Eldest member of the Romanov family, Prince Andrew, dies aged 98

Eldest member of the Romanov family dies aged 98: How British-born Prince Andrew Andreevich spent his childhood at Frogmore Cottage before moving to US with £600 and becoming a painter

  • Prince  Andrew Andreevich was the eldest member of the Romanov family 
  • The royal was the great-great-grandson of Nicholas I, emperor of Russia 
  • Born in  London in 1923, he grew up in Frogmore Cottage before moving to US 
  • Lived in California where he became an artist, depicting personal memories 
  • Went on to marry three times and had three children before his death this week
  • Prince Andrew Andreevich, who was the eldest member of the Romanov family, has died at the age of 98. 

    The royal was a great-great-grandson in the male line of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and since the death of Prince Dimitri Romanov in 2016 has been claimant to the headship of the House of Romanov.

    He was born in London in 1923, growing up in Frogmore Cottage in Windsor where he regularly brushed shoulders with then Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret

    As a teenager, he moved to California with £600 in his pocket, where he took on various jobs, including work as an artist, and married three times before passing away earlier this week. 

    Prince Andrew Andreevich, who was the eldest member of the Romanov family, has died at the age of 98 in California

    Prince Andrew Andreevich, who was the eldest member of the Romanov family, has died at the age of 98 in California 

    Andrew belonged to the fourth branch of the Mikhailovich line of the House of Romanov. 

    He was a great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in a straight male line. 

    Through his grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, he was a great-grandson of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna.

    Meanwhile through his great-grandmother, Empress Maria Feodorovna, he was a great-great-great-great-grandson of King George II of Great Britain, and therefore related to the royal families of Britain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Belgium, and Monaco.

    Additionally, through the same descent, Andrew was related to the former royal families of Germany, Greece, Romania, and Serbia. 

    He spent his childhood with his brother and sister in Frogmore Cottage, which was granted to his family by King George V 

    After Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, Romanoff became the oldest living descendant of King Christian IX of Denmark. 

    The Romanovs enjoyed a life of seemingly endless prosperity and ruled of a sixth of the surface of the Earth in the early 20th century. 

    Dynasty of decadence: Behind the Romanov’s glittering facade lay an epic saga of depravity and unspeakable cruelty 

    The Romanovs enjoyed a life of seemingly endless prosperity and ruled of a sixth of the surface of the Earth in the early 20th century.

    The family fortunes soared when Anastasia Zakharyina married Ivan IV (the Terrible), the Rurikid Grand Prince of Moscow, on 3 February 1547.

    Since her husband had assumed the title of tsar on 16 January 1547, she was crowned the very first tsaritsa of Russia. 

    Her mysterious death in 1560 changed Ivan’s character for the worse. Suspecting the boyars of having poisoned his beloved, Tsar Ivan started a reign of terror against them. 

    Among his children by Anastasia, the elder (Ivan) was murdered by the tsar in a quarrel; the younger Feodor, a pious but lethargic prince, inherited the throne upon his father’s death in 1584.

    Their Romanov dynasty lasted 300 years: the lives of its tsars and emperors and empresses is a bejewelled but bloodsplattered chronicle of assassinations, adulteries, tortures, secret marriages, coups, reckless rises and brutal falls.

    It is peopled by heroic, brilliant statesmen, soldiers and reformers – as well as nymphomaniacs, martinets, murderers, blunderers, monsters, megalomaniacs and lunatics. 

    Under the Romanovs between 1613 and 1917, Russia was an empire of oppressed nations dominated by one family and a tiny Russian nobility.

    Its system was a paranoid, hereditary autocracy which was ‘tempered by assassination’ as one commentator puts it.

    In 1742, Empress Elizabeth of Russia brought Anna Petrovn’s son, her nephew Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, to St. Petersburg and proclaimed him her heir. In time, she married him off to a German princess, Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst.

    In 1762, shortly after the death of Empress Elizabeth, Sophia, who had taken the Russian name Catherine upon her marriage, overthrew her unpopular husband, with the aid of her lover, Grigory Orlov. She reigned as Catherine the Great. 

    Alexander II became the next Russian emperor in 1855, in the midst of the Crimean War. While Alexander considered it his charge to maintain peace in Europe and Russia, he believed only a strong Russian military could keep the peace. 

    By developing the army, giving some freedom to Finland, and freeing the serfs in 1861 he gained much popular support. 

    Despite his popularity, however, his family life began to unravel by the mid 1860s. In 1864, his eldest son, and heir, Tsarevich Nicholas, died suddenly. His wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, who suffered from tuberculosis, spent much of her time abroad

    Alexander eventually turned to a mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgoruki and after the death of his wife in 1880 he contracted for them to be married.

    His legitimization of their children, and rumors that he was contemplating crowning his new wife as empress, caused tension within the dynasty. 

    Before Princess Catherine could be elevated in rank, however, on 13 March 1881 Alexander was assassinated by a hand-made bomb hurled by Ignacy Hryniewiecki.

    Alexander II was succeeded by his son Alexander III, who died of kidney disease at age 49. His eldest son, Nicholas, became emperor, marrying Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, a favourite grandchild of Queen Victoria.   

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    Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until he was forced to abdicate after the February Revolution of 1917. 

    He and his family were imprisoned by the Bolsheviks and executed the next year.  

    It was a time of social upheaval, war and brewing discontent that would ultimately lead to the fall of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty. 

    The family was canonised by the Orthodox Church in 2000 as martyrs.

    Andrew was born on 21 January 1923 in London, England, into the family of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia and his first wife Princess Elizabeth Fabricievna, née Duchess of Sasso-Ruffo and Princess of San-Antimo.

    His godfather was the future King Edward VIII.

    He spent his childhood with his brother and sister in the guest house of Windsor Castle, granted to his family by King George V. 

    There, his younger years were seemingly normal, with days spent running through the woods and fishing for perch.  

    The family rarely saw the British royal family, including George V’s granddaughters, Elizabeth, who was three years younger than Andrew, and Margaret.

    Andrew was about 6 years old when he was taken by his grandmother took him to Windsor Castle where they met Queen Mary, who told the little boy to call her ‘Auntie Mary.’ 

    On a separate occasion, he was riding his bike in the Windsor Castle grounds when he came upon then Princess Elizabeth.

    After asking her how she was, he rode off – but that evening, the family received a phone call not to ‘walk in the private gardens’ when the British royal family was staying.

    Meanwhile one Easter Sunday, three huge chocolate eggs were delivered to Frogmore Cottage, with Andrew and his siblings devouring the entire box.

    However the Grand Duchess Xenia yet again received another phone call as the packages were for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.  

    Among his other encounters with the British princesses saw him sitting next to Princess Magaret during a formal dinner.

    The royal leaned toward him and whispered, ‘You know why you’re here, don’t you?’

    He was surprised to learn he was among a parade of suitors in line for her hand in marriage. 

     It was while living at Frogmore Cottage that he studied his private education up to 12 years of age, before he went to Haileybury and Imperial Service College.

    After the end of the war, Andrew became an intern on an English farm in Kent in order to learn to become an agronomist.

    Despite his passion for the outdoors, he found few prospects in Europe, and was invited by his uncle Pirnce Vasily Alexandrovich to move to the US in 1949.

    With just £600 in his pocket, he joined his cousin  Prince Nikita Nikitich and emigrated to the United States on a cargo ship carrying racehorses, pigeons, and eight passengers.

    Andrew settled in California, where he worked with his uncle at a vegetable store. 

    He went on to study sociology and criminology at the University of California at Berkeley.

    He then began working as a broker in a shipping company and spent three years in Japan and Korea. 

    Upon his return to San Francisco, Andrew became a real estate agent. and a designer for chairs.  

    It was during this period he married his first wife, Elena Konstantinovna Durnovo, wellcoming a son, Prince Alexis Andreevich Romanov, in 1953.

    Andrew became a U.S. citizen on 20 December 1954, before divorcing his wife in 1959.  

    He went on to marry Kathleen Norris in San Francisco two years later on 21 March 1961.

    The couple welcomed two children, Prince Peter Andreevich Romanov and Prince Andrew Andreevich Romanov, before she tragically died after pneumonia at 32. 

    After the death of his second wife, Andrew moved to the city of Inverness, to help his cousin Igor Sazevich, an architect in nearby Point Reyes Station, build houses. 

    During his childhood at Frogmore, Alexander had several encounters with then Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret (pictured in 1940)

    During his childhood at Frogmore, Alexander had several encounters with then Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret (pictured in 1940) 

     He began to draw as a primitive artist, without a formal art education, drawing pictures by intuition and relying on imagination. Andrew also engaged in artistic photography. 

    After retirement, he devoted himself entirely to art. On his preferred medium of Shrinky Dinks (plastic sheets that shrink by two-thirds when cooked in an oven), he drew and painted, shrinking the inimitable scenes, then mounted them on painted panels. 

    Andrew’s artwork was firmly rooted in the traditions of American folk art. His work typically depicted personal memories, impressions of American news, culture, and scenes of domestic life.

    It was then he met his third wife Inez Storer in 1973, whom he remarried on 17 December 1987 in Reno.

    Speaking to Metroactive in 2007, he recalled how he had fallen for Inez, saying: ‘She was a beautiful lady, full of spark and vim.’ 

    The couple lived in Inverness, California, moving into a home which was 110 years old, during which time it has been a tourist hotel and a private home. 

    After the death of his second wife, Andrew moved to the city of Inverness, where he lived until his death earlier this week

    After the death of his second wife, Andrew moved to the city of Inverness, where he lived until his death earlier this week 

    In the 1970s and ’80s, Prince Andrew and Inez were raising their blended family of six children in true ‘Brady Bunch’ style. 

    During a 1998 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Andrew said: ‘I’ve been a lot of things. I worked as a tree surgeon for a while, and I was I’m the shipping business in Hong Kong and Japan. I’ve been a carpenter, and now I’m an artist.’ 

    For many years, Andrew did not talk about his royal connections, admitting: ‘I try to have it there, in my life, but I don’t dwell on it.’

    However in 2007, he released an autobiography called The Boy Who Would Be Tsar, illustrated with his artwork. 

    In the 1970s and '80s, Prince Andrew and Inez were raising their blended family of six children in true 'Brady Bunch' style (pictured together)

    In the 1970s and ’80s, Prince Andrew and Inez were raising their blended family of six children in true ‘Brady Bunch’ style (pictured together) 

    His work has been exhibited worldwide, including recent exhibitions at Gallery 16 in San Francisco. 

    He explained: ‘My routine is simple. I get up and do the Internet. I read the newspapers– the London Times and the Moscow Times. His sketching took place on his computer, and then print the sketches as a reference ‘when he drew on sheets of shrinkable plastic.’

    ‘Sometimes I get tired of it and I don’t do it. Sometimes it’s very amusing.’

    Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2015, he said: ‘There is no substitute for independence and freedom. Not even a crown.’ 

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