History - On This Day - 28 July 1860 - Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, who caused a Royal Scandal

28 July 1860 marks the birth of a very noble girl. She received the following title
and names: Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia. Her birth took place at
the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, then a part of the Russian Empire, now located
in Russia.


Source picture: Wikipedia


Family

Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia was the daughter of
Grand Duke Michael Nikolaievich of Russia and Grand Duchess
Olga Feodorovna (born Princess Cäcilie of Baden).

She was the sister of inter alia:

- Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich of Russia (killed in 1919)
- Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia
- Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia (killed in 1919)
- Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia
- Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich of Russia (killed in 1919)
- Grand Duke Alexei Mikhailovich of Russia.

Anastasia was raised in the Caucasus where she lived between 1862 and 1878
with her family.

She was known in the family as "Stassie" and as the only daughter among 7
children she was the object of devotion not only as her father's favorite but
she was spoiled by her six brothers too.

Anastasia was very close to her eldest brother Nicholas Mikhailovich,
the two also shared artistic interest.

She grew up to be very independent, intelligent and strong willed. She had
a warm and happy personality.

She learned French, German and English besides her native Russian.


Olga Feodorovna, her husband, Nicholas and Anastasia
Source picture: Wikipedia


Love and Marriage

In 1878, when Anastasia was almost 18 years, her mother and
Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich,
arranged her marriage with Maria's elder brother:

Friedrich Franz, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

In the spring of 1878, Anastasia and her mother were visiting St. Petersburg.
There, Prince Friedrich Franz was staying with his sister at the Vladimir
palace. He asked Anastasia's hand. He was rich but he had a delicate health,
he suffered from asthma and a weak heart.

Anastasia was not happy with this arrangement. She found that her fiance had
an ugly skin (due to periodic attacks of eczema on the face and body).

However Anastasia could not chose her own husband, as her parents wanted
to secure a good position for her.

The betrothal was announced on 4 May 1878. The marriage took place on
24 January 1879 in St. Petersburg in the Winter Palace. There Anastasia was
given away by her uncle, Tsar Alexander II.

Anastasia and her husband Friedrich Franz
Source picture: Wikipedia


Mecklenburg-Schwerin

On 8 February 1879, Anastasia and Friedrich arrived in Schwerin. There
her father-in-law Friedrich Franz II was the reigning monarch of the
Grand Duchy. He also presided over a large family. The young couple
moved into the Marienpalais but Anastasia wasn't allowed to arrange her
apartments to her own taste. She soon was homesick and she found the
court of Mecklenburg-Schwerin old-fashioned. The couple made brief
visits to Berlin and Baden.

Anastasia soon was pregnant and her eldest child Alexandrine was born
in December on the first year of her marriage. Shortly after this birth, her
husband's illness forced them to travel to a warmer climate. His bad health
allowed Anastasia to spend as little time as possible in Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

They were living in Italy in Palermo, when in April 1882, a second child,
which was called Friederich Franz, was born.


Anastasia with 3 of her children: Alexandrine, Friedrich Franz and Cecile
Source picture: Wikipedia


Duty

On 15 April 1883, Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
died. Anastasia's husband was too ill to attend his father's funeral. When he
recovered, the family moved to Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Her husband ascended
the throne as Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III.

In the beginning Anastasia enjoyed her new position. However soon afterwards
she wanted to return to Italy or France. In her duchy Anastasia was unpopular
and heavily criticized.

A compromise was reached, the Grand Duke and his family lived for 5 months
at Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the rest of the year they could do what they want
on the condition that their children were born in the duchy.

In 1886, their youngest daughter Cecile was born in Schwerin.


Dowager Grand Duchess

In the winter of 1896-1897, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz 's health got worse.
In the spring, Anastasia took her husband to Grasse in the hope that his health
would become better.

On 10 April 1897, Friedrich Franz III had jumped from a wall in an attempt to
end his life. He was carried back to his residence where he died. The official
report was that the sick grand duke had gone to the balcony falling down over
the railing accidentally.

Anastasia took his body back to Mecklenburg-Schwerin, where she was
resented by her family in law and even suspected of killing him. Anastasia said
to a lady in waiting "I have lost my best friend."

Anastasia inherited all his private property, inter alia the Villa Wenden in
Cannes.

Royal Scandal

When Grand Duchess Anastasia became a widow, she only was 36 years old.
From then, she rarely visited the grand duchy. She preferred to live in the
Riviera or to travel to St. Petersburg, Paris or England. She also gambled heavily
at the Monte Carlo roulette wheel.

Then Anastasia started an affair with her personal secretary
Vladimir Alexandrovich Paltov and she even became pregnant by her lover.
Her illegitimate son, Alexis Louis de Wenden was born in Nice on
23 December 1902. She did bring up him herself.

In 1909, Anastasia's father died. She inherited immense wealth. In those years,
Anastasia occupied herself visiting her relatives, children and grandchildren.


Anastasia, Dowager Grand Duchess
Source picture: Wikipedia


World War I

In the summer of 1914, just before World War I broke out,
Grand Duchess Anastasia visited her brother
Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich of Russia and his family in England.

After the the Austrian ultimatum, she wrote to Tsar Nicholas II:

"I hope that the war will not happen and that we even can say 'perhaps in
a few days, we'll all be together again'".

The conflict split her family. Her son was a reigning German prince and her
younger daughter was a daughter-in-law of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

Her brothers in Russia were fighting to defeat the Central Powers. Anastasia
sided with her native country. However she decided to settle in the neutral
Switzerland. She spent the war years at the Savoy Hotel in Lausanne. Her
villa in Cannes was used for the wounded officers of the Russian Expeditionary
Force in France.

Her eldest daughter, Alexandrine, then Queen in neutral Denmark tried to
obtain news from Cecile and Friedrich Franz.

In 1919 the Bolsheviks killed 3 of her brothers during the Russian revolution.
The fall of the monarchy in Germany was a loss for both her son Friedrich in
Mecklenburg-Schwerin and her daughter Cecile.

After World War I, Anastasia moved back to France. There she created a
charitable foundation to help Russian exile who had emigrated to France with
her illegitimate son as president.

Death

In March 1922, after attending a party giving by her nephew, Grand Duke
Andrei Vladimirovich in Cap-d'Ail, Grand Duchess Anastasia fell ill.
She suffered a stroke and died on 11 March 1922 in Èze, near Cannes.
She was 61 years old.

Her death was the reason that her children were reunited for the first time
since 1914. She was buried beside her husband in Ludwigslust.

Descendants

Direct descendants of Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia are:

- Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (through her daughter Alexandrine);
- Prince George Frederick of Prussia, head of the House of Hohenzollern
(through her daughter Cecile).


See also the page:
Russia: House of Romanov 1762 till 1917 on top of this blog or on
this link