The Romanoffs: Who are the modern descendants of the murdered Russian royal family?

Prince Philip among distant relatives of tragic Tsar Nicholas II and loved ones brutally slain by Bolshevik guards a century ago

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 09 October 2018 20:27
The Romanoffs- trailer

Created, co-written and directed by Matthew Weiner of Mad Men fame, The Romanoffs debuts on Amazon Video's on Friday 12 October.

The anthology series tells the stories of people across the world who claim to be descendents of the Russian royal family who were murdered by their Bolshevik captors 100 years ago.

Each episode will profile a different branch of the family tree and feature a new cast, with Isabelle Huppert, Aaron Eckhart, Diane Lane, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery, Jack Huston and Amanda Peet among those making appearances.

The last tsar, tsarina and their children continue to be figures of fascination, the gory details of their bungled basement execution on the night of 16 July 1918 and the myth that the Princess Anastasia might have escaped the bloodshed at the hands of their guards continuing to intrigue.

The fact that a dozen members of the Romanov family did manage to flee abroad, including Tsar Nicholas II’s mother Maria Feodorovna, his sister Xenia and brother-in-law Alexandr has long fuelled perhaps fanciful speculation that a distant relative could return to claim the throne in the post-Soviet era.

The Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, currently resident in Spain, is the great-great-granddaughter of Alexander II and has claimed to be the empress in pretense with her son, the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, as the true heir apparent.

Artist and author Prince Andrew Romanov, a great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I, was born in London but based in America. He also has a serious competing claim on the Imperial House of Russia.

Britain's own Prince Philip is a grandnephew of the Tsarina Alexandra and another great-great-grandson of Nicholas I. He provided his own DNA for use in identifying the family bones in 1979 after they were discovered in the Koptyaki woods outside of Yekaterinburg by private investigator Alexander Avdonin.

Grand Duchess Anastasia

His heritage means that his son and grandsons are all distantly related, as is Prince Michael of Kent, whose grandmother was a first cousin of Nicholas II.

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Another member of the British aristocracy with ties to the Romanovs is the 27-year-old Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grovesnor, the world's richest man under 30 and a descendant of Mikhail Romanov, Russian tsar between 1613 and 1645.

Socialite Olga Andreevna Romanoff, likewise based in the UK and known for organising the Russian Debutante Ball in London, is the daughter of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich, eldest nephew to Nicholas II. She is president of the Romanov Family Association, founded in 1979 to unite descendants, an organisation spurned by Maria Vladimirovna.

Olga Romanoff's four children - including son Francis-Alexander Mathew, a photographer and sometime reality TV star - therefore likewise have Romanov blood.

King Constantine II of Greece, who fled a military junta and lived in exile between 1967 and 2013, also has a connection through his great-grandmother.

In Italy, actress Nicoletta Romanoff, is the great-great-granddaughter of Nicholas I and has capitalised on her connection by collaborating with Damiani to produce the Romanov Collection jewellery line.

Prince Rostislav Romanov, one of the few remaining descendants to live in Russia despite being born in Illinois, is another member of the dynasty. He currently runs a prestige watch factory and is a grandson of both Grand Duchess Xenia and Peter the Great.

There have also of course been a number of imposters over the years, exploiting the long-unsolved mystery of the whereabouts of the royal remains, most famously Franziska Schanzkowska (AKA Anna Anderson), who claimed to be Anastasia in the 1920s before her lie was exposed by real Romanovs.

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