Topic: Olga Alexandrovna GD
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) and Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg (1868-1924) were married at St. Petersburg on August 9th, 1901.
The couple met the year before when Peter began escorting the 18-year-old daughter of Emperor Alexander III, to the theatre and opera.
Peter asked for Olga's hand in marriage the following year, a proposal that took the grand duchess completely by surprise: "I was so taken aback that all I could say was 'thank you,'"she later told Ian Vorres.
The marriage was announced in May 1901. Her mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna wrote to her son and Olga's brother, Emperor Nicholas II: "I am sure you won't believe what has happened. Olga is engaged to Petya and both are very happy. I had to consent, but it was all done so quickly and unexpectedly that I still cannot believe it."
Nicholas replied to his mother: "I cannot believe that Olga is actually engaged to Petya. They were probably both drunk yesterday.....We both laughed so much reading your letter that we have not recovered yet."
A prenuptial agreement was drawn up by a committee which included the Tsar, the Oldenburg family, and government ministers. It promised Olga an annuity of 100,000 roubles from the Tsar, and 1 million roubles to be deposited into a fund from which she could draw interest.
The wedding was a grand ceremony attended by family, European royalty, government ministers, foreign ambassadors, government officials and courtiers. They spent their honeymoon at the Oldenburg estate of Voronezh.
In the fall of 1901 they travelled to Biarritz, France, where they boarded a yacht loaned to them by King Edward VII of Great Britain and sailed to Italy.
On their return to Russia, they settled into a 200-room palace (the former Baryatinsky mansion) at 46 Sergievskaya Street (today Tchaikovskogo Street), St. Petersburg. The palace was made available to them by Olga's brother, Tsar Nicholas II. The palace has survived to this day and now houses the Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Their marriage remained unconsummated, and Peter was believed by both family and friends to be a homosexual. Olga asked him for a divorce and at first he refused. The couple eventually separated, their marriage was annulled by the Emperor himself on October 16th, 1916.
Olga married a cavalry officer, Nicholas Kulikovsky the following month. After the Russian Revolution, the couple escaped with their two sons and spent their final years in Denmark and later Canada. Kulikovsky died in 1958, Olga died in 1960.
Peter and his mother also fled Russia after the Revolution, and settled in France. He remarried to Olga Vladimirovna Ratkova-Rognova on May 3, 1922. The marriage was also without issue. Peter died at Antibes, France in 1924, he was 55.
Sources: The Last Grand Duchess (Pub. 1960) by Ian Vorres and Olga Romanov: The Last Grand Duchess of Russia (Pub. 1998) by Patricia Phenix.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 October, 2012