Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Make It An Imperial Christmas with a Romanov Book: Choose From 7 Titles!

The cover of A Life for the Tsar.

This book is the result of a long, organic evolution. Fascinated as the authors both are with the Romanov Dynasty and interested in pursuing unique and exciting aspects of its history, they stumbled upon the Coronation of Nicholas II as a potential subject quite by accident. The ceremony itself formed an integral part of Greg King’s 2005 work The Court of the Last Tsar: Pomp, Power, and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II. In the research and writing process, Janet Ashton discovered a wealth of previously neglected materials on the subject that helped bring the event to dramatic life: so much material, in fact, that it was impossible to include more than a tantalising hint in a single chapter. The Coronation was beautiful, opulent, and almost surreal. Wispy clouds of incense drifted upwards through golden shafts of sunshine, while the “high, clear voices of the boys mingled with the deeper bass notes of the men” intoning sonorous hymns as Russia unknowingly celebrated the coronation of its last emperor. Flickering flames of a thousand votive candles shimmered over gowns of silver brocade, flashed across gilded icons, sparkled against diamonds, and glanced on medals. This intoxicating pageant of sounds and colors, scents and sensations left onlookers “dazed.” Nicholas II’s Coronation in Moscow’s Cathedral of the Assumption that May of 1896 was a carefully crafted piece of stagecraft, meant to transport the densely packed congregation to a realm of intense spiritual power fused to unyielding autocracy. The scene was not without irony: the imperial splendor and religious rituals of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated a monarch who scarcely carried a drop of Russian blood in his veins. The book contains over 220 beautiful images illustrating 248 glossy pages!

Purchase A Life for the Tsar from Amazon.



The cover of Romanovs Adrift.
In 1913, the Romanovs celebrated three hundred years of sitting on the Russian Imperial throne. Great fanfare and hope accompanied the celebrations. A year later, Imperial Russia entered a "war to end all wars," with the hope of "being back home for Christmas." It was not to be. Instead, in February 1917, after years of administrative and military ineptitude and incompetence, the Russian people had enough of its government's inefficacy and corruption. The consequences, as it turned out, changed the world. Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown; members of the Imperial Family faced persecution, arrest, financial instability, uncertainty, and worse. This is the compelling story of how the Romanovs dealt with glory, war, revolution, persecution, imprisonment, and escape!


The cover of The Grand Dukes.
Arturo E. Beéche, founder and publisher of The European Royal History Journal, thought of the idea for an anthology on Russia's Grand Duchesses in 2004. Consequently, a companion book on the Russian Grand Dukes became imperative. The Grand Dukes: Sons & Grandsons of Russia's Tsars Since Paul I examines the biographies of nearly forty men whose birth gave them the right to one of the world's most prestigious positions. All sons of Russian tsars are covered in Volume I. The sons of collateral grand ducal branches are covered in Volume II. The biography of each of the Grand Dukes of Russia brings to life a deeply gripping human saga. These men were born into what then was one of the world's most powerful ruling dynasties. They were not all saints; they were not all demons - they were men whose birth showered them with untold privilege. Some used their birthright for the common good; some did not. Yet, they all remain amazingly intriguing, complex, complicated and conflicted human beings. At birth they were showered with untold privilege, including a lump sum of money placed in trust for them. By the time these funds were made available to a Grand Duke, the interest alone made them amazingly wealthy. Added to this benefit, they derived salaries from their military appointments, investments, real estate and inheritance. Thus, the Grand Dukes were able to maintain a lifestyle only surpassed by today's oligarchs and yesteryear's robber barons. They were consummate spenders in paintings, art, architecture, jewels, all while acting as sponsors of talented writers, thinkers, poets, ballerinas, among many others. One was a playwright of considerable talent. Another played a role in working toward the liberation of the serfs. One was a leading admiral with a fondness for "fast women and slow ships." Another Grand Duke lived a tortured existence as a closeted homosexual, yet became the father of nine children. Told in a two-volume set, this is their story.



The cover of The Other Grand Dukes.

Included in this unique work, the Second Volume in a two-volume series, are 18 biographies of Russian grand dukes. These were the junior lines of the Russian Imperial Family at the time of the Revolution in 1917: Vladimirovichi, Pavlovichi, Konstantinovichi, Nikolaevichi and Mikhailovichi. The book is illustrated with exquisite and rare photographs of these intriguing men, their families and descendants. It also includes several family trees. The chapters were authored by some of today's most recognized authors and scholars on the Romanov Dynasty.



The cover of Russia & Europe - Dynastic Ties.

This excellent book authored by Galina Korneva and Tatiana Cheboksarova includes nearly 600 photos, an overwhelming majority among them collected from the main archives of Russia and several European countries. The moment captured by these original photos is able, often times, to tell the reader far more about the unique world of royalty and aristocracy than countless pages of text. The authors also relied on important information obtained from Russian and foreign periodicals, memoirs and scientific literature. The English-language version of this book was expanded with contributions by Arturo Beéche, founder and publisher of Eurohistory / The European Royal History Journal. He is an expert on European Royalty, as well as author of more than a dozen books about the various royal families that have shaped the continent's history.



The cover of A Poet Among the Romanovs.

Prince Vladimir Paley, first cousin of the last tsar, was a poet among the Romanovs. The rules of the Imperial Family prevented him from being considered a member of the dynasty due to the unequal marriage of his parents. This circumstance could have saved his life. Instead, when he was requested by the Bolsheviks to denounce his father, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, young Prince Vladimir chose love, loyalty, honor, and affection. His only crime was being related to a dynasty of which he had not even been an official member. This is the compelling story of a young man, and a talented poet, who in different circumstances would have attained great heights.. Destiny, however, played a sad role in bringing a brutal and early death to a promising life.
Jorge F. Sáenz brings to life the previously unknown figure of Prince Vladimir Paley. In doing so, Mr. Sáenz adds to a long and distinguished list of historical studies he has written over the last thirty years. His books number well over a dozen, most of them focusing on various aspects of Costa Rica’s history and unique democratic traditions, that make the country a bastion of democracy in Latin America. His study of the life of Prince Vladimir Paley was first published as a biographical essay in Eurohistory — The European Royal History Journal. The success of this essay led to the story of Vladimir Paley becoming a full-on book. Mr. Sáenz is a career diplomat for Costa Rica, as well as a distinguished law professor at the University of Costa Rica. EUROHISTORY is pleased to announce the hardback publication of this rare and uniquely extraordinary work of royal biography! This book was first published in paperback nearly 20 years ago. The UPDATED and EXPANDED hardback edition contains more information than the original, as well as a new 24-page photo section different than the few images included in the original paperback edition!



The cover of Death of a Romanov Prince.

“The coffin was lowered into the grave. Soon there was a burial mound above. It was quickly covered with wreaths, flowers and crowned with a plain wooden cross. Prince Oleg’s promising life was finished.” 

Death of a Romanov Prince follows the brief life-journey of Prince Oleg Konstantinovich, one of the lesser-known members of the powerful and privileged Russian Imperial family. He was a talented young man of intellectual and artistic genius. Oleg was the gifted son of the talented Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, who wrote under the pseudonym of KR. The Grand Duke was a friend of Tchaikovsky, who set his numerous poems to music, and who established literary circles for his troops, translated Hamlet into Russian, and wrote The King of the Jews, an original play that he and his sons performed. The reader will follow Prince Oleg Konstantinovich, his family, and Imperial cousins, as his life takes him via the luxuries of the family’s four magnificent palaces of Pavlovsk, in Tsarskoye Selo, the Marble Palace in St Petersburg, the Konstantine Palace at Strelna; and the Ostashevo Estate near Moscow; as well as numerous holidays in the Crimea. The young prince enjoyed the most liberal program in literary, scientific, and artistic education. He was the first Romanov to be enrolled in a civilian school and graduated from the Imperial Lyceum in St Petersburg, where in 1913 he won the Pushkin Medal for his academic achievements. At the age of 21, Prince Oleg Konstantinovich was on the crest of a brilliant career and personal greatness when World War I began. Then tragedy struck. 
Death of a Romanov Prince brings the reader into the battlefields of World War I’s Eastern Front. Bloody battles fought in northern Poland and Lithuania’s Masurian Lakes. It was while fighting there that Prince Oleg led his troops into heroic cavalry charges against the Germans.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Passing of a Patriarch: Andrew Andreevich Romanoff, Prince Romanovsky (1923-2021)

Prince Andrew at his home in 2015.
Photo (c) Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / San Francisco Chronicle.

On 28 November 2021, Andrew Andreevich Romanoff, Prince Romanovsky, died at the age of ninety-eight. Andrew was the longest-lived male-line descendant of the Romanov dynasty. He was the last surviving great-nephew of the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II.

Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia

Born on 21 January 1923 at London, Andrew was the youngest of the three children of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia (1897 - 1981) and his first wife Donna Elisabetta "Elsa" Ruffo di Sant' Antimo (1886 - killed in London during the Blitz in 1940). Andrew followed two older siblings: Princess Xenia Andreevna Romanovsky (1919 - 2000) and Prince Michael Andreevich Romanovsky (1920 - 2008). Since their parents' marriage was morganatic, Andrew bore the style and title His Serene Highness Prince Romanovsky, which was granted to his parents by the Head of the Imperial House.

Andrew's paternal grandmother: Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia
Andrew's paternal grandfather: Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia.

Andrew grew up near his grandmother Grand Duchess Xenia (1875 - 1960), who lived in a grace and favour cottage at Windsor. He did not have as much contact with his grandfather, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, as Xenia and Alexander lived separately in exile. Andrew Andreevich received his education at the Imperial Service College. He joined the British Navy in 1942, and served until the end of World War II.

Andrew Romanoff's Petition for Naturalisation, 1954.
Andrew Romanoff's Petition for Naturalisation, 1954.
Prince Andrew's eldest son: Alexei Romanoff, 1969.
This photo was taken when Prince Alexei was a student at St. Mary's College High School.
In 1949, Andrew moved to the United States and settled in Oakland, California. In 1954, he became a US citizen. Andrew studied criminology and sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. On 9 September 1951 at San Francisco, Andrew married Elena "Helen" Constantinovna Dourneff (Tokyo, Japan 5 May 1926 - Oakland 31 May 1992), the daughter of Constantin Afanasievich Dourneff and his wife Felixa Stanislavovna Zapalski. Andrew and Helen had one son: Alexei Andreevich Romanoff, Prince Romanovsky (b.Alameda 27 April 1953; married Zoetta Leisy). Andrew and Helen divorced in 1959. In 1968, Helen Dourneff Romanoff married to US Air Force Technical Sergeant Odom Wayne Modling (1923 - 2007), a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Andrew and Kathleen Romanoff after their civil wedding in 1961.
The obituary of Kathleen Romanoff (1967).
This appeared in The San Francisco Examiner on 10 December 1967.
Andrew remarried on 21 March 1961 to San Francisco native Kathleen Norris Roberts (San Francisco 1 March 1935 - San Francisco 8 December 1967; former wife of Gilbert Jay Roberts Jr.). The couple were joined in marriage by Judge Gerald Levin, who performed the ceremony in his chambers at the Hall of Justice. The bride wore a blue and white Dior print dress with a white coat. Kathleen's sister, Mrs. Hartley Cravens, was her attendant; Prince Nikita Romanov served as the best man for his cousin Andrew. Kathleen was the daughter of Dr. Frank and Mrs. Alice Norris (née McCreery); her grandmother and namesake was the noted author Kathleen Norris, wife of Charles Norris. Andrew and Kathleen had two sons: Peter Andreevich Romanoff, Prince Romanovsky (b.San Francisco 21 November 1961; married Barbara Jurgens) and Andrew Andreevich Romanoff, Prince Romanovsky (b.San Francisco 20 February 1963; married Elisabeth Flores). Tragically, in 1967 Kathleen Romanoff died of pneumonia at the age of thirty-two. Princess Kathleen was laid to rest at the Serbian Cemetery in Colma, where her husband's uncle Prince Vasili Alexandrovich of Russia and his aunt Princess Natalia were also buried when they died in 1989. 
Andrew Romanoff and his wife Inez Storer in 2015.
Photograph (c) Todd Pickering
Finally and thirdly, Andrew married artist Inez Mary Storer (b.Santa Monica, California 11 October 1933; former wife of Thomas Tone Storer) on 27 December 1987 in Washoe County, Nevada. Inez was the daughter of architect Franz Nicholas Bachelin and his wife Anneliese "Anita" Maria Camilla Hirtfield.  Andrew and Inez resided in the idyllic town of Inverness, California. Like his wife Inez, Andrew Romanov was an artist, and his works were displayed in numerous exhibitions. He must have inherited the artistic streak that his grandmother, Xenia, and his grand-aunt, Olga, also possessed. A book entitled The Boy Who Would Be Tsar appeared in 2007 and documented Andrew's life. At the time its publication, the prince stated in a profile: "At certain moments I would be called upon to play the game, be a prince. But it's always the people around me who get exited about it. My mother and father just wanted me to grow up to be a real person.
Left to right: Prince Alexei, Prince Andrew with his granddaughter Princess Natasha, Prince Peter, and Prince Andrew, 1995.
Prince Andrew is survived by his widow, his three sons and his daughters-in-law, and his granddaughter.
May He Rest in Peace.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Portrait of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia at Auction This Week

A portrait of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia, only son of Grand Duke Kirill Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, will be sold in London tomorrow by MacDougall's Fine Art Auctions. Serge Ivanoff, the artist who created this depiction of Grand Duke Vladimir, Head of the Imperial House of Romanov from 1938-1992, completed the painting in 1944. The grand duke sat for sittings in Paris, where the portrait was finished.

Source: Portrait of Grand Duke Vladimir Romanov

Monday, November 22, 2021

Thyra, Duchesse d'Harcourt (1930-2021)

La duchesse d'Harcourt.
Portrait (c) Carme Arisa.

Thyra de Zayas, Duchesse d'Harcourt, died on 8 November 2021. She was ninety-one years-old. 

Alfonso de Zayas.
Juliette d'Harcourt.
Born on 31 August 1930 at Palma de Mallorca, Maria Teresa "Thyra" de Zayas y d'Harcourt was the daughter of don Alfonso de Zayas y Bobadilla (1896-1970), Marques de Zayas, and his first wife Marie Gabrielle Juliette Vierne d'Harcourt (1900-1977), who wed in 1921. Thyra had five siblings: José Eugenio de Zayas y d'Harcourt (1924-2011), Margarita de Zayas y d'Harcourt, Carlos de Zayas y d'Harcourt, Carmen de Zayas y d'Harcourt, and Luis de Zayas y d'Harcourt. 
The history of the Marqués de Zayas.
Revista Hidalguía número 73. Año 1965, p. 775.
Thyra's paternal grandparents were Bartolomé de Zayas y Borrás and María del Pilar Bobadilla y Escrivá de Romaní. Her maternal grandparents were Count Eugène d'Harcourt (1859-1918) and Armande de Pierre de Bernis (1876-?). Thyra's maternal uncle was Count Bruno d'Harcourt, who married Princess Isabelle d'Orléans.
François, Duke of Harcourt.
On 17 January 1961, Thyra de Zayas married François, 11th Duc d'Harcourt (1902-1997). The couple were third cousins. Their common ancestors were Eugène, 8th Duc d'Harcourt, Duc de Beuvron and Aglaé Terray. François and Thyra did not have children.
Thyra, Duchess of Harcourt.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Simon Cochard.
The funeral of the duchesse d'Harcourt took place at l'église de Thury-Harcourt on 13 November 2021, and she was buried in the chapel of the Château d'Harcourt. A mass for the duchesse will be held at the Basilique Saint-Clotilde in Paris on 23 November 2021.

May Thyra Rest in Peace.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Royal Karađorđević Baby Expected!

Princess Ljubica and Prince Mihailo of Serbia with their daughter Princess Natalija.

Princess Ljubica of Serbia shared last week that she and her husband, Prince Mihailo, are expecting their second child. The couple, who married five years ago in October 2016, have one daughter, Princess Natalija, born in 2018. The newest Karađorđević will be a great-grandchild of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia and Queen Marie (née Romania); Prince Mihailo, father of Princess Natalija and her younger sibling-to-be, is the youngest child of the king and queen's second son, Prince Tomislav. 


PRINCEZA LJUBICA I PRINC MIHAILO IMAJU LEPE VESTI: Uskoro postaju roditelji po drugi put!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lobkowicz Twins Karl and Nicolas Engaged to European Aristocrats

The engagements of the twin and youngest sons of Prince Wenceslas von Lobkowicz (b.1953) and his wife Princess Armelle (b.1955; née de Guillebon) have recently been announced. 

Prince Karl von Lobkowicz (b.1993) is engaged to Astrid Dagneau de Richecour, the daughter of Dominique Dagneau de Richecour (b.3 August 1961) and his wife Béatrice (b.1965; née de La Barre de Nanteuil). Astrid has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters: Eléonore, Thomas, Mayeul, and Pauline. Astrid's paternal grandparents are Louis René Robert Dagneau de Richecour (1927-Paris 3 August 2012) and Marie Jeanne-Françoise de Font-Réaulx (Paris 29 June 1934-Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, Paris 12 May 2001). Astrid's maternal grandparents are Vicomte Joachim de La Barre de Nanteuil and Geneviève de Rubercy (d.13 August 2013).

Prince Nicolas von Lobkowicz (b.1993) is engaged to Benedetta Zanardi Landi, the daughter of Count Antonio Zanardi Landi di Veano (b.Udine 24 May 1950), an Italian ambassador to various countries, and his wife Countess Sabina (b.1963; née Cornaggia Medici Castiglioni). Benedetta has a brother, Pietro, and a sister, Catarina. Benedetta's paternal grandparents are Count Vittorio Zanardi Landi di Veano (~1909-1999) and Mariangela De Faveri Tron (~1926-2017). Benedetta's maternal grandparents are Gherardo Cornaggia Medici dei Marchesi di Castellanza (Milan 11 November 1912-Porto Ercole 17 August 1983) and Donna Guilia Boghese (Rome 21 March 1926-Rome 13 November 2006).


January 2004 - Un udinese ambasciatore a Belgrado

August 2013 - Madame Geneviève De La Barre De Nanteuil

October 2017 - Oggi l’ultimo saluto alla contessa Zanardi Landi

November 2021 - Fiançailles princières Lobkowicz

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Fiftieth Birthday of the Duchess of Aosta

Princess Olga.
Painted by her mother Marina Karella (Princess Marina of Greece).

Today, Princess Olga of Savoy, Duchess of Aosta, celebrates her fiftieth birthday!


Princess Olga and her father Prince Michael.

Born at Athens on 17 November 1971, Princess Olga Isabelle of Greece is the second daughter of Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark (b.1939) and Princess Marina (b.1941; born Marina Karella), who married in 1965. Olga has one sister, Princess Alexandra (b.1968; married Nicolas Mirzayantz).

Princess Françoise d'Orléans and Prince Christoper of Greece on their wedding day, 1929.

The paternal grandparents of Olga are Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark and Princess Françoise d'Orléans. The maternal grandparents of the princess are Theodoros Karella and Elly Chalikiopoulos.

Aimone and Olga's engagement picture, 2005.

On 7 May 2005, Princess Olga and Prince Aimone of Savoy (b.1967), Duke of Apulia, became engaged in Turin. Aimone is the only son of Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, and his first wife Princess Claude d'Orléans. Although related in several different ways, Olga and Aimone are second cousins. Both are the great-grandchildren of Prince Jean d'Orléans, Duke de Guise, and his wife and first cousin Princess Isabelle d'Orléans. 

The Duke and Duchess of Apulia on the day of their religious wedding, 2008.

On 16 September 2008, Aimone of Savoy and Olga of Greece were civilly married at the Italian embassy in Moscow, Russia, where the couple live. The pair celebrated their religious wedding on 27 September at the Church of Panagia Diasozousa on the Isle of Patmos in Greece. Their union was attended by their parents and by King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes.

The Duke and Duchess of Apulia with their first child, Prince Umberto, at his baptism.

The first child of the Duke and Duchess of Apulia arrived in 2009. Prince Umberto Sathya of Savoy, Prince of Piedmont, was born on 7 March at Neuilly-sur-Seine. The prince was baptised on 18 June and received as godparents Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy and Carlo Radicati di Primeglio.

The baptism of Prince Amedeo of Savoy.

Aimone and Olga welcomed their second child in 2011. Prince Amedeo Michel of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi, was born on 24 May at Paris. The prince was baptised on 8 June 2012 at Milan in the Basilica of San Marco and received as godparents Princess Mafalda of Savoy, Princess Marina of Greece and George Antaki.

The baptism of Princess Isabella of Savoy.

The Duke and Duchess of Apulia had their third child and only daughter in 2012. Princess Isabella Marina Vita of Savoy was born at Paris on 14 December. The princess was baptised on her first birthday, 14 December 2013, at the église Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin in Paris.

The 2020 Christmas card of the Aostas, showing Prince Umberto, Princess Isabella, and Prince Amedeo.

Prince Aimone and Princess Olga, Duke and Duchess of Aosta, live with their children in Russia. Naturally, they have very close ties with their families in Italy and Greece. 

Princess Olga and Prince Aimone arrive at the reception following the wedding of Grand Duke George of Russia in Saint Petersburg, 2021.

Our best wishes to Princess Olga on her birthday!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia's Jewels at Auction in Geneva



The jewels with an imperial provenance.
Photo (c) Sotheby's.

On 10 November, a brooch and a pair of ear clips that belonged to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia will be sold at auction by Sotheby's in Geneva. Born Duchess Marie of Mecklenberg-Schwerin, Marie married Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, a son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. The jewels are estimated to sell for anywhere between $300,000 and $520,000. Given their history, it would not be surprising if they fetch much more.


Sotheby's offers the following description of this fascinating lot:

From a European Princely Family, Formerly from a European Imperial Family

Historically Important sapphire and diamond brooch and a pair ear clips

circa 1900

Comprising : a brooch of plaque design, set at the centre with an oval sapphire weighing 26.80 carats, the border set with cushion-shaped and rose diamonds, maker's marks for Sophia Schwan, probably for Bolin, St Petersburg, 1899-1908 and Russian assay marks, the pair of ear clips en suite, set with step-cut sapphires weighing 6.69 and 9.36 carats respectively, within a border of rose-cut and cushion-shaped diamonds, to a later fitted case by Cartier stamped with the crown of the Royal House of Greece, King of the Hellenes.

The auction house also notes that this set of a brooch and ear clips was firstly owned by Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who then left them to her only daughter Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (Princess Nicholas of Greece). The catalogue entry for this lot gives further insight into how these jewels with a Russian imperial heritage were retrieved from Russia following the Revolution:


From the Collection of HIH Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna

Two shabby Gladstone bags were chosen by Albert Stopford to secretly collect Maria Pavlovna's jewels from the closed but as yet unpillaged Vladimir Palace in St Petersburg. The jewels were stored in a safe in her Moorish style suite of rooms. Access was obtained with the cooperation of Maria Pavlovna's eldest son Boris [author's note: Kirill was Maria's eldest son] and trusted servant who let in Stopford, dressed in workman clothes, through a side door. He carefully dismantled the jewels, folding the pieces into old newspaper to protect them. In the safe was also money which Stopford changed into new Revolutionary notes andd the on 30th July set out for a train journey of three nights to Kislovodsk in Caucasus where Maria Pavlovna had a house. In his diary he records his arrival: “KISLOVODSK. The grand Duchess received me in her cabinet de travail and we counted the money which I had bought her in my boots form Petrograd. It was in revolutionary thousand rouble notes, which she had never seen before.” This was the last visit he made to see her before setting out for London with her jewels though he did receive a letter form her telling him “ that the night before - September 13-14 - the the Committee of Workmen and Soldiers came to the house at 2.30 am and stayed until 6, opening, searching and turning everything topsy-turvy”. The pressure was ever increasing. This dramatic story is graphically retold in William Clarke’s recent book “Hidden Treasures of the Romanovs, saving the Royal jewels”.

Albert Henry Stopford, who was at the time, aged fifty five and so not eligible for war service, was very much part of the social scene in St Petersburg (then called Petrograd). He was a witness from the Revolution from July 1915 to October 1917 and published his diary and letters anonymously in 1919. From these it is clear that he was on very familiar terms with Grand Duchess Vladimir, seeing her almost every day when both in Petrograd. He was also in constant touch with the British Ambassador and the embassy staff passing back information and acting as a semi official courier on his journeys between Petrograd and London.

Grand Duchess Vladimir must have trusted him implicitly to put her extraordinary collection of jewels into his care. He had an advantage because on his journeys to and from England as the English Foreign Office and the War Office as well as the French and the Russian Embassies, used him to carry confidential papers which they feared might be in intercepted in the mail. Trustworthy travelers were a rarity so they took advantage of his travel for direct communication. It these circumstances he was effectively carrying their Diplomatic bags as he said “as a matter of courtesy and not in an official capacity”. He made full use of this privileged position and in those years he made four visits to England which he recalls in his diary. For instance on 22nd October 1916 he had “No bother with customs”. On another occasion the border officials wanted to examine his bags but he insisted he was carrying official papers and eventually they climbed down, no search was made and he was allowed to proceed on his journey.

During the war the safest way from Petrograd to England or France was by train first north through Finland, which at that time was in Russian hands, and so into Sweden and then on to either Bergen or Arendal in Norway. As German U-boats patrolled the North Sea and the coastal water were mined, the voyage from southern Sweden to Newcastle or Scotland was chosen as the shortest and safest journey for the steamer. The reality of these dangers is recalled in Stopford’s diary of 14th January 1916 “Not too bad a crossing. As we neared Arendal, in Norway we nearly ran into a mine. The sudden veering of the steamer threw us all off our seats. All along the south coast of Norway, where there are many currents, loose mines are constantly being washed up.” Later the same year on the way back from Petrograd he recalls in his diary for Thursday August 10th 1916 in rather telegraphic style, “before leaving the fjords for the open sea, was sent for by the captain. He expected the steamer to be stopped by German submarines, and said the F.O. bags ought to be weighted. The ships carpenter put iron into the coulisses of the bags and deposited them on the deck handy to be thrown overboard. Ship stopped suddenly in the night. Rushed on deck and found only a sea-frog. Arrived at Newcastle-on-Typne.”

Stopford left Petrograd on 26th September 1917 carrying Maria Pavlovna’s fabulous collection of jewels including the sensational sapphire brooch and earrings in this sale to embark on what must have been a very anxious ten day journey. Behind him the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky tottering and ahead lay the prospect of the hazardous journey across the North Sea which by this stage in the war was heavily mined. As it turned out he was able to follow his usual route via Finland and Sweden without encountering any difficulties, finally arriving safely by boat at Aberdeen on 6th October and professed himself “delighted to see policemen again”.

Meanwhile in the Caucasus the situation became so bad that Maria Pavlovna put her affairs in order and made arrangements for the cigarette boxes and cufflinks in the Vladimir Palace to be taken to Swedish Legation in Petrograd (these quite remarkably have only recently been discovered, safe and sound, in the Swedish Foreign Office in Stockholm and are now to be sold at Sotheby’s in London on 30thNovember 2009). She also made her own plans to leave Russia. The only route open to her was to make her way from Caucasus to the White Russian stronghold at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, a journey of 800 kilometers through a war-torn country. Despite the deteriorating situation and the fact that it was late autumn it is reported that she set off in style for the fifty mile journey to the nearest railway situation in an open carriage with her maid of honor at her side.

The next first hand report of Grand Duchess Vladimir’s escape from Russia is by her niece Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna who also left her departure to the last minute. She was already at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk which at the time was the principle center of Denekin’s White Army and waiting for a passage when she heard at her Aunt Michen, the formidable Grand Duchess Vladimir, had arrived after a harrowing escape from Caucasus. She is quoted in her biography as recalling “I went to see her. I was duchess. There had never been much love between Aunt Michen and my own family, but I felt proud of her. Disregarding peril and hardship, the stubbornly had kept all the trimmings of bygone splendor and glory. And somehow carried it off. When even generals found themselves lucky to find a horse-cart and an old nag to bring them into safety, Aunt Michen made a long journey in her own train. It was battered all right – but it was hers. For the first time in my life I found it was a pleasure to kiss her”.

Even though the situation was very dangerous and time short it is said that the Grand Duchess, acting very much in character, is said to have refused passage on a ship which required a change ta Istanbul as she could have had to submit to the ignominy of being deloused. Instead, she obtained a later passage in February 1920 and within a month of her departure Novorossiysk fell to the Bolsheviks. Her passage was on an Italian vessel and it is recorded at once again “the good Stopford received us in Venice with money to pay for our passage”. From there she went to Switzerland and then to Paris.

On his return to England Albert Stopford put the jewels in a safety deposit box in a bank in London where they remained for rather more then two years by which time Maria Pavlovna had reached Europe. They then had discussions about who would provide the best professional advice. Cartier in Paris seemed to be the best choice as many of the jewels had come from them and they had offered to make no charge for the valuation. In mid-June 1920, Stopford received what was probably his last letter form “his Grand Duchess” where she said that “the offer is very tempting” but sadly in July her health had been severely affected by the ordeal of the previous four years and on 6th September she died. Her tomb is in the Russian Orthodox church Contrexeville in north eastern France which she had had build in memory of her husband in 1909.

The division of jewels therefore became the main matter for her will and the were placed in the hands of Cartier for valuation. Thereafter the division was by no means simple.
As is made clear by the provenance provided by Sotheby's, these particular items were inherited by Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece. Nicholas and Elena had three daughters: Princess Olga (married Prince Paul of Yugoslavia), Princess Elisabeth (married Count Carl Theodor zu Toerring-Jettenbach), and Princess Marina (married Prince George, Duke of Kent). Therefore, it is possible that these jewels are being sold by one of Elena's descendants. No doubt, this gorgeous sapphire brooch and accompanying ear clips will make an historic addition to anyone's collection.

Source: Historically important sapphire and diamond brooch and a pair ear clips, circa 1900

Dr. Nelly Auersperg (1928-2023), Cancer Researcher and Grandniece of "The Woman in Gold"

  At the age of ninety-four, Dr. Nelly Auersperg passed away on 15 January. Nelly's father Viktor. Born on 13 December 1928 ...