GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

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Barbara
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GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby Barbara » Tue 25 September 2018 3:54 am

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Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (pictures did not accompany the article but were selected by me)

"In April 1919, Grand Duchess Xenia, sister of the last tsar, was among the surviving Romanovs to escape from Russia on board the British battleship, HMS Marlborough... 

According to her mother, the dowager empress, Grand Duchess Xenia stood with her dog, Toby, weeping openly as the family gathered around a makeshift quay, ready to depart from Yalta. They were preparing to board the Marlborough and leave their homeland for ever: "What grief and desperation," the dowager wrote in her diary.

As the ship pulled away, Xenia gazed at the receding shoreline through binoculars. She spotted glittering objects on the beach. When she asked the Marlborough's dour captain what the objects were, he replied: "That, Madame, is your silver." The servants, fearing that they would be left behind, had refused to load the 40 caskets onto one of the smaller boats. When they realized they would escape after all, they decided to leave the caskets on the beach for those in Crimea left behind. At the time, Xenia barely registered the captain's unwelcome observation. She would, however, remember it in the lean times to come.

As the elder daughter of Tsar Alexander III, and sister of the future Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Xenia grew up amid the splendor of the Russian court. Two albums of her inventory of jewelry that Bonhams is offering as part of the Russian Sale, give an insight into the family's wealth. The albums catalog the pieces and have sketches of the designs, including the Fabergé potato charm, a trinket issued to members of the 'Potato Society' at Gatchina Palace.

Married aged 19 to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, her first cousin, Xenia received a million rouble dowry. For the wedding ceremony she wore a diamond necklace, a triple-row diamond bracelet and diamond earrings. It marked one of the last times that the Crown commissioned jewelry from the Treasury. However, her bejeweled wedding robe and headdress were so heavy that, when the big day came, the slight grand duchess found she could barely move.

Xenia, however, was no shrinking violet: she had an air of formidable defiance, evident in everything from her strong facial features to the way she stood. But her appearance belied her shyness and her dislike of pomp and ceremony. In fact, she found her glittering life in the pre-revolutionary Russian Court an ordeal. In 1903, she had to steel herself to attend the last grand ball at the Winter Palace, and again, ten years later, for the lengthy, and, as it turned out, ill-timed celebrations of 300 years of Romanov rule.

In common with her older brother, Nicholas, Xenia preferred life's simpler pleasures. Over the course of her marriage, she managed to bear and raise seven children... She had no qualms about shocking the servants as she somersaulted in the grounds with her six sons.

Reflecting her own upbringing – her tiny Danish mother and bear-like father were as fun-loving as they were formidable -– Xenia allowed her children a free rein...

It was in 1914 that Xenia's only daughter, the 19-year-old Princess Irina, married Prince Felix Yussupov. Xenia gave the bride her own emerald brooch with diamonds and rubies; she also bought her sapphires, three pearl sprays and a diamond chain from Cartier. The ceremony was held at one of the smaller palaces because relations between Xenia and her sister-in-law, the Tsarina Alexandra, had soured. At the root of the difficulties was the tsarina's attachment to Rasputin. Xenia and her mother disapproved of his increasing power at court. Relations deteriorated further when, two years later, Felix Yussupov murdered Rasputin...

Four months after the murder, Russia was engulfed in revolution. Xenia and her sons, her mother and the young Yussupovs fled south to their palaces in the Crimea. 
There followed a surreal period of picnics and tennis parties interspersed with terrifying raids and worsening strictures. The movements of all the Romanovs were monitored; when one of the cousins married, Xenia and other guests had to watch the ceremony from behind a bush.

By the beginning of April 1919, the Bolsheviks were advancing to the coast. The Romanovs were told they must leave immediately or be killed. As the rescue battleship pulled away from Yalta, Xenia and the other Romanovs were issued with strangely prosaic certificates: "I certify that HIH Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna left Russia in HMS Marlborough on the 11th of April 1919 (signed) Captain Johnson."

In exile, Xenia lived at Frogmore House, close to Windsor Castle, then at Wilderness House in Hampton Court. She resumed as many aspects of her former life as she could, enjoying a busy and unstuffy social life with visits from family and friends. These included Prince David Chavchavadze, who remembered her flicking cigarette butts into a small spittoon about four feet away: "She never missed once."

She did, however, have a continual struggle with her finances. Such jewelry as she managed to bring out of Russia rapidly diminished. Shortly after her arrival, she was conned into selling £10,000 worth of necklaces and bracelets by an unscrupulous American who persuaded her to invest in a printing enterprise. She also had no idea of how to handle money, having never done so at court. Her account at Harrods, for instance, proved a disaster: on her first shopping trip, she spent £98 – the equivalent today of £2,500.

But the bitterest pill must surely have been the reappearance of her own jewelry, confiscated from her by the Bolsheviks. In the early 1920s, pieces from her collection began to appear in London. On one painful occasion, Queen Mary produced a pink onyx Fabergé box designed to hold cards for patience, and asked Xenia what she thought of it. Xenia replied: "That used to be on my writing desk."

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King George V and Queen Mary of England. The latter was said to have influenced her husband the King in all state affairs : could this account for his bad decision in refusing to offer asylum to Tsar Nicholas II, Xenia's older brother ? Certainly Queen Mary's attitude toward Xenia was also less than generous, as is understated in the author's next sentence :

Queen Mary, who was known for her acquisitive nature and not one to understand the concept of restitution, replaced the box in a cabinet without further comment.

Crucial members of Xenia's household staff included her devoted laundrywoman, Beloussoff, who kept a bag packed ready to return to St Petersburg. In 1938, Xenia also acquired a looming Russian mystic, Mother Martha, who, Rasputin-style, dominated her life and terrorized visitors to Hampton Court...After Xenia died in 1960, surrounded by adoring grandchildren, Mother Martha disappeared, taking with her the £500 she had been left by Grand Duchess Xenia from her surprisingly small legacy of £117,272 16 shillings and tuppence.

Xenia did, however, still have her two jewelry albums, a souvenir of former times that she bequeathed to her children."

https://www.bonhams.com/magazine/6252/

I can't get over the cruelty of Queen Mary. Surely she must have had a glimmer of awareness that the Faberge box was owned by Xenia or one of her close relatives : why else would she have exhibited it to the exiled Grand Duchess ?
It seems Queen Mary engineered the scene just to discover whether the item came from Romanovs or lesser nobility. Of the main family members, only Xenia was in England, so she was the major or only source to find out that information.

The reader waits for the English Queen to say "Oh I am SO sorry that you had to experience this. Please, take your box with my compliments. It's so little, but to make up for all your sufferings." But no, the former Princess May of Teck [ part of the German principality of Wurttemburg ] selfishly tucks the pink onyx box away in her own cabinet or drawer and changes the subject.



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Barbara
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Re: GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby Barbara » Tue 15 January 2019 12:59 am

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Appearance of the Mother of God to St Seraphim, which caused the hitherto-hermit to assume the duties of eldership

It is the Vigil of the Winter Feast of St Seraphim today : occasion to add therefore that Grand Duchess Xenia was known at the time of her life to have greatly venerated St Seraphim.

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Re: GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby Barbara » Tue 15 January 2019 1:42 am

I had read in a biography of Grand Duchess Xenia that her funeral was served by an "Archbishop John". But no last name or Church affiliation was given, so I figured it could only be St John Maximovitch.

Substantiation for this hunch arrived in the form of the memoirs of John M Harwood, an Englishman who converted to Orthodoxy in 1963. He became a fixture of the Rocor Diocese of Richmond and Great Britain scene until shortly before the MP-Rocor union, when he switched to the MP-Sourozh jurisdiction.

Back before his conversion, as he wrote in April 2010 :

"...Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of the Blessed Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, died and her funeral Liturgy was the first Orthodox service I ever attended. I had a teenage interest in the Russian Imperial House but the sight of Archbishop (now Saint) John Maximovich and many other clergy serving the funeral service was an absolute revelation to me, more valuable than many books about the Orthodox Church. It was also, of course, the end of an era – "

http://www.rocorstudies.org/2013/06/26/ ... years-ago/

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Re: GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby someguy » Tue 15 January 2019 9:37 am

Barbara wrote:Married aged 19 to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, her first cousin, Xenia received a million rouble dowry.


Is this not uncanonical as aren't orthodox only to marry fourth cousins and beyond not third or closer?

Do the canons exempt royalty or for the good of the nation its oikonomia?

Such a sad story...

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Barbara
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Re: GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby Barbara » Thu 17 January 2019 5:01 am

Hi, someguy, thanks for your comments. I am not sure about the marriage between cousins question : I hope someone will enlighten us about this. I am curious now that you have raised this point.

About the story, I venture to guess that Queen Mary was a narcissist -- or worse. That is outrageously insensitive behavior. Well, she kept her prized Faberge box, but what about after she died ? No longer a queen worshipped by the English and the British Empire's subjects, Mary would have had to face God like anyone else. Probably this incident was brought up...

Meanwhile, Grand Duchess Xenia lost her box for that particular card game, but gained points for her display of - - - patience !

By the way, I wonder whether it was greedy Bolsheviks who rifled through all of the Royal Family's jewelry and accoutrements and sold them to the West ? Or that was the role of crooked businessmen like the American Armand Hammer ?

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Re: GrandDuchessXenia life summary (in honor of StXenia's Day

Postby someguy » Sun 20 January 2019 11:37 am

someguy wrote:Is this not uncanonical as aren't orthodox only to marry fourth cousins and beyond not third or closer?


I had a chance to have a look at my "The Rudder" book to check and looks like I'm wrong about the distance required, see below;
"
Prohibited Marriages
1) A brother cannot marry his sister; whether she be of the same father and mother, or of the same parent on one side only, or even if she be born of fornication; or vice versa: because such a relative is of the second degree.
2) An immediate uncle cannot marry his immediate niece (or, in other words, the daughter of his brother); or vice versa: because such a relative is of the third degree.
3) A granduncle cannot marry his niece (or: in other words, the daughter of his immediate niece); or vice versa: because such a relative is of the fourth degree.
4) A male first cousin cannot marry his female cousin; because she is of the fourth degree.
5) A granduncle cannot marry the daughter of his grandniece, because such a relative is of the fifth degree.
6) A petit uncle cannot marry his petit niece (or, in other words, the daughter of his first cousin), because she is of the fifth degree.
7) A petit uncle cannot many the daughter of his petit niece (or, in other words, the granddaughter of his first cousin), because she is of the sixth degree.
8) A granduncle cannot marry the granddaughter of his grandniece (or, in other words, of his remote niece), because she is of the sixth degree.
9) An immediate uncle cannot many the great-great-great-granddaughter of his immediate niece, because she is of the seventh degree.
10) A male second cousin cannot marry his female second cousin, be-cause she is of the sixth degree.
11) A petit uncle cannot marry the granddaughter of his petit niece, be-cause she is of the seventh degree.
12) A male second cousin cannot marry the daughter of his female second cousin, because she is of the seventh degree.

All blood marriages, on the other hand, that go beyond the seventh
degree are exempt from debarment. For instance, a third male cousin can
marry his third female cousin, because she is of the eighth degree. A male
second cousin can marry the granddaughter of his second cousin, because
she is of the eighth degree; and so can all others who are of the eighth
degree.
"

I understand The Rudder is not followed by all traditional Orthodox letter for letter though it is a great guide :)


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