Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia broke with Imperial tradition and the Family Law -- when he married Countess Sophie von Merenberg. As Sophie was not a member of a reigning or ruling house, the marriage was considered morganatic. Although Grand Duke Michael would retain his title - and his right to succeed to the throne B his wife and their children were not considered members of the Russian Imperial Family, and thus were not entitled imperial titles or the right of succession to the Russian throne.
Michael=s marriage caused great concern and strain for the Grand Duke=s immediate family, and for Emperor Alexander III, whose permission had not been sought. The consequences for Michael=s decision to marry were immediate, and included exile from Russia. But in hindsight, this marriage was the catalyst that saved Michael=s life.
If Grand Duke Michael had married a German princess, he would have remained in Russia, where he might have suffered the same fate as other Romanovs. Two of his brothers, Nicholas and George, were imprisoned during the revolution. In January 1919, they were shot on the orders of Lenin. But Michael, in exile in England, was safe from the Bolshevik thugs who had killed his brothers and other relatives.
Grand Duke Michael=s marriage may not have been a grand alliance, but it was a marriage that survived the initial scandal, exile, and, eventually, financial insecurity. Today, Michael and Sophie=s descendants live in the United Kingdom, and include two future dukes (Abercorn and Westminster), a future Earl (Dalhousie), and a current Marquess (Milford Haven).
One great-granddaughter has married into a historic Scottish family, and another is the wife of a Hungarian prince.
The second son of Grand Duke Michael Nikolayevich of Russia and his wife, Princess Cäcilie of Baden, Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich was born at Peterhof in St. Petersburg on 16 October 1861. Most of his childhood was spent in Tiflis1, Georgia, where his father was the Viceroy of the Caucasus. It was common for a Romanov to be known by a nickname. Young Michael was known by the family nickname, Miche-Miche.
His mother, Princess Cäcilie Auguste, was a pious Lutheran, who took the name Olga Feodorovna when she converted to the Orthodox faith. She was the youngest of eight children of Grand Duke Leopold of Baden, who, in 1819, had married his great-niece, Princess Sophie of Sweden. Although her paternal grandmother was born a von Geyersburg, Cäcilie's ancestral lines were largely impressive. Her mother was a member of the Holstein-Gottorp dynasty that had ruled Sweden from 1751-1818.2 Most important, for the Russians, she was a descendant of Rurik, the founder of Russia's first dynasty.....
I wrote this article some years ago for Royalty Digest - with lots of footnotes
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