THE reburial of empress Maria Fyodorovna, the mother of Russia’s last tsar, in accordance with her wishes, took place yesterday in St Petersburg.
The Danish-born empress was exiled after the communist revolution and died in
the country of her birth in 1928. Her son, Nicholas II, abdicated in 1917 and was executed by the Bolsheviks, along with much of his family.
Members of several European royal families attended the reburial ceremony at St Isaac’s Cathedral. Among them were Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and the UK’s Princess Michael of Kent, a distant relative of Maria Fyodorovna.
The final resting place for the remains of the former Empress of Russia was the Peter and Paul Fortress in the former imperial capital, besides the graves of her husband and son.
The coffin was lowered into the crypt at a ceremony attended by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Alexy II, and featuring a guard of honour performed by soldiers from Denmark and Russia.
The patriarch has described the return of the remains as “an act of repentance of the part of society and the state” and a “historic and spiritual event for Russia”.
“It is not a sad event, it is a joyful one,” Nikolai Romanov, great-grandson of Nicholas II, told Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.
“We are not burying her, but bringing the Russian empress back to the place where she belongs,” he said.
Maria Fyodorovna was born Princess Dagmar in 1847, changing her name and converting to the Russian Orthodox faith when she married as a teenager.
Her husband was the heir to Russia’s imperial throne, the man who went on to become Tsar Alexander III.
The tsarina had six children, including Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II.
She returned to Denmark after the Bolshevik Revolution and died there, never having accepted that her son and his family had been killed.
Her coffin has been lying in state in Peterhof, outside St Petersburg, since its arrival on a Danish ship on Tuesday.
Lengthy negotiations preceded its transfer, a project championed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has tried to rehabilitate some of the icons of the imperial past.
The former empress is among the more popular members of the Romanov dynasty. — BBC News.