Natalia Brasova - Third Marriage

Third Marriage

Just as they had done for the previous two years, in summer 1912, Michael and Natalia holidayed in Western Europe. After shaking off agents of Nicholas II's secret police, the Okhrana, Michael and Natalia married in Vienna on 16 October 1912 in a Serbian Orthodox Church. They had successfully planned the wedding without either Nicholas II's or the Okhrana's knowledge. On their eventual arrival in Cannes, after a few days travelling through Venice and Milan, Natalia's two children joined them from Russia. The Grand Duke wrote to his brother, the Tsar, to inform him of the marriage, but because Natalia was divorced and not of royal blood the Tsar refused to approve it. Michael was perceived by the court as being "under the hypnotic influence of a malicious vamp". Nicholas II said Natalia was "such a cunning, wicked beast that it's disgusting even to talk about her". Michael was removed from the imperial succession, and exiled from Russia in disgrace. Though members of society felt some sympathy for Michael, thinking his punishment severe, there was little sympathy for Natalia. Despite marrying a Grand Duke, she was not entitled to be known as "Grand Duchess", and instead used the style "Madame or Countess Brasova".

Until September 1913, they stayed in hotels throughout Europe, without any decrease in their standard of living. They met Michael's sister Grand Duchess Xenia and cousin Grand Duke Andrew, and in July 1913, they saw Michael's mother in London who told Natalia "a few home truths" according to Xenia's diary. From September 1913, they leased an English country house, Knebworth, 20 miles (32 km) north of London. Natalia acted as hostess for any of their guests, which included her friend Chaliapin, the Ballets Russes, and the sculptor Serge Sudeikin. As a divorcée, however, Natalia was often excluded from invitations to social events elsewhere; the divorced were not received at court and could not enter the Royal Enclosure at Ascot.

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