Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
|Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna|
|Princess of Prussia|
9 May 1909|
|Died||8 September 1967
Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, Brittany, France
|Burial||Hohenzollern Castle, Baden-Wurttemberg, West Germany|
|Spouse||Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia|
|Issue||Prince Friedrich Wilhelm
Princess Marie Cécile
Prince Louis Ferdinand
|Father||Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia|
|Mother||Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (9 May 1909 – 8 September 1967) was the second daughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. She married Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia.
Grand Duchess Kira Kirilovna of Russia was born on 9 May 1909, at her parents house on Avenue d' Henri Martin in Paris. Named after her father, she was the second child of Kirill Vladimirovich, Grand Duke of Russia and his wife Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Her parents were then living in exile because their marriage had not been approved by Tsar Nicholas II due to the fact that they were first cousins. The Russian Orthodox religion forbids the marriage of two first cousins, so they had been forced to live abroad. In addition, her mother had divorced her former husband, Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse, the brother of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
Shortly after Kira's birth, her parents were restored to favor by Tsar Nicholas II and, in May 1910, the family returned to Russia. They settled at the Cavalier's house in Tsarskoye Selo as her father, a Captain in the Russian Navy, was attached to a nearby naval academy. Kira and her elder sister, Maria, had a privileged childhood. They had an English nanny and learned the languages spoken by the Romanovs: Russian, English, French and German.
Kira's early years were spent in luxury at her father's palace on Nikolskaya street in Saint Petersburg were her parents entertained their guest lavishly. There were family outings with her Grandmother at the opulent Vladimir Palace and in the summer at the Vladimir villa in Tsarskoye Selo.
War and revolution
The family was spending the summer of 1914 on their yacht in the Gulf of Finland and were in Riga when the war broke out. During World War I, Kira's father served as the commander of a unit of the Naval Guards, while her mother oversaw a motorized ambulance. At the outbreak of the Russian revolution, Kira's father marched to the Tauride Palace at the head of the Naval Guards swearing allegiance to the Russian Provisional Government.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the family initially remained living at their palace amid the upheavals. In June, Kira's father obtained permission from the provisional government to move to Finland. Kira, eight at the time, recalled that they rode on a public train. "For the first time there were no royal trappings ... i.e. red carpets, special comforts, etc.," she recalled. In Finland, the family lived at Haiko Manor, Borga. A month later, her 40-year-old mother gave birth to a son, Vladimir. The family waited in Finland, hoping that the White Russians would defeat the Bolsheviks and they could return to Russia. The family lived under harsh conditions, with food, fuel and money in short supply. Kira, then age nine, amused herself by taking long walks hunting for mushrooms, and as a treat went to the cinema every Friday. She later recalled feeling home sick and bored Grand Duke Kirill's family stayed in Finland until May 1920.
The family eventually left Finland and headed first to Coburg and then to Saint-Briac, France. Kira was born Princess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, but her father later gave her the title "Grand Duchess" when he declared himself Guardian of the Throne in 1924. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Kira, high-spirited and straightforward, also had an even temper. She was intelligent, curious, and interested in the arts like her mother, with whom she worked in the art studio at Saint-Briac. Kira also frequently visited her cousins at various royal courts or attended house parties in the United Kingdom.
Grand Duchess Kira had some difficulty finding a suitable husband. She was interested in the hemophiliac Alfonso of Spain, Prince of Asturias, son of Alfonso XIII of Spain, but was disappointed when the prince showed more interest in one of the daughters of Prince Nicholas of Greece. Later, she was fond of Prince Constantine "Teddy" Soutzo, a Romanian aristocrat. Her cousin, Carol II of Romania, refused to permit the match for political reasons. Finally, Kira married Louis Ferdinand of Prussia in 1938. Louis Ferdinand worked with the underground against the Nazis, and, in the later years of the war, the couple was arrested and imprisoned at Dachau concentration camp, where they were rescued by American troops in 1945. They raised a family of four sons and three daughters in a village near Bremen, Germany. Her children were:
- Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (9 February 1939 - 29 September 2015)
- Prince Michael of Prussia (22 March 1940– 3 April 2014)
- Princess Marie Cécile of Prussia (b. 28 May 1942)
- Princess Kira of Prussia (27 June 1943 – 10 January 2004)
- Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (25 August 1944 – 11 July 1977) m. Donata Countess of Castell-Rüdenhausen
- Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia (b. 14 March 1946)
- Princess Xenia of Prussia (9 December 1949 – 18 January 1992).
After World War II, Kira was called upon to testify in the case of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. Kira had met Anderson briefly in 1952 at the urging of her mother-in-law, Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, who believed Anderson's claim. Kira was not convinced. She found the woman "repellent" and "not a lady" and incapable of speaking the cultured English used by her family. Kira had last seen Anastasia when she was a child of seven. Kira's uncle, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia had been convinced Anderson was Anastasia, but her father and mother were unconvinced by Anderson's claim.
In later years, Kira was disappointed when her eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm, renounced his rights to the title and married a commoner. She also paid little heed to her health, putting on weight and suffering from high blood pressure in her fifties. She was in good spirits on a visit to her brother Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia at Saint-Briac in September 1967, where she ate well and dumped several spoonfuls of sugar into her coffee, commenting, "God forbid I should eat anything healthy!" That night, she suffered a heart attack and soon died.
Titles, styles and honours
- 9 May 1909 - 8 August 1922: Her Highness Princess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
- 8 August 1922 - 21 October 1938: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
- 21 October 1938 - 20 July 1951: Her Imperial and Royal Highness Princess Louis Ferdinand of Prussia
- 20 July 1951 - 8 September 1967: Her Imperial and Royal Highness The Princess of Prussia
- National dynastic honours
- Russian Imperial Family: Dame of the Order of St Catherine
- German/Prussian Imperial and Royal family: Grand Mistress Dame of the Order of Louise
- Michael John Sullivan, A Fatal Passion: The Story of the Uncrowned Last Empress of Russia, Random House, 1997, p. 322
- Sullivan, p. 333
- Sullivan, p. 378
- Sullivan, p. 408
- John Van der Kiste, Princess Victoria Melita, Sutton Publishing, 1991, p. 141
- Van der Kiste, p. 141
- Paul Theroff (2007). "Prussia". An Online Gotha. Archived from the original on 31 December 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
- Peter Kurth, Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Back Bay Books, 1983, p. 343
- Kurth, p. 342
- Van der Kiste, p. 160
- Peter Kurth, Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Back Bay Books, 1983, ISBN 0-316-50717-2
- Michael John Sullivan, A Fatal Passion: The Story of the Uncrowned Last Empress of Russia, Random House, 1997, ISBN 0-679-42400-8
- John Van der Kiste, Princess Victoria Melita, Sutton Publishing, 1991, ISBN 0-7509-3469-7
Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia
Cadet branch of the House of OldenburgBorn: 9 May 1909 Died: 8 September 1967
|Titles in pretence|
Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
|— TITULAR —
Queen of Prussia
20 July 1951 – 8 September 1967
Reason for succession failure:
German monarchies abolished in 1918
Title next held byPrincess Sophie of Isenburg