It is an unprecedented event in Russia since the Revolution of 1917. The heir of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II, executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918, got married this Friday (1) in St. Petersburg, in the presence of several elements of royal families of Europe.
Grand Duke Gueorgi Romanov, 40, married the Italian Rebecca Bettarini, 39, in a ceremony held in St. Isaac’s Cathedral, in the heart of the former imperial capital.
The tsar’s heir, with an opulent build and a gray beard, wore a black suit and yellow waistcoat, while the bride wore a long white gown with the emblems of the Russian empire embroidered in gold. Several women in traditional Russian attire helped the bride to wear the train of the dress and, following orthodox tradition, husband and wife were crowned at the ceremony.
According to the organizers, there were 1,500 guests, including Queen Sofia of Spain, the deposed king of Bulgaria Simeón II and his wife Margarita, as well as other representatives of European royal families.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and her husband Gauthier Destenay were also invited, as well as Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Russian President’s spokesman Vladimir Putin told the press that the president “did not plan to congratulate the young couple”. “This wedding is not on our agenda,” said Dmitri Peskov.
Galina Bobrova, a resident of St. Petersburg, approached St. Isaac’s Cathedral this Friday morning to see the tsar’s heir and his bride.
“I wish everyone happiness. Obviously, the monarchy is part of our past, but I find this interesting,” he told the AFP report.
The last marriage of a member of the Romanov family in Russia was that of Tsar Nicholas II to Empress Alexandra 127 years ago.
Born in Madrid and educated in Oxford (United Kingdom), Gueorgui Romanov is the son of the Grand Duchess Maria Romanova, granddaughter of Grand Duke Kirill.
The latter was a cousin of Nicholas II, the last tsar of the Romanov dynasty who reigned over 300 years in Russia, until the February 1917 revolution.
The overthrown monarch was taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks and shot a year later in the Urals, along with his wife, Empress Alexandra, and their five sons (four girls and one boy).
Buried for a long time in a place kept secret by the former Soviet power, their bodies were transferred in 1998 to the cathedral in St. Petersburg.
They were canonized in 2000 by the Russian Orthodox Church and officially recognized in 2008 by the Russian justice system as victims of Bolshevism.
Grand Duke Gueorgi Romanov met his bride in Brussels, where they both work for European institutions.
Rebecca Bettarini, the daughter of a diplomat, converted to the Orthodox religion and was renamed Victoria Romanova.
Installed in Moscow three years ago, near the Kremlin, the Grand Duke claims to be dedicated to charitable projects.
In an interview with Russian newspaper Fontanka, published last Wednesday, he explained that he chose to marry in St. Petersburg for “many reasons”. This city, he claimed, is “the history of Russia, the history of the Romanov house.”