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04 November 2017

An Interview with H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, in Sputnik News

— Your Imperial Highness, what does Western society think about the Russian Revolution? Why has the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution generated so much interest and attention in the Western media?

— The 1917 Revolution in Russia exerted an enormous influence on the life of our country and on all humanity. Thus it is not so strange that its history and the study of its causes and consequences should interest not only the citizens of Russia, but people all around the world.

There is much in this Revolution, and in what came afterward, that is cruel, bloody and terrible. But I always urge my countrymen in Russia, as well as foreigners, not to turn the discussion of the Revolution into some sort of effort to even the score or to foment new upheavals in Russia. No one can change the past. What happened has happened. But we can draw lessons from our past and strive not to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.

— We are now located at a kind of political threshold: the presidential elections in Russia are drawing near. What lessons from the Revolution, from history, can we learn at this critical moment? Is there any possibility of an outbreak of political instability in Russia?

— I see many positive changes taking place now in my country. Russia is gradually reestablishing its power after the upheavals of the 20th century. It has a strong and experienced leader who enjoys the confidence of the people. But even so, one can never sit back and relax and think that nothing bad will ever happen.

The example of the Russian Empire vividly illustrates my point. Russia was not a backward or poor country, as some biased politicians and writers sometimes say. Russia under the monarchy grew and developed quite dynamically, and it had a promising future ahead of it. In 1913, during the celebrations of the Tercentenary of the reign of Our House, it appeared that the entire nation was content and loved their monarch. Nevertheless the Revolution happened three years later, the emperor and his family were executed brutally, and brother turned on brother.

Of course, many of the prevailing conditions and circumstances were different then from what they are today. But all states and societies have unresolved problems, and it is important not to allow people to come to believe that these problems cannot be solved gradually and organically.

One of the fundamental reasons for any revolution is what we might call the egoism of the élite.

And in our day, and at all times, one should not forget the wise words of the great Russian statesman, Count M. S. Vorontsov, who said: “People with power and wealth must live so that others forgive their having power and wealth.”

— What objective disadvantages and advantages for Russia and its people do you see during the historical period when the House of Romanoff was not on the throne?

— I consider aggressive state-sponsored atheism, totalitarianism, political terror, mass repression, and the destruction of a significant part of our cultural heritage to be completely unacceptable.

At the same time, in the Soviet period there also were heroism, an enthusiasm to build new things, great achievements in science and the arts, and the resolution of a great many social and economic problems.

The history of post-revolutionary Russia cannot be depicted in only white or black tones. This was at the same time a tragic and grand epoch. We must not in any way justify the many crimes committed then, but nor can we fail to see and take into account the many things done that benefited the lives of the people. My grandfather, Emperor-in-Exile Kirill Vladimirovich, as early as 1920 said this about Soviet Russia: “It is not necessary to destroy institutions that have evolved organically, but it is necessary to reject only those that corrupt the human soul.”

— If the House of Romanoff were today in power in Russia, would our foreign policy on some key issues of the day be any different, such as the Ukrainian crisis, the anti-Russian sanctions, the war in Syria, and other such issues? What place would Russia occupy on the world stage?

— History has no subjunctive mood. If the Russian Revolution had not happened, the entire world would be different today. But the one thing I can say is this: Russia under any form of government is a great power, and its treasure and its strength are its multi-national people. Russia will always have the inherent and indefeasible right to participate on an equal footing with other great powers in resolving international issues.

— What are the chances that the House of Romanoff will begin to play an important political role in Russia and become a significant political force? Why?

— We on principle do not participate in any political activities whatsoever. The dynasty, whether it reigns or not, engages only in the social sphere, and should not in any way divide the people but rather unify the nation.

We are open to dialogue with all our countrymen, regardless of their political affiliations, but we ourselves refrain from ever engaging in any political battles.

— Do you think a constitutional monarchy might ever be possible in today’s Russia?

— I and my son are citizens of Russia and we fully recognize its Constitution and laws. We support the current government and we understand that right now, and for the foreseeable future, the conditions for the restoration of the monarchy in Russia do not exist.

However, as I often like to say, the Imperial House rejecting the idea of monarchy would be like the Church preaching atheism.

We believe that the monarchical ideal of the State-Family can be useful to the people of Russia in the future. Monarchy is not in the slightest an obsolete form of government. It has spiritual foundations, many practical advantages, and significant potential.

Russia today is a free country. Its Constitution guarantees our right to proclaim freely what, in our view, are the advantages of monarchy.

At the same time, we categorically reject the very thought of restoring the monarchy without the informed consent and expressed will of the people. And it would be pointless to restore the monarchy as some kind of window dressing or as a mere means for consolidating some political coalition.

Only when the people fully grasp the fundamental nature of monarchy, only when they have weighed all its advantages and disadvantages (such as, indeed, all forms of government have) can we begin to have a serious conversation about the possible restoration of the monarchy and what form it might take today.

We seek to be useful to our country, regardless of what government is in power, following the old adage: “Always do what’s right, come what may.”

Publication based on interviews.

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