Friday, October 20, 2023

Descendant of a Byzantine Emperor marries a war refugee in France


all photos @Océane Drollat

Prince Alexis Andronikov(a direct descendant of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos (1170-1199) and Princess Karina Bagration-Moukhransky married on October 7, 2023, in Vannes, France.

The prince asked Karina to marry him in France, where she settled down after the war in Ukraine had started. It could have been a simple romantic coincidence, but it is not. Karina is the daughter of “White Russian” immigrants, who, despite planning to go to the USA, stayed in France. And then repatriated to the Soviet Union where her family story turned out to be tragic and, in a way, served as the basis of the “East–West” film by a French director, Regis Wargnier. 

  Karina's father and Prince Konstantin were colleagues since both were interpreters to French President Jacques Chirac.  Alexis inherited his love for languages, Orthodox faith, history, and culture studies.  His father, Prince Emmanuel, was one of the most prominent mathematicians of his time and his mother, Betsy Biedebach, is from a prominent family in California (distantly related to President Nixon) gave him a truly versatile and international education. 

His childhood and young adulthood were spent mostly between France, Spain, and the Americas. He graduated from École Des Roches and later studied computer graphics, Russian culture, and country studies.  Prince Alexis now works in real estate. 

Princess Karina, on the other hand, is a war survivor, public figure, interpreter, and educator. She is also a philanthropist (President and Founder of a Geneva-based charity, helping women and children in post-war societies), a Ph.D., (Kyiv State University), and the University of Cambridge (CELTA) graduate. As the daughter of a French father of noble Russian origin, Karina expressed her love for France in many ways

Karina, who is fluent in French and four other languages, is an ambassador for FIMB, a French movement that helps women reach social and professional success and volunteered for it for more than 10 years. She also became a prototype for culture projects by Luidmila Menager, an artist and writer from Brittany.

Even though Karina acquired the Bagration name and Princess through her first marriage, she was recognized in 2017 as a part of a dynasty following international genealogical and historical expertise. 


The head of the Georgian dynasty issued a statement about Princess Karina’s status within the Bagration family. 

In his wedding greetings to the couple, Prince Nugzar mentioned that “this wedding is of a beautiful symbolic significance since Princes Andronikof (Andronikashvili) not only held key political, diplomatic and military posts, they were also distinguished for their particular loyalty to the royal Bagrationi dynasty, with which they had numerous ties of marriage.”

During a brief online conference and photocall, Princess Karina said, that the prince had been “very supportive of me in joyful and also through turbulent times, especially giving lots of support to my Ukraine-based mother who unfortunately was not able to attend the wedding” and has always been “a loving, discreet and caring man”. 

Prince Alexis said of their engagement: “We wanted to keep our relationship discreet to take time to discover more about each other. I care a lot about our joint legacy, but what counts the most to me is the huge heart she has and her commitment to change the world for the better. We both have a sense of compassion and hope we will manage to support those who need it the most. “

The couple decided to postpone a wedding celebration to the time when the war in Ukraine would come to an end.  Karina and Alexis were congratulated by numerous members of the royal family, aristocracy, and public figures. Currently, Karina is working on her book telling her story of a war refugee aiming to give hope to many people who lost confidence and faith in themselves.  She is co-founder and rector of the Swiss Institute of Cultural Diplomacy.

The couple will reduce the number of patronages and social involvements to enjoy a quiet family life in the future away from politics. However, they both might start a project dedicated to the Byzantine cultural legacy which inspires both.

Princess Karina was born Karina de Kharissoff in Kyiv on January 25, 1978.  She married Prince Dmitry Bagration-Moukhransky in 2003.  This marriage was dissolved by divorce after the couple separated in 2009.   Prince Alexis was born on October 28,1980.  His father, Prince Emmanuel, was a distinguished mathematician, who died in 1995 from a brain tumor.

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