Below is the text of an extremely rare legitimist booklet published in English in 1924 by the Union of Russian Legitimist Monarchists. Among other things, it contains a declaration by Grand Duke Kirill as Guardian of the Russian Throne. The declaration is dated 23 March/5 April 1924, some five months before Grand Duke Kirill announced on 31 August 1924 that, there then being no doubt that Emperor Nicholas II and his son had been killed, he had duly succeeded as Emperor of Russia in exile. One interesting aspect of Grand Duke Kirill's declaration is its pointed criticism of the former commander of the Russian Army, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, for his anti-legitimism, which sowed doubt and division within the emigration. This historical text will be of interest to students of the Russian legitimist movement in the years immediately after the White defeat in the Civil War.
"Who Shall Be The Emperor of Russia?"
The Union of Russian Legitimist Monarchists (Ed.),
published by R. Oldenbourg (Ol'denburg), Munich (1924)
The Guardian of the Imperial Throne to all faithful Russian subjects residing in foreign parts:
Russia is perishing. In deep anxiety, the country is waiting for its deliverance.
After all the trials, common sense and conscience are leading the Russian people to the clear conception, that, only the Lawful Emperor has the power to return—her greatness to Russia and a prosperous life to her sons. Such is also the belief of the majority of the Russian exiles who disinterestedly love their country.
In the mother country, under the yoke of the oppressors and usurpers, our brethren cannot loudly proclaim that, which we, beyond the border, may speak out openly. From us they are expecting the truthful word as well as the deed of deliverance. Our duty commands us to justify these hopes.
Having, in my capacity of Eldest Member and Head of the Imperial House, taken upon Myself the guardianship of the Imperial Throne, I had the right—after my appeal — to expect union and obeyance of the fundamental laws amongst the Russians. But, to my great sorrow, I have been compelled to convince Myself that the times of sedition have troubled the reason and have destroyed the conscience of many: some have forgotten their Oath, while with others its true meaning has become perverted and they have lost the true conception of their duty to their country and to Myself—Our country’s First Servant, and Lawful Heir to the rights belonging to the Emperors of All the Russia’s. (sic)
Unsuccessful were my repeated adresses (sic) to the former Supreme Commander-in-Chief—the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevitch, whose cooperation I considered to be of such great value in the task of Russia’s liberation undertaken by Myself. With deep chagrin did I realise the uselessness of my appeals to Him; His Imperial Highness did not want to hear my call.
Meanwhile, triflingly ambitious and light minded persons,—using the indeterminate silence of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevitch have deluded the badly informed and wavering ones, and have given a pernicious direction to the monarchist thought, thus sowing dissension in the midst of the Russian people.
It is not permissible that this should continue thus.
The deliverance of Our perishing country emphatically demands the triumph of Right and Truth and the reunion of all Russians—true to their Oath and loving their Country—around the same and only banner of legality, under whose protection there can be neither quarrels nor dissension.
It is time to understand, that the greatest harm is being done to the task of the liberation of Russia by those persons and organisations, who, while they style themselves monarchists,—are in fact rebellious and consequently enemies to the union of all law-abiding forces, whose consolidation is at present developing in a sane way.
Moved by My love to Russia and her Sons—who all are equal in my eyes—and leaning on my Rights, I now command:
To all grades of the Army and Navy, to all faithful subjects, to all organisations who are faithful to their duty and to their Oath —to join the law-abiding movement of which I am the Head, and to follow in future exclusively my instructions.
May conscience and reason awake in those who are still persisting in their stubbornness —may the erring find the true light—and Our country will commit their sins and errors to oblivion. But not worthy of a place in the future Imperial Russia are those, who, do not wish to hear my present Appeal, who will note(sic) take the lawful road and who shall continue their destructive work. Neither the Tsar nor Russia, shall forgive them the crimes committed by them against their own country, and their disdain of the fundamental laws and of the Divine Truth.
In order to prevent the enemies of Russia—once and for all —to carry doubts and hesitation into the ranks of the Russians—be it herewith known, that only death can stop Me on the road of the accomplishment of my Duty; and in case of My death this Duty shall pass to the One who is destined for Russia by Divine Providence and the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire.
Nice, 23d March / 5th April 1924.
of the Russian Fundamental Laws, to the observance of which the Monarch gives His Oath on His accession.
27. Both sexes have the right of succession to the Throne; but in preference this right belongs to the male sex, in the order of primogeniture; However, with the extinction of the last male line the succession to the Throne passes into the female line, by the rigth(sic) of substitution.
28. Therefore, the succession to the Throne belongs first of all to the Eldest Son of a reigning Sovereign and after Him to all His male lineal descendants.
29. After the extinction of this male line of descendants the succession passes into the family of the second Son of the Emperor and His male lineal descendants; after the extinction of this second line the succession passes into the family of the third Son and so forth.
The text ended on p 10 of the pamphlet. The chart above, heavily annotated in pencil, occupies p 11.
There follows 7 pages in much smaller type, written by one V.M.L.
The early Russian annals say, that in the 9th Century the Slavs of Novgorod tried to rule themselves without their princes; but soon discord broke out amongst them — one town battled against the other, brother slew brother and law and justice ceased to exist. Then they decided to find a prince who would rule over them and stablish (sic) order and justice amongst them. In 862 their envoys went over the seas to the Variags and spoke to them thus: “Our land is vast and rich, but there is not any order in it. Come and rule over us.” And the Dynasty of Rurik who had then answered to this call, governed Russia for seven and a half centuries. Notwithstanding, the numerous unfavourable conditions, out of a number of disunited tribes a strong and vast state formed itself, after the monarchic Rule had been firmly established in the Principality of Moscow. However the Moscovite Dynasty died out and immediately after this the country was being plunged into sedition and in a few years had lost all the acquisitions of centuries; it became an easy prey for adventurers and robbers and came near to being divided by the neighbouring states. In those days of general depression and discouragement the people themselves rose for the defence of the country and having driven out the false pretenders and alien tormentors, they decided without any doubt or hesitation to restore the Monarchy, and called Mikhail Romanoff to the Throne.
One hundred years passed and under the Scepter of the Romanoffs Russia not only healed the wounds inflicted on her by the times of sedition, — but even became one of the mightiest european powers.
The brilliant progress of Russia was somewhat arrested during the period from the death of Peter the Great up to the firm establishment on the Throne of Catherine II, principally, owing to the repeated violation of the fundamental principle inherent to any monarchy — which consists in the strict observance of a lawful succession to the Throne; these forty years represent one of the dreariest periods of Russian history. But since the second half of the XVIII century a firm monarchie (sic) rule reasserted itself in Russia and she continued with rapid steps in her territorial and political development and, at the close of the XIX century, she took one of the foremost places as regards territory and population, among the countries of the world.
It is to be noted that one of the first and most important acts of Government on the part of the son of Catherine II — the Emperor Paul I — after his accession, consisted in the promulgation on April 5th 1797 of the Laws which minutely laid down the order of succession to the Russian Throne. These Statutes, which ever since have governed the said order of succession and which have eliminated the possibility of any contradictory claims at the demise of the Sovereign — are embodied in the so called Fundamental Laws of the Empire; the three principal articles of the latter are quoted on page 10, in conjunction with the genealogical table of the Imperial House of the Romanoff’s.
Three hundred years of almost uninterrupted prosperity and progress had the effect to blur in the mind of the Russian people the memory of those calamities, that invariably accompanied the periods of suppression and even of a weakening of the monarchic rule, while the criminal propaganda of the revolutionaries unsettled the people’s sense of faithfulness and gratitude towards the Imperial House of the Romanoffs. A crowd of self-seekers and traitors grasped the opportunity offered by an unparallelled, (sic) terrible war, and by deceit and treachery cast down their Sovereign. But it was not long ere Russia reaped the deserts of her crime; within a year from that infamous day, Russia found herself in the power of a gang of international criminals and thieves, who now have brought her down to the last limits of disgrace and calamity.
One characteristic trait passes through all the history of Russia: namely, the tolerance which the autocratic Russian Monarchy always has given proof of in regard to the form of Government established in other countries, whether the latter were friends or enemies of Russia. In remaining true to her own historic destinies, Russia, under the rule of the monarchs of the Romanoff Dynasty, entertained the most friendly relations with purely republican countries, — for instance with France and the United States. Even in her bitterest struggles Russia disdained to use the pernicious instrument of insidious propaganda, in order to overthrow the Government of the Country with which she was at war: on the contrary she has always given her effective and moral support to the established order. The attitude of other countries in regard to Russia was often very different from this; knowing that, in the long run, the Army of the Tsars represented an invincible power, – the enemies of Russia first of all used to attack the source of this power, that is to say the Russian Monarchy itself. History shows that such a mode of warfare is often a double edged sword. But, if one can understand that enemies ace not overscrupulous in their choice of weapons, how great must be the bitter feeling of the Russian patriots at the thought that the friends of Russia themselves largely contributed to the downfall of the Russian Monarchy and consequently, that those friends are in no small measure responsible for the ensuing calamities and humiliations of Russia. Nevertheless, the Russian patriots wish to pass the sponge over these old accounts and grievances: but they desire to convince the friends of Russia of the enormity of the political mistake which was thus committed in regard to their country. And may it well be understood, that the considerations in favour of the reestablishment of the Russian Monarchy which follow below, are not intended for attacking the idea of a republican form of Government in other countries. Consequently all that is said here must not be construed as derogatory in any way to the republican form of Government in general. Only Russia desires — and will obtain sooner or later the reestablishment of that form of Government, which is best suited to the character of the country and the Russian people, that is to say — the Hereditary and Legitimate Monarchy.
If the events of the last years have not yet succeeded in convincing the Russian republicans, that the enormous extent of Russian territory, her variety of races, historic conditions, and last but not least, her political situation in Europe — demand the restoration of the Monarchy, who alone can return to her the former glory and heal the deep wounds inflicted by the revolution — if in spite of all, these republicans have not drawn their conclusions, then it is a useless task to try to convert them. However, there is no doubt, that the number at convinced monarchists daily increases, and for them the answer to the question, who is destined to be the Tsar of Russia acquires a primary importance. At the same time, undoubtedly, many of them see the solution of the question in the election of the Monarch by a State Assembly or Constituent Assembly. Therefore, it is essential that one should render oneself a strict account as to how far such a proposition might be considered purposeful or lawful. In regard to this it is necessary to point not that all theoretical discussions, as to one or the other form of government usually lead to the most unforeseen consequences, and that history mercilessly destroyes (sic) the most elaborate and symmetrical academicalstructures, when they do not correspond with the demands of the situation and of life itself.
History proves that the election of a monarch in itself is connected with the greatest difficulties and that it usually does not bring forth the results which one would be seemingly justified to expect from such an election. The seductive theoretical idea of raising by this method one that is most worthy of the throne, collides with the almost unsolvable task to find such a person and to ascertain what kind of conditions and demands he should fulfill in order to be eligible, and lastly, how to obtain that such a person, even if known to a certain section of the population, should also receive the sanction and election of the people in general. If one tries to imagine to oneself such an election in Russia, — who has been shaken by the revolution to her very foundations, where the most cultured classes of society have almost completely been destroyed, where the people have been corrupted by a criminal rule, — furthermore if one discounts the possible influence of the foreign powers who have remained in the full possession of their political and material strength, then one has to come to the unavoidable conclusion that an election carried through under such conditions world hardly being forth a satisfactory result.
Nevertheless, even supposing that the popular vote would fall to a really distinguished person, this would not necessarily imply that the question were thus satisfactorily and definitely solved and that the person elected would at once dispose of the authority and power essential for the fulfillment of the most difficult task imposed upon him. History proves that even in the rare successfull (sic) issues of the election of a monarch, the power of the latter for a long time after, remains weak and unstable. Hardly, has there ever been raised to the Throne a man of the genius, the talents — a man more worshipped by the people, — than Napoleon I. During his Consulate and his Empire, he gave to France such an amount of glory, of power and welfare, that his position might have seemed inassailable. However, when fate turned against him, even he felt that he lacked something and on receiving the advice to make peace with Europe, by renouncing all the new additions of territory to France, he did not dare to follow it, — pointing out, that he would be able to do so if he were a monarch by God’s grace like the Emperor of Austria, but as he did not come of a line of Imperial ancestors, he could not return to Paris, as one defeated. So clearly did this great man realise that election, genius and momentous victories gave him less authority and power than the rightful succession to the same Throne, from which 20 years earlier the lawful Dynasty of the Bourbons I’d been cast town by the revolution, the same Dynasty which had several times concluded peace following a defeat, but had nevertheless been able to exercise its undisputed rule over France in the course of centuries.
One has not far to seek in history for cases in which the election of the monarch was not followed by success. The Histories of ancient Rome and of Poland, where such an elective system was put at the basis of the constitution, are full of dark pages and give a long list of names in regard to which one is justified in saying that it would have been difficult to elect men less fitted for the position.
It must be frankly recognised that in her present situation and condition Russia does not lend herself to such experiments. Neither the war, nor the revolution have put to the fore any person who in some measure or regard could approach Napoleon or, who by exceptional qualities and deeds has acquired the affection of the people, as was the case in 1613, when the Romanoffs, being also nearest to the “Imperial Tree”, enjoyed the genuine love of the people. Finally in respect to Russia, against such an election there is another consideration, which ought to have the greatest weight with a man of duty and a monarchist, — namely, the actual existence of a dynasty whose rights to the Russian Throne are undisputable. One ought to attach the greatest importance to the fact that about the only instance of an exceptionnally (sic) successful election of a monarch, took place in Russia at the time when the Imperial Dynasty of Rurik had died out and when there was no other rightful pretender to the Throne. The principles of honour, duty and faithfulness to the Oath which are underlying the convictions of every true monarchist would find themselves in direct contrast to the idea of the election of a new Dynasty while there are lawful successors to the Throne of Russia. This assertion acquires the more strength, when one considers, that on the one hand — the dynasty of the Romanoffs has gained exceptional merits before Russia by creating her greatness and might, by serving the latter for 300 years and remaining faithful to them to the last — on the other hand on account of the fact that the rights of this Dynasty to the Throne cannot be disputed by any one. Never have the Russian people as a whole expressed their voluntary decision to change the old form of government, or to deprive the Romanoffs of their rights to the Throne. Similarly, there is no legal act in existence by which a reigning Emperor of Russia has abdicated for Himself and for his Heirs. The circumstances which accompanied the so called abdication of H. M. Emperor Nicolas II, as they transpire at present, compel everyone to acknowledge, that the act promulgated in this connection was in no way a free expression of His will and therefore it is null and void. But supposing one would even recognise the validity of this action: even so, one has to bear in mind, that by the latter the Throne was transferred to the Grand-Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovitch (the brother of Emperor Nicolas II): He, not having accepted the Throne, could not therefore subsequently renounce it, as he never has been occupying it and still less was he entitled to transmit to the Constituent Assembly the right to express their authoritative opinion in regard to a new form of Government to be adopted. Both those acts then, having been obtained by revolutionary violence and by deceit are devoid of any significance and reality, and cannot in the slightest degree lessen the rights to the Throne of the Imperial House of Romanoff.
Thus, the interests of Russia, the examples of history and the demands of legality and conscience, impose upon every convinced Russian monarchist the conclusion that the restoration of the rightful power to the Imperial Dynasty of the Romanoff’s, is an absolute necessity.
It is possible to affirm with sufficient authority that the majority of the Russian “Emigration” have at present come to this conclusion. As much as one is able to judge from the news coming from Russia the majority of the Russian people themselves, are fervently wishing back the monarchy. Similarly, those foreigners who are well acquainted with Russia and with the happenings of the revolution, consider the restoration of the Monarchy to be unavoidable. Unfortunately certain foreign governments who perceive that the return of the Monarchy — in particular the Legitimate Monarchy — would rapidly restore to Russia her former power and importance, not alone do not sympathise with the return of the Russian monarchic rule, but by every means try to oppose it. On the other hand there are Powers for whom the regeneration of Russia would offer the only means to escape from their present unbearable international situation but owing to considerations of their own internal policies, they oppose the reestablishment of the monarchic power in Russia.
Without, of course, denying the legitimate right of any Government to pursue in the first place their own interests, one may incidentally remark that in view of the geographical and political position of Russia such outside influences would have no particular importance; nevertheless a real help to the real Russia would be appreciated by the latter quite differently from the shortsighted policy which supports and assists decrepit bolshevism and endeavours to grasp with its help Russia’s markets and natural riches.
The attempts of certain foreign powers to sow dissension between the Russian monarchists are the direct outcome of this policy. Albeit, nearly all Russian monarchists are — at least outwardly — partisans of the idea of the restoration to power of the Imperial House of Romanoff — in other words apparently profess the creed of legitimism, — yet there are some among them who feel justified in affirming that this does not implicitly solve the question as to whether the Eldest Agnate of the Romanoff Dynasty, the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovitch, is really entitled to the Throne, and they assert that the Throne should be given to that Scion of the Imperial House who by his qualities, his merits and his previous activities is the most worthy of the Crown. Assuredly such a view directly contradicts the essential principles underlying any monarchic constitution in general and the gist of the Russian fundamental Laws in particular.
The question pertaining to a lawful succession to the Throne does not appear to be a secondary consideration in the theory of monarchic rule, but, on the contrary, represents one of its first principles and prerogatives. Every well constituted and flourishing monarchy has been invariably built up on this principle, and particularly Russians, whose country more than any other has suffered from the violation of this principle during half a century (1725-1762) should be careful to avoid such a pernicious fallacy.
The monarchic rule is the rule of one Person and not of a whole Dynasty, as the members of the latter are entitled to the succession in a proper and lawful order only. This statute is compulsory for the subjects as well as for the members of the Imperial House who are in duty bound to give an example in the observance of the Law.
The slightest deflection from the principle of rightful succession affects the very, roots of the monarchic rule. If one feels inclined to discuss now the merits of the Heir to the Russian Throne, — then why not discuss this question at the demise of every Monarch, why not even discuss the merits of the ruling Sovereign, if for some reason or other he appears to be unworthy of the Throne ! This road of criticism has no limits and it finally leads to republicanism which in Russia is synonymous with anarchy. No doubt, there were monarchs who did in no way possess the exclusive qualities which one may be entitled to demand from a Sovereign, but History shows that the lack of such qualities never has led to the same disastrous consequences as did the violation of the law of rightful succession. Louis XIV who was distinguished by exceptional abilities and talents, at the close of his reign, had brought France to the border of destruction; whereas under his father Louis XIII, a feeble man of poor intellect, France attained a high degree of power and welfare. On the other hand numerous instances prove the difficulty of properly appreciating the qualities of a monarch before his accession to power. Frederic II the Great was imprisoned by his father the King of Prussia, and the question of his being deprived of his right to the Throne had been raised. Before their accession to the Throne the two last pre-revolutionary Kings of France — Louis XV and Louis XVI — had been surnamed by the people “Louis le Bien-Aimé” and “Louis le Désiré” respectively, whereas their rule was full of calamities and ended — in the case of the former with the execration of the very same people who had worshipped him, and in the second case — with the Revolution.
The most recent history also gives the instance of an erroneous appreciation of an Heir to the Throne, in the person of King Edward VII, who before his accession was considered as a lightminded man, who neither was deserving of the crown nor was expected to be able to rule, and who now is considered one of the Great Rulers whom England has had. These few examples — and history is full of them — show, how difficult it is for us to give ourselves a proper account in regard to the real capacities of a person who is destined to occupy the Throne.
The historic fate of Countries and their rulers depend on such complicated and undefinable causes and conditions that the only way to look at the question is to confide in the will of God and to prefer the Sovereign “by the Grace of God” to any other ruler. Fatalism in this respect is not misplaced — it is unavoidable.
Happy is the Monarchy where there are not several Pretenders to the Crown. Who would raise his hand to create in Russia a situation similar to that of France, where there were at one time three pretenders to the Throne: Two of the Royal House of Bourbon, of the Elder the legitimate — and the younger Branch respectively, and the third — a Bonaparte. How many commotions, intrigues and failures have followed in the wake of such a situation, which finally led to the unfortunate result that the Constituent Assembly which was convoked in 1871 and which in its major part consisted of monarchists adhering to the three abovenamed dynasties, was unable to proclaim the monarchy, owing to the dissensions which arose amongst the monarchists themselves.
To all appearances, this regrettable case which ought to be full of sad meaning and a lesson for all monarchists, does not exercise any influence on certain Russian monarchists who, while they continue to style themselves legitimists, nevertheless assert that the Russian fundamental Laws are preposterous and that Russia’s good demands the election of the most deserving as Ruler, — by the members of the Imperial House themselves. The arguments which were given above, quite naturally lead to the conclusion that those who want to put those views into practice, in fact, do not care whether the latter are logical or correct, but are simply led, either by considerations of personal ambition, or submit themselves to the influence of foreign Governments and political cliques, which are in no way in need of a strong Russia, but only desire to realise their political combinations and interests.
But all this gentry and their inspirers ought to remember once and for all, that the Russian people are in no need of anybody’s mediation in order to find their Emperor. The Russian People require — not a popular, not a liberal nor a conservative Tsar, neither do the People wish a Tsar who would be agreeable to one or the other foreign Power: The People crave for the Lawful Heir of the Imperial Ancestors whose benefactions they — the once deceived and now repentant — begin to understand at present.
The Russian People will find their Tsar themselves and will implore him to take upon Himself the heavy burden of Government and the Tsar will look for his collaborators and servants not among those emigrants who, in truth, having forgotten nothing and learned nothing, continue to play at the revolutionary game, but he will find them in the very midst of the Russian people, who having once been deceived by those lightminded self-seekers, have now, at a fearful price, learned to value the benefits of the Monarchy.
Doubtless, if this group of monarchists — who in their great majority are not genuine monarchists, but, in fact, are the representatives of that Russian “Intelligentsia” which always opposed the monarchy, and who feeling the approaching restoration, try now to change the “leopards spots” —if they should succeed with foreign help in raising their candidate to the Throne, even then the power of this Monarch would be unstable, and it would bring Russia instead of the expected appeasement and regeneration — only more troubles and internal strife. Furthermore the ambitious leaders of this party would meet in such a case with a great disappointment. Even the Monarch who would owe them his Crown would not surround the Throne with people who have flouted the essential principles of the monarchy as well as the demands of Law and Justice.
In conclusion a few remarks are necessary in regard to the theory advanced by certain monarchists, according to which it is untimely to try to answer at present the question as to who is the rightful Heir to the Throne, while there are no precise indications concerning the fate of the Emperor, His Heir, and the Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich.
Certainly, if the Lord had willed so to miraculously save the Emperor, and if He were in our midst, not one true monarchist would dare to discuss the timeliness or the usefulness of recognising Him as His Sovereign. However the lack of precise information regarding those exalted Personages modifies the situation only in the sense, that the next Eldest member of the Romanoff Dynasty the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovitch is, although not the Emperor of all theRussias, yet He is the Regent of the Empire, to whom everybody is bound to submit exactly as to the Emperor.
Such is the exact meaning of the-Russian fundamental Laws which are identical in this respect with the basic principles of any well constituted Monarchy. The refusal to recognise without delay His rights is tantamount to a refusal to give the Oath of allegiance to the rightful Heir after the demise of the Emperor.
Therefore, any monarchist who until now has not voluntarily fulfilled his duty, must render to himself account that he is placing himself in direct opposition to his very own convictions and that he is committing a crime which remains unpunished only for the reason that his innermost desire — the restoration of the Lawful Monarchy in Russia — has hitherto remained unfulfilled.
The ways of God are inscrutable and we do not know the day and the hour when Russia will be freed of Her tortures, when Russians will be allowed to openly express their convictions and desires; may they than (sic – then?) not reproach the Russian monarchists, whose word was free at the time, with having failed in their duty, with having withheld their immutable Oath of allegiance to the Head of the Russian Imperial House — the Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovitch, who by Duty and His Right of Birth has assumed the Guardianship of the Russian Throne and to His rightful Heir.
The Russian Legitimist is grateful for the kind permission of Mr. Norman Field to publish the
original pamphlet in his collection. His original post on the material is available: click here