Princess Catherine Yurievskaya

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Princess Catherine Yurievskaya
Ekaterina Alexandrovna Yuryevskaya5.jpg
Yuryevskaya, during her singing career
Full name
Russian: Екатерина Александровна Юрьевская
Born(1878-09-09)9 September 1878
St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died22 December 1959(1959-12-22) (aged 81)
Hayling Island, England
BuriedSt Peter's Church, Hayling Island
Noble family
(m. 1901; died 1910)
(m. 1916; div. 1923)
IssuePrince Andrei Baryatinsky
Prince Alexander Baryatinsky
FatherAlexander II of Russia
MotherCatherine Dolgorukova

Princess Catherine Alexandrovna Yurievskaya (Russian: Екатерина Александровна Юрьевская, Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Yurievskaya; 9 September 1878 (O.S.) – 22 December 1959) was the natural daughter of Alexander II of Russia by his mistress (later his wife), Princess Catherine Dolgorukova. In 1880, she was legitimated by her parents' morganatic marriage. In her own family, she was known as Katia.

After her father's assassination in 1881, her mother brought her up in France. She was married there in 1901, having two sons, but was widowed in 1910. Her second marriage came during the First World War in Russia, and she suffered hardships during the ensuing Russian Civil War. In the 1920s, she became a professional singer. In 1932, she moved to the UK where she settled on Hayling Island in Hampshire, where she died in 1959.

Early life[edit]

Catherine with her brother Prince George and sister Olga

Catherine was born at Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 9 September 1878, while her mother was still the mistress of Tsar Alexander II. When she was less than two, her parents' morganatic marriage on 6 July 1880 legitimated her, and she acquired the surname of Yurievsky, the title of knyagina (princess) and the style of Svetlost (Serene Highness).[1][2]

Her father was assassinated in March 1881, when she was three, and she lived thereafter with her mother, brother George, and sister Olga, who settled together in France.[3]

France and Russia[edit]

Catherine's mother took a house in Paris and others on the French Riviera. In 1891, she bought a house in Nice which she called the Villa Georges, in the boulevard Dubouchage. In France the family was able to afford some twenty servants and a private railway carriage.[3][4]

On 18 October 1901, Catherine married at Biarritz Prince Alexander Vladimirovich Baryatinsky (1870–1910). They had two sons, Andrei (born in Paris on 2 August 1902, died 1931) and Alexander (born at Pau, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, on 24 March 1905 died 1992).[5] They lived at number 6, Place des États-Unis.[6] Baryatinski died in 1910, at the age of thirty-nine.[7]

Catherine's brother George died, after a long illness, on 13 September 1913 in Marburg, Hesse, and was buried at St Elizabeth's, Wiesbaden.[8]

On 6 October 1916, at Yalta, Catherine married secondly Prince Sergei Platonovich Obolensky (1890–1978), son of General Prince Platon Sergeievich Obolensky.[5] At the time of the Revolution of 1917, she was still in Russia, and it was later reported that she had "walked for miles without food during the Revolution, suffering great hardship".[9] Her new husband, Obolensky, fought in the White Army during the Russian Civil War.[10]

Catherine's mother died in 1922, leaving only her house in Nice, the Villa Georges. The family's other houses, in Paris, Neuilly, and Biarritz had been sold at a loss over the years.[11] The same year, Obolensky left Catherine for Alice Astor, the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV.[12] After divorcing him in 1923, Catherine became a professional singer, with a repertoire of some two hundred songs in English, French, Russian and Italian.[13] Her autobiography, My book: some pages from my life, was published in London in 1924.


Catherine's grave in the churchyard of
St Peter's, Hayling Island, with new gravestone
(2018), giving a New Style date of birth

In 1932, Catherine bought a house called "The Haven" on Hayling Island, Hampshire, which she chose for its climate, as she suffered from asthma. On 29 November 1934, she attended the wedding at Westminster Abbey of her grand-niece Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark to Prince George, Duke of Kent.[14]

On 24 August 1935, Henry Channon and his wife called to see Catherine on Hayling Island, but found her out. He noted in his diary that she was living in "a ghastly villa called the Haven in Sinah Lane; there is the sea not far away, peace, poverty, and a Pekinese! All that remains to her of her Romanov grandeur."[15]

For many years, Catherine was supported by an allowance from Queen Mary, the widow of King George V, but after the Queen's death in March 1953 she was left almost penniless and began selling her possessions.[14]

She went to live in a nursing home on Hayling Island and died there on 22 December 1959. She was the last surviving child of Alexander II as well as the last grandchild of Nicholas I. She was buried on 29 December in the churchyard of St Peter's, Northney, with an Anglican funeral. Only two members of the family attended her funeral, her former husband Serge Obolensky and her nephew, Prince Alexander Yurievsky (1901–1988), the son of her brother George.[16] She was also survived by her son Alexander and by her grand-daughter Elena Bariatinsky (1927–1988), who had been married a few months before her grandmother's death and was in France.[17]

In 1961, a woman in Bramley, Yorkshire, named Olga Marie, claimed to be Catherine's natural daughter, but no more is known of her.[12]


  1. ^ Catherine Radziwill (as Count Paul Vasili), Behind the Veil at the Russian Court (London and New York: Cassell & Co., 1913), p. 106
  2. ^ Lindsey Hughes, The Romanovs: Ruling Russia 1613-1917 (New York: 2008), p. 185
  3. ^ a b John Bergamini, The Tragic Dynasty: A History of the Romanovs (1969), pp. 370 & 464
  4. ^ Raymond de Ponfilly, Guide des Russes en France (Horay, 1990), p. 407: "Villa Georges : boulevard Dubouchage, n° 10 Villa achetée en janvier 1891 par la princesse..."
  5. ^ a b Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Yourievskya, Princess Yourievskya at, accessed 7 December 2010
  6. ^ La Prisionera: Place des États-Unis
  7. ^ Alexander Vladimirovich Bariatinsky, Prince Bariatinsky at, accessed 8 December 2010
  8. ^ 'Son of a Czar Dies a Voluntary Exile' in The Washington Post dated 6 October 1913
  9. ^ From a newspaper report quoted by Tarsaïdzé in Katia: wife before God (1970), at p. 311: "Russian Princess Laid to Rest at Hayling: A simple, but very unusual, funeral took place at the little church of St. Peter, North Hayling, on Tuesday. An 84-year-old [sic] Russian princess, Catherine Yourievsky, whose father, Alexander II, had been assassinated, and who had walked for miles without food during the Revolution, suffering great hardship, was laid to rest..."
  10. ^ Cleveland Amory, Earl Blackwell, Celebrity register, vol. 2 (Harper & Row, 1963), p. 466
  11. ^ Tarsaïdzé, op. cit., p. 299
  12. ^ a b Vic Pierce Jones, Hayling's Princess dated 28 November 2002 at, accessed 8 December 2010
  13. ^ Alexander Tarsaïdzé, Katia: wife before God (1970), p. 311 (snippet)
  14. ^ a b John van der Kiste, The Romanovs, 1818-1959: Alexander II of Russia and his family (Sutton Publishing, 1998), p. 210
  15. ^ Henry ‘Chips’ Channon, The Diaries (Volume 1): 1918-38 (2021), p. 323
  16. ^ van der Kiste, op. cit., p. 212
  17. ^ Elena Bariatinsky, Princess Bariatinsky at, accessed 7 December 2010