08 September 2017

A Requiem Service (Panikhida) is held in Moscow for H.I.H. Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (H.I. and R.H. Princess Louis Ferdinand of Prussia)

September 8 (August 28, Old Style), 2017, marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (Her Imperial and Royal Highness Princess Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, de jure Empress of Germany and Queen of Prussia)—the aunt of the current Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.

Her Highness Princess of the Imperial Blood Kira Kirillovna was born on April 26/May 9, 1909, in Paris, and was the younger daughter of H.I.H. Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and H.I.H. Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorvna (née Princess Victoria Melita of Great Britain and Ireland). Her godfather was the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II.

After her father adopted the title of Emperor-in-Exile in 1924, she was given the title of Grand Duchess and the style of Imperial Highness.

In 1938, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna married Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994)—the grandson of the former Emperor of Germany, Wilhelm II. After the death of his father, Crown Prince Wilhelm, in 1951, Louis-Ferdinand became the Head of the German Imperial House and the Prussian Royal House.

Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna remained Orthodox after her marriage and all through her life, and her husband always showed the greatest respect for the Orthodox Church.

Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna was very active in philanthropy and in various charities. She was the patroness, for example, of the Committee for Assistance to Russian Refugees.

During the Second World War, Prince Louis-Ferdinand and Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna maintained links with the anti-Nazi Resistance in Germany, including the conspirators in “Operation Valkyrie”, the July 20 plot to kill and replace Adolf Hitler. As the American historian William L. Shirer wrote, “He understood the twentieth century, was democratic and intelligent. Moreover, he had an attractive, sensible and courageous wife in Princess Kira, a former Russian Grand Duchess, and—an important point for the conspirators at this stage—he was a personal friend of President Roosevelt, who had invited the couple to stay in the White House during their American honeymoon in 1938” (William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich [London: Arrow Books, 1998], p. 907).

The marriage between Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna and Prince Louis-Ferdinand (the Elder) produced 7 children, including Louis Ferdinand Oscar Christian (1944-1977), the father of the current Head of the German Imperial House and Prussian Royal House, Prince Georg-Friedrich (b. 1976).

On September 8, 1967, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna died of a sudden heart attack while visiting her brother, H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich and his wife, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, at Saint-Briac, in Brittany, France.

On September 8, 2017, the feast day of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the death of Kira Kirillovna, a requiem service for the godchild of the Holy Royal Martyr took place in the Church of the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple at Saltykov Bridge, in Moscow.

In the morning, a commemorative Divine Liturgy was served for Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna by Hieromonk Nikon (Levachev-Belavenets), the advisor to the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia for historical and memorial activities.

That evening, after the vigil service was completed, a requiem service, or panikhida, was held for Her Imperial Highness. The service was officiated by Hieromonk Nikon again. Serving with him were Hieromonk Iona (Galishnikov) of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and Hierodeacon Sofronii (Mikhalsky) of the Archangelsk Eparchy.

Attending the service were members of the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, led by its Director, Alexander N. Zakatov; the President of the International Slavic Academy of Sciences, Education, Arts, and Culture, S. N. Baburin; one of the oldest knights of the Imperial Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Colonel (ret.) V. P. Poterukhin; members of the organization “For Faith and Fatherland,” led by the Chairman of its Board of Trustees, A. V. Kulyomin; members of the Russian Nobility Association, led by the First Vice-President, A. Iu. Korolev-Pereleshin; members of the Orthodox motorcycle club “Moto-Brothers in Christ,” led by its President, A. P. Maslov; as well as members of the parish.

Before the panikhida service began, Hieromonk Nikon gave a short homily, in which he provided a detailed biography of the drama-filled life of the Grand Duchess, underscoring especially her devotion to Holy Orthodoxy. Fr. Nikon also warmly greeted Fr. Iona, noting that he serves in the Ascension Convent in the Mount of Olives, whose long-time abbess was the daughter of H.I.H. Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (the poet “K. R.”), the all-honorable Mother Tamara (who, in the world, was Her Highness Princess of the Imperial Blood Tatiana Konstantinovna, widow of Prince Konstantin Bagration-Mukhransky).

Next the Director of the Chancellery, Dr. Alexander N. Zakatov, delivered a few words on this important occasion, thanking those who had gathered on behalf of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her Heir, Grand Duke and Tsesarevich George of Russia. In describing the personality of Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, Alexander Zakatov also emphasized the efforts she had made in the fields of charity and philanthropy, and called upon all those who wished to honour her memory to emulate her good works, especially in helping refugees.

Alexander Zakatov then presented to S. N. Baburin the signed decree making him an advisor to Her Imperial Highness’s Chancellery for historical and memorial activities.

The event ended with a commemorative meal in the parish house.

Other panikhida services for Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, Princess Louis Ferdinand, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her death, were likewise held in St. Petersburg and in many other cities in Russia and abroad.

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