PHOTO: Nicholas II with Aunt Miechen (Maria Pavlovna)
One hundred years ago today – 6th September 1920 – Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna died in exile.
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder (née Duchess Marie Alexandrine Elisabeth Eleonore of Mecklenburg-Schwerin;), was born in Ludwigslust Palace on 14 May 1854,
On 29 August (O.S. 16 August) 1874 Duchess Marie married the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in St. Petersburg. The couple had 5 children: Grand Duke Alexander (1875-1877), Grand Duke Kirill (1876-1938), Grand Duke Boris (1877-1943), Grand Duke Andrei (1879-1956), Grand Duchess Elena, Princess of Greece and Denmark (1882-1957).
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna escaped Russia in late February 1920, she died at Contrexeville, France in September of the same year. She was the last Romanov to leave Russia and the first Romanov to die in exile.
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder is the great-grandmother of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, I note the following from the official web site of the current Russian Imperial House:
“She was critical of some aspects of the official political course, but she always retained her loyalty and love for Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She was subjected to slanderous persecution by the court intriguers, who sought to sow discord within the Imperial Family.”
What utter nonsense!!
Following her marriage to Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in 1874, Maria Pavlovna became a prominent hostess in St Petersburg, she was known as the “grandest of the grand duchesses.” Socially ambitious, the German born Maria Pavlovna saw herself as the “Second Empress” holding her own “Court” at the sumptuous Vladimir Palace, situated on the Palace Embankment on the Neva River in Sr. Petersburg.
Known as “Miechen” or “Maria Pavlovna the Elder,” she was well known for her acid tongue and spiteful demeanour, responsible for spreading much malicious gossip about both Emperor Nicholas and his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
She was also very crafty, she remained Lutheran throughout most of her marriage, but adopted Holy Orthodoxy in April 1908, believing it would give her son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich a better chance at the throne.
The power hungry Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna had an open rivalry with both her sister-in-law the Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Alexander III) and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Nicholas II), the latter of which Maria Pavlovna was notorious for plotting against and spreading malicious gossip at her “powerful Court” which tended to influence all of St. Petersburg’s high society.
The treachery and deceit which emanated from the Vladimir Palace was not restricted to the senior grand ducal couple, but also to their eldest son Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and his wife Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. Maria Pavlovna along with her sons were even plotting to overthrow Nicholas II, and have Alexandra sent to a convent.
It is widely speculated that along with her sons, Maria Pavlovna contemplated a coup against the Emperor in the winter of 1916–17, that would force the Tsar’s abdication and replacement by his son Tsesarevich Alexei, with her son, Grand Duke Kirill or Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, as regent.
During the February Revolution of 1917, Kirill marched to the Tauride Palace at the head of the Garde Equipage (Marine Guard) to swear allegiance to the Russian Provisional Government, wearing a red band on his uniform. He then authorized the flying of a red flag over his palace on Glinka Street in Petrograd. It is probable that he had hoped that by ingratiating himself with the Provisional Government he would be declared regent or tsar after Nicholas II was forced to abdicate.
“All around me I see treason, cowardice and deceit”
Please take a few moments to listen to my interview ‘The Conspiracy Against Nicholas II,’ on YouTube, in which I talk about the members of the Imperial family who were plotting against Nicholas II, including the Grand Dukes Nicholas Nikolaevich and Nicholas Mikhailovich, and the Vladimirovich branch of the family, led by the power hungry Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.
Watch for my forthcoming article ‘Family Disloyalty: Nicholas II and the Vladimirovichi’ in which I discuss the often hostile relationship between Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duke Kirill and his wife Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna towards Emperor Nicholas II, to be published later this year.
© Paul Gilbert. 6 September 2020