St. Petersburg, Russia, – A descendant of the former Russian imperial family married their Italian bride on Friday at the first royal wedding on Russian soil since the tsarist times more than a century ago.
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov tied the knot with the Italian Victoria Romanovna Bettarini in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in Russia’s former imperial capital St. Petersburg.
Russian Orthodox clergy performed the elaborate ceremony, which was watched by hundreds of guests, including the groom’s mother, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia – the self-proclaimed heiress to the Russian imperial throne – and more than a dozen minor European kings.
George Michailowitsch’s great-grandfather, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, fled Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, first fled to Finland and later moved to Western Europe with his family.
Russia’s last Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children were murdered by a revolutionary firing squad in July 1918 in the basement of a merchant’s house in Yekaterinburg, a town 900 miles east of Moscow.
George Mikhailovich, 40, was born in Madrid and has spent most of his life in Spain and France.
Bettarini, 39, who converted to Russian Orthodox last year and took the name Victoria Romanovna, was led to the altar by her father, Roberto Bettarini, who served in the Italian diplomatic service.
George Mikhailovich first visited Russia in 1992 and moved to Moscow in 2019, where he works on a number of charity projects.
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The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia for over 300 years before Nicholas II abdicated in early 1917 and put the country on course for the November Bolshevik Revolution, civil war, and 70 years of communist rule.
In 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church sanctified Nicholas II, who had been portrayed as a weak leader by the Soviet authorities.