THE PROBLEMS OF SUCCESSION TO THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL THRONE

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A lot of publications have recently been appearing, which have not always been correct in their depicting of the order of succession to the Russian Imperial Throne and the character of the related connections between the separate representatives of the Romanov family. Due to this the Russian Assembly of Nobility considers it necessary to illustrate the following scientifically grounded information on the above-mentioned subject.
In accordance with the laws of the Russian Empire the succession laws were simple enough. The order of succession was laid down in the 18th Century and was finally promulgated in a law passed by Emperor Paul1 on the 5th of April 1797. This order of succession remained only slightly changed until the year 1917.

The classical legitimate approach to the problem of the throne.

In accordance with the fundamental laws the Russian throne must pass from the Emperor to his eldest son, and from his eldest son to the grandson of the first mentioned and so on.

If the eldest son doesn’t have a male dynast the throne passes to his brother, next in age to the son of the Emperor and then to the eldest son of the brother and so on. This is just what happened during the 19th century when the Russian throne passed from Emperor Paul 1 to Aleksander 1 and then to Nikolai 1, Aleksander's brother, and then to AleksanderII, Nikolai's eldest son and so on.

If the Emperor did not have a male dynast, the throne then had to pass to the brother of the Emperor. Such was the case with Nikolai II, up until the birth of his son Aleksei, the dynasts were considered to be his brothers, first Grand Duke Georgii and after his death in 1899 Grand Duke Mikhail.

If the Emperor did not have any male dynasts whatsoever in any lines, then the throne was to pass to the female lines, to one of the closest female relatives of the last ruling monarch, and then to her dynast, but again with preference to the male rather than female line. Such was the case in Russian history during the 18th century. As a a result the Russian ruling monarchy, strictly scientifically speaking became known as the Romanovs-Holstein-Gottorps.

Russia is not the only country with such a succession to the monarchy. The Austrian Habsburgs, starting with Marie Therese, actually presented itself as the Lotaringsky dynasty. In England the throne has passed to a female member on several occassions and this is the same in Spain, Monaco, Georgia and several other countries.

The afore mentioned Ukaz of Emperor Paul 1 concerning the succession to the throne remained practically unchanged until 1917. Some points of the law were about the laying down and ruling of so called marriages of equal rank for members of the Imperial family. Marriages were considered of equal rank if they had been agreed on by the ruling Emperor with the members of the ruling family, who had taken to the orthodox creed (articles 183, 185, 188 section 2 of the fundamental laws of the Russian Empire printed in 1906.)

At the beginning of the 20th Century Nikolaii II ruled over Russia, he was the son of Emperor Aleksander III, the eldest grandson of Emperor Aleksander II. In the case of the lack of the male dynast of Aleksander III the succession to the throne should have passed to the dynasts of the following children of Aleksander II.

The Vladimirovichi dynasts (Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich) or by their extermination to The Pavlovichi dynasts ( Grand Duke Pavel Aleksandrovich) If these lines were exterminated then theoretically the succession to the throne would pass to the dynasts of the sons of Nikolai I, following Aleksander II: The Konstantinovichi dynasts (Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich) The Nikolaevichi dynasts ( Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich the elder), The Mikhailovichi dynasts (Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich)

Such a line to the possible succession to the throne was reflected by the 1917 Court Calendar, in which were stated the names of more than 60 members of the Russian Imperial Family at that time.

In connection with this, when in the summer of 1918, after the Bolsheviks had exterminated the male dynasts of Emperor Aleksander III, the eldest of the Vladimirovichi, Grand Duke Kirill, Emperor Alexander II's grandson, became head of the Russian Imperial House. In 1924, when the last threads of hope to save the family of Nikolai II had disappeared, Kirill Vladimirovich became Emperor of Russia in exile. In 1938 his son Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich (1917 – 1992) succeeded him and remained on the throne for 54 years.

Vladimir Kirillovich married Grand duchess Leonida Georgeevna, born to the Princess Bagration – Mukranskaya, descending from the famous Georgian family, representatives of which had been keepers of the Imperial throne of Georgia and owned the land of Mukhrana until the final union of Georgia with Russia. Out of this marriage was born the daughter Maria, who married Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich in 1976, who up until the acceptance of orthodox faith and entrance into the Russian Imperial House called himself Prince Franz Wilhelm of the German Imperial and Prussian Royal Family of Hohenzollern. Their marriage resulted in 1983 in the birth of a son, Grand duke Georgii Mikhailovich.

In 1989 Prince Vasill Alexandrovich the last representative of the Romanov Family born into a marriage of equal rank, passed away. All remaining now living representatives of the Romanov family, males born into so called Morganatic marriages, have lost the right of succession to the throne. Due to this, after the death of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, his daughter Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna became head of the Russian Imperial Family, and as heir to the Tsarevich, The Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich . So at the moment in some points the situation of 250 years ago has been repeated , when the daughters of first Tsar Ivan and then Tsar Paul, kept the throne.

It could be assumed that in future our dynasty be called more specifically Romanovi-Holstein-Gottorp-Hohenzollern. There is nothing surprising about this as the Hohenzollerns, one of the oldest Royal families in europe has on several occassions been related to the Romanovs. The sister of the German Emperor was the wife of the Emperor Nikolai I, and the head of the Imperial Family was married to Kira Kirillovna, sister of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich.

Alternative views to the succession to the throne in Russia.

There are a few opposing attitudes as to the interpretation of the modern day situation of the succession in our country. These attitudes can be more or less split up into two basic groups: the adherents of the Sobor, who acclaim the election of a new monarch in a certain Zemskii Sobor (assembly) of the people and Estate of Russia and the alternative orthodox legitimists, who to some extent favour the law of succession.

Particulars about the Sobor approach

Supporters of this approach radically refuse the possibility of using the old law to ascertain the new legitimate monarch for our country. They insist that the law is completely and hopelessly old and doesn't live up to the national and state interests of Russia. In what is a supreme problem for Russia, in their opinion, just as during the Times of Trouble in 1613, the most legitimate pretender is really a monarch elected by the people with the help of the above mentioned Zemskii Sobor. Here adherents of the Zemskii Sobor can be split up into two groups: the first group doesn’t theoretically deny that the election of a new monarch could fall to the present head of the Russian Royal family Grand duchess Maria Vladimirovna or to the other representative of the Romanoff family, The second group is anti-Romanoff , considering that our past dynasty has somehow or other lost its russification abroad, and that the new monarch can be descended from unequal birth and that it is important that he be Russian, orthodox and well acquainted with the daily Russian problems.

Alternative legitimists and their interpretation of the laws of succession.

Alternative legitimists consider that we can’t make do without the law of succession but it is needed in the completion in a row of directions.

According to them, first and foremost the articles 36 and 188 ( the use of marriages of equal rank) are old and do not live up to the interests of the monarchy inasmuch as due to them a large number of dynasts of the Romanoff family in the male lines, the throne should pass on to the female lines, in other words strictly speaking to other dynasties. A refusal of these articles is practically a refusal of the completion of the law of the epoch of Aleksander I and a return to the wording of Paul I. The Romanoff descendants, Nikolaevichi and Mikhailovichi, are supporters of this position as are the anti german-opponents of the Hohenzollerns as potential monarchs. The sharply broadening circle of pretenders to the throne are men, they almost exclude any women from this circle. Returning to the basic laws and the above mentioned order of succession to the throne, it could be assumed that in this case according to the legitimists that by the extinction of the male descendants of the Emperor Aleksander III and Vladimirovichi, the throne should be passed on as follows: To the grandson of Grand Duke Paul Aleksandrovich, to Prince Paul Dmitrievich, the Romanoff-Ilinskii(having two sons) to the grandchildren of Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich-Nikolai and Dmitrii Romanovich ( who have no sons) and finally to the large order of grandsons of Grand Duke Aleksander Mikhailovich, amongst whom we especially notice Rotislav Rotislavovich. This list does not include the Konstantinovichi as they have no males left.

The next group are the legitimates who can really be called legitimates of an orthodoxal broad interpretation. They acknowledge the old law of succession with all the perfections, and they acknowledge the law of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich as keeper of the Russian throne, in particular the equal birth of the Bagration and Muchranskii princes by the Romanoff. However they interpret the last act broadly as the equal birth Bagration Muchranskii , as former ruling princes, then the Rurikovichi and Hediminovichi are considered of equal-birth, the only difference from the Georgian family being these Russian families lost their crown lands not between the 18th and 19th centuries but 100 years earlier. In such a case the above mentioned Rostislav Rostislavovich, born by the prince of Imperial blood Rostislav Aleksandrovich from the marriage with Princess Aleksandra Pavlovna Holitsyna, can also be considered a legitimate pretender to the Russian throne.

The orthodox legitimates

And finally, the third group of legitimates form the legitimates in the orthodox sense, who only acknowledge the old law of succession. They insist that all present day members of the Romanoff family are born from morganatic marriages and consequently according to articles 36 and 188 can not pretend to the throne and that according to article 27 in the fundamental laws the throne of the Romanoffs must pass to the female lines according to the right of succession, in other words the closest to the last ruling monarch. Concerning this not everyone realizes, even the orthodox legitimates not realize, that this position leads to such heureistic conclusions It is thoroughly studied in the article by V.U. Rikman and S.A.Sapozhnikov, on the grounds of which the present publication has been prepared. If drafted briefly, in the face of several assumptions, the succession to the throne would pass to the Karageorgevich dynasty- to the descendant of Prince Aleksander Yugoslavskii; to the Duke of Kent, a member of the British royal Family of Windsor, or to Prince Lainingenskii; or to the descendant of the Prince of the German and Prussian Louis-Ferdinand.

Conclusion

Having counted up probably all possible interpretations of the succession laws in Russia we would like to return to the classic interpretation of the problems of succession and the key role played in it by the Romanoffs and Vladimirovichi just as in 1918 as now.

There are peiods in the history of many countries when the Monarchy either voluntarily or involuntarily separates from its thrones. However we know very well indeed that there are even periods of restoration of monarchies. We remember England, France, Spain, Cambodia. Such a restoration cannot be excluded from Russia, but such is only possible if firstly we prepare the nation to confide their faith to the lord and secondly by preparing the Monarch to take his responsibility for his subjects. And as soon as a process of restoration, like ours is drawn out for nearly a century, then a major role is played by the Institute of Keepers of the throne.

The keeper of the throne is of course equivalent to the actual monarch, at least for members of the dynasty of Monarchial thinking people. The Keeper of the throne follows the laws of his predecessors who bore the crown, he interprets them and if necessary practices them. The ruling will of the Keepers of the throne is identical to the ruling will of the acting monarchs and the fact that for decades from 1917 on the Russian Monarchic horizon the only noticeable were the Vladimirovichi, tells us that consequently either obviously or silently their legitimacy was acknowledged by all of Monarchic Europe. Maybe soon we will stop talking about Emperor Nikolai II having been the last Russian Monarch. Our present head of the Russian Imperial Family Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is always ready to serve her subjects and country. Her motto, announced at one of the press conferences is “With Faith – For the Fatherland”.

And even though there are different opinions as to the problems of the resurrection of the Monarchy in Russia, we would like to caution the monarchists about resistance to this question. As in any case our Patriarch will bless the reign of the monarch .