The First Russian Royal Marriage in 100 Years: What Could It Mean?
Pictured Above: Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Earlier this month on October 1st, 2021, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov married his fiancée, Rebecca Virginia Battarini at the St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg (Reuters). Like any royal wedding, the affair was one of extravagance and fanfare. Over 1,500 guests attended the ceremony, including royals from Belgium, Bulgaria, and Spain (Moscow Times). What was different, though, was that this was the first Russian royal wedding to take place on Russian soil in over 100 years, not since before the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The Romanov family was the Russian royal family that reined from 1613 to 1917 (History). In the March of 1917, amidst the social upheaval of the Russian Revolution, he was forced to abdicate the throne and was placed under house arrest in Siberia. They were then relocated to Yekaterinburg, then executed by Bolshevik forces in the following months. Mikhailovich's great-grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, was able to flee Russia amidst the hostilities in 1917. He stayed in Finland then moved to Western Europe (CBS News). George was born in Spain and spent much of his life in Spain and France. His first visit to Russia was in 1992, a year after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2019, George officially moved to Moscow.
One thing that does stand is what this new wedding means when it comes to Russia and its relationship with its former royal family. While the Russian government did in a way consent to a bit of royal presence by allowing the wedding to take place, a spokesperson of President Vladimir Putin said that Putin was not planning to congratulate the newlyweds (New York Times). The spokesmen went on to say, “The wedding has nothing to do with our agenda.” At the time of this writing, George has not made any bids towards reviving the monarchy or leveraging any sort of political presence. He currently works on charity projects with his wife in central Moscow. He founded the Russian Imperial Foundation in 2013, which funds initiatives such as medical research and emergency funding (Russian Imperial Foundation). George did note that he hoped that the wedding would show “the nice side of Russia, the beauty, the culture, and the history” (Moscow Times).
The first Russian royal wedding in over 100 years is an interesting historical event. While there does not seem to be any plan to return to a monarchy, this event does serve to show some kind of approval of a return to a royal presence. Many royal families today do not necessarily have a role in politics, but they serve as cultural touchstones for their respective countries. For instance, while the British royal family no longer plays a political or executive role, they still play a large role in the cultural identity. It’s possible that for some that this marriage too serves to reconnect with a part of Russian identity that was lost over 100 years ago. Only time will tell when it comes to how Russia will go from here now that it has rekindled its royal presence, even if just for a wedding so far.
Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.