Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov

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Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov (Дмитри Павлович Романов) (September 18, 1891March 5, 1941) was a Russian nobleman, one of the few Romanovs to escape execution by the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. He is known for being involved in the murder of the mystic peasant faith healer Grigori Rasputin, whom he felt held undue sway over Tsar Nicholas II.

Romanov was born at Ilyinskoe near Moscow, and died at Davos. He was the son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, and a cousin of the last Tsar, Nicholas II. Dmitri Pavlovich's mother, Princess Alexandra of Greece, died at his birth, and he and his sister Maria Pavlovna were mostly raised by their uncle and aunt, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, the elder sister of the tsarina. When his uncle, then governor of Moscow, was murdered in 1905 by anarchists, young Dmitri was sent to live with the tsar and his family. At some stage, there was even speculation whether he might be made heir instead of the hemophiliac tsarevich by marrying the tsar's eldest daughter, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia.

As usual in his circles at the time, Dmitri Pavlovich joined a Guards regiment as an officer. He is reputed to have been a very good equestrian, and competed in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, coming seventh. Before World War I, he instigated the idea of national Russian sports competition, the very beginning of what under Soviet rule became the Spartakiad.

Throughout his life, Dmitri Pavlovich was known as a great womaniser. Among his lovers was Pauline Fairfax Potter, an American fashion designer and writer. His most notable affairs were with Natasha, morganatic wife of his cousin Mikhail, and in the early 1920s with Coco Chanel; however, the one (reputed) affair that had the most influence on the course of his life and that effectively gave him his place in history was with another man: cross-dressing and bisexual Prince Felix Yusupov, with whom Dmitri Pavlovich made quite a scandal in the winter of 1912/1913, and with whom he was, in 1916, involved in the murder of Grigori Rasputin.

Older sources (among them Felix's own memoirs) always maintained that the murder of Rasputin was Felix's own idea, and Dmitri was only involved because he owned a car that could move unimpeded through the strictly controlled city of St. Petersburg at wartime due to its imperial standard. Newer research, particularly that of Edvard Radsinsky in his book The Rasputin Files, has postulated the idea that the murder originated with Dmitri, and that he was likely to have fired the shot that ultimately stopped the dying Rasputin from escaping. It is theorized that the story subsequently told by the conspirators was concocted to protect Dmitri from a stain that would endanger his chances of succeeding to the throne of Russia.

As a direct result of his involvement in the murder, Dmitri Pavlovich was sent to the Persian front, which ultimately saved his life &mdah; most of his relatives were executed by the Bolsheviks, even his 16-year-old morganatic half-brother Vladimir Paley, but he himself escaped, with British help, via Teheran and Bombay to London.

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In London in 1919, he met Felix Yusupov again, but they soon fell out — officially over Felix's open gloating in the press of having killed Rasputin, which would endanger Dmitri's chances of a succession to the throne (still thought possible at that stage) by mere association. According to Felix's memoirs, the real reason for their estrangement was rather that Dmitri did not at all believe restoration of the Russian monarchy was possible, but some self-serving elements around him tried to keep up appearances, and elbowed the dangerously disreputable Felix out.

Dmitri Pavlovich's sister Marie had, like many aristocratic Russians in exile, found a niche for herself in the rising Paris fashion industry by founding a business called Kitmir that specialised in bead and sequin embroidery and did much work for Chanel. (Dmitri himself found work as a Champagne salesman.) This way, Dmitri met Coco Chanel, eleven years his elder just like Natasha had been, with whom he conducted a brief affair in 1921. Through Dmitri and Marie's contacts in the industry, Chanel met perfumers in Grasse, which finally led to the creation of the famed Chanel No 5 perfume — involvement in the creation of which is Dmitri's second claim to historic importance.

Dmitri married an American heiress, Audrey Emery, in 1927, procuring for her the insubstantial title of Princess Ilyinskaya from his cousin Kyril for her so the match would be less unequal. The two had a son, Paul Ilyinsky, who later in life became Mayor of Palm Beach, Florida, and thus the only Romanov descendant known to have held elected public office. They were divorced in 1938.

Also during the 1930s, Dmitri was embroiled with the somewhat fascist Young Russian movement around Alexander Kazem-Bek, who was later found out to have been a possible Soviet agent provocateur — a thoroughly dishonourable affair. However, Dmitri reputedly rebuked later advances from Hitler to lead exiled Russian nobles within the German army against the Bolsheviks with the firm statement that nothing would induce him to fight against fellow Russians. However, at that time Dmitri was in no condition to fight at all any more.

Despite athletic interests, Dmitri Pavlovich's health had always been somewhat frail, and in the 1930s, his chronic tuberculosis became acute and necessitated extended stays at a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland, where he died from acute uremia following complications after having been pronounced cured, in early 1942. Rumours that either the Bolsheviks finally got him (or that Hitler had taken his firm "no" badly) abounded, but soon lost relevance in the general clamour and mayhem of World War II and cannot be considered to ever have been founded on anything resembling fact.

After the War, Dmitri was reburied in the palace chapel on the island of Mainau in Lake Constance in southern Germany as a favour to his sister Marie, as her son Count Lennart Bernadotte lived there.ja:ドミトリ・ロマノフ


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