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History

A new debate opens up about Russia’s imperial family



The debate about whether the Romanov dynasty could return to Russia has taken another turn with a lawmaker asking the two people who claim to be the family’s head in 2015 to come back to the country.

Vladimir Petrov is a member of the legislative assembly of the Leningrad region, and he has written to Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Prince Dmitri Romanovich asking them to return to Russia as national figureheads. He is proposing that the Romanov family be given a tsarist era palace in St Petersburg to live in should they return.

Vladimir Petrov argued that the imperial dynasty was important in Russia’s cultural heritage, adding “at the present time, a difficult process is underway of restoring Russia’s might and of returning its international influence. I am certain that during such an important historical moment, members of the Romanov imperial house cannot remain aside from the processes that go on in Russia”.

Mr Petrov, who is a member of the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also says that the returning family members “might play an important symbolic role in Russian society. Like in many European countries, Romanovs might become a symbol of preserving traditions and national culture”.

He also said that his legislature is drafting a bill that would propose giving the Romanovs special legal status as Russia’s royal family. A spokesperson for the Romanovs, Alexander Zakatov, said that Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna was willing to consider a move to Russia provided they were granted special status and added she wants the Imperial House to be “part of the country’s historical heritage”.

Maria Vladimirovna is a descendant of Tsar Alexander II who ruled from 1855 until 1881. Prince Dmitri Romanovich is descended from Alexander’s predecessor as Tsar, Nicholas I, whose reign spanned thirty years from 1825 until 1855. Both Tsars were both part of a dynasty that ruled a huge empire and which produced some of the most famous rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Romanovs ruled Russia for four centuries with the first of the line, Michael I, taking the throne in 1613. Its power expanded under one of its most famous members, Peter the Great, and through the 18th century it was headed by rulers including Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great. The dynasty’s hold on power ended in 1917 during the Russian Revolution when the last Tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated and was later executed along with his wife and children. Their remains were later re-interred in the Fort of St Peter and St Paul in St Petersburg.

The end of the Romanov dynasty is among the most well-told parts of early 20th century history. And now a new chapter in the imperial house’s history could be written as the 21st century unfolds.

Featured photo credit: By No consta [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons