Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grand Duke Nicholas is dead

January 6, 1929

Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaivitch of Russia died today at Antibes, France, shortly after midnight. He was 72-years-old. The Grand Duke, whom many considered to be the de jure emperor of Russia (despite the more senior claim of Grand Duke Kirill), was a second cousin of the late Nicholas II.

Grand Duke Nicholas, who once commanded the Czar's armies, was stricken with pneumonia more than a month ago. Yesterday, his doctors issued a more promising communique regarding his health, but "in the course of the night," the Grand Duke's heart "suddenly weakened," and he died in the arms of his wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia, who was born a Princess of Montenegro.

He was "fatally stricken during a howling northeast snow storm which must have reminded him of his beloved Russia." Such snowstorms are largely unknown on the French Riviera.
Last night, "as was his custom," the Grand Duke spoke to his servants, "exhorting them to remain faithful to their true Russia." He also "gave orders" for the Sunday dinner, which would consist of fish and soup. He did not speak again.

Grand Duchess Anastasia, Prince Andrew of Russia, Princess Battenberg, Grand Duke Peter of Russia and his wife, and the Duke of Leuchtenberg were all present when Nicholas died. He had come to the Antibes from his home in Paris in November "to seek a more temperate Winter."

Nicholas was a "silent and lonely man" who "watchfully waited" for changes in the Soviet domination of his homeland, and "a change in his political fortunes which never came about."
"Tall of stature," Nicholas was considered "impetuous and commanding," and he was "always at the forefront of his country's activities." But he was also "known as an autocrat of the medieval brand."
He was also unlike other members of the Romanov family, "who were wildly known for eccentric indulgences." The Grand Duke "was almost ascetic in his own tastes," as he maintained "regular hours and restrained habits of eating and drinking." He was also regarded, among the living Romanovs, "as the ablest in point of administrative talents and measured judgment."
Grand Duke Nicholas did not own any property outside Russia, although all of his Russian properties were confiscated after the revolution. Grand Duchess Anastasia managed to save her jewels, including a diamond necklace. The stones from this necklace were removed and "sold separately at intervals to a Parisian jeweler. The couple lived "chiefly on the proceeds of these sales," in a rented chateau at Choigny, near Paris. The villa in Antibes was purchased by Nicholas' sister-in-law, Queen Elena of Italy.
Grand Duke Nicholas was born on November 6, 1858 in St. Petersburg, the eldest son of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaivitch and Princess Alexandra of Oldenburg. He married Princess Anastasia in 1907. The couple had no children.
Grand Duke Nicholas is survived by his wife, and his brother, Grand Duke Peter, who is married to Anastasia's sister, Militza.
The funeral is expected to take place in the Russian Church in Cannes.


Anonymous said...

Didn't Anastasia and Militza have 4 or 5 other sisters that married royalty?

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

There were nine daughters: Zorka married the future King Peter I of Serbia; Militza (Grand Duke Peter); Stana (Duke of Leuchtenberg, then Grand Duke Nicholas); Marija (died as a child); Elena (King of Italy); Anna (Prince Franz Joseph of Battenberg); Sophia (died as an infant); Xenia (never married); Vera (never married.)