Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Birthday: December 4, 1878
Died At Age: 39
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Michael Alexandrovich Romanov
Born Country: Russia
Born in: Tsentralny District, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Famous as: Military Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Natalia Brasova (m. 1912)
father: Alexander III of Russia
mother: Maria Feodorovna
siblings: Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich of Russia, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of Russia, Nicholas II of Russia
children: Count Brasov, George Mikhailovich
Died on: June 13, 1918
place of death: Perm, Russia
Cause of Death: Assassination
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia was the fifth child of Emperor Alexander III of Russia and his wife Dagmar of Denmark. He was the first of the eighteen Romanovs who were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Alexandrovich was the youngest brother of Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov (Nicholas II), the emperor of all Russia. At the time of his grandfather’s reign, he was the fourth-in-line for the throne. When his grandfather, Alexander II, died, his father became the emperor, making his eldest brother Nicholas II his heir. Nicholas II didn’t have any children at first which put his younger brother, George, the next in line. In 1899, George died of tuberculosis, and five years later, Nicholas II had his son, Alexei. However, Alexei was born with hemophilia and many thought he wouldn’t live long. Once Nicholas II died, Alexandrovich was made the co-regent to Alexei along with Nicholas’ widow Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Alexandrovich was born on December 4, 1878, (O.S. 22 November), at the Anichkov Palace, in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire. His parents were Alexander of Russia and his wife, Maria Feodorovna (formerly known as Princess Dagmar of Denmark).
Both of Michael’s grandfathers were monarchs. Emperor Alexander II of Russia, his paternal grandfather, was assassinated when he was just going to be three years old, making his father the Emperor of Russia. On the other hand, his maternal grandfather, Christian IX, was the king of Denmark from 1863 to 1906.
After the assassination of his grandfather, Michael Alexandrovich moved to Gatchina Palace with his family for better safety. He grew up along with his sister Olga, who was a few years younger, in a strict nursery routine. They didn’t live a royal life in their childhood; they were made to sleep on camp beds, eat simple breakfast and study under tutors.
Michael Alexandrovich was given physical training in sports like horse riding along with his siblings. He also learned surviving skills in the wild besides learning about various religious practices.
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After the death of his father, Michael and his siblings were taken to Anichkov Palace by their mother. He joined the gunnery school and completed his training to join the military. Michael joined ‘Horse Guards Artillery’, the Russian Imperial Guard and was second-in-line (after his elder brother George) as Nicholas became the emperor.
Four years after Nicholas became the emperor, George died in an accident, leaving Michael as the heir. Nicholas didn’t have any son at that time which put Michael next in line.
Michel Alexandrovich was not recognized by the royal court as a remarkable option to become the next emperor. However, he was responsible in his duties and was a man of charming nature.
After the death of Queen Victoria, Michael represented his family at the British royal court. He was honored with the ‘Order of the Bath’ at the royal court and was later made the ‘Knight of the Garter’ at King Edward’s coronation.
Michael was inducted into the Blue Cuirassier Regiment and was transferred to the regiment’s base at Gatchina. He owned sugar refineries in the country as well as a large estate at Otrovo in Russian Poland.
Romantic Affairs & Trouble With Family
In the early 1900s, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich and his first cousin Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha fell in love with each other. However, the Orthodox Church became a stumbling block in their love affair as it didn’t approve of a marriage between first cousins.
Eventually, Michael grew fond of his sister Olga’s personal assistant (lady-in-waiting), Alexandra Kossikovskaya. The idea of keeping Alexandra as his mistress didn’t appeal to Michael ever and he rejected all such suggestions.
He was thinking of marrying Alexandra but needed permission from his eldest brother and the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II. When Michael approached Nicholas, he was shocked as the royal family couldn’t imagine welcoming a commoner to their family as a member.
Michael was denied permission to marry his lady love by the royal family and Alexandra was dismissed as Olga’s lady-in-waiting. Michael was warned of a possible exile from his military post if he didn’t reject this idea. Soon, he was taken to Denmark by Dowager Empress Marie.
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Michael’s mother was trying to find a better match for her son. She plotted to get Michael married with Princess Patricia of Connaught. Michael, however, had no idea of his mother’s intention and was still trying to marry Alexandra. Nicholas used his power to persuade Alexandra to stop the affair.
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich went ahead to fall in love with another woman who was seemed unsuitable and unacceptable for the royal family. In 1907, he met a fellow officer’s wife, Natalia Sergeyevna Wulfert. He was attracted to her and both fell in love. Within a year of their relationship, Natalia separated from her husband and started living in an apartment that was paid for by Michael.
Nicholas tried to prevent another ‘scandalous’ affair for the royal family and transferred Michael away from Moscow. This time, Michael couldn’t be stopped as he kept in touch with his love interest and soon the couple had their son, George.
Natalia had divorced her husband before the birth of their son, who was recognized by Nicholas. Michael took Natalia and their son to Saint Petersburg with him. However, the social obstacles forced him to return to Gatchina with his family.
Marriage With Natalia
Despite approving George as Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich’s son, the royal family was not in favor of a marriage between him and Natalia. Michael took Natalia on a drive to Cannes and on their way, he fooled the royal staff. He ditched his staff and went to Vienna with Natalia.
The couple got married secretly at the Serbian Orthodox Church on October 16, 1912. When they returned from Vienna, Michael informed his family and his brother Nicholas about the marriage, leaving everyone shocked.
Nicholas was deeply offended by the marriage and was not at all in favor of accepting Natalia. He banished Michael from Russia, relieving him of his command. Michael’s assets were frozen and he was removed from the regency. They then went on to live in London.
Return to Russia During World War I
At the commencement of World War I, Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich asked Nicholas for his permission to return to his homeland with his family. Nicholas agreed and permitted him to return. Michael offered help to the British Army and was expecting to return to London once the war ended.
Michael was made a major general and was given charge of the Caucasian Native Cavalry. The war hit his conscience hard, and he felt guilty facing the native people for the damage it cost them.
A series of bad decisions by Nicholas and the death of Grand Duke Constantine pushed back Russia. Later, Michael was given back his estates and the charge of 2nd Cavalry Corps. The company was busy in 1916, fighting the war.
Michael was awarded for his leadership with a second gallantry medal. But due to his health issues, he was ordered to take leave.
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich rejected Nicholas’ offer to be the next emperor and asked for a public vote to decide whether the monarchy should remain in charge. The voting never took place and Michael was put under house arrest. Later, he was arrested along with his British friend Nicholas Johnson and was taken to the Bolsheviks headquarters.
A few days later, Michael and Johnson were taken to Perm. The Bolsheviks plotted to kill him after abducting him from his quarters.
On June 13, 1918, two men took them to the woods nearby. Michael was told they would take a train and after a few steps into woods, the men started to shoot at Michael and Johnson.
To avoid detection, the assassins used homemade bullets. Upon firing, one of the guns exploded. Michael ran towards Johnson and was hit by a bullet. Later, both of them were shot at close range and were stripped of their clothes for evidence. Their bodies were never found.