Tuesday, June 7, 2011

No fortune for Ella

June 7, 1905

The Marquise de Fontenoy's latest column reports on how Grand Duchess Elisabeth has been treated since her husband's tragic death earlier this year.    In "view of the shocking circumstances" of Grand Duke Serge's death, it would have been assumed that the Grand Duchess, whose younger sister is the Tsarina, would have inherited Serge's private fortune "estimated at some $50,000,000."  Serge, who was his mother's favorite son and principal heir to her colossal fortune.

This subject, according to the Marquise, has been lately been oft-discussed "at the courts of Berlin and especially of Copenhagen," which is usually "exceptionally well-informed" about matters at the court in St. Petersburg.

One would have assumed that Nicholas, and especially his wife, would have been sympathetic toward Grand Duchess Elisabeth.  But the Emperor, on the advice of the more influential members of his family, has taken full possession of his uncle's wealth, thus disbarring his widow from the inheritance.  This decision was based on the fact that Serge's marriage was childless.  

Nicholas has given Elisabeth one chateau outside Moscow and "the comparatively meager allowance" to which "foreign-born wives" of members of the Imperial family "are entitled if childless."

According to the Marquise's column,  Nicholas' action "was in strict accordance within the family statutes of the reigning house."   The statute was designed to prevent the imperial property from falling into "foreign hands" if a childless widow of a Grand Duke marries again, and moves abroad. 

Nicholas's action has upset members of Ella's family.  Her brother-in-law, Prince Henry of Prussia, and his wife, Irene, who is Ella's younger sister, hurried to St. Petersburg, where Henry "managed to induce" Nicholas to "reconsider his decision." 

Grand Duchess Elisabeth will now receive about $8,000,000 from her husband's estate, "the property thus conceded to her consisting of foreign stocks and bonds," but not "any Russian estates or investments."

Although Prince Henry, the German Emperor's younger brother, was able to secure a better financial plan for Ella, he returned to Berlin rather disgusted with the entire procedure.

It is said, too, that Elisabeth has "surrendered the guardianship of her young nephew and niece, the children of Grand Paul," and is planning to leave Russia forever, and may return to live in Darmstadt, where her brother is the reigning Grand Duke.


Lisa said...

This is an obviously false report. Grand Duke Dmitri would eventually inherit some of his uncle's property, something not possible if the estate were confiscated. Ella gave away much of her fortune, but she also used alot of it to found her order and her convent. Rubbish reporting!

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Ilana, everything from the Marquise de Fontenoy should be taken with a grain of sand.