Irina Romanov

Irina Romanov

Irina Romanov, was the only daughter of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, and the niece of Nicholas II, was born on 15th July, 1895. Greg King claims that she was "a shy and tongue-tied girl with deep blue eyes and dark hair" and was considered one of the most eligible women in Russia.

Irina married Prince Felix Yusupov on 22nd February, 1914, in Anichkov Palace. As Richard Cullen has pointed out: "The Yusupov family was allegedly the wealthiest in Russia... He was the sole surviving male heir to the Yusupov family's fortune. His elder brother by five years, Nikolai, had been killed in a duel some years previously." They spent their honeymoon in France, Egypt, Italy, England and Germany.

During the First World War the Yusupovs converted a wing of his Moika Palace into a hospital for wounded soldiers. As an only son Felix Yusupov was able to avoid joining the armed forces. He did enter the Cadet Corps and took an officer's training course, but had no intention of joining a regiment. His behaviour was criticised by other members of the Royal Court. Felix and Irina's only daughter, Princess Irina Felixovna Yussupova, was born on 21st March 1915.

Like many members of the Royal Court, Irini and her husband objected to the influence that Gregory Rasputin had over the Tsar and his wife, Alexandra Fedorovna. In 1916 rumours began to circulate that Alexandra and Rasputin were leaders of a pro-German court group and were seeking a separate peace with the Central Powers. Rasputin was also suspected of financial corruption and right-wing politicians believed that he was undermining the popularity of the regime.

In December, 1916, Felix Yusupov and Vladimir Purishkevich, the leader of the monarchists in the Duma, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov, Dr. Stanislaus de Lazovert and Lieutenant Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, developed a conspiracy to kill Grigory Rasputin.

After the Russian Revolution Irina and Felix Yusupov managed to escape to France and in 1920 they purchased a house on the Rue Gutenberg in Boulogne-sur-Seine. Later they moved to the United States. In 1927 Yusupov joined forces with Oswald Rayner to translate his book, Rasputin: His Malignant Influence and his Assassination, into English. In the book Yusupov boasted that he had killed Rasputin.

In 1932 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer brought out a film Rasputin and the Empress. In the film, the character, Prince Paul Chegodieff, was clearly based on Yusupov. He became very angry when Chedodieff's wife is shown being seduced by Rasputin. The Yusupovs sued MGM and in 1934, the Yusupovs were awarded £25,000 damages. The disclaimer which now appears at the end of every American film, "The preceding was a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual people or events is entirely coincidental" first appeared as a result of the legal precedent set by the Yusupov case.

In his memoirs, Lost Splendor, published in 1953, Felix Yusupov described in detail how he murdered Gregory Rasputin. This resulted in Rasputin's daughter Maria taking Yusupov to a Paris court for damages of $800,000. The French court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over a political killing that took place in Russia.

Felix Yusupov died aged 81 on 27th September 1967 and is buried in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery in Paris. Irin died three years later on 26th February 1970.