03 June 2013

An Interview with the Head of the House of Romanoff on the Spanish News Agency EFE

An Interview with the Head of the House of Romanoff on the Spanish News Agency EFE

1. Your Imperial Highness, what is the significance of the 400th anniversary of the Romanoff dynasty?

Our dynasty was called to the throne by the representatives of every social class and on the basis of our close family ties to the previous dynasty, the House of Riurikovich. The restoration of legitimate hereditary monarchy was the result of a national struggle for liberation. And in this sense, this is a dynastic anniversary. But we are not celebrating only the “400th anniversary of the House of Romanoff” as much as the 400th anniversary of the national victory over the Time of Troubles, the ending of the civil war, and the expulsion of foreign invaders, who had been attempting to exploit the turmoil in Russia. The dynasty is a large part of these celebrations, then, but only part of them.

2. How do you think the Russian people remember the Romanoff dynasty?

Our great national poet, Alexander Pushkin, in his play Boris Godunov, wrote about this very thing. He wrote: the Russian people “remember their great rulers for their achievements, their glory, and for their goodness. And for their sins and for offenses they offer prayers to the Savior.” Put in more modern terms, we can say that there were bright moments and dark moments in the history of the House of Romanoff. We should remember both. We can learn from the brighter moments, and we must repent for the darker ones. But on the whole, I do not sense that the people are ill-disposed to the dynasty, and I think that the majority of our countrymen are inclined to think more of the achievements Russia had during the reign of our dynasty, and of the better sides of the characters of the Russia’s rulers. The relationship of the people to the tsar is very much like that of children in a family to their parents. Parents can and do sometimes make mistakes, but their children do not stop loving them because of that. Moreover, a lot has changed in our country in recent years, and it has become possible to learn the truth about the lives of each tsar. My ancestors can certainly be criticized for a lot of things, but one thing that no one could accuse them of is not loving their people. And my countrymen sense this and appreciate this.

Have you timed any important decisions about the future of your family to coincide with this anniversary?

The circumstances do not entirely depend on us, and we have not set anypreconditions or timetables for any decisions about our future. We have been raised since childhood to live by the principle: “Do what you must, and whatever will be, will be.”

3. What is the relationship now between the Romanoff family and Russia?

The relationship between the Romanoffs and Russia has never been broken and has never diminished. The Communist regime tried to instill hatred for us among the people, but they were not successful. When the border was opened and we were able to return to our Homeland, we came to see that, with very few exceptions, people felt sympathy and good will toward us—that they understood and respected our mission, even if they did not in all things agree with us.

4. I know that you communicate regularly with Patriarch Kirill. What is his relationship with the Romanoff family.

Patriarch Kirill has been a presence in our family since the first time we returned to Russia. When he was still Metropolitan of Smolensk, he participated in a meeting between Patriarch Alexis II and my parents in St. Petersburg in November 1991, when they came back to their Homeland for the first time since the Revolution. Since then, we have met several times, and His Holiness has always shown us love and been a source of great help in difficult times. We consider him our spiritual father, and we take counsel with him on important questions of our spiritual lives and our public activities. And, for his part, the Patriarch understands perfectly well the nature of our service and offers us his prayers and his moral and active support.

5. Do you hope one day to have contacts with the President, or have you already been in communication with him? Do you know what President Putin thinks about the institution of monarchy and about the Romanoffs?

We have contacts with the leaders of all the branches of the government—with the State Duma, the Federation Council, the legal system generally, attorneys-general, government ministers, the presidents of autonomous republics, governors, and mayors. I have known President Putin since the time we returned for the first time to Russia. In 1990, he had a leadership position in the city of St. Petersburg, and all of our visits to the Northern Capital were under his purview. When he became President, our contacts of course became rarer. But we see each other from time to time and warmly great each other. Not long ago, in September of last year, my son and I met and spoke with the President at the Borodino battlefield when we were all there to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. We have always shown respect and understanding to each other. We try to support the President in all things that help strengthen the state and civil society. Of course, we have our own opinion on some questions, but we strictly follow the principle of not involving ourselves in political conflicts. We limit our public commentaryto moral, and not political, statements.

You will have to ask President Putin what he thinks about monarchy. In an interview he gave before his election, he spoke positively of the experience of the restoration of the monarchy in Spain. At international conferences, he has spoken publicly of the importance of inter-dynastic, familial links and their role in international relations. Be that as it may, both the President and I understand that, right now, it would be premature to talk about the restoration of the monarchy in Russia. But this in no way stops the Imperial House from actively participating in the social and cultural life of Russia.

6. Do you want to move to Russia permanently? Under what conditions would you return to your Homeland? Is there a real possibility of this happening?

We have set forth no financial or political pre-conditions whatsoever. But we do think it appropriate that the present Russian government should determineand affirm the status of the dynasty as a historical institution, possessing a socio-cultural significance for our country. This step has, in one form or another, already been taken in many countries, including formerly Communist countries. When this also happens in Russia, then we will return to live there permanently—not only as private citizens, but as members of a familial corporation that provides a living connection to the centuries-old history of Russia.

We have set forth no pre-conditions for this to happen, and we try to be useful to our country in the circumstances in which it finds itself today. We visit Russia frequently; and with every year that passes, the circle of people we come into contact with, and the range and nature of our activities, expand more and more.

7. After so many years, do you consider yourself a Russian patriot?

For as long as I can remember, from the first conscious moments in my life, I have known from my parents that Russia is my homeland, and that I must love Russia and defend her interests.

How does your son feel about Russia? What is his relationship to Russia?

My son is a person of the next generation. We sometimes have different views on some things. This is inevitable and entirely natural. But there are no “fathers-and-sons” conflicts in our family whatsoever. Across all the generations of our family, our fundamental values—our relationship to our faith, to Russia, to our mission—have been preserved intact, even if, over time, the ways these values have been expressed has changed.

8. Do you hope to have your rights, which you lost in 1917, returned to you one day?

We have not lost our rights. We continue firmly to possess our rights. What happened was that the Revolution overthrew the governmental system, in which our rights were actualized on a governmental level.

Both my son and I believe that the monarchical idea of the State-Family has a future. But we do not want to impose anything on anyone. Article 13 of the Constitution of Russia guarantees freedom of thought and prohibits the imposition of any single ideology on everyone. Therefore, we can openly discuss with our countrymen the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy, and we remain open to dialog with people of all political views, including those on the left.

9 What role do you want to play in modern Russia?

The role of the Head of any historical dynasty, whether it reigns or not, is to preserve the traditions of his country, to offer himself as an independent arbiter whenever he might be called upon to play that role, to remind his countrymen of the nation’s long, unbroken history, to strengthen the bonds that joins peoples of various ethnic backgrounds, religious confessions, and social classes, and to promote a positive image of his country on the international stage. Like parents in a family, monarchs should above all see the good in his people, not the bad, and seek out above all to make friends, not enemies. And if problems should arise, they should be resolved in a spirit of brotherhood, and not through enmity.

10. Do you think that Russia can one day again become a monarchy, the way it happened in Spain?

Every country is unique, and to attempt simply to copy another country’s experience will only end in ruin. But I do believe that the restoration of the monarchy in Russia would be useful to the country and would be wholly consistent with our national character and historical path. Perhaps this will take place during my lifetime. Whatever the case, I am obliged to preserve the heritage of my ancestors and to transmit that heritage to the next generation.

11. Do you consider yourself to be the legitimate representative of the senior branch of the House of Romanoff? Whatdoesthatmeanforyourdescendants?

The status of the Head of the Imperial House does not depend on who believes what. Ourdynasticlawisveryprecise. It does not contemplate the existence of pretenders and always indicates the one and only person who possesses the rights and duties of the Head of the Dynasty. The Lord has willed it that I should be that person. The position of Head of the Dynasty cannot be assigned to anyone nor refused. I am certain that my descendants will regard this duty in the same way that my ancestors regarded it: soberly, and always mindful of their responsibilities.

12. There is another line of Romanoffs which lives in Australia and which does not recognize your rights. Whatisyourresponsetothem?

As far as I know, Mikhail Andreevich Romanoff, who lived in Australia, has, unfortunately, passed away, and he never opposed our dynastic line, understanding fully that such attacks were completely groundless, not constructive, and pointless. The genealogical seniority of our line is indisputable, and the conditions for membership in the Imperial House and for the transference of the succession to the female line are clearly spelled out in the family law. If we are going to deny the force of this law, then there really is no point in talking about the Imperial House as a historical institution. Everyone could do whatever they wanted, appropriate whatever title they wanted, and make claims to anything that pops into their heads.

When some of my relatives say negative things about me or my son, I try to ignore it. Unpleasant relatives abound in all families, not just royal families. If someone descended from the Romanoff dynasty does not recognize the dynastic laws and instead holdsrepublican views, that is fully his right. But I live and operate in a system of values, in which these laws are still very much in force, and monarchist principles are an integral part of that worldview. Surely you agree that the Imperial House renouncing the idea of monarchy is as absurd as the Church teaching atheism.

Even as I hold these views and in no way doubt the legality of my status, I am nonetheless very open to contacts with all my relatives, and I am always glad when they involve themselves in activities that are in the best interests of Russia.

13. What is your relationship with other royal families of Europe?

We are all related to each other. With some I have quite close relationships, and with others my relationship is more formal, but all the same all European dynasties constitute a single, large family. We are always glad to see and interact with each other.

14. What do you think of the recent financial scandals that have hit several of the members of the royal families of Europe?

One should never give oneself over to hysteria or gloating delight, as sometimes happens in these situations. Guilt and the level of legal responsibility is something that is determined by a court of law. If a person made a mistake or broke the law, he should answer for it. If guilt has not been proven, his good name should be restored to him. This is true for everyone, naturally, not just members of royal families.

But when these cases are exploited as a means to discredit the institution of monarchy, the criticism becomes an injustice and an absurdity. One should not reject a system of government that has proven itself over many centuries just because of the mistakes of a single person. After all, the level of corruption in many republics is vastly higher than that in monarchies, but we never hear calls for the eradication of republics because of it. And if a lone doctor or medical professional makes a mistake, we do not call for the closing of all hospitals or the entire health care system.

15. Do you have plans to abdicate in favor of your son?

This is not a Russian tradition. Power is assigned and passed on in a dynasty in a regular way, in the normal course of life. But the rights and duties of the Head of the Dynasty are held for life, in the same way that the responsibilities of a father and mother in a family are life-long.

16. What awaits the monarchy in the future?

Beginning in the 18th century, the monarchical system of government entered a period of crisis. But this was not only a crisis of monarchy, it was a crisis of all the traditional foundations of society—religion, the family, national customs, and national sovereignty. However, history moves not in a straight line, but in cycles. We have seen that the attack on ancient spiritual and moral values has not saved humanity from disasters, but has more likely made those disasters only worse. And people are beginning to understand this. The revival of religious faith in Russia after 70 years of fierce religious persecution only goes to show that it is impossible to destroy traditional values.

We should not forget the lessons of history. The Roman government got rid of its kings,then lived for 500 years as a republic only to return later to the monarchical form of government. The fall of the Western Roman Empire did not lead to the destruction of the monarchical principle. Quite the opposite, it grew and flourished. Only 100 years ago, republics were far less numerous than monarchies. What will happen 100 years from now, no one can say.

The monarchical idea of the State-Family is alive and will continue to exist as long as humanity exists. I believe a system of government that is based on that idea will be needed in Russia and in many other countries.

The text of this interview appears in abridged form in the following:






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