Staunton, Oct. 7 – The recent marriage in St. Petersburg of the offspring of a descendant of the Romanovs has sparked discussions about who could become tsar if Russia were to restore the monarchy. But a careful consideration of the situation shows that many foreigners have more rights to the Russian throne than do any of the Romanovs, Mikhail Duinov says.
The rules governing succession were laid down by Paul I in 1797, the historian points out; and they are quite clear on this point. Male children of the ruling Russian royal family have obvious priority; but when they are not available, the situation becomes fraught with some unexpected difficulties (vz.ru/society/2021/10/7/1122836.html).
Excluded from inheriting the throne are Romanovs who are the children of Romanov candidates who have entered into morganatic marriages -- unless the head of the house explicitly exempts them from this restriction, Duinov continues. But as there is no recognized head of the house since the execution of Nicholas II, that is not a possibility – and almost all the Romanov candidates now are products of morganatic marriages.
“A lawful heir to the Russian throne thus must first of all spring from a marriage that has received the permission of the head of the imperial family and second this marriage must be of equal status, that is, both parents must belong to dynasties which either are ruling now or ruled in the past.”
After the revolutionary turmoil following 1917, “only five descendants of Roman emperors on the male line of inheritance came from such marriages of equal status partners. They wer Grand Dukes Dmitry Pavlovich, Vsevolod Ioannovich, Roman Petrovich, Andrey Aleksandrovich, and Vasily Aleksandrovich.
But “all of them entered into unequal (that is, morganatic) marriages; and consequently,” Duinov says, “their descendants have completely lost their right to the throne.” That of course means that Maria Vladimirovna, the current pretender, did not have any legitimate claim to the throne from the outset. And neither do her children.
Indeed, the historian says, the recently married Georgy Mikhailovich Romanov “has much greater rights to the German than to the Russian crown” because the laws governing the German succession are different than the Russian ones, the historian says. Thus, he is a very weak candidate, and he made himself even weaker by entering into a morganatic union.
According to the laws of the Russian Empire, ahead of him in the list of those with such a right are members of foreign ruling dynasties – and at that time, to several members of the House of Windsor of Great Britain – but not the children of Elizabeth II as Russian rules preclude descent through the family line -- and possibly to members of the two other royal families.
Among the Windows, there are three possible candidates: Richard of Glouchester, the heir of the middle son of George V, and the two sons of Georgie of Kent, the senior Edward of Kent and the junior Michael of Kent. They and their children (if they don’t contract morganatic marriages) have a right to the Russian throne.
The Greek royal family could also supply a new tsar in certain cases as could the Dukes of Herzog, although in the latter case, many provisions of Russian law would have to be ignored. But one thing is almost certain, Duinov says, if Russia does restore the monarchy, the new tsar won’t be a Romanov, however many Russians believe otherwise.