On November 24, 2015, Australian and international newspapers noted the death of Leonid Gurievich Kulikovsky, the great-grandson of Emperor Alexander III. Many of these newspapers referred to Mr. Kulikovsky as a member of the Russian Imperial House and an “heir” to the Russian throne.  Mr. Kulikovsky was neither.  As a result, we have received questions from our readers about the Kulikovsky family, who they are, and how they are related to the Imperial House.

Today’s extended Kulikovsky family descends from Lieutenant Colonel Nikolai Kulikovsky, an officer of the Russian Imperial Army.  He came from a noble family of military officers.  On November 16, 1916, Colonel Kulikovsky became the morganatic second husband of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, younger daughter of Emperor Alexander III.

The wedding of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna to Col. Kulikovsky, Kiev, 1916.

The wedding of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna to Col. Kulikovsky, Kiev, 1916.

Because the marriage took place only three and half months before the monarchy fell, Colonel Kulikovsky never received the position and promotions that likely would have come his away as the morganatic spouse of a grand duchess.  Instead, he had to leave the army and flee his beloved homeland.  He suffered greatly from having to leave his country.  Viewed through the prism of the modern day, it is regrettable that, in exile, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna never accepted him, a commoner, as a member of the family.  Grand Duchess Olga’s authorized official biographer described how badly Colonel Kulikovsky was treated in the 1920s by his mother-in-law:



Her life [Grand Duchess Olga’s life] was not made much easier by the Empress’s studiously formal manner towards Olga’s husband.  To the very end Marie treated Colonel Koulikovsky as an intruder and a commoner.  When guests arrived, and Olga would be invited to have either luncheon or tea in her mother’s rooms, her husband was excluded from the invitation.  When on very rare occasions the Empress had to attend some formal function at Amalienborg or elsewhere she made it obvious that she expected Olga and Olga alone to accompany her.

“ ‘My husband was wonderful.  He never complained either to me or anyone else.  However, things might have been much worse, and we did go on with our efforts to bring up our sons and to get more or less accustomed to that strange life in exile.’ “    (See: The Last Grand Duchessby Ian Vorres, p. 173 (originally published 1964, 3rd ed. 1985 – Finedawn Publishers)).

Despite the harsh attitude of the Dowager Empress, however, this was a love match, and Colonel Kulikovsky remained deeply devoted to his wife for the rest of his life.  (Grand Duchess Olga’s first, very unhappy marriage to a royal prince ended in divorce after 15 years.  It was a loveless marriage that had made her miserable.)

The recent death of Leonid Kulikovsky has cast the spotlight on the remainingmembers of the extended Kulikovsky family who live in Canada, Denmark, and Russia.  Two other relatives of the Kulikovsky family have been particularly active in recent years in trying to honor their Romanov heritage.


Olga Kulikovsky (Olga Kulikovsky-Romanov)

                                                  Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky

                                                  Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky

Olga Kulikovsky was the third wife of Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky, son of Grand Duchess Olga.  She married him in 1986, some 6 years before his death in 1993.

Although she never knew her husband’s mother, who died more than 25 years before their 1986 wedding, she became very interested in Grand Duchess Olga and organized an exhibition in Russia of water colors painted by the Grand Duchess.

At a certain point after her husband Tikhon’s death, Olga Kulikovsky began to call herself Kulikovsky-Romanov, a name which no other Kulikovsky has ever used.  She has also used the self-assumed title “Princess Kulikovsky-Romanov.”



Paul Edward Kulikovsky (Paul Jones, Paul Kulikovsky-Larsen)

                                                 Paul Edward Kulikovsky

                                                 Paul Edward Kulikovsky

Paul Edward Kulikovsky is the son of Ralph Jones and Ksenia Gurievna Kulikovsky, and through his mother is a great-grandson of Grand Duchess Olga.  Kulikovsky grew up in Denmark as the stepson of his mother’s second husband, Finn Larsen.  He now lives in Russia.  Instead of the name Paul Jones, he now uses the name Paul Kulikovsky in honor of his great-grandfather.

Paul Kulikovsky is an enthusiast of Romanoff history and publishes a Romanoff newsletter on his Facebook page, which he sometimes utilizes to take issue with various distant Romanoff cousins.  His main contention seems to be that all the Romanoffs are on the same footing as he is, that is, all are descendants of morganatic marriages.

Several comments are appropriate to put his contentions in context.

First, Mr. Kulikovsky, whose education and training are in business, does not claim to be a professional historian or academically trained scholar of the Romanoff dynasty. 

Second, his statements have no official or family aspect, and are entirely his own.  Due to his great-grandmother’s non-dynastic marriage, he is not in the line of succession to the former Russian throne and is not a member of the Imperial House, which now numbers two people.  Nor is he a member of the Romanoff family (which now numbers about 25 people), because his father was not a Romanoff.[1]  (His closest male Romanoff ancestor is his great-great-grandfather.  This is why he was not eligible for membership of the Romanov Family Association, q.v., and instead was named an honorary member.) In fact, Mr. Kulikovsky is not technically even a Kulikovsky, being related to that family through the maternal line.   Mr. Kulikovsky is, however, certainly a descendant of the  Romanoff dynasty -- but there are hundreds of people alive today, perhaps more than a thousand people, who, like him, descend from one of the many Russian grand duchesses born in the 19th century.

He argues that the Russian Imperial House no longer exists.  He ignores the fact that, after the succession passed out of his great-grandmother’s branch of the dynasty as a result of the murders of 1918, Grand Duke Kirill and his family picked up the dynastic torch and have carried it for nearly a century.  He also ignores the fact that in what was still a large dynasty even after the murders of the revolution, it was only Grand Duke Kirill’s descendants who felt obligated, generation after generation, to ensure that the Imperial House survived by having an heir available who satisfied the dynastic laws, including the equal marriage rule.  Mr. Kulikovsky has asserted, for example, that the marriage of Grand Duchess Maria’s father was not an equal marriage, because Grand Duchess Maria’s mother was not a princess of a royal house.  Grand Duchess Maria’s mother, however, was a princess of a royal dynasty that reigned in the male line as kings in Georgia from the 9th century to the 19th century, much longer than the Romanoffs.  Because both the Romanoffs and the Bagrations are today deposed sovereign dynasties, they are both on an equal footing.

In the years immediately after Grand Duke Kirill proclaimed himself head of the dynasty and Emperor in 1924, the center of anti-legitimism within the dynasty were “the Nikolayevichi”:  the old Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich, his brother Grand Duke Peter and Peter’s son Prince Roman of Russia.  Of the 19 male dynasts who survived the revolution, these three were the only ones who declined to declare allegiance to Kirill in the months after the 1924 proclamation.  Despite the fact that Grand Duke Nicholas, his brother and his nephew were very distant in the line of succession in 1924 (respectively, 9th, 10th and 11th), the Montenegrin wives of Grand Dukes Nicholas and Peter harbored hopes that, in the event of a restoration, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich and his line would gain the throne, rather than the legitimate senior heir.  The last Nikolaievichi dynast, Prince Roman, died in 1978, but his morganatic son Nicholas R. Romanoff carried on the anti-legitimism of his father.  After the death of the dynastic head, Grand Duke Vladimir, in 1992, Nicholas made a baseless claim to be head of the dynasty.  After the death of Nicholas in 2014, his brother Dimitri R. Romanoff continued this claim until his death in 2017. 

Paul Kulikovsky initially associated himself with Dimitri R. Romanoff but broke with him.  Dimitri R. Romanoff announced some time ago that Paul Kulikovsky had been appointed his “special representative” in Moscow.  (See http://dimitriy-romanov-fund.eu/about_Paul_Edward_Kulikovsky-english.htm, accessed 28-11-2015).   In a recent issue of his newsletter, however, Mr. Kulikovsky made clear his view that Dimitri R. Romanoff, due to his father’s unequal marriage, is not even a member of the Russian Imperial House, let alone its head.  He also clarified his view that, due to morganatic marriages, none of the other current members of the Romanov Family Association is a member of the Imperial House.  He added that the genealogically senior descendant of the Romanoff family is not Dimitri R. Romanoff but is instead the elder son of the Ilyinsky branch of the Romanov family.  (See Mr. Kulikovsky’s Romanov News, No. 91, November 2015, page 32 of 84.)  Although this was perhaps offensive to Dimitri R. Romanoff and the Romanov Family Association, these particular conclusions were and remain legally accurate.


[1] Membership of the Imperial House is limited to dynasts.  The term “Romanoff family” is today a broader designation which, in addition to dynasts, includes non-dynasts with a Romanoff father.