Princess Tatiana Constantinovna of Russia

Princess Tatiana Constantinovna of Russia

Infobox Russian Royalty|princess
name =Tatiana Constantinovna
title =Princess Tatiana Constantinovna Bagration-Mukhransky

imgw = 180px
caption = Tatiana Constantinovna photographed in 1910.
spouse = Prince Konstantin Alexandrovich Bagration-Mukhransky
Alexander Vassilievich Korotchenzov
issue = Prince Teymuraz Konstantinovich Bagration-Mukhransky
Princess Natalia Konstantinovna Bagration-Mukhransky
imperial house =House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
father =Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia
mother =Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg
date of birth = birth date|1890|01|23
place of birth = Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
date of death = death date and age|1979|08|28|1890|01|23
place of death = Mount of Olives Convent, Jerusalem, Israel
place of burial= |

Princess Tatiana Konstantinovna of Russia ("Княжна Татьяна Константиовна") (January 23, 1890–August 28, 1979) was the third child and oldest daughter of HIH the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia by his wife Elisaveta Mavrikievna née HH Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg.

Princess Tatiana (not to be confused with her namesake, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolayevna, second daughter of Nicholas II, 1897–1918) had eight brothers and sisters.


On July 14, 1886 Emperor Alexander III of Russia modified the Romanov house laws by restricting the title of grand duke and grand duchess to children and grandchildren in the male line of a Russian emperor. More distant agnatic descendants would henceforth bear the title of prince or princess of the Blood Imperial. Thus, Tatiana, being a great-granddaughter of Nicholas I of the so-called "Konstantinovich" branch of the Romanovs was only a princess from birth, entitled to be addressed as Highness rather than Imperial Highness.

Terms of Marriage

In the spring of 1911, Tatiana Konstantinovna became engaged to Prince Konstantin Alexandrovich Bagration-Mukhransky (March 2, 1889, Tbilisi, - May 19, 1915, Jarosław), a Georgian by birth who was serving in a Russian Imperial Guards regiment, and died in World War I. She was to be the first daughter of the Romanovs to openly marry a Russian subject or non-dynastic prince since the dynasty ascended the throne in 1613. Her anxious father approached the Emperor and Empress for approval. On November 30, 1910 he noted in one of his posthumously published journals ("From the Diaries of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich", Moscow, February 1994), that he received assurances that "they would never look upon her marriage to a Bagration as morganatic, because this House, like the House of Orléans, is descended from a once ruling dynasty."

Previously, the morganatic wives of Romanov grand dukes had been banished from Russia along with their disgraced husbands (for example, Countess Sophia de Torby and Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia, or Princess Olga Paley and Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia). Female Romanovs had only dared marry morganatically in secret, and the couples’ relationships had been kept as open secrets (examples include, Empress Elizabeth of Russia and Alexey Razumovsky and the second marriage of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna of Russia and Count Grigory Stroganov).

Nonetheless, legallyFact|date=February 2007 Tatiana Konstantinovna's marriage was morganatic. [cite book| others = "emphasis added"| title = Almanach de Gotha| edition = 1944| year = 1944| publisher = Justus Perthes| location = Gotha, Germany| language = French| pages = P. 107| quote = Psse "Tatiana-Constantinovna", née à St-Pétersbourg 11 janv. 1890 v.s.; m.: 1. morg. à Pavlosk 24 août 1911 v.s. à Constantin Alexandrovitch pr. Bagration-Moukhransky, † (tué au combat) près de Jarosvavel, arrondt de Lwow, 19 mai 1915 v.s.] It was, in fact, the first marriage in the dynasty conducted in complianceFact|date=February 2007 with the Emperor’s formal decision "not" to accept as dynastic the marriages of even the most junior Romanovs—those that bore only the title of prince/princess—with non-royal partners. According to "Always A Grand Duke", the 1933 memoir of Nicholas II’s brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia (published in New York, by Farrar and Rinehart, Inc.), concern about the eventual marriages of cadet Romanovs so troubled the senior grand dukes that Alexander approached the Emperor about relaxing the requirement that dynasts marry partners "possessing corresponding rank" enshrined in article 188 of the Fundamental Laws (the so-called "Pauline Laws"), but was rebuffed. The grand dukes officially petitioned the Emperor through a commission chaired by Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich of Russia, requesting that a new category of dynastic marriages be recognized, to consist of Imperial princes and princesses entitled, with specific Imperial consent, to marry persons of non-royal blood and to transmit to the issue thereof eligibility to inherit the throne. The Emperor’s response was issued formally on June 14, 1911 in the form of a memorandum from the Imperial court minister, Baron Vladimir Freedericksz (Frederiks) (State Archives of the Russian Federation, Series 601, {"The Emperor Nicholas II"}, Inventory {register} 1, File 2143, pages 58-59):

"The Lord Emperor has seen fit to permit marriages to persons not possessing corresponding rank of not all Members of the Imperial Family, but only of Princes and Princesses of the Blood Imperial...Princes as well as Princesses of the Blood Imperial, upon contracting a marriage with a person not possessing corresponding rank, shall personally retain the title and privileges which are theirs by birth, with the exception of their right to succession from which they shall have abdicated before entering the marriage. In relation to the categorization of the marriages of Princes and Princesses of the Blood Imperial, the Lord Emperor has seen fit to recognize only two categories in these marriages: (a) equal marriages, i.e. those contracted with persons belonging to a Royal or Ruling House, and (b) unequal marriages, i.e. those contracted with persons not belonging to a Royal or Ruling House, and will not recognize any other categories."

As promised in this communiqué, the Emperor proceeded to legalize "authorized" marriages of imperial Romanovs below grand ducal rank to persons who lacked "corresponding rank". Such marriages had been altogether banned, rather than deemed morganatic, by Alexander III’s "ukase" #5868 on March 23, 1889. But "ukase" #35731/1489, issued on August 11, 1911, amended the 1889 ban with the words, "Henceforth no grand duke or grand duchess may contract a marriage with a person not possessing corresponding rank, that is, not belonging to a Royal or Ruling house."

Both the 1889 and 1911 decrees were addenda to article 188 of the Pauline laws (re-codified as article 63 of the Imperial Family Statute). Left intact, however, was that original statute: "A person of the Imperial family who has entered into a marriage alliance with a person not possessing corresponding rank, that is, not belonging to a Royal or Ruling House, cannot pass on to that person, or to any posterity that may issue from such a marriage, the rights which belong to the Members of the Imperial family."

Also remaining unrepealed was article 36 ("Children born of a marriage between a member of the Imperial Family and a person not of corresponding rank, that is, not belonging to a Royal or Ruling House, shall have no right of succession to the Throne"). Aside from article 188, article 36 applied to prevent Tatiana Konstantinovna'sFact|date=February 2007 issue from claiming succession rights.

Her contemplated marriage having been rendered legal, Tatiana Konstantinovna renounced her dynastic rights, as required. Nicholas II acknowledged this in a "ukase" addressed to the Imperial Senate on February 9, 1914 (Collection of Statutes and Decrees of the Government, 1914, #441): "Her Highness the Princess Tatiana Konstantinovna has presented to Us over Her own sign manual, a renunciation of the right to succession to the Imperial Throne of All the Russias belonging to Her as a member of the Imperial House," receiving in return Nicholas II’s authorization to marry Bagration-Mukhransky.

Finally, Tatiana Konstantinovna and her Georgian prince were married, at her father's estate at Pavlovsk, on September 3, 1911. The Emperor was present at the wedding and, according to a family tradition subsequently repeated by the bride’s son, Nicholas II is reported to have suggested that the bridegroom sign the wedding register as "Prince Gruzinsky" (i.e. "Prince of Georgia"), perhaps a courteous acknowledgement of the fact that, although for the preceding century the Bagrations might only rank as nobles who bore the fairly common title of "Knyaz" (prince) in Russia, historically the Mukhranskys were a branch of a deposed royal dynasty that had ruled on both sides of the Caucasus for hundreds of years longer than the Romanovs. By changing the law, granting unprecedentedFact|date=February 2007 permission for the marriage, and personally attending it, Nicholas II was not, in fact, treating this marriage as an act of rebellion, nor as a disgrace to the Romanovs. Yet his acceptance was conditioned upon the marriage being deemed legally morganaticFact|date=February 2007, reflecting the non-dynastic status that the Bagration-Mukhranskys held in Russia in 1911.

On the same day, the Emperor issued yet another "ukase", (#35766): "By Our and Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich’s and Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mavrikievna’s consent, the wedding took place on 24th day of this August [old style] of the Daughter of Their Imperial Highnesses, Her Highness the Princess Tatiana Konstantinovna, with Prince Konstantin Bagration-Mukhransky. In consequence of this order: The Princess Tatiana Konstantiovna to retain the title of Highness and henceforth to bear the name of Her Highness the Princess Tatiana Konstantinovna Princess Bagration-Mukhransky..."

Adult life

Tatiana and Prince Konstantin Bagration-Mukhransky (2 March 1889 - 19 May 1915) had two children: Prince Teymuraz Konstantinovich Bagration-Mukhransky (12 August 1912 Pavlovsk - 10 April 1992 New York City); and Princess Natalia Konstantinovna Bagration-Mukhransky (6 April 1914 Crimea - 26 August 1984 London), who married Sir Charles Hepburn-Johnston GCMG and, as Lady Johnston, accompanied him on his many diplomatic postings overseas when not living in London.

After the outbreak of World War I, Konstantin enlisted in Russia’s armed forces, and was killed in action in 1915. Her brother Oleg was wounded in action, and subsequently died on September 29 1914 at Vitebsk Hospital in Vilno. Three other brothers, Ioann, Konstantin and Igor, were murdered by Bolsheviks in 1918.

Tatiana Konstantinovna is reported to have become especially close to her uncle, Grand Duke Dmitri Konstantinovich during her widowhood. After the February Revolution, she stayed with him in his palace, where she fell in love with his aide-de-camp, Alexander Korochenzov (17 August 1877 - 6 February 1922). Urged by her uncle, she left Russia with Korochenzov and her young children. They were fortunate enough to escape, as Dmitri Konstantinovich was executed in St. Petersburg in January 1919.

Tatiana Konstantinovna and Korochenzov at first fled to Romania and later to Switzerland. In November 1921, they married in Geneva. Not quite three years later, however, Tatiana became a widow for the second time when Alexander died in Lausanne. Tatiana raised her children alone, and, after both were grown and married, she took the veil. She died as Mother Tamara (named so after the medieval Georgian queen Tamar, a remote ancestor of Tatiana’s husband) [ru icon Пчелов, Евгений Владимирович (Pchyolov, Evgeny Vladimirovich) (2003), Монархи России ("Monarchs of Russia"), p. 620. Olma Media Group, ISBN 5224043433.] , Abbess of the Mount of Olives Convent on August 28 1979 in Jerusalem.

Marriage's Implications for Succession Claims

In post-monarchy debates over which pretender has the strongest claim to Russia’s throne under the dynastic laws, the marriage of Tatiana Konstantinovna is often cited in support of rival claimants. Some cite it as evidence that marriage to a member of the Bagration family cannot be considered any more "equal" than marriage to any other prince of Russia’s nobility, since the marriage was morganaticFact|date=February 2007 and she was only able to obtain the Emperor’s approval by first renouncing her succession rights. According to this argument, Maria Vladimirovna Romanov and her son, George Mikhailovich, cannot be rightful claimants to the throne because Maria Vladimirovna’s mother is Princess Leonida Bagration-Mukhransky, belonging to the same family previously permitted to inter-marry with the Romanovs on morganatic termsFact|date=February 2007. An oft-heard rebuttal isFact|date=February 2007 that the Bagrations fall into the same "grey area" as the 1856 marriage of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna to Duke Maximilian of Leuchtenberg, who was notFact|date=February 2007 a member of a "royal or ruling family", despite his historical dynastic connections, yet Emperor Nicholas I exercised Imperial authority to rule in favor of Duke Maximilien’s dynasticity for marital purposes.

Other monarchists argue that the circumstances of Tatiana Konstantinovna’s marriage confirm Maria Vladimirovna’s claim on two counts. First, they maintainFact|date=February 2007 that Nicholas II’s acceptance of Tatiana Konstantinovna’s renunciation prior to marriage explicitly confirms that she had succession rights despite being born of a Lutheran mother who never converted to the Russian Orthodox Church, sometimes alleged to be a prerequisite for successors to Russia’s throne. A rebuttal is that article 185 of the Pauline laws is explicit: "The marriage of a male member of the Imperial House who might succeed to the Throne to a person of another faith may not take place until she embraces Orthodoxy."

The second relevant claim in support of Maria Vladimirovna is that Tatiana Konstantinovna’s mandated renunciation proves that Romanov princes were required to marry "equally" in order to transmit succession rights to their descendantsFact|date=February 2007, an interpretation denied by Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff, president of the Romanoff Family Association, in an interview with the royalty magazine, "Point de Vue", published February 14, 1991, who stated, "Let’s take the example of the Princess Tatiana who, in 1911, married a prince of a very great family of Georgia, but which was not reigning. Before giving his authorization, Czar Nicholas requested that the princess renounce her rights of succession in advance. That argument is very important since, although her mother was Lutheran, the princess only renounced upon her marriage, whereas there was a law stating that children born of a non-Orthodox marriage had no right to succeed as czar. Nonetheless, Nicholas II requested her renunciation."

The counter-claim has been that the wording of the August 1911 "ukase" restricting the ban on morganatic marriages to grand dukes was silent on imperial princes, therefore the Frederiks memorandum was not given full legal effectFact|date=February 2007.


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1= 1. Princess Tatiana Constantinovna of Russia
2= 2. Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia
3= 3. Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg
4= 4. Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich of Russia
5= 5. Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg
6= 6. Prince Moritz of Saxe-Altenburg
7= 7. Princess Augusta of Saxe-Meiningen
8= 8. Emperor Nicholas I of Russia
9= 9. Princess Charlotte of Prussia
10= 10. Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
11= 11. Duchess Amelia of Württemberg
12= 12. George, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
13= 13. Princess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
14= 14. Bernhard II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
15= 15. Princess Marie of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel)
16= 16. Emperor Paul I of Russia
17= 17. Princess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg
18= 18. King Frederick William III of Prussia
19= 19. Duchess Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
20= 20. Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
21= 21. Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
22= 22. Duke Louis of Württemberg
23= 23. Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg
24= 24. Frederick, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg (=20)
25= 25. Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (=21)
26= 26. Hereditary Prince Frederick Louis of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
27= 27. Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia
28= 28. George I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen
29= 29. Louise Eleanor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
30= 30. William II, Elector of Hesse
31= 31. Princess Augusta of Prussia


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