22 August 2000

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna With Russian Journalists

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna With Russian Journalists

Interview of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna With Russian Journalists, 22 August 2000

Your Imperial Highness, what feelings do you have oday after attending the ceremony of the glorification of Your Royal Relatives and after attending the dedication of the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior?

A feeling of great spiritual joy and satisfaction. We have always venerated the Royal Martyrs and We never doubted that They had from God the gift of intercession for Their people. In 1929, My Grandfather, Emperor Kirill I, together with the Russian clergy abroad, officially pronounced by means of a special decree that 17 July—the day when the regicide took place—would henceforth be a day of national sorrow and penance. The veneration of the Royal Martyrs began immediately after the terrible news of Their monstrous executions; and for the entire period since then there have been many cases reported by those who have prayed to Them of miracles. But a church-wide canonization was necessary so that all sons of the Orthodox Church could, without exception and without any doubts, venerate the martyred Imperial family among the choir of Russian saints.

The canonization of the Royal Family by the Russian clergy abroad in 1981 and the establishment of local veneration in a number of dioceses was not without controversy among the faithful. Even up to the last moment, there were opponents to the canonization. And I want to underscore the special role played in this matter by His Holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all Russia, who never exerted any pressure on the members of the Commission on the Canonization; and the role of the Council of Bishops, which trusted the resolution of this question to the fullness of the Church, and by virtue of the strength of its higher spiritual authority and its firm resolve, decided in favor of the glorification of the Royal Family. This long-awaited historic decision represents an important step on the path toward the spiritual rebirth of the Fatherland.

No less significant both for the Church and for the entire political and social life of Russia is the dedication of the newly-rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This symbol of the greatness and glory of the Russian people, who had won a victory over a powerful enemy, proved that God is not among the powerful, but among those who embrace the Truth. Those who demolished the Cathedral openly spoke of their goals: to do violence both to faith in God, and to the history of the Motherland, to her spirit and to all her traditional values. Now, the Cathedral again stands in its former place and represents clear proof that the victory of Evil can only be temporary.

I find it very significant that these two events—the canonization of the Royal Family and the dedication of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior—are linked inseparably. I greatly appreciate the wisdom of the Hierarchy of our Holy Church in deciding to link these events together at the same time and to make them the central celebrations of the 2000-year anniversary of the Nativity of Christ.

What does the timing of Your visits and the visits of Your August Family to Russia depend upon, and how often would You like to be in the Motherland? Did the recent act of terrorism on Pushkin Square in any way influence You?

During all of the long years of exile, We have lived with the thought and the hope of returning to our native country. Without a doubt, We hope soon to be able to move to Russia and to live there permanently. And if We were but private citizens, then this great hope of Ours would have long ago been fulfilled. But inasmuch as We are the guardians of a 1000-year long monarchical tradition, We are duty bound to regard each visit—and even more, our final return—with enormous care. We do not have the right—not before God, nor before Our Ancestors, nor before our countrymen—to diminish in any way the authority of the Imperial House; but nor do We want to create even the impression that We want to impose a monarchy on the Russian people against their will. As My Father and Grandfather have said, We serve and will always serve Russia whether We occupy the Throne or not. But each of Our firm hopes are realized only when We know that Our countrymen share them. I know that a larger and larger number of people correctly understand Our mission, and this fact brings closer the hour of Our eventual permanent return to the Motherland.

The news of the terrorist attack in Moscow brought enormous pain to Our hearts. I grieve deeply for those who perished and I pray for them. With all my heart, I feel a kinship and am very close to the victims of this act of terrorism. So barbaric an act as this cannot help but elicit a feeling of anger and suspicion. Those capable of such an evil thing already stand outside of the bounds of human society and should bear the most severe punishment. If they believe that they can intimidate the Russian people they are sorely mistaken. As far as I and My Family are concerned, this crime can in no way disrupt Our desire to be in Russia. Please do not forget that these kinds of horrific events are not new to Our Family. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Emperor Alexander II, the Tsar-Liberator, Himself fell victim to an act of terrorism in the very center of the capital city. And, indeed, were not the newly canonized Royal Martyrs also victims of terror? In emigration, My Grandfather and Father also lived for many years under the Sword of Damocles of a possible attempt on their lives. However, this fact never prevented Them, nor does it prevent Us, from fulfilling the duty that has been set before Us by God and by the Laws of Succession.

Your Son, the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich, has been a student at Oxford for a year already. What do you think about this new stage of independence in His life?

I am very happy for Him and am proud of His successes there. I myself attended Oxford and believe that a British education is one of the finest. The education that My Son is receiving there is preparing Him for any life situation. Of course, I miss Him when He is away, but the independence which He is now enjoying is necessary for a young person at His age. We hope that when He finishes Oxford, the conditions in the Motherland will be such as to permit Us to realize our plan that He spend a year of military training at a Russian military academy.

Your Imperial Highness, Russia has been without a tsar already for more than 80 years. Does this not, in your opinion, indicate that the people of Russia could not properly understand the nature of monarchical power, and to render to the monarch the necessary respect and attention it requires?

Many years under a Communist regime have certainly left their mark on the understanding people have of monarchy. The history and the very essence of the Russian monarchy were subjected to systematic slander. Since then, some people have come to believe that Monarchy belongs only to the past. But in My many visits to Russia, I note with gratitude the increase in the number of people who look at Monarchy respectfully, and who understand that this system is entirely modern and progressive and capable of offering much to Russia. In spite of everything, the monarchist mentality has become characteristic of the Russian people. The people want a strong governmental power that relies upon historical tradition and at the same time guarantees all civil freedoms. Monarchy is precisely the kind of structure that defends social and political life both from dictators that repress freedom, and from anarchy and destabilization.

What would You say about the attitudes toward Monarchy in those countries where You live?

In all countries where Monarchy was preserved or recently established, the people see in the person of the Monarch first and foremost a supreme arbiter who stands above the interests of separate parties and groups. Monarchs represent the interests of the whole nation because Their power is independent by definition. And therefore They enjoy everywhere the love and respect of Their countrymen.

Does the fact that some dynasties continue to rule and others do not in any way affect the relationship between different royal houses?

European Imperial and Royal Houses form a kind of big family since there are so many very close kinship ties linking them all. Of course, on political questions, there are certain differences between ruling dynasties and those not ruling. But in the arena of relations between dynasties, there are no differences whatsoever; and the dynastic decrees issued by one House are respected by all Houses. The purely personal relationships between members of Europe’s royal families are like those in any big family: with some persons, you have a very close and friendly relationship, with others, a more official one.

How is a consciousness of duty, the norms of behavior, and an appropriate way of life instilled in the members of the Russian Imperial House?

I believe that a proper upbringing is most important. In Our Family We are above all else brought up to understand from early childhood that We should always behave with the highest degree of responsibility to our duties and always be prepared to serve the Fatherland.

What of Russian culture have You and Your Family been able to preserve in exile?

In Our Family, We tried to preserve Russian traditions in their unaltered form and to a significant degree We have succeeded. But even if not everything of a Russian style of life can be preserved in foreign surroundings, there are nonetheless two things that it is essential to keep: our Orthodox Faith and the Russian language. Without these, a Russian cannot preserve his national identity.

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