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Last Romanov Born in Russian Empire Dead at 95

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgiyevna Romanov, left, attending a charitable event in Moscow on April 3, 1997. Igor Tabakov

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgiyevna Romanov, the last member of the Russian royal family born before the 1917 Revolution, died late Sunday in Madrid, Spain, RIA-Novosti reported. She was 95.

Leonida had requested to be buried in Petropavlovsk Cathedral in St. Petersburg next to her late husband, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov, the great-grandson of 19th-century Tsar Alexander II.

“She visited Russia several times, and she will return to the country for good,” Alexander Zakatov, head of the chancellery of the Russian Imperial House, told The Moscow Times.

The burial is pending approval by state authorities but is tentatively scheduled for June 3, an official with the State Museum of St. Petersburg History, which oversees the Petropavlovsk Cathedral, told Interfax.

Leonida, born on Sept. 23, 1914, was the daughter of Prince Georgy Bagration-Mukhransky, a descendant of Georgian kings who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

She only emigrated from Russia to Spain in 1931 with the help of Russian writer Maxim Gorky.

She married Sumner Moore Kirby, an American, in 1934, but divorced him three years later. They had a daughter, Helene Louise Kirby. Sumner Moore Kirby died in 1945.

In 1948, Leonida married Vladimir Romanov, who pronounced himself “the Head of the Imperial Family of Russia” in 1938 and used the title until his death in 1992.

President Boris Yeltsin granted her Russian citizenship in 1992, and she visited Russia several times with her daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who claims to be the lawful heir to the Russian throne. ? 

Leonida's grandson, Georgy Romanov, works as an adviser to the general director of metals giant Norilsk Nickel.

“Leonida impressed me with her manners and great Russian-language skills,” said Viktor Aksyuchis, an adviser to the government commission that oversaw the reburial of the remains of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and other members of the Romanov family in 1998.

“We had disagreements, but I still thought highly of her because she has done a lot to remind people about the idea of monarchy in Russia,” said Aksyuchis, himself a monarchist.

The duchess, her daughter and grandson did not attend the reburial of the Romanov family, who were executed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg in 1918. They said they were following the example of the late Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who also had skipped the reburial.

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