Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: Wikis


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Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna wearing the famous Vladimir Tiara
Spouse Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke Alexander Vladimirovich
Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich
Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich
Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna
House House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
House of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Father Frederick Francis II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Mother Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz
Born 14 May 1854(1854-05-14)
Schloss Ludwigslust, Ludwigslust, Germany
Died 6 September 1920 (aged 66)
Hotel La Souveraine [1], Contrexéville, France

Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (later Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, known as "Miechen" or "Maria Pavlovna the Elder"; 14 May 1854 – 6 September 1920) was born Marie Alexandrine Elisabeth Eleonore of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, daughter of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz. A very prominent hostess in St Petersburg, she was known as the grandest of the grand duchesses[1]



Marie Alexandrine Elisabeth Eleonore von Mecklenburg-Schwerin was born a duchess of the Grand Ducal House of Mecklenburg to Frederick Francis II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin - the then Grand Duke of Mecklenburg -Schwerin and his first wife Princess Augusta of Reuss-Köstritz (1822–1862) - in the Schloss Ludwigslust. From birth she would have been addressed as Her Highness as did her siblings.

Her mother died in 1862 when Marie was just 8 years old. She left Marie with 4 other siblings:

Her father married again twice which gave her 5 half siblings in total:

  • Anne of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1865 – 1882)


She married the third son of Alexander II of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia (22 April 1847 – 17 February 1909) on 28 August 1874. She had been engaged to someone else, but broke it off as soon as she met Vladimir. It took three more years before they were permitted to marry. Raised as Lutheran, she refused to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Tsar Alexander II finally agreed to let Vladimir marry her without insisting on her conversion to Orthodoxy.[2] Upon her marriage she took the Russian name of Maria Pavlovna of Russia - the name she is best known by. Maria remained Lutheran throughout most of her marriage, but converted to Orthodoxy later in her marriage, some said to give her son Kirill a better chance at the throne. As a result of marrying a son of an Emperor of Russia, she took on a new style; Her Imperial Highness as her husband did; The Grand Ducal couple had four sons and one daughter:



All of Maria's children were born at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo apart from her third child Boris who was born in St Peteresburg. Maria Pavlovna's eldest son Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia married, in 1905, his first cousin Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, daughter of Vladimir's sister the Duchess of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This marriage was disapproved by Nicholas II and Cyril was stripped of his imperial titles. The treatment of her son created a strife between her husband and the Emperor. However, after several deaths in the family put Cyril third in the line of succession to the Imperial Throne, Nicholas agreed to reinstate Cyril's Imperial titles, and the latter's wife was given the title Grand Duchess Viktoria Fedorovna.


During her life in Russia, Maria Pavlovna lived at her husband's beloved Vladimir Palace situated on the famously aristocratic Palace Embankment on the Neva River. It was there that she established her reputation as being one of best hostesses in the capital. It was often joked that she would deliberately try to outdo the Imperial Court at the nearby Winter Palace. She was also said to have been in competition with her sister-in-law Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia - sister of Alexandra Feodorovna.

She was considered the grandest of the Grand Duchesses, and formed an alternate court in the later years of the reign of her nephew Nicholas II[4] The Grand Duchess hated The Tsar and Tsarina towards the end of the dynasty (especially the Tsarina). Along with her sons, she contemplated a coup against the Tsar in the winter of 1916–1917, that would force the Tsar's abdication and replacement by her son, Grand Duke Kirill as regent.[5] In seeking support for the coup, she famously told Duma president Mikhail Rodzianko that the Empress, must be "annihilated." [6]

In 1909, her husband died and she succeeded him as president of the Academy of Fine Arts.[7]

Escape from Russia

The Grand Duchess held the distinction to be the last of the Romanovs to escape Revolutionary Russia as well as the first to die in exile. She remained in the war-torn Caucausus with her two younger sons throughout 1917 and 1918, still hoping to make her eldest son Kirill Vladimirovich the Tsar. As the Bolsheviks approached, the group finally escaped aboard a fishing boat to Anapa in 1918. Maria spent fourteen months in Anapa, refusing to join her son Boris in leaving Russia.

When opportunities to escape through Constantinople presented themselves she still refused to leave for fear she would be subjected to the indignity of delousing. She finally agreed to leave when the general of the White Army warned her that his side was losing the civil war. Maria, her son Andrei, Andrei's mistress Mathilde Kschessinska, and Andrei and Mathilde's son Vladimir (Vova), boarded an Italian ship headed to Venice on 13 February 1920.[8] Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia encountered Maria at the port of Novorossik in early 1920: "Disregarding peril and hardship, she stubbornly kept to all the trimmings of bygone splendour and glory. And somehow she carried it off ... When even generals found themselves lucky to find a horse cart and an old nag to bring them to safety, Aunt Miechen made a long journey in her own train. It was battered all right--but it was hers. For the first time in my life I found it a pleasure to kiss her..."[9]

Maria made her way from Venice to Switzerland and then to France, where her health failed. Staying at her villa (nowthe Hôtel la Souveraine), she died there on 6 September 1920, surrounded by her family at Contrexéville.[10] With the help of a family friend, her renowned jewel collection was smuggled out of Russia in a diplomatic bag. One of her tiaras is today owned by Queen Elizabeth II. At her death her famous collection of jewels were divided up between her children; Grand Duke Boris gained the emeralds, Grand Duke Cyril gained her pearls, Andrei got her rubies and her only daughter Elena received her diamonds. A batch of cufflinks and cigarette cases were found yet in 2008 in the archives of the Swedish foreign ministry. She deposited them at the Swedish Embassy in Saint Petersburg before she fled.[11]


Titles and Styles

  • 14 May 1854 – 28 August 1874 Her Highness Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
  • 28 August 1874 – 6 Spetmeber 1920 Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia


  1. ^ http://www.angelfire.com/pa/ImperialRussian/royalty/russia/survivor.html
  2. ^ Charlotte Zeepvat, The Camera and the Tsars: A Romanov Family Album, Sutton Publishing, 2004, p. 45
  3. ^ Paul Theroff (2007). ""Russia"". An Online Gotha. http://pages.prodigy.net/ptheroff/gotha/russia.html. Retrieved 5 January 2007.  
  4. ^ Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1967, p. 388
  5. ^ Massie, p. 388-390
  6. ^ Massie, p. 389
  7. ^ 1913; An End and a Beginning, Virginia Cowles
  8. ^ John Curtis Perry and Constantine Pleshakov, The Flight of the Romanovs, Perseus Books Group, 1999, pp. 228-232
  9. ^ Vorres
  10. ^ Perry and Pleshakov, pp. 263-264
  11. ^ "Sotheby’s Sells Tsar Family Jewelry Found in Swedish Archive". Bloomberg News. 28 August 2009. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=aP8sPAekBEIk. Retrieved 2009-09-09.  


  • Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, 1967, Dell Publishing Co., ISBN 0440163587
  • John Curtis Perry and Constantine Pleshakov, The Flight of the Romanovs, Basic Books, 1999, ISBN 0-46502462-9
  • Paul Theroff, An Online Gotha
  • Vorres, Ian (1965). The Last Grand Duchess. Scribner. ASIN B-0007-E0JK-0


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