While many have heard of the Romanovs, it has been long assumed that the Imperial Family and its descendents had been exiled from Russia, never to return. However, it has been reported that members of the House of Romanovs have been invited to resume their position in Russian culture.
A government deputy, Vladimir Petrov, has sent letters to the official members of the Romanov family, requesting their presence on home soil as Russia goes through a difficult time.
The letter, sent from a politician, has led to rumours that President Vladimir Putin has authorised the invite himself. Petrov wrote to Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, head of Kirillovichs, a descendent branch of the Romanov family:
‘Your Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna!
Throughout the history of their reign, the Imperial dynasty of the Romanov’s was one of the foundations of Russian statehood… Russia is undergoing a complicated process of regaining its glory and worldwide influence. I am sure that at this crucial historic moment, members of the Imperial House of Romanov would not stay away from processes taking place in Russia’.
The Romanvos were ousted from Russia in the revolution if 1917, when Tsar Nicolas abdicated. Nicolas was a grandson of Queen Victoria, who married her children off to Royal Families across Europe; he was therefore, cousin to George V. A year later, he and his family were murdered in the cellar of Ipatiev House on Bolshevik orders.
Laws would need to be drafted for the return of the family; Duchess Maria Vladimirovna currently lives in Spain and Prince Dmitry Romanovich, head of the other Romanov line, resides in Denmark.
Following the abdication of the Tsar and the removal of the immediate Imperial Family, the next in line was Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, who was living in Germany. He proclaimed himself ‘Emperor in exile’ in 1924, but was not on good terms with the Romanovs, despite being their legal heir. Now there are two branches of the family: Maria is head of the Kirillovichs, who call themselves ‘The Imperial house in exile’. The other branch is the association of descendants of the house of Romanov, of which Prince Nicholas Romanovich leads. According to the professor of the School of Historical Sciences of the Higher School of Economics, Oleg Budnitskiy, the legitimate heirs to the throne are the Kirillovichs, meaning Maria would take precedence in a reformed Imperial Family of Russia.
Petrov is confident that the return of the descendants of the last Russian Tsar to will ‘contribute to the smoothing of political contradictions in the country’, and will ‘become a symbol of revival of the spiritual power of the peoples of Russia’.
Russia is currently in the proverbial dog-house following the war that has broken out in Ukraine; Russian forces crossed the border, reportedly to claim the country back. Since then, the Ruble has decreased immensely in value and the cost of food has risen greatly.
Interestingly, the Russian government has sponsored a series of events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Romanovs’ ascent to the throne in recent years, including with a Manezh exhibition of art in 2013, which tens of thousands of Russians flocked to see. This shows there is an interest in the Imperial Family, and something of an affection for them – many Russians see them as victims since the Tsar and his family were murdered.
Petrov added that he and his colleagues from the Leningrad regional legislature would very soon develop and draft a bill ‘On the special status of representatives of the Tsars’ family’ that would give some guarantees to the returning Romanovs, most likely to do with their status in the country, any powers they may be given, and perhaps where they would live.
There are a number of Palaces and palatial homes that the Romanovs could inherit, including in the suburbs of St Petersburg, or further south in the Crimea.
‘Descendants of the Royal family can play an important symbolic role in the life of Russian society,’ Petrov’s statement says, and it sounds similar to what the standard Royal Family does, in terms of a symbolic role, taking part in national events as a figurehead.
‘As in many European countries, the Romanovs could become a symbol of preservation of traditions and national culture.’
There is however, a suspicion the Romanov family could be drawn into the political arena.
The Director of the office of the head of Russian Imperial house of Romanov, Alexander Zakatov, says that representatives of the House are ready to return to Russia.
‘The Imperial house has repeatedly stated that it is ready to return to Russia for permanent residence, our representatives often visit Russia and strive to move.
‘Duchess Maria Vladimirovna could return at any moment as a private person, but she is the head of the Imperial House and has responsibility to her ancestors, and her return must be appropriate. She does not claim any property nor political powers and privileges, but wants that, as in most countries of the world, the Imperial house could be a historical institution and part of historical heritage.
‘It is a cultural recognition, but it must be expressed through a legal instrument. Only then will the Imperial house move. Currently in Russia there is not even a place of residence for the members of the house,’ Zakatov says.
An opinion poll of 2013 was in connection with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov House, revealed that 28% of Russians would agree to the rule of Tsars again, but only 6% thought this should mean a return of the Romanov dynasty. About 13% believe a current Russian politician could become the new Tsar, proposing a nationwide referendum to decide on the candidate.
But 67% of those questioned said that Russia should leave Monarchy in the past and remain a democracy – a return of Duchess Maria or Prince Dmitry would not end democracy, but give the country a figure-head much like the current European Monarchies.
The Crown Chronicles will keep you updated on this story.