September 22

HH Prince Michael Andreevich Romanoff


HH Prince Michael Andreevich Romanoff of Russia, who lived in Sydney, passed away on Sunday, 21 September, 2008.

Prince Michael served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, including a period in Australia with the Fleet Air Arm.

On the conclusion of the war he settled permanently in Australia and became an aviation engineer. A member of the Russian Imperial Family, and Vice President of the Romanoff Family Association, Prince Michael was born on the 15th of July, 1920 in Versailles.

The second child and eldest son of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia and Donna Elisabetha Ruffo, he was the  grandson of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and a great nephew of Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia.

Prince Michael lived with his parents and his grandmother Grand Duchess Xenia in exile at Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle and later at Wilderness House. 

….Russia finally reconciled……

He was the Royal protector and Sovereign Grand Prior of the Orthodox Order of Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, formerly under the protection of his father Prince Andrei and uncle Prince Vasili.

Earlier this year, Prince Michael presided at the Investiture of new Knights and Dames into the Order. The picture above was taken at the dinner following the Investiture.

On 28 September 2006, in scenes recalling the splendour of Imperial Russia, Prince Michael was an honoured guest at the interment of the Danish born mother of the last Tsar of Russia, Her Imperial Majesty, The Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna, in the sombre Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul in the  great imperial city of Peter the Great, St. Petersburg.

This was in many ways a final reconciliation of Russia to the terrible wrongs visited upon the Romanoff Family and the Russian people for the evils of Boshevism. Their promise of paradise on earth had, as Fyodor Dostoevsky long ago predicted, resulted in a time of madness.

And it was a madness portrayed not as the monstrosity it was, but as something beautiful.

The Prince would have been deeply moved  when , just as they did when  she had first come to Russia as a young Princess,  cannon from the Fortress boomed out in a solemn imperial salute in honour of the Empress as she made her final journey home to her beloved Russia.

[The Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna]

…tributes pour in…..

 Prince Michael was a dignified and reserved man, with a strong sense of duty, as evidenced by his enlistment in the Royal Navy.

Tributes are pouring in from those who are mourning a great man.

He will be greatly missed.

Rex Morgan, the Bailiff Prior of the Australian Bailiwick of the Orthodox Order of Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, observed:

“Having known Prince Michael for a number of years, I came to admire him both for his modesty and his dedication to the charitable affairs of our Order.

“He presided over all of the investitures of members in Australia by virtue of his Imperial connection, being great nephew of the Tsar, Nicholas II.

“In later years he could be persuaded, albeit reluctantly, to talk about his time growing up under the care of His majesty, King George V, who had granted asylum to Prince Michael’s grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia.

“He always referred, nonetheless with great respect, to The King as 'Uncle Georgie'.

“All members of the Order join in expressing their condolences to the Romanov Family, who are now scattered throughout the world.” 

Mr Bryan Stertern-Gill, the Deputy Bailiff Prior of the OOSJ, Chairman of the Australian Monarchist League (Victoria) and ACM supporter, said: 

"HH Prince Michael will be very, very sadly missed. He was our Royal Protector and Sovereign Grand Prior, a committed Orthodox Christian and constitutional monarchist. He was a person of great strength, support and love.

" Personally, he was like a mentor to me and a very close and personal family friend. Every time he visited Melbourne he stayed with us and we considered him part of our family. His loss will be greatly felt by all who knew him."  

George Bougias ,OOSJ, International Convenor of ACM and member of the AML  said:

 "HH Prince Michael was one of those rare individuals that reminded us it is possible – and indeed necessary – to live the great ideals in the modern age.

"He was a man of deep faith, tradition and honour but also gracious and joyful. He was always willing to spend time with people and help those in need. His love for both Australia and Russia was immense.

"I consider myself extremely fortunate to have known him and will miss him greatly. OOSJ members and all Monarchists will always remember him, through both our prayers and actions." 

Baron von Rossbach Rossel, from the OOSJ in Sydney, said:

"I deeply regret the passing of His Highness who will be sorely missed. I had a most high regard for him. The last of the Russian Imperial line in Australia, he gave enormously to the Order, to Russia, to the United Kingdom and to Australia. I wish him eternal rest." 

Mr. Frank Gartrell, President of the NSW Branch of The  Royal Commonwealth Society said:

"The Prince often came to RCS functions, and he was a most enthusiastic supporter of the Society and the Commonwealth.  He wore his lineage with great dignity. He was a quiet gentleman" 

The Prince is survived by his widow, Princess Michael, to whom we offer our most sincere sympathy.

The funeral is now scheduled to begin at 10.00 am on Tuesday 30 September at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul , Vernon Street, Strathfield, Sydney, NSW. The Very Revd Archpriest Michael Protopopov  will lead the service.

All supporters of the Russian Imperial House and Australian monarchists are invited to attend. After this the cortege will leave for a Thanksgiving service at St James Church, King Street, Sydney to begin at 1.30pm.  Members of the Order are invited to waer mantles and collarets.

At the conclusion of the service,  the cortege will proceed to Botany Cemetery for the interment in the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park .

Following the burial the mourners are invited to  return to the St James' Church crypt.

Royal link to Russia's Last Tsar

Sydney Morning Herald October 3, 2008


MICHAEL ANDREEVICH ROMANOFF, Prince of Russia, led a quietly noble life. It befitted a man of royal blood, even if he was pensioner in a modest two-bedroom flat in Double Bay, a world away from his Russian ancestry and royal heritage.

Romanoff, who has died at 88, was most probably the nearest living relative to the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, who was overthrown by the Russian revolution of 1917. He was the grandnephew of Tsar Nicholas II, grandson of the Grand Duke Alexander, who was cousin to the Tsar, and the great-grandson of Alexander III and Empress Maria.

Romanoff's parents, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich and Donna Elisabetha Ruffo, fled Russia from the Crimea in 1918 aboard a Royal Navy cruiser along with a dozen or so other Romanoffs. He was born in Versailles but his family took him to England when he was very young and they lived for a time in the grounds of Windsor Castle with his grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia, the tsar's sister. He enjoyed a close relationship with "Uncle George and Aunt Mary" – King George the Fifth and Queen Mary, and was particularly fond of his aunt Victoria, King George's favourite sister.

The family later moved to dwellings in Hampton Court and, during World War II, to Balmoral. But they found that after Uncle George died in 1936 the other British royals lost interest in their Russian cousins. "Oh, we were invited back to Buckingham Palace once in a while, but we were regarded very much as the poorer cousins," Romanoff told the Herald in 1992.

His younger brother was called Andrew, rather than the Russian Andrei. When they met Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at Windsor before the war, the young Elizabeth insisted: "Your name can't be Andrew; all Russians are called Ivan."

Enlisting in the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm during the war, Lieutenant Romanoff first came to Australia as an aircraft mechanic, stationed at Schofields airbase in Sydney's west, where workmates called him Mike. After the war he stayed in Australia and worked at a number of jobs, including as a Qantas mechanic on the flying boats based at Rose Bay. He later opened an interior decorating business, capitalising on a flair for working with wood, metal and fabric and driving a green Kingswood loaded with ladders, paint and tools.

A fit and keen swimmer, he enjoyed Bondi Beach and Nielsen Park, quoting the daily water temperature as a sign of his commitment to this Australian pastime. He had a year-round deep tan, a love of good vodka and a liking for Australian beer, supported by a scepticism towards the medical profession. He fixed a troublesome false tooth using Araldite. He loved music, and his parties often ended with his playing the balalaika long into the night.

Despite a royal lineage dating back 300 years and a deep appreciation of his family history, Romanoff was unassuming and little impressed by claims of royalty and titles. He saw many pretenders try to associate themselves with the Romanoff family.

His marriage to Jill Murphy, who ran a dress shop in Rose Bay, was short-lived. In 1954 he married Shirley Cramond, who had been a ballet dancer. She died in 1983.

In 1993 he married Giulia Crespi in a Russian Orthodox service in Sydney. Romanoff had a strong Orthodox upbringing, and Orthodox Christmas and Easter were celebrated with friends and family.

He first visited Russia, with Giulia, in 1998 for the re-interment of the remains of the imperial family and servants who had been executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Eighty years to the day, Russia invited more than 60 members of the extended Romanoff family from around the world to see their ancestors laid to rest in the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Petersburg.

"We didn't want glitter," Romanoff said. "We wanted something solemn, quiet, a chance for reconciliation."

He maintained a family tradition dating back to the 18th century, when Tsar Paul I was Grand Master of the Order of Malta, to support the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem and represent the order overseas. The order supports the sick and underprivileged, drawing on traditions dating back to the time of the Crusades.

Michael Romanoff is survived by his wife Giulia, stepson Daniel Crespi, his brother Andrew and step-sister Olga.

Kate Dennis and Tony Stephens


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