Russian head of Romanov dynasty, Grand Duchess Maria, in Malta visit

The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia is in Malta for an official visit marking the 140th anniversary of the birth, in Malta, of her grandmother

Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia
Maria Vladimirovna, Grand Duchess of Russia

The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia is in Malta for an official visit marking the 140th anniversary of the birth, in Malta, of her grandmother, the Grand Duchess Victoria of Russia, who was in turn, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Emperor Alexander II of Russia. Victoria was born in Malta in November 1876 at San Anton Palace.

The Duchess Maria is a direct descendant of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Alexander II and the current head of the Romanov House, although this has been disputed since 1992. 

The official delegation includes Alexander Zakatov, director of the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Prince Vadim Lopukhin, director of the External Relations Department of the Chancellery, Princess Ekaterina Lopukhin, lady in waiting, Stanislav Dumin, head of the Heraldry of the Chancellery and Hieromonk Nikon (Belavenets), director of the Department of Historical and Memorial Activities of the Chancellery.

During her stay in Malta, the Duchess Maria will be meeting the President of the Republic Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ambassador of the Russian Federation to Malta Vladimir Malygin, and Marchesino Daniel de Petri Testaferrata, president of the Maltese Association of the Sovereign Military Order.

Bolshevik revolution refugees

The Grand Duchess Victoria was born a British princess in Malta where her father served in the royal navy. Victoria later settled in Paris before moving to Russia in 1910, however her stay lasted just seven years, as she was forced to flee to Finland following the fall of the monarchy in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. 

In 1919, HMS Marlborough arrived in Sebastopol Russia to take the royal family to England via Malta, where they arrived on the 20 April 1919. The majority of those on board the ship left Malta shortly after to England as well as other destinations across Europe. 

That same week, on the 25 April, 1919, a second ship arrived in Malta with over 650 Russian refugees, some of whom then settled in Malta. 

Links to the Order of Malta

The Romanov house has had friendly relations with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for over two centuries.

Emperor Paul I was elected Grand Master of the Order in 1798 after the knights were expelled from Malta. Although Paul I was not a Roman Catholic and had not taken any of the necessary vows to qualify as a Grand Master, the Order considers him a de facto Grand Master. 

Of the six emperors that succeeded Paul I, five were members of the Order of Malta. 

The Duchess Maria became a Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in 1994.

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