It has been reported that Prince Nicholas Romanov, the head of the Romanov Family Assocation, died on Monday, shortly before his 92nd birthday. A great-great-grandson of Emperor Nikolay I of Russia, Nicholas Romanov was the eldest son of Prince Roman Petrovich of Russia and Countess Praskovia Sheremeteva.
Born on 26 September 1922, he grew up in France and Italy, where he actively opposed the Fascist regime during the Second World War. He eventually acquired Italian citizenship and married an Italian, Countess Sveva della Gherardesca, in 1951. The couple had three daughters.
Nicholas Romanov worked as a businessman and farmer, eventually settling in Switzerland. He paid his first visit to Russia in 1992, the year after the fall of the Soviet Union.
In 1979 he was co-founder of the Romanov Family Assocation, which organises male-line descendants of the House of Romanov. Nicholas Romanov was vice president from its founding until he succeeded Prince Vasili Alexandrovich in 1989.
Under the rules in force when Russia was a monarchy Nicholas Romanov, being born of an unequal marriage, would have had no succession rights. However, the Romanov Family Assocation has, if I understand it correctly, claimed that these rules have been so to speak suspended since the execution of the last Emperor in 1918, claiming that the rights of the princes who contracted unequal marriages were not renounced as there was no emperor to demand their renuncations.
Nicholas Romanov's claim to head the Romanovs was disputed by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who assumed the headship of the imperial family upon the death of her father Vladimir Kirillovich in 1992, claiming that there were no male dynasts left.