|A Throne which ‘not for an instant might become vacant’:
Law and Succession among the Romanov Descendants
Russell E. Martin
On July 17, 1998, precisely 80 years to the day after their murders, the bodies of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, three of their five children, and four of their servants were laid to rest in the Chapel of St. Catherine, an annex to the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, the traditional resting place of the Romanovs since 1708.1 The funeral was served by an archpriest of the St. Petersburg Eparchy along with other clergy, and was attended by nearly 50 descendants of the House of Romanov, as well as by dignitaries from no fewer than 27 countries. The funeral served as a stage for many of these Romanov descendants to give interviews, tour former Imperial palaces, attend cultural events, and to spend what was for most their first nights in Russia. The funeral was a kind of family reunion.2
But not every descendant of the Romanovs attended the funeral. Precisely on the same day and at the same hour, some 400 miles away at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Monastery near Moscow, a very different service—a requiem, or panikhida—was officiated by the Patriarch of Moscow, Alexis II, and attended by three Romanovs: Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich—three generations of the senior line of descent of the Romanov dynasty, the line that descends from the younger brother of Alexander III (r. 1881–1894), Vladimir Alexandrovich, and, in turn, his son, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, who, as the senior surviving Romanov, assumed in 1924 the mantle of Head of the Russian Imperial House and the title Emperor-in-Exile.3
Ostensibly, the two services—and the two corresponding groups of Romanov descendants attending them—reflected a dispute then raging over the identification of the remains being buried in St. Petersburg. The larger assembly of Romanov descendants in St. Petersburg backed the view supported by nearly every scholar who had examined the physical remains, had performed DNA testing of samples drawn from those remains, or who had trudged through the archives containing a substantial number of documents relating to the execution and hasty burial of the Imperial family back in July 1918.4 For this batch of Romanov relatives and to these scientists, there were no reasonable doubts that these were the remains of the last tsar and his family. But Grand Duchess Leonida, Grand Duchess Maria, and Grand Duke Georgii decided to follow the Russian Orthodox Church’s lead on the question of the identity of these remains, joining Patriarch Alexis II in a collective shrugging of the shoulders. As a result, the patriarch and the legitimist claimant to the vacant Russian throne—Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna—did not travel to St. Petersburg for the funeral. Instead, she and her mother and son attended the requiem service, and in so doing, broadcast through the medium of the Church’s liturgical rituals their public doubts about the sureness of the forensic investigations of these remains. For a time, President Boris Yeltsyn also planned to stay away from the funeral in St. Petersburg, but at the last moment he changed his mind and attended it—offering a propitiating speech and bowing low before the coffins and grave of the last tsar and his family.
But the division among the Romanov descendants between Moscow and St. Petersburg was not principally over the identity of bones. Rather, the division on July 17, 1998, reflected longer-running and deeper rifts among them that are at heart rooted in the Law of Succession (Akt, Vysochaishe utverzhdennyi v den’ sviashchennoi Koronatsii Ego Imperatorskogo Velichestva, i polozhennyi dlia khraneniia na prestole Uspenskogo Sobora) and the Statute on the Imperial Family (Uchrezhdenie ob Imperatorskoi Familii), dynastic laws that had been issued by Emperor Paul I (r. 1797–1801), the common ancestor of both set of Romanov descendants, those in St. Petersburg and those in Moscow. These Imperial laws—the first signed by Paul I and his wife, Mariia Feodorovna, on January 4, 1788, when Paul I was still the heir to his mother, Catherine II the Great (r. 1762–1797); and the second on the day of his coronation, April 5, 17975—regulated the Imperial succession to the throne and the familial structure of the Romanov family that Paul I believed (rightly, it turned out) was going to issue from him and his consort. These laws distributed titles, financial annuities, and Orders of Chivalry to members of the dynasty in accordance with one’s genealogical place in the family, as well as specifying the age of majority, provisions for regencies, and other basic requirements of a modern monarchical regime.6 Their principal purpose, however, was to regulate the succession. Since the time of Peter the Great’s law of succession of 1722, the emperor or empress had the right to nominate their successors,7 but Paul I’s intent was to end the capriciousness in the succession that Peter I’s law introduced, and to install a stable and predictable system rooted in the legal concepts of his own time.8 It was the law itself, not the reigning emperor or empress, which was to determine who the next ruler would be. Paul I and Mariia Feodorovna spelled out very clearly what their purpose was in writing their 1788 decree on the succession: it was to assure
that the State should never be without an Heir; that the heir should be determined by the law itself; that there should never be the least doubt as to who is to succeed; that the rights of the branches to the succession should be maintained without violation of natural right and that difficulties [zatrudneniia] which might occur in the passing of the succession from one branch to another should be avoided.9
The Law of Succession and the Statute on the Imperial Family were Russia’s earliest “fundamental laws,” a toehold of legality and the rule of law in an otherwise autocratic system of government.10 These legal provisions aimed to secure the succession and to regulate the Romanov family, and therefore amounted to an effective limitation on the emperor’s powers—the first such limitation to be ensconced in a law. As Paul I and Mariia Feodorovna themselves put it in the 1788 Akt, the aim was first and foremost to provide a law for Russia that would guarantee that the throne should “not for an instant become vacant.”11
But the throne did become vacant. The Bolshevik Revolution took the lives not only of the last tsar and his family, who were buried in 1998 in the Ss. Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, it wiped out whole branches of the Imperial House. The totals are numbing. Eight of the sixteen grand dukes (velikie kniazia) and three of the twelve princes-of-the-Imperial-blood (kniazia imperatorskoi krovi) who were alive at the time of the Revolution were executed in the two years after the Bolshevik seizure of power.12 Romanov women fared only a little better: five of seventeen grand duchesses (velikie kniagini) perished—the last tsar’s daughters and the empress’s sister—though all of the ten princesses-of-the-blood (kniagini imperatorskoi krovi) survived the Revolution.13
Even so, the dynasty survived. And so too did the dynastic laws by which they lived. The Statute on the Imperial Family—which was originally issued by Paul I in 1797, was included in the Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire (Svod zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii), then as the opening sections of the Fundamental Laws of 190514—was transformed by the new circumstances of exile and revolution. While it ceased to be a component of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire (which no longer existed), the Statute on the Imperial Family continued to regulate the structure of the Romanov dynasty as a family; and even those Romanov descendants who questioned or rejected the Statute’s claims on their private lives in exile nonetheless debated the issues defining and dividing the family precisely in the language of the Statute. The Statute became a space for dialogue and interaction among Romanov descendants, as well as a battleground over questions of the Headship of the dynasty, marriage, and the right to use titles and even the surname “Romanov.” It was both the weapon and the shield in the disputes that would arise among émigré Romanovs in the course of the twentieth (and, now, twenty-first) century. At key moments after 1917 when the “succession” to the position of “Head of the Russian Imperial House” moved from one generation to the next—from Kirill Vladimirovich in 1924, to Vladimir Kirillovich in 1938, and to Mariia Vladimirovna in 1992—it was the Statute that was referenced either to justify or challenge the succession. The divisions in the Romanov House showed themselves from the beginning of their exile, but they intensified after 1969 and continue to this day. And so it was interpretations of the Statute on the Imperial Family—not doubts about DNA—that lay behind the division in the family that evinced itself in 1998 at the funeral of the last tsar.
1924: Kirill Vladimirovich
It took four years after the murders of everyone before him in the line of succession (Nicholas II, Tsesarevich Aleksei, and Grand Duke Mikhail) for Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich to assume the title of Curator (Bliustitel’) of the Russian throne (on August 8, 1922), and another two years still before he assumed the title of Emperor (on August 31, 1924).15 The delay was attributed by Kirill in his Manifesto of ascension (1924) to uncertainties about the fate of his more senior relatives. “Our hope,” he writes,
that the precious life of Emperor Nicholas Aleksandrovich, or that of the Heir and Tsesarevich Aleksei Nikolaevich, or of Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich, has been preserved has not been realized. The time has now come to bring it to the knowledge of all that on July 17/4, 1918, in the city of Ekaterinburg, by order of the international cabal which has seized power in Russia, there took place an inhuman assassination of the Emperor Nicholas Aleksandrovich, Empress Aleksandra Feodorovna, their son and heir, Tsesarevich Aleksei Nikolaevich, and their daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. In the same year, near the city of Perm, the brother of the Emperor, Grand Duke Mikhail Aleksandrovich, was murdered.16
In this way, Kirill accounts for all those Romanovs who stood before him in the line of succession, laying open the path that leads to him as, quoting again, the “senior member of the Imperial Family and the only legal heir to the Imperial Throne of Russia.”17 Many authorities plausibly have asserted that the reason Kirill delayed was because the Dowager Empress Mariia Feodorovna, Nicholas II’s mother, stubbornly refused to accept the fact of these murders in Ekaterinburg and Perm because Kirill feared the backlash among the Russian émigré community that would surely result from her refusal to recognize him as emperor de jure, a refusal she signaled that she was ready to announce broadly and publicly at the moment Kirill should make such a claim.
While the dowager empress’s resistance to Kirill’s claim was surely a factor, it is likely that there were other considerations on his mind as well, including the activities and claims by members of the Russian émigré community, including his own relatives. Kirill’s distant cousin, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, who had been Supreme Commander of the Russian army in the west during the early months of the First World War, was offered the title of emperor by Whites fighting in the Far East and had refused it, but neither did he ever firmly dissuaded his supporters from their dreams of seeing him as emperor.18 Nikolai was not a supporter of Kirill’s, though his opposition to him was personal not legal. In fact, Nikolai Nikolaevich displayed little regard for the laws of succession, being one of a number of émigrés—collectively called “The Undecided” (Nepredreshentsy)—who abandoned the Imperial Laws of Succession as the means for determining the succession and called instead for an Assembly of the Land (Zemskii Sobor), as there had been in 1613 when the Romanovs were elected to the throne after the Time of Troubles. Kirill was rather stuck between a rock and a hard place: between the real possibility of insulting the matriarch of the dynasty, Dowager Empress Mariia Feodorovna, and allowing the question of the succession to slip away from the control of the Statute on the Imperial Family.
It was likely with these fears in mind that Kirill carefully chose the wording of his 1924 Manifesto, rooting his actions very firmly in the law. “The Russian Laws of Succession to the Throne,” he affirmed, “do not permit the Imperial Throne to remain vacant after the death of the previous emperor and after the deaths of his closest heirs has been established. Also, in accordance with our law, the new emperor becomes emperor by virtue of the Law of Succession itself.”19 This last line—that the “new emperor becomes emperor by virtue of the Law”—was a paraphrase of a line in Paul I’s and Mariia Feodorovna’s 1788 decree, that the “heir should be determined by the law itself,” a line that was repeated in every iteration of the Statute on the Imperial Family, including the version that found its way into the 1905 Fundamental Laws: “On the death of an emperor, his heir accedes to the Throne by virtue of the law of succession itself, which confers this right upon him. The accession of an emperor to the Throne is counted from the day of the death of his predecessor.”20 Thus the battle lines were formed early between those Romanovs and émigrés who referred to the Imperial Fundamental Laws and those who saw the Revolution as license to begin anew—to look for a champion of the monarchist cause among other members of the Romanov House regardless of their place in the line of succession, or perhaps even to allow for another family to be “elected” to the vacant throne by a Zemskii Sobor.
Kirill took some risk in basing his claims on the Law of Succession. He had flagrantly violated them himself back in 1905 when he married Princess Victoria Melita, the divorced wife of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s brother, Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt. The Statute on the Imperial Family requires that all marriages of members of the House of Romanov to be approved by the emperor, but Kirill’s marriage never received the emperor’s sanction because of the empress’s dislike for her former sister-in-law, who had scandalously abandoned her marriage to her brother.21 As a result of his unapproved marriage, Kirill was exiled and deprived of the ranks and privileges afforded to him as a member of the dynasty. His marriage was unrecognized until July 15, 1909, when Nicholas II finally relented to pressure from his relatives to recognize, post factum, the marriage, as well as the births of Kirill’s two daughters during the time of his censure (Mariia, born in 1907, and Kira, born in 1909). Nicholas II’s edict on the matter declares that “[t]he consort of His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich is to have the title Grand Duchess Viktoriia Feodorovna, with the style Imperial Highness, and the daughter born of the marriage of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duchess Viktoriia Feodorovna, named Mariia in Holy Baptism, is to be recognized as a Princess-of-the-Imperial-Blood, with the style of Highness, as belongs to great-grandchildren of an emperor.”22 With the censure lifted, these daughters were entered into the Genealogical Book of the Imperial Family (Rodoslovnaia kniga Imperatorskoi familii), which was proof positive of membership in the Imperial House.23
Challenges to Kirill’s claims were also based on his behavior during the Revolution, a topic that is still debated among historians today. The accusation is stated plainly by Richard Pipes: “On March 1, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, the commandant of the Palace Guard at Tsarskoe Selo and a cousin of Nicholas, announced that he and his men acknowledged the authority of the Provision Government.”24 Some other sources claim Kirill wore a red arm band or cockade as he marched his marines to the Tauride Palace, and still others allege he raised a red flag over his residence.25 All these allegations, whether true or not, have behind them certain provisions in the Fundamental Laws—specifically Articles 220–223—which require each member of the House to have “complete respect, obedience and allegiance” to the emperor (Art. 220) and to “bring his behavior into complete accord with the Monarch’s will” (Art 223). Kirill would later deny any of this happened, but his best defense lay not in these denials but in the law itself, which did not require the nullification of succession rights of the heirs of a traitor. As far as the Fundamental Laws were concerned, the sins of the father are his own and are not visited on his sons.
Complex as his motives may have been for doing it, Kirill’s assumption of the Imperial title in 1924 was recognized by most members of the Imperial Family. Kirill enjoyed the support of his younger brothers, Grand Duke Boris and Grand Duke Andrei, and of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, the grandson of Emperor Nicholas I (r. 1825-1855), who was married to Nicholas II’s sister, Kseniia. Kirill also enjoyed the support of Grand Duke Dmitrii Pavlovich, a grandson of Emperor Alexander II (r. 1855-1881). Two other grand dukes—the brothers Peter Nikolaevich and Nikolai Nikolaevich, grandsons of Nicholas I—were openly hostile to Kirill’s dynastic claims, and a third grand duke—Mikhail Mikhailovich, another grandson of Nicholas I—had lived in exile since his morganatic marriage in 1891 and expressed no known opinions on Kirill’s claims. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich had written in a letter in November 1923, which was published in the New York Herald, that if, in fact, the senior members of the dynasty were all dead, then “the question of the succession (in the event of a restoration of the monarchy) raises among us not even the slightest disagreement, since the Fundamental Laws of Russia clearly indicate that the right to the Throne always belongs to the senior member of our family, who at present is Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich.”26 Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich later spoke for himself and his sons when he wrote to Kirill shortly after his assumption of the Imperial title in 1924: “We pray to God that He gives you the strength to accomplish the heavy burden that you have taken up in submitting yourself to the Fundamental Laws. We submit ourselves to you and are ready to serve our beloved country as our fathers served it.”27
The staunchest opposition to Kirill’s 1924 Manifesto, however, came not unexpectedly from the Dowager Empress and Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich. On September 21, 1924, Empress Mariia Feodorovna wrote Kirill a scathing rebuke: “If it turns out to be the case that the Lord God, in his inscrutable ways, has called unto Himself my beloved sons and grandson, then looking forward, and with the firm hope in God’s mercy, the [next] Sovereign Emperor will be specified by the Fundamental Laws, in union with the Orthodox Church and together with the Russian people…The oldest members of the House of Romanov, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, is in full agreement with me.”28 In other words, the Dowager Empress (and Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich) insisted that the Fundamental Laws were not the sole determining factor in the question of the succession. This was a version of the argument being made by the “The Undecided” (Nepredreshentsy). The Church and the people too had to have a say. To this and other statements made public by both the Dowager Empress and Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, Kirill claimed that all he was doing was exercising the provisions of the law which itself demanded that the throne not be vacant, whatever the future structure of the Russian government might be. He wrote:
It was with a feeling of the most profound sadness of heart that I read the letter of 21 September/4 October of this year of Her Imperial Majesty, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, to Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, which the latter has made public, and in which Her Majesty states that she finds our adoption of the title of Emperor of All the Russias that was proclaimed in My Manifesto of 31 August, to be premature.
Still more deplorable are the remarks added to this letter in the name of Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, who permitted himself in these remarks even to condemn My decision.
However, the requirements of duty and of the law are higher than the personal opinions of family members, which, in this instance, represent the views of the two oldest members of the Imperial House.
It is not given to me to decide whether or not I will accept the burden I have inherited, to represent Russia and to remove from her the snare of the evil-doers, just as no one has the right to condemn my actions, which are required in order to attain the well-being of the Motherland.
As soon as I became convinced of the deaths of the more senior members of our House, I was obliged to step into their place and to raise the flag what was wrenched from their hands: such is the law, and such are the obligations I have accepted from my Imperial ancestors.
The fact that the future form of the government in Russia must be decided only in accordance with the will of the people cannot be something that controls my actions. In fulfilling the law of succession, I am not violating the genuine will of the people. I declared that I am legally the Emperor. When God enables the people one day to make known freely their desire, then they, with the spontaneous energy of a spiritual renewal, may know who their legitimate tsar is, and gather around him for the defense of the Church and of the Fatherland.
I also make known that the Imperial House lives on, strong in its adherence to the statutes promulgated by my ancestors for the operation of the legitimate succession to the Headship of the family.
Nor does the Church spurn the Law of Succession, a ceremonial copy of which was placed on the altar of the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin by the true preservers of Orthodoxy, Russia’s tsars.
God’s truth and our people’s historical will are behind us; and the true sons of Russia are not troubled by nuisances like these letters, which one is bound to encounter along the difficult but holy path we have chosen to take.29
The references to the Fundamental Laws in statements by Kirill and his supporters among his relatives, and even among his detractors, demonstrate how the early debates about the succession and about the structure of the Imperial family were conducted in terms of the provisions of the Law of Succession. Even those Romanovs and other members of the émigré community who were willing to throw out the law or deem it null and void after the Revolution could not simply ignore it. The Law outlived the Imperial system because the Romanovs outlived the empire.
1938: Vladimir Kirillovich
When Grand Duke Kirill assumed the Imperial title in 1924, he identified his heir as his son, Vladimir—a common custom in accession Manifestos during Romanov times.30 It was a source of some controversy, however, that in his 1924 Manifesto, Kirill changed his son’s title: “I declare my son Prince Vladimir Kirillovich to be heir to the Throne, with the title of Grand Duke, Heir, and Tsesarevich.”31 Titles of dynasts were stipulated in the Statute on the Imperial Family. As originally written (in 1797), the senior member of the dynasty after the sovereign (the persons first in line of succession) and all his senior male offspring were granted the titles tsesarevich and grand duke, while all other sons, grandsons, great-grandsons, and great-great-grandsons were granted the title grand duke (velikii kniaz’) and the style “Imperial Highness” (Imperatorskoe Vysochestvo). More distant relatives would have the lesser title of Prince-of-the-Imperial-Blood (kniaz’ imperatorskoi krovi) and the style “Highness” (Vysochestvo). That rather liberal policy on titles was narrowed in 1886, however, so that only sons and grandsons of emperors were to be grand dukes. The title prince and the style Highness were given to great-grandsons and senior great-great-grandsons, and the new style Serene Highness was given to junior great-great-grandsons and more distant kin.32 On the one hand, Vladimir Kirillovich had only the right to be a prince since he was a great-grandson (not a son or grandson) of Alexander II. On the other, Kirill’s assumption of the title emperor catapulted Vladimir to first in line to the succession, which, for those who accepted Kirill’s claims, meant that he was now “grand duke, heir, and Tsesarevich.”
When Kirill died on October 12, 1938, Vladimir became the senior Romanov dynast and assumed the role of Head of the Russian Imperial House (though not the title emperor), as his father had back in 1924. In Vladimir’s accession Manifesto, he refers to his succession as a normal operation of the law:
Following the example of my father and profoundly aware of the sacred duty that has been laid upon me, I accept by right of inheritance all the rights and duties of Head of the Imperial House of Russia, to which I have succeeded and which belong to me by virtue of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire and the Statute on the Imperial Family.33
Vladimir did not identify who, according to those same Fundamental Laws, was his heir (it would have been his uncle, Boris), perhaps for the practical reason that he was in 1938 only 21 years old and still unmarried. Any future children he might have, and he likely expected to have them, would have rights to the succession that would trump those of all other dynasts.
Two weeks after issuing his Manifesto, on October 11/24, 1938, the five next most senior members of Romanov House in line of succession issued their own statement on Vladimir’s ascension to the rights of Head of the Imperial House. The document was signed by Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich (first in line of succession after Vladimir), Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich (second in line of succession), Grand Duke Dmitrii Pavlovich (third in line), Prince Vsevolod Ioannovich (fourth in line), and Prince Gavriil Konstantinovich (fifth in line). The text is worth quoting in full:
We, the members of the Imperial House of Russia, having assembled after the death of the Head of our House, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, consider it our most sacred duty solemnly to declare that the rights of each of the members of the Imperial House of Russia are exactly determined by the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire and the Statute on the Imperial Family, that they are known perfectly to all, and that we must observe them religiously, by virtue of a special oath, which is why the question of the order of succession to the throne has never caused the slightest doubt among us and, still less, a disagreement of any kind. We reject any departure from the order provided by the law, because that would be an offense against the inviolacy of our laws and of our family traditions.
By virtue of the aforementioned laws, we recognize that the succession to the throne belongs by right of primogeniture to the senior member of the Imperial House of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, which he has inherited after the death of his father on September 29/October 12, 1938, with a profound awareness of the sacred duty which has devolved upon him according to the law, as Head of the Imperial House of Russia, bestowing upon him all the rights and duties belonging to him by virtue of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire and the Statute on the Imperial Family.
At this point in the statement, the five signatories laid out the succession after Vladimir (something Vladimir had failed to do in his Manifesto), naming the next thirteen Romanovs in order of succession, following precisely the rules of male primogeniture as laid out in the Fundamental Laws and Statute on the Imperial Family:
The members of the Imperial House of Russia appear as follows by primogeniture in the order of succession: Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, Grand Duke Dmitrii Pavlovich, Prince Vsevolod Ioannovich, Prince Gavriil Konstantinovich, Prince Georgii Konstantinovich, Prince Roman Petrovich, Prince Andrei Aleksandrovich, Prince Feodor Aleksandrovich, Prince Nikita Aleksandrovich, Prince Dmitrii Aleksandrovich, Prince Rostislav Aleksandrovich, and Prince Vasilii Aleksandrovich.34
How these dynasts viewed the succession of Vladimir as automatic and legal is summarized in a letter from Prince Andrei Aleksandrovich (eighth in line of succession) to Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich (second in line of succession), dated November 1, 1938: “I do not see why the family needs to sign a statement [affirming Vladimir’s ascension as Head of the Imperial House] since it is self-evident that after the death of Kirill, his son assumes the senior position of Head of the Imperial House. I personally recognized Kirill, and in the same way now recognize his son.”35
But not all of these thirteen Romanov dynasts supported Vladimir or his father, Kirill. The views of Prince Georgii Konstantinovich (sixth in the line of succession) on Kirill’s 1924 Manifesto are unknown, as are his views about Vladimir’s 1938 Manifesto. He was in the United States at the time that Vladimir issued his Manifesto, gravely ill. He died three weeks later (on November 8, 1938) at the age of 32. Prince Roman Petrovich (seventh in line of succession) shared his father’s (Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich’s) hostility to Kirill and Vladimir; and Prince Vasilii Aleksandrovich (thirteenth in line of succession) would later show he was similarly ill-disposed to Vladimir, though in 1924 he had not yet reached his dynastic majority and so was not asked to sign the letter that his father (Aleksander Mikhailovich) and older brothers (Andrei, Feodor, Nikita, and Rostislav) had sent to Kirill acknowledging his dynastic rights. 36 The views of some of these siblings would change later, particularly after 1969.