Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD
HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna addressing Metropolitan Hilarion at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York City.
Photo Credit: Vasili Sushko/VOR
A bit of Russian royalty is in New York this week. The Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who also happens to be the great-great granddaughter of Russian Tsar Alexander II, is spending the week in New York as part of an international tour commemorating the 400-year anniversary of Romanov family.
Voice of Russia correspondent Vasili Sushko had a chance to speak with HIH on Tuesday during a church ceremony in New York.
Before communism came to be in the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire was ruled by the Romanov dynasty, which included the likes of Catherine the Great, Alexander II, Nicholas II and many more. What may come as a surprise to some is that even today, a time when Russia is democratically ruled with a democratically elected president and parliament, there still remains an Imperial Family. The head of that family is the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who is the great-great granddaughter of Alexander II, the former emperor of Russia. HIH is currently touring the world as part of a commemoration of the 400-year anniversary since her family took power, and the end of an era referred to as the time of troubles. HIH attended a church service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York City, after which she spoke to Voice of Russia about her visit, the first official visit to New York City in over four decades.
“We are commemorating the 400th anniversary of the end of the time of troubles, which I think is a common anniversary for any Russian person because we commemorate those that made it possible to remain Russian and keep to our traditions and that’s what I think is so important in this anniversary in this time in age, that we do remember to keep all united and keep our traditions” – Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
Despite being the head of the Russian Imperial Family, the Grand Duchess has no real power, yet her role throughout Russia and the rest of the world is still one of great importance. In the Grand Duchess’ own words, her role is similar to that of a mother figure, with the simple goal of uniting the people of Russia.
“My family and myself, what we’d like is to be like a mother or father figure that united everybody and sort of keeps one’s traditions, passes them on, and trying to show that we can all live together if we respect each other and we give out love and forgiveness for many things.” – Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
The rule of the Romanov family came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the 20th century, a time when Bolsheviks such as Vladimir Lenin rose to power. Many of the remaining Romanov family members were killed or left to live in exile. During the Soviet era, what used to be basic human rights such as freedom of religion seized to exist. For churchgoers like Lidia Pripalova, who came from Belarus to the United States in 2005, it is difficult to forget those difficult times.
“There was no church in our village, no priests. The only church was six kilometers from my native village. My mom, when I was in middle school or high school, was not allowed to take the children to the church because at school this could create some problems.” - Lidia Pripalova
Those times, Pripalova said she hopes to forget. Standing in the same church decades later alongside the Grand Duchess, is a new memory that will perhaps make forgetting the old memories of the Soviet Union somewhat easier.
“This is a memory we need and we need big events like today’s event. We need these people to be present and to say something like they did today. So people could see it in reality, not only in photos, not only to read it in books, but to see it in reality.” - Lidia Pripalova
The Grand Duchess arrived in New York on Monday and will partake in numerous events throughout the rest of the week. Rev. Serafim Gan of Sea Cliff, N.Y. explained most of what her visit will entail.
“She’ll be visiting churches, monasteries in the local area. Some nursing homes and hospitals to visit the sick and see how the sick Russian immigrants are being taken care of here in the United States. Also, she’ll be visiting with representatives of various patriotic organizations.” – Rev. Serafim Gan
The Grand Duchess is set to depart New York City on Saturday.
© Voice of Russia. Edited by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 December, 2013