Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1890–1958)

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1890–1958)

Infobox Russian Royalty|grand duchess
name = Maria Pavlovna
title =Duchess of Södermanland
Princess Sergei Mikhailovich Putiatin

imgw = 180px
caption = Maria Pavlovna photographed in 1912.
spouse = Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland
Prince Sergei Mikhailovich Putiatin
issue = Prince Lennart, Duke of Småland "(later Count of Wisborg)"
Prince Roman Sergeievich Putiatin
imperial house =House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
House of Bernadotte
father =Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia
mother =Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark
date of birth = birth date|1890|4|18|mf=y
place of birth = Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
date of death =death date and age|1958|12|13|1890|4|18|mf=y
place of death =Mainau, Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
place of burial=|
"Her Imperial Highness" Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, known as "Maria Pavlovna the Younger" (In Russian Великая Княгиня Мария Павловна) (April 6/April 18, 1890 - December 13, 1958) was the daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and Alexandra Georgievna of Greece. She was usually called "Marie," the French version of her name.

Her paternal grandparents were Alexander II of Russia and Empress Maria Alexandrovna. Her maternal grandparents were George I of Greece and Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia, his queen consort.

Early life

Maria's mother, Alexandra Georgievna of Greece died soon after she had given birth to Maria's brother Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, when little Maria was under two years old. Their father was distraught at the funeral and had to be restrained by his brother, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, when the lid was closed on Alexandra's coffin.Hugo Mager, "Elizabeth: Grand Duchess of Russia," Carroll Graf and Publishers Inc., 1998, p. 143] Sergei gave the premature Dmitri the baths prescribed by the doctors, wrapped him in cotton wool and kept him in a cradle filled with hot water bottles to keep his temperature regulated. "I am enjoying raising Dmitri," Sergei wrote in his diary.Perry, John Curtis, and Pleshakov, Constantine, "The Flight of the Romanovs: A Family Saga," Basic Books, 1999, p. 43] The toddler Maria tapped Sergei on the shoulder and called him "pretty uncle" in English. "She is so cute," wrote Sergei. After Paul recovered, he took the two children away with him, but they spent Christmases and later some summer holidays with the childless Sergei and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. The couple set aside a playroom and bedrooms for the youngsters at their home, Ilinskoe. [Mager, p. 179] Until she was six, Maria didn't speak a word in Russian as all of her governesses spoke English. Later she had another governess, "mademoiselle" Hélène who taught her French and stayed with her until her marriage.

, "but inclined to be self-willed and selfish, and rather difficult to deal with."Charlotte Zeepvat, "The Camera and the Tsars: A Romanov Family Album," Sutton Publishing, 2004, p. 101]

Assassination of uncle

In 1905 her uncle was killed by a bomb during the 1905 Revolution. The bomber had refrained from an earlier attack because he saw that Grand Duchess Elizabeth, along with fifteen-year-old Maria and her younger brother Dmitri were in the carriage and didn't want to kill women and children. [Maylunas, Andrei, and Mironenko, Sergei, A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story, Doubleday, 1997, p. 258] A second attack a few days later succeeded in killing Sergei. Elizabeth and the teenagers, hearing the bomb, rushed out and saw Sergei's broken body in the snow. Maria described the scene later in her memoirs: cquote|My aunt was on her knees beside the litter. Her bright dress shone forth grotesquely amid the humble garments surrounding her. I did not dare look at her. Her face was white, her features terrible in their stricken rigidity. She did not weep, but the expression of her eyes made an impression on me I will never forget as long as I live. Leaning on the arm of the Governor of the city, my aunt drew near the door slowly, and when she perceived us she stretched out her arms to us. We ran to her. "He loved you so, he loved you so," she repeated endlessly, pressing our heads against her. I noticed that low on her right arm the sleeve of her gay blue dress was stained with blood. There was blood on her hand, too, and under the nails of her fingers, in which she gripped tightly the medals that my uncle always wore on a chain at his neck. [Maylunas and Mironenko, pp. 262-263]

After the assassination, both children were emotionally distraught; particularly Dmitri. Dmitri was terrified that he would be sent back to live with his father, Elizabeth wrote. "Dmitri simply sobs and clings to me," she wrote. "His intense fright was the idea of having to leave me. He decided he must watch over me as Uncle is no more and clings to me to such a degree that the arrival of his father was more an anguish than a pleasure, the intense fear he would take him."Mager, p. 214] Elizabeth talked with the children and admitted that she had been unfair to them. The Tsar made Elizabeth their guardian and gave Paul the right to visit Russia from time to time, though not to live there. Paul didn't want to take the children from Elizabeth, according to the diary of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich of Russia. [Maylunas and Mironenko, p. 271]

Marriage and divorce

A year later Marie was engaged to Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland (June 17, 1884 - June 5, 1965), the second son of King Gustav V of Sweden and Victoria of Baden. Maria wrote later that she felt her aunt had rushed her into the marriage. However, at the time she enjoyed the attention and was eager to escape from the nursery. "Then we will be able to travel together," she wrote to Wilhelm after their engagement. "And to live just as we wish and to suit ourselves. I'm looking forward to a wonderful life -- a life full of love and happiness, just as you described to me in your last letters." Maria's father initially refused to attend the wedding, which took place on May 3, 1908, because the Tsar refused to permit his wife to attend and because the children remained in the custody of the Tsar and of Grand Duchess Elizabeth. "As for the Swedish prince, what can I say about him?" wrote Paul to Tsar Nicholas II on May 12, 1907. "As the children are wards, the father doesn't have the opportunity of either meeting the fiancé or pronouncing himself for or against, or expressing his opinion that a girl of seventeen is too young to be given away in marriage. The wardship has decided so many questions without me that in reality the children have been distanced from me to the utmost possible degree". [Maylunas and Mironenko, p. 302] Paul eventually was given an opportunity to come to Russia and meet Wilhelm, which made Maria "deliriously happy." [Perry and Pleshakov, p. 103] Maria and Wilhelm had a single son: Lennart, Duke of Småland and later Count Bernadotte af Wisborg (1909-2004).

In the beginning, the marriage looked successful. . "She was fainting every minute, she was white as a sheet, she could not eat or sleep, she was coughing dreadfully, and she still complains about her kidneys. She is only beginning to recover under the influence of our love and caress. It is "unthinkable" that she should return to Sweden and I beg your permission for us to begin negotiating a divorce. [Maylunas and Mironenko, p. 383] The couple was divorced in 1914. Maria left her son behind in his father's custody. He was raised primarily by his paternal grandmother and saw his mother rarely in the years thereafter. In an interview as an adult, Lennart said his mother had a distant relationship with him and didn't know how to relate well to her grandchildren.Perry and Pleshakov, p. 340]

World War I and Revolution

, without telling her anything about the plot, she was horrified. "For the first time in my life," she wrote, "my brother appeared to me an individual standing apart from me, and this feeling of unaccustomed estrangement made me shiver." [Perry and Pleshakov, p. 135] Maria signed a letter along with other members of the Imperial family, begging Nicholas to reverse his decision to exile Dmitri to the Persian front. [Maylunas and Mironenko, p. 517] The Tsar refused to reverse his decision. Dmitri's exile meant he was not among the Romanov grand dukes, including his father, who were murdered in the revolution that followed.


She married her second husband "His Illustriousness" Prince Sergei Mikhailovich Putiatin in September 1917. They had one son, "His Illustriousness" Prince Roman Sergeievich Putiatin (June 1918-1919). Maria's father, Grand Duke Paul, attended Roman's baptism on July 18, 1918, the same day, though they did not know it, that Maria's half-brother Prince Vladimir Paley was murdered by the Bolsheviks. [Zeepvat, p. 207] Maria's father was arrested by the Bolsheviks at the end of July 1918 and was later murdered on January 30, 1919. [Zeepvat, pp. 207-208] Maria and her second husband left baby Roman in the care of his paternal grandparents when they fled the country, going first to Romania and the court of her first cousin, Queen Marie of Romania, and later to Paris and then to London. In 1919 she received a letter from her husband's parents telling her that baby Roman had died of an intestinal disorder. Her guilt that she had left him behind prevented her from telling her friends of the baby's existence. [Perry and Pleshakov, p. 259] Maria was reunited with her brother Dmitri in London. Her first years of exile were financed by the jewels she had had smuggled to Sweden before escaping Russia. She later opened a quality sewing and textile shop called "Kitmir" in Paris, becoming a successful entrepreneur in the Parisian fashion industry. She also wrote her memoirs of growing up in Russia. [Perry and Pleshakov, pp. 256-260] Her marriage to Putiatin broke up "over a fundamental difference in attitude," though she continued to offer Putiatin and his relatives financial assistance. [Perry and Pleshakov, p. 260] During her years in exile, she lived mainly in Europe including Germany, Sweden and in Biarritz and in Spain on the invitation of the Spanish queen. She lived twelve years in the United States before moving to Argentina because the United States was a country that recognized the Soviet Union. She lived in Buenos Aires and after World War II in Europe.

Maria told her adult son, Lennart, during a rare conversation with him, that she had felt lonely all of her life because of her rootless childhood. She spent much of her adulthood looking for love, having affairs, and finding it hard to fill the empty places inside of her. [Perry and Pleshakov, p. 339] She grieved over the death of her brother Dmitri, the only person she had really loved, in 1942. [Perry and Pleshakov, pp. 311, 340] She died at the age of sixty-eight in 1958 in the border town of Konstanz in West Germany.



*Grand Duchess Marie of Russia (ed Russell Lord), "Education of a Princess - a Memoir", 1930, ASIN: B000K5SJJ4
*Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, "A Princess in Exile", 1932, ASIN: B000TG41CS
*John Curtis Perry and Constantine Pleshakov, "The Flight of the Romanovs," Basic Books, 1999, ISBN 0-46502462-9
*Hugo Mager, "Elizabeth: Grand Duchess of Russia," Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-7867-0678-3
*Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko, "A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story," Doubleday, 1997, ISBN 0-385-48673-1
*Charlotte Zeepvat, "The Camera and the Tsars: A Romanov Family Album," Sutton Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7509-3049-7
* [ Genealogy of the Romanov Imperial House]

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