Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia

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Maria Vladimirovna
Grand Duchess of Russia
Head of the House of Romanov (disputed)
Tenure 21 April 1992 – present
Predecessor Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich
Heir apparent Grand Duke George Mikhailovich
Born (1953-12-23) 23 December 1953 (age 63)
Madrid, Spain
Spouse Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia
(m. 1976; div. 1985)
Issue Grand Duke George Mikhailovich
Full name
Maria Vladimirovna Romanova
House Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Father Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia
Mother Princess Leonida Bagration of Mukhrani
Religion Russian Orthodox Church
Russian imperial family
Coat of Arms of the Russian Empire

HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna

HH Prince Andrew
HH Princess Inez

  • HSH Prince Alexis
    HSH Princess Zoetta
  • HSH Prince Peter
    HSH Princess Barbara
  • HSH Prince Andrew
    HSH Princess Elizabeth
    • HSH Princess Natasha

HSH Princess Olga

HH Princess Dorrit

HH Princess Sveva

  • HSH Princess Natalia
  • HSH Princess Elizabeth
  • HSH Princess Tatiana

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, since 1992. Although she has used Grand Duchess of Russia as her title of pretence with the style Imperial Highness throughout her life, her right to do so is disputed.[1][2] She is a great-great-granddaughter in the male-line of Emperor Alexander II of Russia.

Early life[edit]


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,[3] 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 godmother, Queen Ioanna of Bulgaria.


Maria was educated in Madrid and Paris, before studying Russian history and literature at Oxford University.[4][5]

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 dynastic Romanov males, then Maria would become the "Curatrix of the Imperial Throne"[6] 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,[5] 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.[1] As it happened, Vladimir Kirillovich, who died in 1992, outlived all the other male Romanov dynasts, and his daughter had no occasion to assume curatorship.


In Madrid on 22 September 1976, Maria married Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia,[7] 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.[8][9]

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.[4]

Maria Vladimirovna lives in France and Spain. She is fluent in Russian, English, French and Spanish, and also speaks some German, Italian and Arabic.[6]

Succession claims and activities[edit]

Styles of
The Grand Duchess of Russia
Coat of Arms of Russian Empire.svg
Reference style Her Imperial Highness
Spoken style Your Imperial Highness
Alternative style Ma'am
Monogram of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna

Maria Vladimirovna is a patrilineal descendant of Alexander II of Russia who is also a male line descendant of Elimar I, Count of Oldenburg.

When Vladimir Kirillovich died on 21 April 1992, his daughter Maria claimed to succeed him as head of the Russian Imperial Family on the grounds that she was the only child of the last male dynast of the Imperial house according to the Romanovs' Pauline laws.[10] Although the charter of the Romanov Family Association (RFA), which represents other descendants of the Romanov family, asserts the premise that Russia's form of government should be determined democratically and that therefore the Association and its members undertake to adopt no position on any claims to the Imperial throne,[11] its two most recent presidents have personally opposed Maria's claims: Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia, who maintained his own claims to dynastic status and to headship of the Romanov family,[12] stated, "Strictly applying the Pauline Laws as amended in 1911 to all marriages of Equal Rank, the situation is very clear. At the present time, not one of the Emperors or Grand Dukes of Russia has left living descendants with unchallengeable rights to the Throne of Russia."[13] His younger brother, Prince Dimitri Romanov, said of Maria's assumption of titles, including "de jure Empress of all the Russias", that "It seems that there are no limits to this charade".[14] The supporters of Maria Vladimirovna point to the fact that neither Nicholas nor his brother Dimitri had any dynastic claims due to the morganatic marriage of their parents. [15]

In 1911 when a member of Maria Vladimirovna's mother's family, Prince Konstantin Alexandrovich Bagration-Mukhransky (who belonged to the House of Bagration that reigned as kings in Georgia until annexation by the Russian Empire in the 1800s) married Princess Tatiana Constantinovna of Russia in 1911, Nicholas II required that she renounce her rights to the Imperial Throne.[16] Yet by the time Maria's parents wed in 1948 the Romanovs had joined the Bagrations as a deposed dynasty, and it was post-Soviet Georgia's primate of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, who called for restoration of the Georgian monarchy as recently as 2007, engaging political and public interest in the dynastic prospects of Maria Vladimirovna's first cousin, Prince David Bagration-Moukhransky, who claims headship of the senior branch of the House of Bagration.[17][18]

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".[19] 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.[20] She has also said regarding some of 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.'"[21]

Maria hopes for the restoration of the monarchy someday and is "ready to respond to a call from the people".[6] When questioned about the ongoing rift among Romanov descendants, 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."[20]

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.[22]

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).[23] 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.[24]

Titles, styles and honours[edit]


  • 23 December 1953 – 21 September 1976: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
  • 22 September 1976 – 14 December 1986: Her Imperial and Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Princess of Prussia[7]
  • 15 December 1986 – 21 April 1992: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia[10]
  • 21 April 1992 – present: Her Imperial Highness Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia

N.B.: However this style, and even her right to the title "Grand Duchess", are disputed.[4]


National dynastic honours[edit]

Foreign dynastic orders and honours[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Massie, p 269
  2. ^ Flintoff, John-Paul (20 September 2003). "Tsar Struck". Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Empress Maria in Vladivostok". Vladivostok Times. 11 July 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Eilers, Marlene. Queen Victoria's Descendants. 2nd ed. Rosvall Royal Books: Falkoping, Sweden, 1997. pp. 79-84, 178. ISBN 91-6305964-9
  5. ^ a b Massie, p 263
  6. ^ a b c "Maria I Wladimirovna". Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  7. ^ a b Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIV. "Haus Preußen". C.A. Starke Verlag, 1991, pp. 123, 153. ISBN 3-7980-0700-4.
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Massie, p 263-264
  10. ^ a b de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal. Coutant de Saisseval, Guy. Le Petit Gotha. Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery, Paris 2002, pp. 780-782, 798-799, 808-809 (French) ISBN 2-9507974-3-1
  11. ^ "The Romanov Family Association". 
  12. ^ Robert Massie. The Romanovs The Final Chapter. Jonathan Cape, 1965, pp. 274, 278. ISBN 0-224-04192-4
  13. ^ "Succession of the Imperial House of Russia". Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  14. ^ "The Romanov Fund For Russia". Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  15. ^ http://Cite web|title = Almanach de Gotha 1938, p.107|url =
  16. ^ State Archives of the Russian Federation, Series 601. The Emperor Nicholas II. Inventory {register} 1, File 2143, pages 58–59.
  17. ^ "Wedding of the two royal dynasties members". Georgia Times. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "Géorgie: Eglise et Etat, vers un conflit inévitable?" (in French). Religioscope. 8 June 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  19. ^ Massie, p270
  20. ^ a b "Interview with Maria Vladimirovna". 12 December 2005. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Massie, p 274
  22. ^ "Declaration by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna". 11 December 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2008. 
  23. ^ "Слово пастыря". Выпуск от 9 марта 2013 года (in Russian). Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "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. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Crown Princess Maria Vladimirovna wearing the Grand Cordon set of the Imperial Order of Saint Andrew and the Grand Cordon Star of the Imperial Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky 16 February 2017
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Decree №1/Nic.-2001". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  35. ^ "The Estonian Monarchist League: In Honour of the Heir of Imperial Russia". 20 February 2010. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  36. ^ "Royal House of Georgia". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  37. ^ "2014-04-03. Meeting of the Head of the House of Romanoff, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia with the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fr". 3 April 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ "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". 13 May 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ "Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislas — Nicholas B.A. Nicholson". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  42. ^ "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". 9 November 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  43. ^ Gilbert, Paul. "Grand Duchess Maria Awarded Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh Ist Class". ROYAL RUSSIA. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  44. ^ Gilbert, Paul (12 December 2013). "ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  45. ^ "The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia - Official Website". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  46. ^ "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". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  47. ^ "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). Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  48. ^ Gilbert, Paul (2 November 2012). "ROYAL RUSSIA: News, Videos & Photographs About the Romanov Dynasty, Monarchy and Imperial Russia - Updated Daily". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  49. ^ "The Head of the House of Romanoff Travels to Moscow, Buryatia, and the Irkutsk Region". Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  50. ^ [2]
  51. ^ "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". 12 October 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 


External links[edit]

Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
Born: 13 March 1981
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Emperor Vladimir Kirillovich I
as Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia (Titular)
Empress and Autocrat of All Russia
21 April 1992 – present
Reason for succession failure:
Russian Revolution leads to Abolition of monarchy and Dissolution of Russian Empire
Crown Prince George Mikhailovich
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich
Head of the Russian Imperial Family
21 April 1992 - Present
Succeeded by
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich
Preceded by
Elisabeth Sandhofer
Line of succession to the British throne
descended from Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, son of Queen Victoria)
Succeeded by
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich