Letter: A Romanoff perspective on Russian pretenders

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his article 'Regal pageantry returns to Russia' (11 October), Andrew Higgins makes reference to the attitudes of 'Russia's feuding monarchists'. As the eldest member of the Romanoff family, and head of the Imperial Family of Russia, I aver that I do not know who the 'self- styled Nicholas III' may be. Whoever he is, he certainly does not belong to our family which, without exception, is extremely gratified that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will visit our country. Russia needs international recognition and this momentous event is of historical significance.

Another monarchist group is also mentioned: the supporters of 'another contender, 13-year-old Grand Duke Georgy Mikhailovich'. The youth may be a contender, one among many others, but it must be remembered that, being the son of a Hohenzollern father and a Romanoff mother, he is really a Hohenzollern prince Georg, and not a Romanoff, whatever his identity papers may show.

The male members of the Romanoff family are neither contenders nor pretenders to the throne of Russia. I have often explained that I personally have no claims, and while I am not a pretender, I am proud to be the present head of the Romanoff family. I and my relatives are in complete agreement that the question of the return of monarchy in Russia is, to say the least, premature, in a country facing problems of extreme complexity.

To lead Russia in times of uneasy transition from a state economy to a free-market society, a democratically elected head of state is needed and must be as strong as possible and with most ample powers. Russia at present does not need a figurehead ruler.

Should ever the Russian people decide to examine the possibility of a monarchy in Russia, the Romanoffs will have to be heard, and may not necessarily be in favour of a return to the past.

Yours faithfully,

NICHOLAS ROMANOFF

Rougemont, Switzerland

11 October

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