L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A non-dynastic Romanov wedding

On February 22, 1914, Princess Irina Alexandrovna, (July 15, 1895, Peterhof – February 26, 1970, Paris) daughter of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna - Nicholas II's sister - was married at the Anichkov Palace (the home of her maternal grandmother, the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna) to Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston (March 23, 1887, Saint Petersburg – September 27, 1967, Paris).  Because family law dictated that only children and male-line grandchildren would be styled Grand Duke or Grand Duchess, Irina was a princess rather than Grand Duchess.  And though they were wildly rich, the Yusupov family was princely rather than royal.  So the marriage of Irina and Felix wasn't considered dynastic and was therefore a relatively simple affair.

Irina wore her mother's veil and the Cartier tiara that was a present from the bridegroom.
The Cartier diamond and rock crystal tiara.  One of the many precious things left behind and lost when the couple and their family fled the revolution in Russia.


 An unexpected bridegroom

Prince Felix Yusupov by Valentin Serov, 1903
Felix and his French bulldog, Gugusse, posing for the artist at the Yusupov country estate, Arkhangelskoe.

It took some tough negotiating to get Irina's family to agree to her marrying the already quite scandalous Prince Felix Yusupov.  He was bisexual, a sometime cross-dresser, and was quite flamboyant in all he did.  Still, the couple seemed very well suited, had a daughter together, and enjoyed what appeared to be a very happy marriage that lasted fifty-three years until his death in 1967.

Two years after their marriage he "masterminded" the event that would make him famous: the murder of Rasputin.  His memoirs, Lost Splendour, are quite remarkably frank - and what isn't actually said, is easily imagined.


  1. Such a fascinating story. I remember when we were reading his memoirs, what particular voice he had, and I loved all his observations of his world.

  2. He was a monster, a mere criminal, who murdered in a quite sauvage way the healer Grigori Efimovich Rasputin, the way that was prepared his assassination, with the complicity of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, who was almost forced to participate in this evil act, Felix was blackmailing always Dmitri, as Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna confessed many years later. I don't know if Rasputin is in heaven but I don't have the slightest doubt that Felix Yusupov is in hell, where he belonged since he started his debaucheries.