Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vittorio Emanuele visits two Grand Dukes

October 31, 1919

King Vittorio Emanuele, Queen Elena and their children arrived earlier today in Genoa aboard the royal yacht Yela, and then traveled by train to St. Margherita to visit Grand Duke Nicholas, former commander in chief of the Russian army, and his brother, Grand Duke Peter, and their wives.  This was the first official confirmation that Grand Duke Nicholas was able to escape from Russia.

The Italian royal family remained with the Grand Dukes for several hours before returning to Genoa, where they "boarded their yacht."

The Grand Duchesses are Queen Elena's sisters.

An Associated Press correspondent also met with Grand Duke Nicholas today.

The Grand Duke told the reporter: "We have received you only so that we may not appear discourteous and as a mark of appreciation to the United States. But heretofore we have received no journalists and granted no interviews."

Nicholas' wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia, "whose face still bears traces of the sufferings she endured during the war, was by her husband's side.  She interrupted the conversation, to state that they denied "all interviews attributed to us, as we have refused so far to make any statements, as any expression of our attitude, one way or another, might do more harm than good to our poor distracted country, and any causes we might wish to support.

"We desire in our past life, in our experiences, in all we have felt, that silence should reign.  This is our dearest wish, our most fervent request."

Grand Duke Nicholas resumed his conversation.  "We have come to Italy in this fairylike corner of the world, on the beautiful, smiling Gulf of Santa Margherita, seeking only peace and repose for our spirits and our nerves. We have determined not to talk with anyone on past sad events. All the tortures we endured must, for the outside world, be hidden in our breasts.  The only request we make is that our silence and our sadness be respected.

"For this reason, we lead most retired lives in this Villa of Spinola, half hidden in the woods, spending part of the day on the delightful shore of the Gulf, and the remainder with my brother, Peter, and his wife, Militza, who live nearby at a place known as 'Due Pini,' (Two Pines).  Our whole life is circumscribed within these narrow limits."

Grand Duke Nicholas was asked how long they would remain in Italy.

"We rented this villa until July 1920. but between now and then many things may happen to decide us either to prolong or to shorten our stay here."

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess usually have dinner in their own villa, and every evening, they are joined by Grand Duke Peter and his wife.  During the day, Grand Duchess Anastasia drives or walks with her husband to a local village, San Michele, which is known for its handmade lace.

This was the first confirmed report of the whereabouts of Grand Duke Nicholas.  In the past year or so, he has been reported dead, held by the Bolsheviks, and living "incognito in various places."

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