Russia’s first ‘royal’ wedding ceremony in a century evokes imperial reminiscences, good and unhealthy


Roughly 1,500 folks attended Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov’s wedding ceremony, with aristocrats and dignitaries from throughout Europe.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini go away the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral as Russian honour guards salute them throughout their wedding ceremony ceremony in Saint Petersburg Friday. Picture by OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP through Getty Photographs

For the 40-year-old George Mikhailovich Romanov, the choice to wed his Italian fiancee in a lavish ceremony at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg — in Russia’s first “royal” wedding ceremony in over a century — carried an advanced historical past.

On the one hand, St. Petersburg, as soon as the capital of the Russian Empire, was constructed from scratch when the Home of Romanov dominated from 1613 and 1917. St. Isaac’s is one in every of its grandest buildings, simply throughout from the outdated imperial residences.

On the opposite, it’s the place the Romanovs’ rule over Russia got here to a bloody halt after revolutions in 1917. The final czar, Nicholas II, was imprisoned within the close by Alexander Palace. Nicholas Romanov, a distant cousin to the groom and the final royal member of the family to be married in Russia, was later shot and bayoneted to dying, alongside together with his spouse and 5 younger kids, in Yekaterinburg.

Nonetheless, Friday’s social gathering went on.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini react throughout their wedding ceremony ceremony at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. (Picture by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP through Getty Photographs)

Roughly 1,500 folks attended Romanov’s wedding ceremony to Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, 39, who now goes by the brand new title Victoria Romanovna Bettarini, with aristocrats and dignitaries from throughout Europe. Based on Russian web site, roughly 50 royals from European international locations attended. Romanov makes use of the self-styled title of grand duke.

Among the many crowd was Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, the groom’s mom and the self-proclaimed inheritor to the imperial throne. The groom’s father, who calls himself Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, is the great-grandson of Wilhelm II, the German emperor notorious for his erratic management earlier than World Warfare I.

Bettarini’s bridal robe featured Imperial Russia’s coat of arms embroidered in gold.

In interviews earlier than the marriage day, the groom had acknowledged that his household’s historic ties to St. Petersburg prompted the couple to get married there.

“It is vitally, very near our household,” Romanov advised of St. Petersburg, including that town was “the historical past of Russia” and “the historical past of the Romanov dynasty.”

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini attend their wedding ceremony ceremony on the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. (Picture by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP through Getty Photographs)

The couple additionally mentioned that their wedding ceremony would assist promote trendy Russia. “I consider that after so many months of the pandemic, this is a chance to point out trendy St. Petersburg, trendy Russia to many international company,” he advised Fontanka.

Not all Russian officers welcomed the chance. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, advised reporters Friday that the Kremlin had no plans to congratulate the comfortable couple. “This marriage doesn’t belong on our agenda in any manner,” Peskov mentioned.

Although Putin has typically co-opted Russia’s grand historical past to bolster his personal legitimacy, the Romanovs’ legacy stays controversial inside Russia. Some historians consider that as many as 30,000 folks died through the building of St. Petersburg, which was made on the behest of Peter the Nice’s ambition for a European-facing capital.

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, left, attends the marriage ceremony of her son, Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov, and Victoria Romanovna Bettarini at Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. (Picture by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP through Getty Photographs)

Nicholas II and his household have been canonized by the Orthodox Church in 2000 after their our bodies, buried in secret by Soviet authorities, have been transferred to St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg two years earlier than.

Polls counsel that Russians have blended emotions in regards to the finish of the empire. In a 2017 report by pollsters Levada, roughly 42% mentioned the lack of the imperial standing was “very nice,” although a barely better share mentioned it was not. Nicholas II ranked behind Soviet figures comparable to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin in a rating of historic figures in the identical survey.

Born in Madrid, Romanov lived most of his life in France, however met his future spouse in Brussels whereas he was working for the European Parliament. He first visited Russia in 1992, when he visited St. Petersburg, and moved to Moscow in 2019, the place he and Bettarini have been wed in a civil ceremony Sept. 24.

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