Russia buries grand duchess, widow of throne pretender

3rd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, a senior member of the Romanov dynasty and widow of the claimant to the Russian throne, was Thursday buried next to her husband in Saint Petersburg.

Leonida was laid to rest in the Romanov family tomb in the Peter and Paul cathedral in the fortress of the same name where the remains of the Romanov Tsars, including the last Tsar Nicholas II, are interred.

More than 200 people attended the funeral of Leonida, whose coffin was draped with the flag of modern Russia and the double-headed eagle that was the symbol of the Russian Empire, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Among the mourners was Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, current head of the Romanov dynasty, and her grandson Georgy.

Born in 1914 before the Russian Revolution that ousted the Romanov imperial family, Leonida had been the last surviving member of the dynasty to be born in the Russian Empire. She died last month in Madrid.

Leonida, known to some of her supporters as the Dowager Empress of Russia, was the widow of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, who until his death in 1992 was head of the Romanov dynasty and pretender to the Russian throne.

Grand Duke Vladimir was the great-grandson of Alexander II, the third-to-last Tsar of Russia.

Since the fall of Communism, there have been cautious official moves to restore the reputation of the fallen Romanov dynasty.

Russia's Supreme Court in 2008 formally rehabilitated Tsar Nicholas II, declaring that he and his family had been unlawfully killed by Soviet authorities.

But Russia has rejected calls from the dynasty to reopen a criminal probe into the execution of Nicholas II and his family.

© 2010 AFP

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