Descendant of tsars becomes first royal to marry in Russia since revolution
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov married Italian Victoria Romanovna Bettarini in St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia's old imperial capital.
A descendant of Russia's old imperial dynasty wedded his Italian wife in the first royal wedding on Russian territory since the tsarist era more than a century ago on Friday. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov married Italian Victoria Romanovna Bettarini in St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia's old imperial capital. The lavish ceremony was held by Russian Orthodox clergy in front of hundreds of guests, including the groom's mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia - the self-proclaimed successor to Russia's imperial throne - and more than a dozen lesser European royals.
Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, George Mikhailovich's great-grandfather, left Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, first to Finland and then to Western Europe with his family. In July 1918, Russia's last emperor, Nicholas II, his wife, and five children were killed in the cellar of a merchant's home in Yekaterinburg, a city 1,450 kilometres (900 miles) east of Moscow, by a revolutionary firing squad. George Mikhailovich, 40, was born in Madrid and has lived in Spain and France for most of his life.
Bettarini, 39, who converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity last year and adopted Victoria Romanovna, was led to the altar by her father, former Italian diplomat Roberto Bettarini.
George Mikhailovich initially visited Russia in 1992 and relocated to Moscow in 2019, where he works on several charitable initiatives.
The Romanov family governed Russia for nearly 300 years when Nicholas II abdicated in early 1917, launching the nation into the Bolshevik Revolution, civil war, and 70 years of Communist tyranny. In 2000, Russia's Orthodox Church canonised Nicholas II, who Soviet officials had depicted as a weak leader.