Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich
Born (1866-04-13)13 April 1866
Tiflis, Tiflis Governorate, Georgia, Caucasus, Russian Empire
Died 26 February 1933(1933-02-26) (aged 66)
Villa St Thérèse, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Burial Cimetière de Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Spouse Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia
Issue Princess Irina Alexandrovna
Prince Andrei Alexandrovich
Prince Feodor Alexandrovich
Prince Nikita Alexandrovich
Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich
Prince Rostislav Alexandrovich
Prince Vasili Alexandrovich
House Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Father Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia
Mother Princess Cecilie of Baden

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia (Russian: Александр Михайлович Aleksandr Mikhailovich; 13 April 1866 – 26 February 1933) was a dynast of the Russian Empire, a naval officer, an author, explorer, the brother-in-law of Emperor Nicholas II and advisor to him.


Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich

Alexander was born in Tbilisi, in the Tiflis Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Georgia) the son of Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia, the youngest son of Nicholas I of Russia, and Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna (Cecily of Baden). He was mostly known as "Sandro".

Grand Duke Alexander was a naval officer. In his youth, he made a good-will visit to Japan on behalf of the Russian Empire, as well as to the Brazilian Empire. He married his first cousin's daughter, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the eldest daughter of Alexander III on the 6 August [O.S. 25 July] 1894 and was thus a brother-in-law of the last Tsar Nicholas II, and was one of Tsar Nicholas's close advisors.

Before the Revolution the Grand Duke liked to spend his vacation in France, in particular in Biarritz[1] and on the Côte d'Azur where his older brother, Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia[2] had financed in 1908 the construction of the Hotel Carlton in Cannes.

His impact on the Tsar has been both criticized and appreciated: His memoirs document that he openly challenged the Tsaritsa Alexandra's political influence on her husband, but regretted that Nicholas did not use troops to resist the Russian revolution and admitted that he had been brought up to share the anti-Semitic views he claimed were prevalent in Russia prior to the revolution. His appeal to the Tsar, as his children approached adulthood, to relax the requirement for equal marriage for Romanov dynasts was rejected, and all seven of his children married titled but non-royal Russian aristocrats, although only his daughter obtained permission of Emperor Nicholas II to do so. When Sandro's eldest son, Andrei Aleksandrovich married at Yalta in the Crimea in 1918, the Emperor, who had abdicated on 15 March 1917, was a prisoner at Yekaterinburg with his family. They would be executed by the Bolsheviks a few days later.

Grand Duke Alexander left the Crimea with his eldest son, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich and his son's new bride, Elisabetta Ruffo Di Saint Antimo, who was pregnant, in December 1918. His wife and mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Maria Fyodorovna and his sons plus other Romanovs, were rescued from the Crimea by the British battleship HMS Marlborough in 1919.

Alexander lived in Paris and wrote his memoirs. Once a Grand Duke (Farrar & Rinehart 1933) is a source of dynastical and court life in Imperial Russia's last half century. He also spent a time as guest of the future Abyssinian Emperor Ras Tafari. He talks about why he was invited to Ethiopia, in his continuation of his biography Always a Grand Duke. He died on 26 February 1933 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the south of France. He was the last surviving legitimate grandchild of Nicholas I of Russia. He was buried on 1 March in Roquebrune. His wife Xenia died in Hampton Court Palace in 1960.

Together Alexander and Xenia had seven children:

In 1885, Alexander graduated from the Naval College at the rank of midshipman; he later served in the Navy and participated in the voyages. Since 1891, he was the initiator and founder of the first edition of the Russian annual directory of "Military Fleets", and was its editor until 1906. In 1895, he developed a program of strengthening the Russian Navy in the Pacific. Starting 1896, he taught the Naval Game at the Naval Science Classes in the Naval Academy. Between 1901 and 1902, he acted as the commander of the Black Sea battleship Rostislav, and in 1903 he was appointed a junior flag officer of the Black Sea Fleet. In parallel, between 1901 and 1905 he acted as a chief superintendent and the chairman of several councils related to merchant shipping and ports. At these positions, he contributed to the development of commercial shipping, construction and equipment of new ports, training merchant mariners, creation of long-distance shipping lines and improvement of maritime trade legislation. During the Russian-Japanese war of 1904–1905, he oversaw the auxiliary cruisers of the Volunteer Fleet. Alexander took part in the development of programs aimed at rebuilding the fleet, brought them to the attention of governments and the public, and was an avid supporter of the construction of new battleships. In 1909, he was promoted to the rank of vice admiral.[3]

World War I

Alexander played a major role in the creation of Russian military aviation. He was the initiator of the officer's aviation school near Sevastopol in 1910 and later the chief of the Imperial Russian Air Service during the First World War. From December 1916 Alexander was the Field Inspector General of the Imperial Russian Air Service. At the beginning of 1917 he advocated the formation of a government with the participation of public figures, speaking out against the "responsible ministry".

While in exile after 1917, he became fascinated with archaeology and conducted a number of successful expeditions.[3]


Alexander was a "mystical freemason" and spirit, called himself a rosicrucian and philalethes. Was in the masonic "Velikoknyiajeskaia Lodge" (St. Petersburg, after 1907 to 1917), the founder of the "Admiralty Lodge" (St. Petersburg, 1910), who worked on the ritual Philalethes.[4][5] According to the Encyclopaedia by Serkov, Alexander was a master of the lodge "Karma", who worked in the years 1910-1919 Swedish Rite.[6]



  1. "Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia in the history of the Hotel du Palais, 1910". Grand Hotels of the World.
  2. "Michael Mikhailovich of Russia in the history of the Hotel Carlton". Grand Hotels of the World.
  3. 1 2 N. Berezovsky, VD Dotsenko, VP Tyurin. Russian Imperial Navy. 1696–1917. Moscow, 1996. (in Russian)
  4. Берберова Н. Н. Люди и ложи. Русские масоны XX столетия. — М., 1997.
  5. Архив Гуверовского института (США), фонд Б. И. Николаевского
  6. Серков А. И. Русское масонство 1731—2000. Энциклопедический словарь. — РОССПЭН, 2001.
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