04 January 2007

Interview with H.I.H. Heir, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich in «Komsol’skaia Pravda—Saransk»

Interview with H.I.H. Heir, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich in «Komsol’skaia Pravda—Saransk»

1. Your Imperial Highness! Your position prescribes that I address you in that fashion. Do you remember when you first began to be addressed by this title? What does it mean to you to be the heir to the crown of the Russian Empire?

Titles are part of tradition. They exist first and foremost as a means of underscoring the greatness of the nation which, by the will of Providence and historical conditions, denote one person or another. And for those who bear the title, this is before anything else an additional responsibility. The higher the title, the greater the responsibility. That is how I was raised from my youth to understand my position. It is foolishness to boast about a title. One must rather strive to be worthy of and to fulfill one’s duty, so that I should not be an embarrassment to my ancestors. 

2. Your were born in France, studied at Oxford, worked at a commission of the European Parliament in Brussels, and now live in Madrid. What language do you consider to be your native language? What names in Russian culture are especially dear to you?

I was born and raised abroad and speak English, French and Spanish fluently. Perhaps, just now, because I do not get the chance to speak Russian all the time, I may speak these other languages more fluently than I do Russian. But my native language remains Russian, all the same. The Russian language is far richer. My most private and important thoughts and feelings I can formulate only in Russian. But conversational speech is a matter of practice. When we return definitively one day to the Motherland, I will quickly shake off the mistakes I may make now. 

3. You often come to Moscow and St. Petersburg. What were your first impressions about Russia when you first came here? How familiar are you with life in the provinces?

The first time I came to the Motherland was with my mother and grandmother, when my grand father Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich had died. I was still quite young, and I understood everything as a child would. But these images are deeply burned into my memory. I very much grieved for my grandfather and at that time felt a vibrant connection with Russia, which my grandfather told me so much about and for which I have such a love, instilled in me by my grandfather. I remember especially the funeral in St. Isaac’s Cathedral, served by His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei: the genuine sadness of thousands of people who arrived to bid farewell to my grandfather. And of the unpleasant things, I cannot forget the often scornful relationship of the authorities to the simple people. When someone wanted to approach us, they rudely pushed them away. They attempted to isolate us from the people. And they probably sincerely thought that they were showing us respect in doing so. I told my mother at the time that if one day I get the chance to influence things here, the first thing will be to change the arrogant and erroneous relationship of authorities to the people. Now, thank God, we understand the situation better, and during our visits we up front establish the conditions so that time and opportunity is given to us to meet with our countrymen without any sort of oversight.

I have visited many regions of Russia: I’ve travel on the Volga, in the north, in the Urals, in Siberia. Thus I’ve traveled in almost all the regions of Russia. Of course, there is still much to see and learn, but I have already a general impression of the life of people, about their fears and problems. 

4. The law of succession requires you to marry equally. Your future wife should belong to a royal dynasty. What other requirements are there put on your future spouse?

The currently operative law does, in fact, require me to marry equally. It is true that the majority of European dynasties, including those currently reigning, have abolished the strict limitations place on marriage. It is possible that one day this will also happen in our dynasty. But for the present, Alexander I’s addendum to the Pauline law of succession remains in force. Only the Head of the Imperial House, with the blessing of the Church, may change the provisions of the law regarding marriage. In any case, my future wife should love and respect me and have my love and respect, should love Russia and understand that to be a grand duchess is not some end to a fairy tale, but a responsible and often burdensome job.

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