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Thursday, 2 May 2013
Dinner with the Romanovs
Topic: Dmitri Romanovich

 

A relative of Russia’s deposed royal family visits Jerusalem and finds kinship in the Jewish search for home and homeland.

A participant at a recent genteel dinner in Jerusalem could not help being reminded of the scene from ”Fiddler on the Roof” in which the rabbi of Anatevka answers a congregant asking if there was a special blessing for the czar of Russia.

Of course, answers the rabbi. “May God bless and keep the czar… far away from us!”

Nearby sat Dimitri Romanovich Romanov — one of those Romanovs — the towering and gracious 87-year-old great-great-grandson of Czar Nicholas I, who died in 1855.

After dinner, Romanov mused about his own history and that of Israel, where he had just arrived for the first time, and about the nature of statelessness.

Dimitri Romanov was born in 1926, 18 years after Bolshevik revolutionaries murdered the last czar of Russia and his family at Ekaterinburg and threw their bodies into an abandoned mine shaft. The surviving Romanov grand duchesses and grand dukes along with the rest of the extended royal family, including Dimitri’s father, Prince Roman Petrovich, fled Russia, never to return.

Romanov and his wife, Dorrit Reventlow, who wore an elegant salmon dress and golden slippers, were early in a 36-hour sojourn in the country, part of a round-the-world journey on a cruise ship called the Seaborne Quest. They were being given a whirlwind tour of which the dinner — at an unmarked and luxurious Jerusalem establishment called Spoons, near Montefiore’s windmill — was part. There was Italian cabbage, Israeli wine, superb artichoke soup, and candlesticks the size of modest missile silos.

Romanov admitted he had not formed much of an impression of the country in the several hours that had elapsed since his arrival. He was surprised at how green it was, he said, and how hilly: “I always thought it would be more flat.”

Jerusalem is not entirely foreign to a Romanov visitor. The attractions before dinner included a visit to the grave of a relative, Elizabeth Feodorovna, the last czar’s sister-in-law and a Russian Orthodox saint, at a church on the Mount of Olives. (Among the city’s other Romanov-era relics is a building downtown known as Sergei’s Courtyard, which was built for Russian pilgrims and named for Grand Duke Sergei, brother of Czar Alexander III.)

Born in France and raised across Europe and, for a time, in Alexandria. Romanov spent his life, however, not as royalty but as a banker. As a young man, he recalled, he never had much interest in the complexities of the Romanov lineage, less a family tree than a chaotic forest of intersecting and competing lines linked in bewildering ways to the other active and defunct royal houses of Europe. “I was totally uninterested to know who the Princess of Baden Baden was,” he said. This disinterest also means the prince does not know what number he is in line for the British throne; his wife says he is “around 2,000th.”

Romanov returned to the country his family ruled for centuries for the first time only after the fall of Communism, when he was in his 60s.

“For me, ‘returning’ to Russia is a misnomer — I can’t return to a country I never visited before,” he said.

He has lived half of his life in Copenhagen, but until 23 years ago he held no citizenship at all. Then a friend suggested that he finally become a Danish citizen — “You’ll feel at home,” she promised. This friend, Margaret, was the queen of Denmark, so he obliged.

“It’s important to be a citizen of something, like a Jew who comes from Yemen or Morocco and comes here and becomes a citizen — it’s important to be a part of society. I felt that in Denmark for the first time in my life,” he said.

In the middle of dinner, talk turned to Jewish history and the prince was reminded of a visit he once made to Warsaw, where he was touched by the story of the Jewish partisans who took part in the uprising in that city’s ghetto during WWII. He proposed a toast to them.

“I thought I must express my feelings about these young people fighting Nazism, dreaming that one day those who lived would come back to Israel,” he said afterward.

Of course, he noted, they had never actually been to Israel. “How can you go back if you’ve never been?” he wondered. “I suppose it’s in your blood.”

© Matti Friedman (Author)

© The Times of Israel. 02 May, 2013



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:38 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 May 2013 8:00 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Prince Dmitri Romanovich Awarded Order of Friendship
Topic: Dmitri Romanovich

For the first time since the Russian Revolution, a member of the Romanov family has been presented with a prestigious award in Russia. The Order of Friendship has been awarded to Prince Dmitri Romanovich, in recognition of his outstanding charitable work in Russia. Prince Dmitri has served as Chairman of the Romanov Fund for Russia since its creation. He is also the Chairman of the Prince Dmitri Romanov Charity Fund, created in 2006.

During a press conference, he talked to reporters about the upcoming celebrations in 2013 marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. He said that he hopes that the reconstruction of Our Lady of St. Theodore Church in St. Petersburg will be completed in time for the celebrations. He, along with more than 200 descandants of the Romanov family from all over the world are expected to be present for the consecration ceremony. He also said that the Romanov Family Association hopes that the remains of the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich, along with his sister, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna, will be buried alongside the rest of their family at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Born in 1926, Prince Dmitri Romanovich has a very prestigious background: he is the second son of Prince Roman Petrovich, grandson of Grand Duke Peter Nikolayevich, great grandson of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, and great-great grandson of Emperor Nicholas I.

© Royal Russia. 28 June, 2011


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:17 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 3 July 2011 12:54 PM EDT
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