On the night of July 16, 1918, a Bolshevik assassination squad executed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their five children, ending the Romanov family dynasty that had ruled Russia for more than three centuries.
Brutal execution of the Romanovs
The murder of the Romanovs eradicated the monarchy in Russia in a brutal manner. But even though there is no throne to claim, some descendants of Tsar Nicholas II still claim royal connections today.
Do the same with a handful of impostors. Since 1918, people around the world have pretended to be the young Crown Prince Alexei or one of his four sisters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. So who are the real Romanovs?
Living descendants of the House of Romanov
At the time of the executions, a dozen Romanov relatives were known to have escaped the Bolsheviks, including Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Tsar Nicholas II, her daughters Xenia and Olga and their husbands. Of the 53 Romanovs still alive in 1917, it is estimated that only 35 remained in 1920.
For Russian royalists, the continued existence of Romanov descendants maintains the hope that at some point, a member of the royal family could reclaim the throne – if only they could determine which family member has the strongest claims. strong. Currently, two branches of the Romanov family cannot agree on who is the legitimate claimant or claimant to an abolished monarchy. Here are the people alive today with ties to the ill-fated Imperial family.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
Maria Vladimirovna is the most widely recognized claimant to the Russian throne. This great-great-granddaughter of Alexander II, who was Emperor of Russia until his assassination in 1881, now lives in Spain. His father, Vladimir Kirillovich, was born in exile in Finland in 1917 and, from 1938, claimed to be the head of the Russian imperial family. When Grand Duke Vladimir died in 1992, his daughter succeeds him in this claim and calls his son, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, the heir apparent. However, Maria Vladimirovna never belonged to the Romanov Family Association, founded in 1979 to unite descendants, because its members include non-dynastic Romanovs (those whose ancestors married outside the dynasty), who, according to her and her supporters, do not have no legitimate claim to the throne.
Prince Andrew Romanov
Andrew is the great-great-grandson of Nicholas I, who served as Emperor of Russia until his death in 1855. He is also the grandson of Duchess Xenia, who fled Russia in 1917 with her mother and others on a warship sent by his cousin. , King George V of Great Britain. Born in London in 1923, he lived for years in California and is an artist and author. Following the death of Prince Dmitry Romanovich in December 2016, Prince Andrew inherited the rival claim to the throne supported by the Romanov Family Association.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
The husband of Queen Elizabeth II is the great-nephew of the last Tsarina, Alexandra, as well as a great-great-grandson of Nicholas I. Her dual relationship with the Romanovs means that her son Prince Charles and her grandsons Prince William and Harry are all relatives of the Romanovs. In 1993, after the exhumation of the anonymous graves supposed to contain the remains of Nicholas II, Alexandra and three of their daughters, Prince Philip even offered a blood sample to scientists seeking to identify the remains. Her mitochondrial DNA matched that of the bodies believed to be those of Alexandra and the three girls, help confirm their identity.
Princess Olga Andreevna Romanoff
A British socialite and organizer of the Russian Debutants’ Ball in London, Olga is the daughter of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich, the eldest nephew of Nicholas II. Born in 1950, she is the only child from her second marriage (and the half-sister of Prince Andrew). In 2017, she became president of the Association of Romanov Families, founded in 1979 to unite descendants. Olga Andreevna has four children, including Francis-Alexander Mathew, a photographer who appeared on the TLC show Secret princeswhere he was introduced as Prince Alexander of Russia.
Prince Michael of Kent
A minor royal in Great Britain (he is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II), Prince Michael is celebrated in Russia for his ties to the Romanovs and his resemblance to Tsar Nicholas II, who was his grandmother’s first cousin. In July 2018, he joined Olga Andreevna and other descendants of Romanov in St. Petersburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the execution of the royal family, and visited the cathedral where the remains of the tsar, tzarina and three daughters are buried. (Two other bodies, discovered in 2007 and identified through DNA comparison with living relatives of the Romanovs as two of the murdered children, Alexei and Maria, were not buriedas some within the Russian Orthodox Church refused to accept the identification.)
Prince Rostislav Romanov
Great-grandson of Grand Duchess Xenia, Rostislav was born in Chicago and raised in London. Unusually among Romanov descendants, he also lived and worked extensively in Russia. A accomplished artist, he also works with the Raketa watch factory in Saint Petersburg, founded by his ancestor Peter the Great. In 2017, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, he designed a special watch stained with a drop of his own blood to commemorate the bloodshed and sacrifice of the revolution and the violent end of Romanov rule in Russia.
King Constantine II of Greece
The king’s great-grandmother was a Romanov Grand Duchess and his grandfather was King Constantine I of Greece, making him a cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In 1967, he fled the military junta in Greece and lived in exile in London until 2013, when he moved back in Greece with his wife of Danish origin, Anne-Marie.
Hugh Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster
A descendant of Tsar Michael I, the Duke inherited a fortune of some $12 billion at the age of 25, becoming one of the youngest billionaires in the world when his father died in 2016. The Duke is godfather to Prince George, who is currently third in line to the British throne. The duke is also descended from the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who opposed Nicholas I during the latter’s reactionary reign.
The great-great-great-granddaughter of Nicholas I is a Television and film actressand collaborated with jewelry company Damiani on a line in the Romanov collection, showcasing the name and mystique of his famous family.
Scammers claiming ties to the Romanov family
The new Bolshevik regime’s deliberate misinformation, combined with the fact that no bodies were found for decades, fueled persistent rumors about survivors within the royal family. Here are the most intriguing imposters of the name Romanov.
Anna Anderson/Franziska Schanzkowska
Dozens of women claimed to be the youngest Romanov princess, Anastasia, but the most famous was Anna Anderson, who surfaced in 1920 in a German psychiatric hospital after jumping from a Berlin bridge. Anderson stood by her claim, even after evidence surfaced suggesting she was actually a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska. When she died in 1984 in Charlottesville, Virginia, her death certificate listed the Russian princess’ name, date and place of birth. Later analysis of his DNA matched him to a descendant of Schanzkowska, not the Russian royal family.
A Polish intelligence officer, he worked as a spy for the Soviet Union, but eventually passed information to the CIA, helping to unmask KGB mules within Western governments and intelligence agencies. When he defected to the United States in 1961, Goleniewski told his CIA debriefers that he was actually Alexeithe young tsarevich believed he was killed along with his family in 1918. Although he gave his age as 18 years younger than Alexei and doctors could not confirm that he suffered from hemophilia, like Alexei , Goleniewski continued to claim his Romanov. identity until his death in 1993.