Grand Duke Vladimir Cyril Romanov
Russian Monarch in Exile

NameGrand Duke Vladimir Cyril Romanov (1917 - 1992)Websites relating to the Romanovs can also be found on our Monarchy Links Page
BiographyBorn in 30th August 1917, in Borgo, Finland, to which his parents, Grand Duke Cyril (Nicholas II's estranged first cousin) and Grand Duchess Victoria Melita had fled from Petrograd in the preceding month.
As the most senior Romanov survivors, Vladimir's family members were in a precarious position and they left Finland for Germany in 1919. In the mid 1920s they established a court in Saint Briac, a small coastal town in western France.
In August 1924 Grand Duke Cyril, as the senior surviving Romanov imperial claimant, proclaimed himself Tsar Cyril I and elevated Vladimir to the rank of Tsarevich.
Although most surviving Romanovs refused to recognise Cyril as Tsar, he and his family were able to maintain their Saint Briac Court and establish a secretariat due to the financial support of Russian émigrés around the world.
Vladimir assumed his father's claim to the imperial throne as "Grand Duke of Russia" on the latter's death in 1938. He studied briefly at the London School of Economics and worked briefly under a pseudonym as a mechanic in Britain.
Placed under house arrest in 1940 following his return to France, Vladimir, although fiercely anti-communist, refused offers to collaborate with the Nazis, following their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
Repatriated to Germany in 1944, Vladimir was liberated by the Americans in 1945 and following an invitation from Franco, departed for Spain. For the rest of his life, Grand Duke Vladimir commuted between his respective residences in Madrid and Saint Briac.
In 1948, he married a Georgian Princess, Leonida of Bagration-Moukhransky. Leonida was the wealthy widow of an American Jewish businessman, Summer Moore Kirby who had died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945. A daughter, Maria, was born in August 1953 and Vladimir controversially changed the laws of imperial succession to allow a female descendent to succeed him. Vladimir and his wife established a symbolic centre for Russian anti-communist, monarchist émigrés, which in turn provided continued financial support for Vladimir and Leonida as imperial claimants. Vladimir was also the guest of honour at the launch of the Russian Monarchist League in London. This was organised by Count Leo Tolstoy.
In contrast to other Russian émigré movements, Vladimir was able to ward off KGB infiltration attempts due to the movement's close-knit network of descendents of families that had fled Russia in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution and the Communists' victory in the Russian Civil War in 1920. Grand Duke Vladimir was also ably assisted by his long time Chancellor Ivan Bilibin.
Much of Vladimir's activity was centred on supporting the Russian Orthodox Church in exile.
After Maria divorced her husband, Prince Franz-Wilhelm of Prussia, Vladimir moved quickly to ensure that she took custody of her son, George.
Vladimir established open contact with the Russian monarchist party following its surfacing in 1990 and in November 1991 Vladimir visited Russia for the first time. His invitation came from the then mayor of St Petersburg and avowed monarchist Anatoly Sobchak. This official visit coincided with the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik coup and their presence was intended to represent the close of a dark era in Russian history.
Most Russian monarchists were surprised and elated at the tumultuous welcome and media coverage that Vladimir and his wife received. Following his death from a heart attack in April 1992 while on a lecturing tour in Miami, Vladimir's remains were repatriated to Russia where he was granted a state funeral and interred in the Romanov imperial crypt.
Written by David Bennett.

Uploaded: 26/5/2002

See AlsoAnatoly Sobchak, Catherine the Great

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