LAST RUSSIAN ROYAL DIES IN SPAIN
Staff Reporter / 2010-05-27 12:18:07
The last surviving member of the Romanov dynasty born in the Russian Empire has died in Spain. The Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, known to her supporters as the Dowager Empress of Russia, was the widow of the Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, who until his death in 1992 was the head of the Romanov dynasty and pretender to the Russian throne. Grand Duke Vladimir was the great-grandson of Alexander II, the third-to-last tsar of Russia. "Leonida died overnight Sunday to Monday in Madrid. She will be buried, as she requested, next to her husband Vladimir Kirillovich in Saint Petersburg," said Alexander Zakatov, the director of the Romanov dynasty's office.
Born in 1914 in Tbilisi, in modern-day Georgia, Leonida was the last surviving representative of the Romanov family to have been born on the territory of the Russian Empire before they were ousted from the Russian throne by the Bolsheviks. Her father, Prince Georgy Alexandrovich, was a member of the ancient Georgian Bagration dynasty, which claims its descent from biblical times. Her first husband was an American businessman of Scottish origin, Sumner Moore Kirby, whom she married in the French city of Nice in 1934. The pair had one daughter, Helen, but divorced in 1937.
In 1948, after moving to Spain, Leonida married Grand Duke Vladimir, who recognised Helen and gave her the title of Countess Dvinskaya. Mr Zakatov said: "Her life was an eventful one. She lived in Tbilisi until the 1920s and left briefly for Germany. She returned to Georgia in the Soviet era, where she only managed to survive thanks to the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, who protected many well-known figures at loggerheads with the new authorities."
The Romanov dynasty was ousted in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and many of its leading members, including the last tsar Nicholas II, were subsequently murdered by the Bolsheviks. However, recent years have seen cautious official moves to restore their reputation.
Tags: Russia, Royal, Death