Topic: Benckendorff, Count Paul
Count Paul Benckendorff at the Costume Ball in the Winter Palace, 1903
Count Paul Benckendorff was born at Berlin on 29 March, 1853. He was the son of Adjutant-General Count Constantine Constantinovich Benckendorff, minister to the Court of Würtemberg at the time of his death, and of Prince Louise of Croy. He was educated in Paris, where Countess Benckendorff, his mother, had settled after the death of her husband.
He served as a cadet in the Corps des Pages at St. Petersburg, and subsequently joined the cavalry regiment of the Gardes-à-Cheval. He took part, at his own request, in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877, and was sent to the Asiatic Front. After the fall of Kars he was entrusted with the duty of bearing the official news of this victory to the Emperor Alexander II. The Emperor made him an A.D.C., and attached him to the personal staff of his brother, the Grand Duke Mikhail Nicholayevich, who had a command in the Caucasus, for the duration of the war.
At the end of the war, he was attached to the Emperor's household, and he served the three sovereigns who succeeded one another on the throne during the last forty years of the Romanov dynasty. In return for his services he was promoted to be General A.D.C. and Grand Marshal of the Court.
He was devoted to the Emperor Nicholas II, and considered one of his closest associates. He served as a Senator on the State Council from 1912 and was a member of the Yacht Club.
It was in this capacity that he took part in the terrible events of March 1917, and had at least the consolation of mitigating the lot of his masters by his devotion. He and his wife (born Princess Maria Sergeyevna Dolgorukova, 1847-1923) shared the captivity at Tsarskoye Selo with Emperor Nicholas II and his family. When the Emperor left for Siberia, he was ordered to remain behind so as to look after the affairs of his sovereign.
In 1921, after three years of suffering, and heightened by the despair which the lot of their masters and the ruin of their country brought them, that Count Paul Benckendorff and his wife obtained permission to leave Russia.
But in undertaking this journey Count Benckendorff relied too greatly on his exhausted constitution. He died in a dilapidated hospital in Narva, Estonia on the 28th of January 1921.
His reminsciences of the last days of the monarchy were published in 1927 under the title, Last Days at Tsarskoe Selo.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 February, 2012