Page 4, 5th May 1939

5th May 1939
Page 4
Page 4, 5th May 1939 — Memoirs

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Locations: Vienna


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My Life in Russia's Service, Then and Note. By H.I.H. the Grand Duke Cyril of Russia, (Selwyn and Blount, 15s.) Reviewed by A. J. SHELDON AS a convinced and fervent believer in the Divine Right of Kings, I confess that I approached this review with trepidation. It seemed too much of an impertinence to criticise a book by the late Czar of All the Russians. I need have hed no fear; the book is excellently written. And if that sounds like condescension, I'm very sorry.

The Grand Duke Cyril was born a comfortable distance from the throne, being fourth in the order of succession,

and of a cadet branch. His grandfather was the Czar Alexander II, and he was first cousin to the last Czar to be crowned, Nicholas II.

Seeing the Imperial circle from the outside and the inside at the same time, the Grand Duke is able to give his readers a most intimate, and yet objective picture o' the Imperial Family. In the midst of all the splendours of the Court of St. Petersburg, ;crimps more gorgeous even than that of Vienna in its pageantry and ceremonial, the members of the family led the most simple and endearing lives. The brothers of the Czar slept always on a plain iron bedstead with a cavalry cloak thrown over them for protection. The childhood of the Grand Duke Cyril was most sparta.. in the severity and discipline of his training.

As soon as he was old enough the Grand Duke entered the Russian Navy and passed through his years of training with great success

THE book shows the influence of his naval training. Throughout His Highness is more concerned with the account of orders given and executed than with the political forces and motives at work behind those orders. It is not until his accession in 1918 that he shows the least interest in political ariHnilsrs.death on October 12. 1938, interrupted the narrative at the point where he leaves Russia, an exile, in 1917, with his wife and family.

A short epilogue by his son, the present Czar Vladimir, brings the narrative up to date.

PERHAPS the most interesting feature of the book is the reprint of all the Manifestoes to the Russian people issued by his late Majesty from his place of exile in Brittany. These show his great confidence, which he mparts to his readers, that if they were free, his people to a man would welcome back their "Little Father." Never was the dynasty unpopular among the Russian people; never did it deserve to be.

Two of these Manifestoes particularly call for a far more detailed study by sociologists than they have yet received: that of January 13/26, 1928, on the social order that will be set up in Russia by the reconstituted Monarchy, and that of 1934 on the principle of the monarchical form of government. In both of these, His Majesty's naval training of political indifference is forgotten and the inborn and he-editary gift of ruling becomes apparent. Were 't not fashionable to jeer at Monarchy, these Manifestoes would long ago have received the attention that is their due, possessing as they do something of the authority of an Encyclical.

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