Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, a leading member of the Romanov House of Russian tsars, was buried in Russia's former imperial capital on Thursday after more than 90 years in exile.
Being the last remaining representative of the Romanov House born in Russia before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, she died in Madrid aged 95 last month.
According to her will, she was buried in the Grand Ducal Mausoleum of the magnificent St Peter and Paul Cathedral beside her spouse Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich who died in 1992.
He was the only son of Grand Duke Kirill who after the assassination of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II was considered by many Russian monarchists to be the main pretender to the Russian throne.
"We buried a whole epoch today," Sergei Mankov, spokesman for the Russian Imperial House of the Romanov dynasty, told Reuters. "All European monarchs, Nobel Prize winners and presidents ... all kissed her hand."
"All her life she lived thinking of Russia, arranging charities for orphans."
Her coffin was draped in a national Russian white-blue-red tricolour flag and a yellow imperial standard with the Romanov double-headed eagle.
Leonida Georgievna was born on Oct. 6, 1914, into the family of Prince Georgy Bagration of Mukhrani, whose ancestors had ruled the kingdom of Georgia for more than three centuries until it was annexed by the Russian empire.
In 1934, living in France, she married to Sumner Kirby, whose English ancestors had established themselves in North America. In 1935, a daughter was born to them, Helene. But in 1937, the couple divorced.
At the beginning of the World War Two, friends helped the her settle in Spain.
In 1946, she married Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich and by him she had another daughter, Maria Vladimirovna, who claims to have succeeded her father -- after his death in 1992 -- as the legitimate head of the Romanov dynasty.
Not all offsprings of the Romanov dynasty recognised Leonida Geogievna's claims that her husband and their daughter, Maria Vladimirovna, must be recognised as the "de jure sovereigns of the Russian Empire".
Controversy overshadowed the modest funeral attended by a significantly smaller number of people and no senior officials, in contrast to the 1998 funeral in the same cathedral of last Russian Tsar Nicholas II, 80 years after he and his family were killed by Bolsheviks in the Ural town of Yekaterinburg.
The cathedral, the burial place of Russian tsars and the first building erected by Tsar Peter the Great in the new Russian capital he started building, was not closed for the funeral and worked as usual -- as a museum.
ReutersLast Mod: 03 Haziran 2010, 22:34