Today marks the 80th Anniversary of the Death of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, who passed away on this day in 1942! The only son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, a son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark, daughter of King George I of Greece and Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia, Grand Duke Dmitri was born after his mother fell on a boat, going into labour that evening, and passing away six days later. Thus, he was the first cousin of King George, King Alexander, and King Paul of Greece, Queen Helen of Romania, Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta, Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, Princess Paul of Yugoslavia, Princess Eugenie of Greece, Prince Michael of Greece, the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Princess Theodora, Margravine of Baden, Grand Duchess Cecile of Hesse, Princess Sophie of Hanover.
Embed from Getty Images
When Grand Duke Paul was banished from Russia for marrying a commoner in 1902, Grand Duke Dimitri and his elder sister Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, were raised by their paternal uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. After Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna got married to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna entered her convent, Grand Duke Dmitri spent much time with the family of Tsar Nicholas II at the Alexander Palace, were they viewed him as a foster son. An excellent equestrian, Grand Duke Dimitri competed in the Stockholm Olympics Games in 1912, after graduating from the Nikolaevskoe Cavalry School and being commissioned as a cornet in the Horse Guards Regiment. During the First World War, the Grand Duke served with the Life Guards Horse Regiment in East Prussia, being awarded the Order of St. George. A great friend of Prince Felix Yusupov, in 1916, he took part in the assassination of the mystic Grigori Rasputin, for which he was banished by the Tsar to the Persian War Front, a decision that ended up saving his life during the Russian Revolution.
After living in the Middle East while he escaped the Russian Revolution, Grand Duke Dimitri went first to Paris and then lived briefly in England before returning to Paris, where he had a brief affair with the French fashion designer Coco Chanel, with his contacts serving to lead to the creation of Chanel No. 5. In 1926, Grand Duke Dimitri married American heiress Audrey Emery, who became Princess Romanovskaya-Ilyinskaya, and their only son, Prince Paul Romanovsky-Ilyinsky, who was eventually elected elected Mayor of Palm Beach, Florida. The couple lived between London, Biarritz, Neuilly-sur-Seine, and Château de Beaumesnil near Caen before divorcing in 1937. Grand Duke Dimitri was a noted collector of model trains and was at one point considered to have had one of the largest collections in Europe, which vanished during the Nazi annexation of Paris, likely seized by Hermann Göring. He had gone to spend the Second World War in Switzerland, where he passed away in 1942, at the age of 50. In December 1958, Grand Duke Dimitri was reinterred alongside his sister on the Island of Mainau in Lake Constance, which belonged to his nephew, Prince Lennart Bernadotte.