Sunday, November 28, 2021

Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanoff (1923-2021)

Prince Andrew Andreevich of Russia died on November 28, 2021, in a nursing home in San Anselmo, California.   He was 98 years old.

Andrew, a gifted artist, had lived in Inverness, California, with his third wife, Inez Storer (nee Bachelin) for many years.   He was the youngest of three children of HH Prince Andrei Alexandrovitch of Russia (1897-1981) and his first wife, Donna Elisabetta Ruffo di Sant'Antimo (1886-1940).  Andrei was the second of seven children of HIH Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch and HIH Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia, the elder daughter of Emperor Alexander III and Princess Dagmar of Denmark (Empress Marie Feodorovna), and a sister of Emperor Nicholas II.

As Donna Elisabetta was not of equal rank,  Andrei's marriage was non-dynastic, and his descendants are not members of the Romanov dynasty.

Andrew was born on January 21, 1923, in London. He was baptized in the Russian Orthodox church shortly after his birth.  One of his godparents was the future Duke of Windsor.

 He spent his childhood at Frogmore Cottage, where his grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia lived.  This grace and favor home was provided by her first cousin, King George V.

For the young Andrew and his siblings,  the Windsor grounds "made a fantastic playground, with vast lawns, curving paths along the River Thames, fishponds, greenhouses full of exotic plants, and polo fields."   

Grand Duchess Xenia never gave up hope that she and her family would one day return to Russia when the Romanov dynasty would be restored.  The family spoke Russian at home, and Andrew was expected to be well-behaved.   His grandmother made him practice walking with a stick under his arms so that he would stand up straight."

His elder sister and brother, Xenia and Michael lived with their grandmother at Frogmore Cottage, while Andrew lived with his English nanny in a house adjacent to Frogmore Cottage.

The family rarely saw the British royal family, including George V's granddaughters, Elizabeth, who was three years younger than Andrew, and Margaret.  Andrew was about 6 years old when he was taken by his grandmother took him to Windsor Castle where they met Queen Mary, who told the little boy to call her "Auntie Mary."

On another occasion,  Andrew was riding his bike around the castle grounds when he came upon Princess Elizabeth.  He asked her how she was and then rode off.  That evening, Grand Duchess Xenia received a phone call, where she was told that her family was not "to walk in the private gardens" when the British royal family was staying at the Castle.

On Easter Sunday three packages were inadvertently delivered to Frogmore Cottage. Andrew and his siblings tore into the boxes, stuffing themselves with the largest chocolate Easter eggs they had ever seen.  Soon Grand Duchess Xenia received another phone call as the packages were for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

Unfortunately for the two princesses, Xenia, Michael, and Andrew had already devoured the chocolate.

After attending the Imperial Service College, Andrew enlisted in the Royal Navy and served in World War II.   After the death of King George V and the succession of King Edward VIII in January 1936, Grand Duchess Xenia and her family were asked to leave Frogmore Cottage.  They moved into Wilderness House at Hampton Court.   Donna Elisabetta was killed when a bomb exploded near their home.  A ceiling beam collapsed on her and she died shortly afterward.

 He farmed briefly in Kent before emigrating to the United States in 1949 to join his Prince Vasili and his wife, Natasha in  California. Andrew and his cousin Nikita bought one-way tickets and "crossed the ocean on a freighter ship" that carried thoroughbred horses for the Kentucky Derby. After spending a week sightseeing in New York, Andrew and Nikita boarded a Greyhound bus bound for San Francisco, where they were met by their aunt and uncle.

Prince Vassili was working as a chicken farmer in Sonoma County when his nephews came to live with him,

  The young Andrew "tried his hand" at numerous ventures including the import-export business, being a timekeeper at a shipping company, and finding success as an artist.  He became a naturalized United States citizen in December 1954.

"I've been a lot of things.  I worked as a tree surgeon for a while, and I was I'm the shipping business in Hong Kong and Japan.  I've been a carpenter, and now I'm an artist," Andrew said in  1998 when he was interviewed by San Francisco Chronicle before he flew to St. Petersburg to attend the reburial of Nicholas II and Alexandra and three of their five children.

For many years, Andrew did not talk about his royal connections. "I try to have it there, in my life, but I don't dwell on it."

All 3 photos are courtesy of a private collection

A year earlier, he spoke to Hello magazine about the future burial.  "I would prefer the bones to be interred at Yekaterinburg, where my family were murdered, but the feeling in Russia is that St. Petersburg is best. It doesn't matter, so long as it is a Christian burial with all the Romanovs in attendance -- and soon."

He was very much a "Folk Artist," specializing in work that "depicted personal memories, impressions of American news, culture, and scenes of domestic life.  His preferred medium was Shrinky Dinks.   

"My routine is simple. I get up and do the Internet. I read the newspapers-- the London Times and the Moscow Times.  His sketching took place on his computer, and then print the sketches as a reference "when he drew on sheets of shrinkable plastic."

"Sometimes I get tired of it and I don't do it. Sometimes it's very amusing."  

His wife, Ines would look at him, reminding Andrew that he need to prepare for an upcoming show.  She would tell him: "You've got to get cracking.  It's a month before and I would be frantic. And he'll say, 'I'm getting to it.'  He'll do something else and then all of a sudden, night and day, there's this frenzy.  That's typical, leaving everything to the last minute."

Andrew countered with  "It's all ready. I've got the plan.  All I have to do is create it."

Andrew Romanoff was married three times.  His first marriage in 1951 to Elena Dourneva ended in divorce eight years later.  He married again in 1961 to Kathleen Norris, who was only 32 when she died from pneumonia in 1967.   It was in 1973 or 1974 when Andrew was introduced to Inez Storer, an artist who is well known for her work in the magical realism genre. 

"She was a beautiful lady, full of spark and vim,"  Andrew told Metroactive in 2007.  

They married in December 1987 in Reno, Nevada, and settled into a now 116-year-old house in Inverness, where they raised their five children (his three and her two, from their previous marriages).

Andrew is survived by his wife, Inez, his three sons Alexis (1953), Peter (1961) Andrew (1963) his granddaughter, Natasha Romanov, his half-sister, Olga Romanov, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Andrew Romanoff's autobiography,  The Boy Who Would Be Tsar, was published in 2006. 



SL said...

Marlene- Great report and interesting pictures! - Steven

Christina O. said...

Thank you, Marlene, for the warm and fascinating remembrance on Prince Andrew Andreevich. My condolences to his family.

Stephen said...

Marlene, what about then I can gladly help with the pennies.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

let me see if I can add

Barbara said...

Marlene this is a very interesting article, as always. I have just had a look at today’s Daily Mail and they have lifted your work almost word for word and posted it with no reference to you.

Unknown said...

May he rest in peace and may his Memory be Eternal!❤☦🙏

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

thanks Barbara I know. I have filed a complaint and it is being investigated.

Anna said...

Do you know of any galleries selling his work? Thank you for the article.