19 September 2021

2021-09-19 The 130th anniversary of the birth of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich


Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (September 6/19 1891 – February 20/March 5, 1942) was the only son of the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna (née Princess of Greece and Denmark) and the grandson of Emperor Alexander II.

Dmitri Pavlovich was born in Ilyinskoe. He was appointed an honorary colonel of the 11th Ganagorisky Grenadier Regiment and of the Life Guards of the 20th Rifle Battalion. He was also an officer of the Mounted Life Guards Regiment.

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich’s mother died in childbirth, and his father was sent into exile in 1902 after he married unequally and without the Tsar’s permission. Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger, were both raised by their uncle and aunt, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.


From 1909 to 1911, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich studied at the Officer Cavalry School. In 1911, he was promoted to cornet, and from 1912 he served as aide-de-camp to the Emperor. He was a member of Russian equestrian team at the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, and was the Honorary Chairman of the Russian Olympiad in Kiev in 1913.


Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich served as a staff officer, with the rank of captain, in the First World War. He earned the Imperial Military Order of St. George Fourth Class, for his service in the East Prussia campaigns. In December 1916, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich participated in the assassination of Gregory Rasputin (which he later bitterly regretted). For his involvement in the murder, he was exiled from Court and transferred to units commanded by General N. N. Baratov in Persia. After the Revolution, he continued his military career, briefly serving in the British Expeditionary Forces in Mesopotamia. He then went to London and later lived in Paris.


Some circles in the Russian émigré community put forward Dmitri Pavlovich as a pretender to the Russian throne, contrary to the Law on Succession, but he himself fully supported the proclamation in 1924 by Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich assuming the title of Emperor-in-Exile, and he actively participated in the activities of the legitimist movement.


In 1926, in Biarritz, France, he entered into an unequal marriage with Anna Audrey Emery. He had asked Kirill Vladimirovich for permission to marry beforehand and received a princely title with the name of Ilyinsky for his wife and offspring. In 1935, by virtue of a decree issued on July 28, he received for his wife and descendants the title of Most Serene Princes and Princesses and the surname Romanovsky-Ilyinsky. The marriage ended in divorce in 1937.


From 1927 to 1939, he owned the Château de Beaumesnil estate in Upper Normandy.


Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich served as a member of the Conference on the Restructuring of Imperial Russia (The Sovereign’s Conference) under Emperor Kirill Vladimirovich, and as Emperor Kirill’s official representative in Paris. Between 1935 and 1938, he served as Chairman of the Governing Council and in the Department of Sports of the Union of Young Russians party. From 1938, he was a member of the Council of the Imperial House for the new Head of the dynasty, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich.


Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich died in Davos (in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland). He was later reburied in the church on the island of Mainau on Lake Constance.




Grant, O Lord, eternal rest, in blessed repose, to Thy servant the Pious and Right-Believing Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and may his memory be eternal!




The Descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich: Their Serene Highnesses the Princes and Princesses Romanovsky-Ilyinsky.


Before he married unequally, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, in full accord with Article 183 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire, asked Emperor-in-Exile Kirill I Vladimirovich for permission to marry. Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich gave his permission, and on November 30, 1926, he granted Grand Duke Dmitri’s new wife and future offspring from this marriage the right to use the surname Ilyinsky (taken from the Ilyinskoye estate near Moscow where the Grand Duke had been born) and their elevation to the dignity of Princes of the Russian Empire.


On July 28, 1935, Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich issued a decree by which Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich’s wife, Princess Anna Ioannovna Ilyinsky, and her children descended from her marriage to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (which is to say, their only son Paul) were granted the surname of Romanovsky-Ilyinsky, with their elevation to the title of Their Serene Highnesses Princes and Princesses of the Russian Empire, such that the title of Serene Highness and Prince or Princess belonged to the most senior male in this family, while other descendants bore the title of Their Excellencies Prince and Princess. The right to her title and surname was lost by Anna Ioannovna in 1937 after her divorce from Grand Duke Dmitri, but her offspring from the Grand Duke retained them.


Their only son, His Serene Highness Prince Paul Dmitrievich Romanovsky-Ilyinsky (January 1, 1927 – February 10, 2004) was raised by his mother and became an American citizen, where he was legallly known as Paul R. Ilyinsky. He served in the US Marine Corps and was deployed during the Korean War, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was a member of the Republican Party, and for 17 years was a member of the City Council of Palm Beach, Florida. From 1993 to 2000 he served as mayor. He was on good terms with the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich (the son of Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich), and attended receptions held in the Grand Duke’s honour when he visited the United States. Paul Dmitrievich Romanovsky-Ilyinsky and his sons visited Russia in 1998, attending the burial of the “Ekaterinburg remains.”


His Serene Highness Paul Dmitrievich Romanovsky-Ilyinsky was married twice, and from the second marriage (with the American Angelica Kauffmann) had two daughters and two sons, who go by the surname Ilyinsky. Their children:


His Serene Highness Dmitri Pavlovich Romanovsky-Ilyinsky (b. May 1, 1954); married (on September 22, 1979) Martha McDowell. They had three daughters: 1) Catherine Adair (b. 1981), who married (2011) Samuel Goodyear, who have a daughter; 2) Victoria Bayard (b. 1983), who married (2013) Yves Binda; and Lela McDowell (b. 1986).


Princess Paula Maria Pavlovna Romanovskaya-Ilyinskaya (b. May 18, 1956); married Mark Allen Comisar, and have issue: Alexander Lee (b. 1983) and Makena Anna (b. 1984) Comisar.


Princess Anna Pavlovna Romanovskaya-Ilyinskaya (b. September 9, 1959); married twice and has four children from these two marriages:


Prince Michael Pavlovich Romanovsky-Ilyinsky (b. November 3, 1960). Member of the “Romanov Family Association” and for several years was its Vice-President. By his own account, some time after the death of the de facto President of the “Romanov Family Association,” Mr. D. R. Romanov (d. December 31, 2016), he was elected President of the “Association” in August 2017 by an email vote of its members. But a few months later, in December 2017, publications began to appear in the media indicating that other members of the “Association” were ignoring this election and had proclaimed as their President Ms Olga Matthews (b. 1950) of London, the daughter (from an unequal marriage ) of Prince of Imperial Blood Andrei Alexandrovich.


Prince Michael Romanovsky-Ilyinsky married Paula Maier (b. 1965) and the couple have one daughter, Princess Alexis (Vasilisa) (b. March 1, 1994).


They all are citizens of the US and none speak Russian.


The Romanovsky-Ilyinsky family, which originated from a non-dynastic marriage, does not belong to the Russian Imperial House of Romanoff, but (unlike a number of other descendants of members of the dynasty who violated Article 183 of the Fundamental Laws of the Russian Empire and did not ask the Head of the Imperial House for permission to marry) continues to bear the Russian princely title granted to them by Emperor-in-Exile Kirill I Vladimirovich, the grandfather of the current Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.


Neither Prince Dmitri Romanovsky-Ilyinsky nor Prince Michael Romanovsky-Ilyinsky currently have male issue, and as a result this line of descent will likely one day unfortunately become extinct.




The Appendix below includes photographs of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich and a set of documents, including several letters, in which the Grand Duke, in his own distinctive way, gives an assessment of some of his relatives and prominent figures of the Russian emigration who were inclined toward intrigue and controversy.

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