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Why anyone would want to read about my life is a bit of a mystery to me, but
since you went through the trouble of stopping by, I suppose I should humor you.
Start at the beginning, I suppose? Since I was obviously too young to remember, I'll let my sister Minny tell you about my birth:
In 1888 my parents went to Russia and we remained
at Tatoi with our governesses and tutors. That July [August 11,
New Style] as I was returning to the house, a servant handed me a
telegram to take up to my sister [Alexandra]. When I came into the room I
found her sitting together with my brother Nicholas. I showed them
the telegram, which they tried to grab, and as I saw they were so
excited about it, to tease them I refused to give it up. An awful
rumpus ensued when they tore it out of my hands. My amazement was
great when they announced that the wire was from our father
telling us that a new little brother had been born, and was to be
So, there you have it. Not terribly exciting, I'm afraid.
I'm His Royal Highness Prince Christopher ('Christophoros' in
Greek) of Greece and
Denmark, the youngest of King George and Queen Olga's eight
I was very much an afterthought--I was no less than 20 years
younger than my eldest brother Constantine (Konstantinos,
or Tino) and six years younger than even the second youngest,
Andrew. Between Tino and Andrew were: George,
Alexandra, Nicholas (Nicky), Marie (Minny),
and little Olga, who never lived to see her first birthday.
Because my brothers and sisters were
so much older than me, my true playmate was my nephew George,
Tino's eldest son, who was only two years younger than me. My sister Aline died when I was only
three, but I remained rather close to all
my surviving siblings and their children, especially Nicky's girls. They'd tell
you that I brought them "luck" with their engagements!
As for myself, I wasn't a particularly interesting child. I was called "Christo"
and I had the usual troubles with shoelaces and dislike for baths
(though, in my defense, baths in the palace in Athens WERE quite
the ordeal!), and was decidedly less than enthused in regards to
my studies. My niece the Grand Duchess Marie (Pavlovna) could tell you what a notorious jokester I was
in my youth, often getting her and her brother Dimitri in trouble during my visits with them.
My mother, however, indulged me. As the youngest (and the only one of we children to share her deep love for Russia), I think I held a special place in
her heart, and a kiss or a well-timed pout would allow me to get away with almost
anything in her eyes. My father was a bit more strict, but hailing from the Danish
Royal Family, had an undeniable sense of fun as well. We were all quite wild. I
remember the fast-paced bicycle rides through the palace, my Father leading the way,
which would inevitably end with all of us in a huge pile, shrieking with laughter
(and often in my case, as the smallest and most vulnerable, pain!).
When I came of age I joined the army--it was
either that or the navy--although I'd have rather studied the
piano. During my life I attained the rank of Major-General in the
Greek Army, although my service was. . . less than distinctive.
I'm not going to lie to you: Tino, Nicky and Andrea were the
soldiers, not me! But I was very fond of the piano, and I was quite good.
I was told once that my talents would
be "wasted" in any other profession save for accompanist, and that I could make a fortune giving concerts.
Because my father was a Danish prince and Greek king, and my
mother a Russian, language was a rather complicated matter in my
family. We children spoke Greek to one another and English to our
parents (they spoke German to each other, of all things). Although Andrea, as an adult, stubbornly refused to speak anything but Greek. My sister-in-law Grand Duchess Helen--whom we all called 'Ellen'--spoke English to us and Russian to my mother, although
upon their marriages both she and Alice (who married Andrea) took Greek lessons. All of
us ended up being able to speak five or six languages.
I could speak Greek, English, Danish, Russian, French, and Italian. Russian especially always came naturally to me.
I hold that our talents with languages came from our mother, who knew not a word
of Greek or English when she married our father. After a year she had mastered them both.
As a small boy I was relatively good-looking--a "cherubic" little fair-haired child. A bit plump, but
rather adorable, I'm told. Then heredity kicked in. From my father
I, sadly, inherited somewhat early baldness (my hair darkened over
time--before it all fell out, that is!), and my kind Mama gave me poor eyesight (myopia, to
be more precise), hence the specs and monocle. Not the
typical 'prince charming,' I'm sorry to say.
In about 1910, I was briefly engaged to Alexandra, the daughter of the Princess Royal and the Duke of Fife. An
older, unmarried princess (who shall remain nameless!) had decided to pair us up, and neither
of us were really opposed to the idea--at 22, I was
very much in love with the idea of love, and I admired Alix, if
from a distance. The maiden aunt arranged for me to spend some
time with the young princess and her family, but did so by assuring
the worried father that I would not, under ANY circumstances,
propose to the girl. Unfortunately, this same maiden aunt neglected
to tell me about this stipulation. Alix and I became engaged on the sly,
and when it finally occurred to us to tell her parents, everything
turned sour. Her father thought me a cad and everything was called off.
Alix married Arthur of Connaught, and years later, at my
niece Marina's wedding to the Duke of Kent, we were able to
laugh at our ill-fated "romance."
Other English adventures included befriending David, Prince of
Wales (Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor) and
spending time with Queen Alexandra, my favorite aunt. She
once had me dress up as Queen Victoria to entertain her sister,
Minnie, the Dowager Empress of Russia. Through the two of them I was a first cousin to both King George V and Czar Nicholas II. Minnie had been married to Czar Alexander III, whom my sister Marie had called 'Uncle Fatty.' We were all really too cruel to poor Aunt Minnie. I remember one time, when we were both visiting in England:
She was staying at Sandringham House she was so ill that for weeks she was unable to walk and was taken around the gardens in a bath-chair. I met her one morning, being slowly wheeled along in the direction of York House, and offered to take over the chair for a while. The nurse who was accompanying her unsuspectingly relinquished it.
And this brings me to Russia, a country which I loved dearly.
Mama was born Grand Duchess Olga, daughter of Grand Duke Constantine. She never really got over her homesickness, and took many trips to Russia where I spent time with my various relations, including the
Czar and his family. I even entertained the idea of marrying the
Czar's eldest daughter, another Grand Duchess Olga, but Cousin
Nicky wasn't too overly fond of the idea, and in the end my enthusiasm was rather short-lived. It was that "in love with love" idea once again, I'm afraid! Some of my greatest
friends in Russia were Nicky's younger siblings, Grand Duke Michael
and yet another Grand Duchess Olga. They were not
only my cousins, but best friends. I would entertain Grand Duchess Marie and Grand Duke Dimitri, the children of my late sister
Alix, who were not much younger than I. I took many pictures of
the country and my Russian relations, and have maintained a rather
extensive snapshot collection!
Before long we came to the top of a steep slope and I regret to record that the temptation proved too much for me. With one well-directed push I sent the chair careening down it at headlong speed. The Empress's despairing shrieks rent the air as she sped down to the very bottom and then, driven by her own impetus, was rushed half-way up the corresponding incline, only to start the descent again, this time backwards. When I rescued her she was terrified out of her wits, but she had quite lost her lumbago. Either the fright or her violent movements she had made to free herself had cured her.
In 1914, in England, I became engaged to Mrs. Nancy Leeds; a divorcree, a
widow, a commoner, and an American. Thus people looked upon our
match unfavorably, saying that I was only marrying her for her
money (love was the only reason) and she was "much older" than me
(she was only four years older). She was pretty--fair with a
perfect complexion--and had a wonderful sense of humor, but her
greatest and most attractive feature was her kindness. She helped
one and all who appealed to her, and she had the wealth to be of a
great amount of help indeed! We had hoped to marry immediately,
but we ended up having to wait for six years, trying to sort out
the dynastic difficulties of a prince marrying a commoner (at one point I had to ask MY OWN NEPHEW, Alexander, for permission to marry). Things weren't really resolved on January 1, 1920, but we simply
refused to wait any longer! She converted to the Orthodox faith, and was created Princess Anastasia of Greece and Denmark by my brother King Constantine.
In the course of my life my family has been exiled from Greece
several times, the first in 1917, when we ended up living in
Switzerland, while my nephew Alexander 'ruled' as a puppet king in
Athens. He died at age 27 of an infected monkey
bite, leaving behind a pregnant wife. She was a Greek commoner, and the baby, Princess Alexandra, was the only member of the Greek royal family to have any Greek blood!
Incidentally, as a young man I was offered no less than three thrones--Portugal, Lithuania, and Albania--all of which I turned down. What would possess a man to be a king when he was not destined by birth and confined by duty to do so is beyond my comprehension! Nor did Nancy relish the idea of
being a queen, "I'd rather be a lamppost in New York!" she had said!
Speaking of New York, I've always had a great fondness for America and Americans
(after all, I married one!) and was always glad to visit. I loved being mistaken
for an American, and people there would call me "Mr. Christopher." The winters in New York
reminded me of winters in Russia. While in America I was able to discretely take part in
seances and the like. I'm very interested ghosts and the occult. After all, I've had many supernatural experiences myself, including seeing a ghost in England and participating in an automatic writing experiment that foretold the assassination of my father!
While in America, my niece, Princess Xenia of Russia, daughter my sister Marie, got involved in the Anna Anderson controversy, inviting this woman who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia to stay with her. I had heard much about the story, even talking long into the night about it with Mrs. Anderson's most ardent supporter, Gleb Botkin, son of the physician who had died with the Czar and his family. I had a strange experience at a seance relating to Mrs. Anderson,
in which I am quite certain the spirit of Anastasia's sister, Tatiana, spoke to me
(in a familiar soft voice and perfect Russian) and assured me that Mrs. Anderson WAS NOT the Grand Duchess.
Believe it if you like, dismiss it if you must, but I tell you--that's what happened!
My niece Xenia never let me meet Anna Anderson. I felt sure I
would have been able
to tell if she were indeed the Grand Duchess, having seen Anastasia as recently as 1916.
Although, not having met the woman, I didn't feel qualified to issue an opinion, I doubt
she is who she says she is (and not just because of my psychic experience).
Sadly for all involved, my Anastasia--my wife Nancy--developed cancer and died in 1923. We had no children, but she left behind a son from a
previous marriage, William, who had marrried my niece Xenia. In 1929
I married Princess Francoise of Orleans, the daughter of the Duc de
Guise, in a civil ceremony on February 10 and religious on the
11, in Palmero, Italy. She was my "dream lady." We spent most of
our time in Rome, thanks to further unrest in Greece. In fact my
only child, HRH Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, was born in Rome on January
7, 1939. Unfortunately, I didn't have very long to spend with our
son as I died on January 21, 1940, in Athens from an abcessed lung and the flu.
King George II, my nephew and friend, gave me a rather lavish funeral.
Yours fondly and supernaturally,
In the What If? storyline:
On my visit to Russia in 1916,
shortly before my elder cousin Russian Nicky's governmental troubles, I fell
head-over-heels in love with his second daughter, the beautiful Grand Duchess Tatiana. I have to admit I'm not much of a catch, but when
I returned to Russia in 1918 to attend little cousin Marie's wedding, I asked
Nicky for permission to marry Tatiana--and to my great surprise and delight, he granted it! Convincing my darling Tanya
to accept was a bit more of a challenge, but having the backing of her mother
and sisters, added to the overall romantic mood of the wedding, my dream lady eventually accepted!
We were married on 21 July/3 August 1919 in a lovely Orthodox ceremony in Russia.
I'm sorry to say that she's not nearly as taken with me as I am with her--although
one really cannot blame her. She is so stately and beautiful while I (try as I
might) am very down-to-earth and certainly not, shall we say, 'conventionally handsome.'
I feel like I've tried everything to make her love me--when my normally playful attitude didn't work, I tried playing it sophisticated. I lavish attention upon her, and am perhaps overly affectionate and trying a bit too hard. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad about it. David (the Prince of Wales), who has just married Grand Duchess Olga, seems to be having not much more success than I, although he certainly is better-looking than I am. In fact, only Marie's husband--a commoner, interestingly enough--seems to have had any luck in making his grand duchess happy; of course, they married for mutual love, so that rather explains that.
In July of 1920, in Baltimore,
Maryland while on a state visit with her family, my wife Tatiana gave birth to our
darling little daughter Alexandra, named for her grandmother the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her
late aunt, my sister Alexandra, the Grand Duchess Paul. Everyone
calls her Sandra, and she is the most beautiful child I have ever seen. I can hardly believe she is mine! She certainly seems to take after her mother with her delicate features and lovely coloring. It is such a wonder to be a father, though I must confess I was beside myself with anxiety and dread during the delivery. On 27 May/9 June, 1922, our second (and miracle--no one expected Tatiana to have another baby, least of all me!) baby, named Michael ("Michalis" in Greek), whom I think should be called "Mikhos" and Tatiana wishes to call "Misha." It's a minor problem, not agreeing on his nickname. Sandra hasn't quite taken to her little brother yet, but I'm certain that she will in time. . .
Luckier in love than me is my brother-in-law Alexey, who is quite smitten with my dear little niece Princess Elizabeth, my brother Nicky's second daughter. She takes after her lovely mother and is a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty, and a real sweet girl besides! I've had the pleasure of seeing a lot of her and her sisters, Olga and Marina as of late, as they were staying in Russia with their grandmother, the Grand Duchess Vladimir. They are dear girls, friends of mine as well as nieces. At least THEY like me. . .
excerpts from A Romanov Diary by Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna (Princess Marie of Greece) and The Memoirs of HRH Prince Christopher of Greece. Thanks Minny and Christo!! ;)
Names and titles are presented as they were in Christo's (English) memoirs for consistancy's sake.
The Romanovs - One Last Dance
My Reference Books:
Tatiana of Lithuania
My Favorite Reads:
So good it made me want to have a snowball fight in Russia!
Jul 10, 2012 04:04 am