Monday, October 5, 2009

Kirill defies Nicholas and marries Victoria Melita


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October 5, 1905

Grand Duke Kirill of Russia has defied the command of his cousin, Czar Nicholas II, by marrying the divorced Grand Duchess Victoria Melita of Hesse and by Rhine, according to reports in American and British newspapers.

The wedding apparently took place three days ago in Coburg. The civil ceremony was performed by a Coburg government official. Russian Orthodox ceremony, conducted by a Russian priest, was held in the presence of the bride's mother, Marie, the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Grand Duke Alexis and the Duke of Leuchtenberg.

This wedding is the "climax of one of the most romantic love affairs known to royalty of modern Europe."


The couple "were sweethearts almost from childhood." Victoria is a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and her late father was the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh. Her mother, Marie, was born Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia.

Kirill and Victoria are first cousins, as Kirill's father, Wladimir, and Victoria's mother are siblings.

Kirill and Victoria first met at a party when they were both sixteen years old, and they promptly fell in love. Kirill wanted to marry Ducky, as Princess Victoria Melita is known to her family, but the Russian Orthodox church does not allow for marriages between first cousins (or second or third cousins).

Queen Victoria had other ideas for Victoria Melita, and she encouraged a marriage with her grandson, Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine.
Victoria Melita obeyed her grandmother, and married her first cousin, despite having little in common with Ernie. She was "high spirited." and Ernie was "a man of sullen, querulous temper."

The marriage was not a success, and the couple lived largely separate lives, but there would not be a divorce until after Victoria's death. The divorce finally came after the grand duke "insulted his wife so flagrantly that she left him for good."
Victoria was finally free to marry Kirill. Permission from the Emperor, which was required by the Fundamental laws, would override the rule of the Church, as Russian emperors approved of marriages between second cousins and third cousins. Divorced persons are, however, allowed to remarry within the Orthodox church.

Nicholas, however, would not provide his consent, even though he knew that the couple were in love.

Victoria's uncle, King Edward, apparently pleaded her case to Nicholas II. The emperor is the king's nephew by marriage, as his mother, Marie, and Edward's wife, Alexandra, are sisters. Nicholas' wife, the Empress Alexandra, is also a first cousin to Victoria Melita. But she is also Ernie's younger sister, and she has sided with her brother in this matter.

The announcement of the marriage was made in a dispatch to the Tageblatt, a Munich newspaper, which reports that the Orthodox ceremony took place at the Hotel de Russie in Munich.

It is expected that there will be further fallout due to this marriage.

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