the Romanoff family. His grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia (son of the Grand Duke Paul, a brother of Emperor Alexander III), married an American, Audrey Emery, when he was in exile in France after the Revolution. Due to the strict dynastic marriage laws which required members of the dynasty to marry royal wives, Grand Duke Dmitri's only child, Paul, and his descendants became a non-dynastic branch of the family and received the title of Princes Romanovsky-Ilyinsky.
In his speech, which alluded to disputes within the family going back to the 19th century, Prince Dmitri mentioned three individuals by name: his cousin Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, his brother Prince Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, and his cousin Paul Kulikovsky.
Grand Duchess Maria, who was born in 1953 in Spain, is the head of the Romanoff dynasty, which is called the Russian Imperial House. Prince Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, who was born in 1960 in the United States, is the vice president of the Romanoff Family Association (RFA), which groups together the non-dynastic branches of the Romanoff clan. (Because the elected position of RFA president is vacant pending a new election, he is at present the leader of the RFA.) Mr. Kulikovsky, who was born in 1960 in Canada, is not a Romanoff but is related to the Romanoffs, as a great-grandson of Colonel Nikolai Kulikovsky and his wife Grand Duchess Olga of Russia. He lives in Russia and has devoted himself to making Russians aware of the Romanoff heritage.
If The Russian Legitimist is interpreting the speech correctly, it appears that the senior male descendant of the Romanoffs has publicly called upon the members of the Russian Imperial House (Grand Duchess Maria and her son Grand Duke George), the members of the Romanoff Family Association (male line Romanoff descendants of the many non-dynastic marriages which occurred after the Revolution), and non-Romanoffs who are related to the Romanoffs to cast aside past differences and work together.
In referring to Grand Duchess Maria and to his brother Michael, the 63 year old Prince said as follows:
"It is time for the Romanoff family to set aside 19th century arguments and work together to do what the family can to help Modern Russia.
It is time to thank our Cousin Maria for all her efforts in Russia and all the goodwill she has generated. Amazingly, Cousin Maria has visited Russia over 100 times in 25 years and has painstakingly continued the great traditions of her family line.
It is time to thank my brother Michael Pavlovich for all he has done, and for the Romanoff Family Association to respect the fact that he is the current elected head."
He also warmly thanked Mr. Kulikovsky, "who continues to educate our family, and all those who are interested, in Romanoff family history."
The Russian Legitimist applauds Prince Dmitri Romanovsky-Ilyinsky both for his message and for timing it at the centenary of the end of the monarchy. Nobody is alive today in Russia who remembers the monarchy. Russians now going about their everyday lives have very limited time to absorb information about the Romanoff sovereigns, such as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Alexander II, who during the 300 years of Romanoff rule were responsible for making Russia a world power. Russians today have a natural respect and interest in Romanoff descendants, but the message should be about what unites them rather than what divides them. Too often, attention in the Russian press that might be given to the accomplishments of Catherine the Great or Alexander II is instead taken up by the story of current family divisions.
What will be the result of this noble call for unity? What will be the reaction of the Head of the Russian Imperial House? What will be the reaction of Prince Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, leader of the RFA, and of various Romanoffs in the RFA, like cousins Olga Andreievna and Rostislav Rostislavich? What will be the reaction of various non-Romanoff relatives? We hope the reactions will be positive. People of good will, even under difficult circumstances, often find a way to work together. And when cousins who do not really know each other finally meet and start to spend time together, sometimes the results can be surprising, and friendships are formed.