Imperial CrownCredit: Wikipedia

The Russian Royal Family Dispute

Many people are not aware that the Romanov Dynasty still exists.  There are currently two family members holding themselves out to be the “proper” head of the Russian royal family today: Prince Nicholas Romanovich and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.  So who is the current Czar or Czarina?  In order to solve the mystery, we need to review the Russian royal family tree.


Two Family Lines

The Russian dynastic line is immense.  This article will cover only those people necessary to illustrate the current battle for the throne. 

Alexander II was a Czar of Russia in the 1800’s.  His brother and sons are relevant to the current dispute.  His brother was Nicholas Nikolaevich and his sons were Vladimir Alexandrovich and Alexander III.  Vladimir’s son was Cyril Vladimirovich.

You can see the diagram below on the pertinent family tree. 

Lineage Diagram



The Essence of the Dispute

It is necessary in understanding the standing of the Russian royal family to understand the background.  Alexander III became Czar.  His son Nicholas II then followed as the Czar.  Nicholas II was infamously murdered alongside his wife and children during the Russian Revolution.  The mystery surrounding his daughter Anastasia’s fate has sparked numerous NicholasCredit: Wikipediamovies and books.  But the remains of his children have been accounted for and it has been established that the Czar died alongside his wife and all of his children.  He had no immediate heirs. 

Before Nicholas II was murdered, he abdicated his throne to his brother Michael.  Michael was executed within a year.  

By rules of dynastic succession, the throne automatically escheated to the next male heir, Cyril Vladimirovich.  Cyril was also Alexander II’s son.  He was out of the Country at the time, having fled from the Russian Revolution.  But he was staying informed and upon Michael’s execution, he appointed himself the curator of the throne.  He accepted his royal duties.  The curator pretension is used instead of “Emperor” or “Czar” when a monarchy has been removed from power in their home country.  Upon his death, his throne passed onto his son Vladimir Cyrillovich.  Vladimir’s daughter is the Grand Duchess Maria.


Now we are in present day.  The Grand Duchess Maria was born out of the bloodline of Cyril Vladimirovich and Prince Nicholas Romanovich was born out of the bloodline of Nicholas Nikolaevich.  If you refer again to the family tree diagram above, you can see how it extends to each of them.


The Dispute 

Russian Royal RegaliaCredit: Wikipedia

After Grand Duchess Maria’s father’s death, both she and Prince Nicholas claimed the throne.  She claimed the throne as the only legitimate remaining heir per the dynastic rules and he as the only male heir per the family tree.

The argument for Prince Nicholas

Prince Nicholas’s argument has (2) prongs:

(1)    As a woman, Maria is disqualified from holding the position of the Czar.

(2)    Proper royal marriages were only required of Grand Dukes, not Princes.  His father was a Prince.

The argument for Grand Duchess Maria

Grand Duchess Maria’s argument also has (2) prongs:

(1)    Prince Nicholas cannot claim the title of Czar or curator of the throne because that would violate the Russian dynastic rules preventing succession through mixed marriages.  Prince Nicholas’s father married a commoner.  Since he is not a child of a royal marriage, he cannot take the throne.  The dynastic rules did not make a marital distinction between Dukes and Princes.

(3)    The dynastic rules allow for females to take the throne when the male lineage ends.  In her case, her grandfather passed on his Royal pretension to his son, Maria’s father, who did not have a son of his own. And Prince Nicholas is barred by his parents’ marriage.  Therefore, she is the last remaining heir.


The Russian government is unlikely to reinstall any of the monarchy’s status, so it will not reach an official resolution.  But the majority of the European royal families acknowledge Grand Duchess Maria as the rightful heir to the throne.  European royal families value keeping marriages royal and have preference for Maria’s arguments.  In fact, she grew up in Spain as a “guest” of the Spanish Royal Family and married a German Prince.  Her son carries the Royal pretension of “Prince” and is largely accepted to be the next in line to the throne.