Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Biographical Sketch of the Last Princess of Russia: Catherine Ivanovna Romanova

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna with her grandchildren Catherine and Vsevolod
King Nikola I of Montenegro with his great-grandchildren Catherine and Vsevolod
On 25 July 1915 at Pavlovsk Palace in St. Petersburg, Her Serene Highness Princess Ekaterina (Catherine) Ivanovna of Russia entered the twilight world of the Russian Imperial Family.

Prince Ivan Konstantinovich and Princess Elena Petrovna of Russia
Catherine was the only daughter and second child of Prince Ivan Konstantinovich of Russia (1886-1918), the eldest son of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (1858-1915) and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna (née Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg; 1865-1927), and of Princess Elena Petrovna of Serbia (1884-1962), the eldest daughter of King Peter I of Serbia (1844-1921) and Princess Zorka of Montenegro (1864-1890). Prince Ivan of Russia and Princess Elena of Serbia had married in 1911. Their daughter Catherine joined an elder brother Prince Vsevolod (1914-1973).

Prince Vsevolod and Princess Catherine of Russia
During the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Catherine's father Ivan was assassinated by the Bolsheviks in July 1918, together with Ivan's brother's Konstantin (1891-1918) and Igor (1894-1918) - Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorvna and Prince Vladimir Paley were also thrown down the same mine shaft. A few months after her father's murder, Catherine and her brother Vsevolod along with their grandmother Elisabeth Mavrikievna, uncle Prince George Konstantinovich, and aunt Princess Vera Konstantinova, were given refuge in Stockholm, at the invitation of Queen Victoria of Sweden (née Baden; 1862-1930). Catherine's mother Elena had followed Catherine's father Ivan to his imprisonment in the Urals; rather amazingly, Princess Elena Petrovna was able to escape from the slaughter of the Romanovs and was reunited with her children.


In exile, Princess Catherine and her family first went to Serbia and then to the United Kingdom. Catherine's eldest daughter Nicoletta recently stated in an interview with Sputnik that "my mother recalled that she often changed schools under different names, for fear of reprisals." In England, Catherine attended Heathfield. Catherine's maternal uncle King Alexander I of Yugoslavia eventually purchased a villa on the French Riviera for his sister Elena so that she and her children might have a proper home.

Between 1937 and 1945, Princess Catherine of Russia resided in Italy. There she met her future husband. On 15 September 1937, Catherine Ivanovna Romanova married Marchese Ruggero Farace di Villaforesta (1909-1970), at the Church of Saint Andrea al Quirinale in Rome. Among the guests were Crown Prince Umberto of Italy (later King Umberto II) and Count Ciano, son-in-law of Benito Mussolini. A month before her wedding, on 4 August 1937, Princess Catherine signed a formal renunciation of her rights to the succession to the Russian throne.

Princess Catherine Ivanovna of Russia with her two eldest children
Catherine and Ruggero had three children during the course of their marriage: Nobile Nicoletta Farace (b.1938), Nobile Fiammetta Farace (b.1942), and Marchese Giovanni Farace di Villaforesta (b.1943). Princess Catherine and her husband separated in 1945, but they never divorced, and they appear to have maintained an amicable relationship. In 1963, Ruggero was appointed as the Italian ambassador to Uruguay, the nation in which his wife Catherine eventually settled.

In 1982 Princess Catherine Ivanovna permanently relocated to Uruguay. She made her residence in the country's capital, Montevideo. It was there that she died on 13 March 2007 at the age of ninety-one. The princess was buried at the Cementerio Los Fresnos de Carrasco. On 21 April 2007, a Russian Orthodox memorial service was held at Moscow. She was survived by her three children: Nicoletta, Fiammetta, and Giovanni. The Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria, sent a letter to her Farace cousins following the death of their mother. The contents of the letter were as follows:
Dear Marchese Giovanni di Villaforesta! 
I want to express to you, to your sisters, and to all your family my deepest sympathy on the death of your August Mother, Our beloved aunt, Her Serene Highness, Princess of the Imperial Blood Ekaterina Ivanovna. 
I am filled with grief and pray for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed princess, believing fervently that the Lord will give rest to her soul in the heavenly abodes of the righteous. 
With deepest love and condolences,
Maria
Madrid, 15 March 2007


Nobile Nicoletta Farace and her daughter Alexandra Grundland
Princess Catherine's first daughter Nobile Nicoletta Farace (b.1938) worked for the United Nations in Montevideo, Uruguay, for several years. In 1966, Nicoletta married Alberto Grundland (1931-1984). The couple had a son and a daughter: Eduardo (b.1967) and Alexandra (b.1971).

Nobile Fiammetta Farace
Princess Catherine's second daughter Nobile Fiammetta "Fiamma" Farace (b.1942) is a photographer who resides in the United States. In 1969, Fiammetta married Victor Carlos Arcelus (b.1937); the couple had two sons, Victor John Arcelus (b.1973) and Sebastian Carlos Arcelus (b.1976), before divorcing in 1980. In 1981, Fiammetta Farace married Nelson Zanelli (b.1947); the couple have one son, Alessandro Ideal Zanelli (b.1984).

Marchese Giovanni Farace di Villaforesta
Princess Catherine's only son Marchese Giovanni Farace di Villaforesta (b.1943) lives in France. In 1968, Giovanni married Marie-Claude Tillier-Debesse (b.1944). Giovanni and Marie-Claude have two sons, Nobile Alessandro Farace (b.1971) and Nobile Yann Farace (b.1973).



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Saturday, September 7, 2019

In Profile: The Swiss-Born American Heiress (And Romanov Step-Daughter) Who Forged Her Own Path

Sumner Moore Kirby
On 6 November 1934, one of the heirs to the F. W. Woolworth and Co. fortune, Sumner Moore Kirby (1895-1945), married for the third time. The bride was Princess Leonida Georgievna Bagration-Moukhranskaya (1914-2010), the daughter of Prince Giorgi Bagration-Moukhransky and Elena Sigismundovna Zlotnitzkaya. Sumner and Leonida's only child, Hélène Louise Kirby, variously known as Helen/Helena/Elena, was born at Geneva on 26 January 1935.

Wedding announcement of Sumner M. Kirby and Princess Leonida Bagration (1934)
Sumner and Leonida divorced on 18 November 1937. Hélène's father died on 7 April 1945 in hospital at Leau, near the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he had been deported from France after being arrested along with other U.S. and British civilians by the Vichy regime in 1944. Sumner Moore Kirby was the son of Fred Morgan Kirby (1861-1940) and Jessie Amelia Owen (1861-1933).

Wedding announcement of Sumner M. Kirby and Doris L. Wayland (1925)
Sumner M. Kirby had been firstly married from April 1925 to October 1931 with Doris Landy Wayland (1901-1969). Doris Wayland was the daughter of Samuel Ewing Wayland (1858-1928) and his wife Blandina (b.1866; née Landy). Sumner and Doris had one daughter: Gloria Price Kirby (1928-2017; married to Robert St Clair Conahay III). In January 1932, Sumner took as his second wife Valentine Wagner; the pair divorced in July 1934; they did not have issue. Several months later Kirby married Leonida, who was to be his final wife. Leonida received custody of their daughter Hélène following the Kirby/Bagration divorce.

Princess Leonida and her daughter Hélène
In 1960, Hélène Louise Kirby became engaged to a Spanish lawyer, don Antonio Bermúdez de Castro y de Collantes. Antonio was a son of don Arturo Bermúdez de Castro y Blanco (killed at Madrid on 22 August 1936 during Spanish Civil War) and doña Dolores de Collantes y Menéndez de Luarca (died at Madrid on 15 December 1980). Antonio had three sisters (Maria de los Dolores, Cristina, and Maria Josefa [d.2014]) and one brother (Luis). The eldest sister, Maria de los Dolores, was married in 1949 to Juan Bautista de Castillejo y Carvajal, XI Conde de Villa Amena de Cozbíjar - she is currently the Dowager Duquesa de Montealegre.

Death announcement for don Antonio Bermúdez de Castro y de Collantes (1960)
Sadly, Antonio died on 10 October 1960. Among others, his obituary mentioned that he is survived by "su prometida [his fiancée], señorita Helene Kirby Bagration."

(left to right) señora del Arenal, condesa de Albercón, duquesa de Franco, señora Mariam Martín-Barbadillo, duquesa de Montealegre, and Hélène Kirby (2014)
Three years later in 1963, Hélène became the godmother of her late fiancé's newborn niece, Elena Bermúdez de Castro (third daughter of Luis Bermúdez de Castro y de Collantes [d.2015] and María de la Consolación "Cocolo" Fernández-Santa Eulalia y Palicio [d.2015]). Hélène remained close with the family of her late fiancée, particularly with Antonio's sister Maria de los Dolores (duquesa de Montealegre) and the parents of Antonio's niece/Hélène's goddaughter Elena, Luis and Cocolo.

(Left to right) Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, Hélène Kirby, Mr and Mrs William Rahn, Grand Duchess Leonida and Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia (1965)
In 1965, Hélène Kirby and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, the nephew of Helene's stepfather Grand Duke Vladimir, began a relationship. The couple apparently met in Paris. On 25 August 1965 the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner carried a photo of Friedrich Wilhelm, Hélène  Grand Duke Wladimir, Grand Duchess Leonida, and Mr & Mrs William Rahn (an American couple from Madrid) during a brief visit to Alaska. The relationship between the Hélène Kirby and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia had already ended by 1966.

Engagement of Hélène Kirby and Juan Pérez de Guzmán y Castillejo, II conde de Hoochstrate (1966)
On 30 October 1966, the Imperial Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House announced the engagement of Hélène Kirby and Juan Pérez de Guzmán y Castillejo, II conde de Hoochstrate. Juan was the son of José María Pérez de Guzmán y Sanjuan (1895-1943), I conde de Hoochstrate, and María de la Concepción Castillejo y Wall (1899-1986), V condesa de Torreblanca. Juan's maternal aunt doña Dolores Castillejo y Wall (b.1983), Dowager Duquesa de Almenera Alta y de Escolano, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain. The wedding between Hélène Kirby and the Conde de Hoochstrate was scheduled to take place on 19 January 1967 at Madrid. 

Hélène's second fiancé: Juan Pérez de Guzmán y Castillejo, conde de Hoochstrate (1976)
For whatever reason, the union never materialised. Juan Pérez de Guzmán y Castillejo (d.2015), conde de Hoochstrate, later married María Cristina de Armiñán Jordán. Hélène Kirby has never married.

Hélène Kirby, Countess Dvinskaya, at the wedding of her half-sister Grand Duchess Maria (1976)
Hélène Kirby was granted the title Countess Dvinskaya with the style of Illustrious Highness in 1976 by her stepfather, Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia. This was the same year that Hélène's younger half-sister Grand Duchess Maria of Russia married Prince Franz-Wilhelm of Prussia. Hélène became the godmother of her nephew, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, in May 1981. 

Pictured: Hélène Kirby holding her godson, one of the Princes of Bulgaria, and King Simeon II of the Bulgarians. Shown behind Hélène is Queen Mother Geraldine of the Albanians. In the background are several Bagration relatives.

Hélène Kirby photographed behind the Countess of Barcelona (1960s)

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Hélène Kirby has remained close to the Bulgarian, Georgian, and Spanish royal families over the decades. She served as godmother to one of King Simeon and Queen Margarita's sons. In 2002, Hélène attended the wedding of the king's only daughter Princess Kalina, together with her friend the Duchess of Franco. Hélène is a friend of Infanta Pilar of Spain, with whom she has collaborated in promoting the fundraising events for the charity Rastrillo Nuevo Futuro for many years. In 2009, Hélène was present at the wedding of her first cousin once removed, Prince David Bagration-Moukhransky, and Princess Anna Bagration-Gruzinskaya - the wedding of the century in Georgia which united two branches of the Bagrationi family.  

Hélène Kirby, Countess Dvinskaya, attends the memorial service for her mother Grand Duchess Leonida (2010)
Gloria Price Kirby on the occasion of her marriage to Robert St Clair Conahay III (1948)
In May 2010, Hélène's mother Grand Duchess Leonida died at Madrid, aged ninety-five. Hélène had long supported her mother, stepfather Grand Duke Vladimir, and younger maternal half-sister Grand Duchess Maria. In 2017, Hélène's older paternal half-sister Gloria Price Kirby passed away at Tangiers. Hélène maintained strong ties with Gloria and with Gloria's children, Hélène's niece and nephews. 

Hélène Kirby and Alfonso, Duke of Cádiz
An agent of discretion and dignity, Hélène Kirby continues to make her home in the Spanish capital.


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A Son For Amedeo and Elisabetta of Belgium


Prince Amedeo and Princess Elisabetta of Belgium, Archduke and Archduchess of Austria-Este, have welcomed their second child, a son named Maximilian, born in Brussels on Friday, 6 September.

The couple’s first child, Archduchess Anna Astrid, was born in 2016.

Amedeo and Elisabetta married in 2014.


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Monday, September 2, 2019

Queen Mother Helen To Be Reburied In Romania Next Month


Queen Mother Helen of Romania will be reburied in Romania next month.

It has been announced by the Romanian Royal Family that Queen Helen, the mother of King Michael, will leave her current resting place at the Bois-de-Vaux Cemetery in Lausanne. A national funeral is planned for the Queen Mother's reburial on 19 October 2019 at the Royal Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș Monastery.

Aged eighty-six, Queen Mother Helen of Romania died at Lausanne on 28 November 1982. Helen is the only queen of Romania to currently be buried outside of the country.




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Friday, August 30, 2019

Spanish Royal Family Unite Around King Juan Carlos, Who Is In Recovery From Heart Surgery

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King Juan Carlos of Spain, aged eighty-one, is currently recovering at Hospital Universitario Quirónsalud in Madrid after undergoing triple coronary artery bypass surgery on Saturday, 24 August.

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The first members of the family to visit the king emeritus were Queen Sofía and King Felipe VI, who went to hospital after Juan Carlos came out of surgery on Saturday.

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On Sunday, 25 August, King Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letizia visited their father and father-in-law. Queen Sofía then went to see her husband and was accompanied by her sister Princess Irene of Greece as well as closest friend and cousin Princess Tatiana Radziwiłł with husband Dr Jean Fruchaud.

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On Monday, 26 August, Infanta Cristina along with her children Juan Valentín, Irene, and Miguel, went to the unit where Juan Carlos is recovering. Cristina and her family spent about a half-hour with the king; the infanta gave no comment to reporters waiting outside after she left.

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On Tuesday, 27 August, Juan Carlos was visited by his wife and all three of his children, in relays. First came Queen Sofía with Infanta Elena and her children Juan Froilan and Victoria Federica. Infanta Cristina arrived on her own to see her father. Finally, King Felipe and Queen Letizia with their daughters Leonor and Sofía went to hospital to see the king emeritus.

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On Wednesday, 28 August, Infanta Elena returned to the clinic to spend some time with her father.

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On Thursday, 29 August, King Felipe took his youngest daughter Infanta Sofía to visit Juan Carlos.



Today, Friday, 30 August, Queen Letizia took her eldest youngest Leonor to spend time with the king emeritus. King Juan Carlos is reportedly making a satisfactory recovery.


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The Bonapartes Visit Corsica To Commemorate 250th Anniversary Of Napoléon

Prince Charles Napoléon and his son Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon
Photo (c) PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP
The Prince Napoléon and his fiancée Countess Olympia Arco-Zinneberg were in Ajaccio two weeks ago for the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Napoléon I of the French. Prince Jean-Christophe was also joined by his father, Prince Charles. Of the visit, the Prince Napoléon stated: "It is a great pleasure to be here, just a few steps from the Bonaparte house and the imperial chapel where my family members rest, including my grandfather."

Prince Jean-Christophe Napoléon and fiancée Countess Olympia Arco-Zinneberg
Olympia Arco-Zinneberg and Jean-Christophe Napoléon
Jean-Christophe Napoléon and Olympia Arco-Zinneberg are scheduled to wed at Paris in October.


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The Birthday of Queen Anne-Marie of Greece

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Today Queen Anne-Marie of Greece celebrates her seventieth-third birthday.

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Princess Anne-Marie Dagmar Ingrid of Denmark was born on 30 August 1946 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen as the third and last daughter of the then Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark and his wife Ingrid (née Sweden). Anne-Marie's grandfather King Christian X was still on the Danish throne when his granddaughter was born; however, he was not to last until her first birthday. Christian X died on 20 April 1947 and was succeeded by Anne-Marie's father, King Frederick IX.

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In 1959, thirteen year-old Anne-Marie of Denmark and her third cousin nineteen year-old Crown Prince Constantine of Greece met during a state visit in Copenhagen paid by Constantine's parent's King Paul of Greece and his wife Frederica (née Hannover) to King Frederick and Queen Ingrid. Two years later, in 1961, Crown Prince Constantine returned to Denmark and declared his intention of marrying Anne-Marie to her parents. When Frederick IX was told by Constantine of the plan, the Danish king locked his future son-in-law in the royal loo, while going off to fetch Queen Ingrid to tell her about the man who wanted to marry their youngest daughter!

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Owing to Anne-Marie's age, the union needed to wait some years. It was not until July 1964 that the engagement of King Constantine II of Greece and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark was announced. In the intervening years, Constantine's older sister Sophia had married Juan Carlos of Spain in 1962, and his father Paul had died in 1963 - at which time Constantine became king.

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The couple were wed in great splendour at Athens on 18 September 1964. The new Queen of Greece converted from Lutheranism to Greek Orthodoxy. She wore a wedding gown by Danish designer Jørgen Bender.

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In the first twenty-two years of their marriage, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie had five children: Princess Alexia (b.1965), Crown Prince Pavlos (b.1967), Prince Nikolaos (b.1969), Princess Theodora (b.1983), and Prince Philippos (b.1986). The king and queen left Greece in 1967 after the king attempted a counter-coup against an authoritarian regime; however; they returned to the country to live in 2013.

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The King and Queen of Greece frequently attend royal events around Europe. Unfortunately, King Constantine has suffered from ill-health for some time now. Yet, he has an able supporter in his wife, who has been by his side through the sorrows and joys of the nearly fifty-five years that they have been married.


We wish Her Majesty a very Happy Birthday!



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