Obituary: Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanoff (1923-2021)

PHOTO: His Highness Prince Andrei Andreevich (1923-2021)

On 28th November, the head of the Romanov Family, His Highness Prince Andrei Andreevich, died in Inverness, California, at the age of 98.

Prince Andrew Andreevich was born on 21 January 1923 in London, England. He is the third child and youngest son of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich (1897–1981) and his first wife Princess Elizabeth Fabricievna, née Duchess of Sasso-Ruffo and Princess of San-Antimo. His godfather was the future King Edward VIII.

Prince Andrew belongs to the fourth branch of the Mikhailovich line of the House of Romanov. He is the great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in a straight male line.

Through his grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (1875-1960), he is a great-grandson of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna. His grandfather was Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933). He was a grand-nephew of Emperor Nicholas II.

After Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in 2021, Prince Andrew became the oldest living descendant of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Andrei Andreevich was the last representative of the Romanov dynasty who received the traditional Russian pre-revolutionary education and knew the Russian language perfectly. Andrei Andreevich was the last of the descendants of the dynasty who met with the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1927. The Empress was also present at the christening of Andrei Andreevich in 1923.

On the birthday of her great-grandson, Empress Maria Feodorovna wrote in her diary: “I received a telegram from Andryusha [Prince Andrei]. His son was born. Everyone is very happy about this.” Later, the Empress was present at the baptism of the baby, as evidenced by another entry in her personal diary: “… At 2:30 Olga came to take me, Xenia and Zina to Andryusha’s car for the christening of his little son Andrew. The ceremony took place at their home, where only family and loved ones gathered. The child is very cute. During the christening, Dmitry and I held him in our arms. He hardly cried and fell asleep right after it was all over. Minnie and her husband were there as well, so after the ceremony we sat and talked together. I gave Andrew a small silver bowl for the baby, and Alix, who also became his godmother, sent his mother a brooch.”

Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanoff was the eldest male descendant of the Russian Imperial Family, and a member of The Romanov Family Association, founded in 1979. He was recognized by many as the Head of the Russian Imperial Family. Andrew, like most Romanov descendants never recognized the illegimate claims of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, Vladimir Kirillovich, nor Maria Vladimirovna, as “Head” of the non-existent “Russian Imperial House.”

PHOTO: Prince Andrei at his home in Inverness, California

Andrei Andreevich was the first of the Romanovs to visit Russia after the revolution – in December 1942 he served as a sailor on the British cruiser Sheffield and took part in the Arctic expeditions to deliver cargo to Murmansk [formerly Romanov-on-Murman].

In 1954, Andrei Andreevich received US citizenship. After retirement, he was fond of painting and photography. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he visited Russia several times, including the funeral for Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family at the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, the reburial of his great-grandmother Empress Maria Feodorovna in St. Petersburg in 2006. The last time he visited Russia was in 2013, in the year marking the 400th anniversary of the House of Romanov.

Prince Andrew married three times. He was married firstly in San Francisco on 9 September 1951 to Elena Konstantinovna Dourneva (5 May 1927, Tokyo – 31 May 1992, Oakland). She was the only daughter of Konstantin Afanasievich Durnev (1896–1970) and Felixa Stanislavovna Zapalsky (1903–2002). They had one son before divorcing in 1959.

He was married secondly to Kathleen Norris (1 March 1935, San Francisco – 8 December 1967, San Francisco) in San Francisco on 21 March 1961. She was a granddaughter of American authors Kathleen Norris and Charles Gilman Norris. She died after pneumonia at 32. They had two children.

He was married thirdly on 17 December 1987 in Reno, Nevada, to the American artist Inez Storer (née Bachelin; born 11 October 1933, Santa Monica, California). She is a daughter of Franz Bachelin and Anita Hirschfeld. The couple lived in Inverness, California.

In recent years, Andrew Andreevich lived in a nursing home in San Anselmo, California. Prince Andrew is survived by his wife, Inez, his three sons Alexis (1953), Peter (1961) Andrew (1963) his granddaughter, Natasha Romanov, and his half-sister, Olga Romanov.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

In 2017, I was presented with this copy of The Boy Who Would be Tsar. The Art of Prince Andrew Romanoff. It remains a treasured keepsake in my personal library. This 64-page autobiography is illustrated with family photographs and his artwork. Prince Andrew gives readers a glimpse life growing up in the guest house of Windsor Castle, where he spent his childhood with his sister and brother, granted to his family by King George V.

© Paul Gilbert. 29 November 2021