Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
|Grand Duchess of Russia|
|Head of the House of Romanov (disputed)|
|Time||21 April 1992 – present|
|Predecessor||Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich|
|Heir||Grand Duke George Mikhailovich|
|Spouse||Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia (1976–1985)|
|Issue||Grand Duke George Mikhailovich|
|House||House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov|
|Father||Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia|
|Mother||Princess Leonida Bagration of Mukhrani|
23 December 1953 |
|Religion||Russian Orthodox Church|
Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia (Russian: Мари́я Влади́мировна Рома́нова; born 23 December 1953 in Madrid), has been a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family of Russia who reigned as Emperors and Autocrats of All the Russias (historically the modern states of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland), since 1992. She has used Grand Duchess of Russia as her title of pretence with the style Imperial Highness throughout her life, though her right to do so is disputed. She is a great-great-granddaughter in the male-line of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.
|Russian Imperial Family|
HIH The Grand Duchess
HH The Dowager Princess
Maria Vladimirovna was born in Madrid, the only child of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia, Head of the Imperial Family of Russia and titular Emperor of Russia, and Princess Leonida Bagration-Mukhrani of Georgian-Polish parentage. Her paternal grandparents were Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia and Grand Duchess Victoria Fyodorovna (née Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). Her godfather was Prince Nicholas of Romania and as a godmother Queen Ioanna of Bulgaria. Maria was educated in Madrid and Paris, before spending a few terms at Oxford University, where she studied Russian history and literature.
On 23 December 1969, upon reaching her dynastic majority, Maria swore an oath of loyalty to her father, to Russia, and to uphold the Fundamental Laws of Russia which governed succession to the defunct throne. At the same time, her father issued a controversial decree recognising her as heiress presumptive and declaring that, in the event he predeceased other Romanov males whom he had recognised as dynasts, then Maria would become the "Curatrix of the Imperial Throne" until the death of the last male dynast. This has been viewed as an attempt by her father to ensure the succession remained in his branch of the imperial family, while the heads of the other branches of the imperial family, the Princes Vsevolod Ioannovich of the (Konstantinovichi), Roman Petrovich of the (Nikolaevichi) and Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of the (Mihailovichi) declared that her father's actions were illegal. The legality of this action became immaterial when all the living male dynasts ended up predeceasing Grand Duke Vladimir, who died in 1992.
In Madrid on 22 September 1976, Maria married Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, her third cousin, once-removed. He is a Hohenzollern great-grandson of Germany's last emperor Wilhelm II and a great-great-great grandchild of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom. Franz Wilhelm converted to the Orthodox faith prior to the wedding, taking the name Michael Pavlovich and receiving the title of a Grand Duke of Russia from Maria's father.
The couple separated in 1982, a year after the birth of their only child George Mikhailovich, who had been granted the title Grand Duke of Russia at birth by his grandfather Vladimir. Following the divorce on 19 June 1985, Franz Wilhelm reverted to his Prussian name and style.
Succession claims and activities
The Grand Duchess of Russia
|Reference style||Her Imperial Highness|
|Spoken style||Your Imperial Highness|
Maria's grandfather's claim as emperor-in-exile was strongly disputed by other members of his family. Her father, Vladimir Cyrillovich, was considered by some to be the last male dynast of the Romanov family. When he died on 21 April 1992, Maria claimed to have succeeded him as head of the Russian Imperial Family, though this was disputed by Prince Nicholas Romanovich, a male-line great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I who also claimed to have succeeded Vladimir. However, after Nicholas Romanovich's death in September 2014, she is the only living contender to the title.
Following the discovery of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and most of his immediate family in 1991, Maria Vladimirovna wrote to President Boris Yeltsin, regarding the burial of the remains, saying of her Romanov cousins, whom she does not recognise as members of the Imperial House (including the grandchildren of Nicholas II's sister Grand Duchess Xenia), that they "do not have the slightest right to speak their mind and wishes on this question. They can only go and pray at the grave, as can any other Russian, who so wishes". At the behest of the Russian Orthodox Church Maria did not recognise the authenticity of the remains and declined to attend the reburial ceremony in 1998. She has also said regarding her Romanov cousins, that "My feeling about them is that now that something important is happening in Russia, they suddenly have awakened and said, 'Ah ha! There might be something to gain out of this.'"
Maria hopes for the restoration of the monarchy someday and is "ready to respond to a call from the people". When questioned about the ongoing rift in the Romanov family, Maria said;
"Attempts to disparage my rights have originated with people who, firstly, do not belong to the Imperial Family, and, secondly, either do not themselves know the relevant laws or think that others do not know these laws. In either case, there is unscrupulousness at work. The only thing that causes me regret is that some of our relatives waste their time and energy on little intrigues instead of striving to be of some use to their country. I have never quarreled with anyone about these matters and I remain open to a discussion and cooperation with all, including, of course, my relatives. But there can be no foundation for cooperation without respect for our dynastic laws, fulfilling these laws, and following our family traditions."
In 2002, Maria became frustrated with the internal strife within the Russian monarchist movement. When representatives of the Union of Descendants of Noble Families, one of two rival nobility associations (the other, older one being the Assembly of the Russian Nobility) were discovered to be distributing chivalric titles and awards of the Order of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, without her approval, she published a relatively strongly worded disclaimer.
On 5 January 2010, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna went to Istanbul, where she met with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Mustafa Cagrici, Grand Mufti of Istanbul. On 14 December of the same year, with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, she made a pilgrimage to Bari, Italy, and visited Pope Benedict XVI and Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal-Camerlengo Tarcisio Bertone in the Vatican.
The March 2013 recognition of her claim by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill I Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, seems to have drawn further supporters. In an interview, he firmly rejected the claims of the other Romanov descendants and stated, "Today, none of those persons who are descendants of the Romanovs are pretenders to the Russian throne. But in the person of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son, George, the succession of the Romanovs is preserved — no longer to the Russian Imperial throne, but to history itself." (Сегодня никто из лиц, принадлежащих к потомкам Романовых, не претендует на Российский престол. Но в лице Великой княгини Марии Владимировны и ее сына Георгия сохраняется преемственность Романовых — уже не на Российском императорском престоле, а просто в истории). In December 2013, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna visited the United States at the request of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, who received her with full honours and recognition as head of the Russian Imperial House.
Upon the abdication of King Juan Carlos of Spain, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna expressed regret over the monarch's abdication with the words "The Grand Duchess has great respect for King Juan Carlos, for everything he did for his country, and his decision. The Russian Imperial House believes that the head of the dynasty, the reigning monarch must perform his duties until the end. A partial handover of duties and powers to the heir is possible. The possibility of a monarch abdicating the throne is fairly debatable: the father cannot abandon his subjects, even if he is not as strong as he used to be. Such is the Russian tradition" 
Titles, styles, honours and awards
- Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
- National dynastic honours
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. Andrew
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Catherine
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anna
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. Anastasia
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. George
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stanislaus
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Olga
- Russian Imperial Family: Sovereign Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael the Archangel
- Foreign honours
- Ethiopian Imperial Family: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Queen of Sheba
- Georgian Royal Family: Knight Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Queen Tamar
- Malta: Dame Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
- Moldova: Dame Commander of the Order of the Republic
- Moldovan Orthodox Church: Medal of Saint Paraskevi
- Poland: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle
- Portuguese Royal Family: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing
- Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Medal of Saint Barbara
- Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: Medal of Our Lady of the Sign
- Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: Medal of John of Shanghai and San Francisco
- Italy: Honorary Citizen of the City of Agrigento
- Russia: Winner of the Russian International Person of the Year
- Russia: Honorary Citizen of the Ivolginsky District
- Russia: Honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts
- United Kingdom: Graduate of the University of Oxford
- Russia: Medal of the Russian Nobility Association
- Massie, p 269
- Flintoff, John-Paul (20 September 2003). "Tsar Struck". Flintoff.org. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- "Empress Maria in Vladivostok". Vladivostok Times. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2008.[dead link]
- Massie, p 263
- "The Romanov Imperial dynasty in emigration XX century". Archived from the original on 28 August 2006. Retrieved 11 August 2008.
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- Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIV. "Haus Preußen". C.A. Starke Verlag, 1991, pp. 123, 153. ISBN 3-7980-0700-4.
- Olga S. Opfell (2001). Royalty who wait: the 21 heads of formerly regnant houses of Europe. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., Inc Publishers. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7864-0901-3.
- Massie, p 263-264
- Eilers, Marlene. Queen Victoria's Descendants. 2nd ed. Rosvall Royal Books: Falkoping, Sweden, 1997.
- "Prince Nikolai Romanov dies in Italy at the age of 91". Russia Beyond the Headlines. ITAR-TASS. 15 September 2014.
- "Most Senior Member of Romanov Dynasty Dies at 92 in Italy". RIA Novosti. 15 September 2014.
- Massie, p270
- "Interview with Maria Vladimirovna". imperialhouse.ru. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 11 August 2008.[dead link]
- Massie, p 274
- "Declaration by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna". imperialhouse.ru. 11 December 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2008.
- "Записки легитимиста - Визит Главы Российского Императорского Дома в Стамбул (Константинополь)". Nikolaevec.livejournal.com. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Слово пастыря". Выпуск от 9 марта 2013 года (in Russian). Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- "Celebrations of the Feast Day of the Kursk-Root Icon". Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
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- "Photo image" (JPG). 3.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
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- "The Head of the House of Romanoff, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, has signed in Madrid a Letter of Congratulations to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on the occasion of his Election to the Patriarchal Throne by the Council of the Russian Orthodox Church". Imperialhouse.ru. 2008-12-23. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk meets with Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Romanova and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich | The Russian Orthodox Church". Mospat.ru. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "The Head of the House of Romanoff has established for women the Imperial Order of St. Anastasia in Honor of the First Tsaritsa of the Romanoff Family, Anastasia Romanovna". Imperialhouse.ru. 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Photo image" (JPG). Mitk.am. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Imperial Orders of Knighthood Given on the Occasion of the Birthday of the Head of the Russian Imperial House". Imperialhouse.ru. 2003-12-23. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "2012-11-21 An Imperial Decree On the Reorganization of the Imperial Order of St. Michael the Archangel and the Creation of an International Association of this Order". Imperialhouse.ru. 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Decree №1/Nic.-2001". Imperialhouse.ru. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "The Estonian Monarchist League: In Honour of the Heir of Imperial Russia". Estonianmonarchistleague.blogspot.co.uk. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Royal House of Georgia". Ordenskreuz.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
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- "Press Release On the Official Visit of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, to Moscow, Odessa, and the Transdniestria 4-13 May 2009". Imperialhouse.ru. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- [dead link]
- "Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislas — Nicholas B.A. Nicholson". Nicholasbanicholson.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "News Release of the Official Visit to Portugal of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, 6-9 November 2003". Imperialhouse.ru. 2003-11-09. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Press Release on the Visit of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, to Russia for the Divine Services and Celebrations on the Occasion of the Enthronement of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, 30 January – 3 February 2009". Imperialhouse.ru. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- Gilbert, Paul (2013-12-12). "ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia - Official Website". Synod.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Press Release : The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia, traveled to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine to participate in the Celebrations of the 400th Anniversary of the Ending of the Time of Troubles and the Ascension to the Throne of the House of Romanoff, September 19-23, 2013" (DOC). Imperialhouse.ru. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- Gilbert, Paul (2012-11-02). "ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "The Head of the House of Romanoff Travels to Moscow, Buryatia, and the Irkutsk Region". Imperialhouse.ru. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- [dead link]
- "Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess (de jure Empress of all the russias) Maria Wladimirovna". Imperialhouse.ru. 1969-12-23. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, sent an official congratulatory notice to the Chair of the Russian Nobility Association, Prince A. S. Obolenskii, on the occasion of his 80-th birthday". Imperialhouse.ru. 2003-10-12. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- Massie, Robert K. (1995). The Romanovs The Final Chapter. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-04192-4. OCLC 185630578.
- Official website
- Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna Article, Video Interview and Photographs
- Prince Cyril Toumanoff's Paper on the Succession
Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
Cadet branch of the House of OldenburgBorn: 23 September 1953
|Titles in pretence|
Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich
|— TITULAR —
Empress of Russia
21 April 1992 – present
Reason for succession failure:
Empire abolished in 1917
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich