A Fatal Passion: The Story of Victoria Melita, the Uncrowned Last Empress of Russia
After the firing squads of the Russian Revolution murdered Czar Nicholas II, Czarina Alexandra, and almost every other member of the Romanov family, there appeared in a small coastal village of western France a grand duke and duchess who proclaimed themselves to be the new monarchs of Russia.
The grand duchess was Victoria Melita, nicknamed Ducky. To begin with, she was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria as well as of Czar Alexander of Russia. Her sister was the remarkable Queen Marie of Romania, and her intricate family connections with the rulers of the world were almost unprecedented. The first cousin not only of King George V but also of Kaiser Wilhelm and Czar Nicholas, she had previously been married to Ernst Ludwig, grand duke of Hesse and the Rhine, but this relationship was destroyed by dark secrets, a betrayal that filled her with bitterness and shame.
Then, in a scandal that shocked the royal world, she married Kirill, a cousin of the late czar of Russia. She had married and divorced one of her first cousins and then married another--her father's nephew, and then her mother's nephew.
The family opposition was so great that Victoria Melita and Kirill were stripped of their wealth and their titles before being banished from Russia. When they were finally allowed to return, they tried in vain to bring democratic reforms to the dying, autocratic monarchy in a desperate effort to save it.
Trapped, inevitably, by the revolution, they managed to make an incredible and perilous escape, which led to a long life in exile abroad as pretenders to the throne.
Victoria Melita had never aspired to play the role of an empress without a throne. The shadowy life of aroyal pretender was the last thing this strong and independent woman had ever wanted. However, her passionate nature had centered itself totally upon her adored second husband, and, now, as Kirill set up his imperial court in the French fishing village of St. Briac and assumed the title of emperor of Russia, Victoria Melita became his empress and for twelve years proudly worked by her husband's side for the restoration of the monarchy.
And then, unexpectedly and brutally, her world collapsed again, and her inability to compromise almost brought her to ruin.
A Fatal Passion is the story of great wealth and privilege when rival royal families vied for position and power even as they were about to lose almost everything in the First World War. Among the few who survived the painful times was Victoria Melita, one of the most beautiful and liberated women of her era.
The book is set against the majestic canvas of Queen Victoria's far-flung empire, the intrigues of the royal courts of Europe, and the exotic splendor and fantastic events of imperial Russia as it balanced on the precipice of disaster. It culminates in the turbulent era of ruthless dictators and the advent of the Second World War.
Through the use of private diaries and letters previously unpublished, as well as exclusive interviews with many of the surviving principals, Michael John Sullivan has revealed the heart and mind of a remarkable woman, who, for too long, has been largely overlooked by history.
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A fatal passion: the story of Victoria Melita, the uncrowned last Empress of RussiaUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Princess Victoria Melita, granddaughter of England's Queen Victoria, is not nearly as well known as her flamboyant sister, Queen Marie of Romania, but she deserves to be. Ducky, as she was known to ... Read full review
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