Topic: Elena Vladimirovna, GD
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (1882-1957) was the only daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909) and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, nee Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1854-1920).
Elena inherited her mother's beauty, but she also inherited her mother's fiery temper. "Poor little thing, I feel sorry for her," wrote the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, "for she is really quite sweet, but vain and pretty grandiose."
She was initially engaged to Prince Max of Baden, however, the engagement was broken off. It was generally believed that it was Max who broke off the engagement, however, we now know thanks to surviving correspondence of Nicholas II and Maria, Duchess of Coburg, that it was Elena who broke off the engagement.
Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (1872-1938) first proposed to Elena in 1900, but Maria Pavlovna was indignant that her only daughter should marry a younger son with no real fortune or prospects of inheriting a throne. Two years later, Elena's mother agreed to the engagement. Their wedding took place in the palatial church of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo on 16th August 1902, attended by members of the Russian and Greek royal famililes.
Prince Nicholas was known in the family as "Greek Nicky" to distinguish himself from his cousin Tsar Nicholas II.
The daughters of Elena and Nicholas: Olga, Elizabeth and Marina
Grand Duchess Elena and Prince Nicholas had three daughters:
Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark (1903-1997), later Princess Paul of Yugoslavia
Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955), later Countess of Toerring-Jettenbach
Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906-1968), later Princess Maria, Duchess of Kent, and mother to the current Prince Michael of Kent (1942-present).
The family was greatly affected by turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and later by the turmoil in Greece which became a republic. The latter resulted in the family of Prince and Princess Nicholas living in exile in France for a while.
During their years in France, Grand Duchess Elena became deeply involved in charity work for Russian exiles, particularly children. Short of money due to their exile from Greece and the loss of their Russian income, the family lived in reduced, but elegant circumstances. Grand Duchess Elena's fabulous jewel collection, as well as Prince Nicholas' own artwork provided them with an income. It is interesting to note that Nicholas was a talented painter, often signing his works as "Nicholas Leprince."
They returned to Greece where Prince Nicholas died of a heart attack at Athens on 8th February, 1938. Grand Duchess Elena remained in Greece throughout the Second World War, where she died on 13th March, 1957.
In November 2009, a dress belonging to Grand Duchess Elena was sold for £6000, and a photograph album sold for over £8125 at an auction held at Christie's.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 October, 2012