Today marks the passage of thirty years since the death of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia.

The grand duke in Miami.

In January 1992, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich received an invitation to give a speech at the Northern Trust Bank of Florida, located in Miami. The address was to be given by the grand duke following a breakfast and before around 1,500 guests from the business community. Northern Trust Bank had asked His Imperial Highness to speak about “The Imperial Family and the Future of the Russians.” The grand duke initially declined the invitation, but later accepted as he felt that it was important for the United States and Europe to invest in former Soviet states, as well as to provide them economic assistance to assist their transition out of Communism. The grand duke decided that it was his patriotic duty as a Russian to agree to the trip given the large number of influential business persons who would be in attendance. Therefore, preparations for this transatlantic visit were made. Grand Duke Vladimir and his wife Grand Duchess Leonida arrived in Miami on Monday, 20 April. The couple were accompanied by their friends, Prince Nicholas and Princess Nelly Ouroussoff, who flew in from Paris; the princess acted as a lady-in-waiting to the grand duchess during the trip. Brien Horan, the attorney of the grand duke, arrived on the evening of 20 April in Miami from Connecticut. The small imperial entourage stayed at the Omni International Hotel.  

Grand Duke Vladimir speaking with reporters, 21 April 1992.

On the morning of Tuesday, 21 April, Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Leonida were joined by Prince and Princess Ouroussoff and Mr Horan in their suite for a working breakfast. They discussed the itinerary for the trip and caught up on personal news. At 10:15am, grand ducal couple and their retinue left the Omni and got into a limousine to take them to the Northern Trust Bank, where they arrived at 10:40am. A press conference was on the schedule for the grand duke this morning. Two journalists from the Miami Herald and Miami Today interviewed the grand duke. Grand Duke Vladimir told them: “I am now happier now than I ever was before because of the possibility of being in contact with my homeland. To be on one’s own soil with one’s own people is the greatest thing one can ask in life.” The grand duke then walked into an adjourning conference room at 11:00am to meet with the other gathered journalists. The press conference commenced; the first several questions were posed to Grand Duke Vladimir in Spanish, which he answered in the same language, as it was one of the five languages in which he was fluent. The grand duke stated: “What I hope is that the youth of Russia, who have suffered so long under the yoke of Communism, will return to the monarchy. I hope that they will join together for a brighter future for all Russians.” Reporter Ariel Remos of the Diario Las Americas recalled that the grand duke was speaking on the current situation in Russia: “These young people who live under the communist yoke think naturally of what Russia was before, and look for the possibility to unite again the prosperous past with a future that will be prosperous also.” Seconds after giving this reply, Grand Duke Vladimir slumped over, unconscious; he was then moved from his chair to the floor and CPR commenced. It was about 11:20am. 

Paramedics take Grand Duke Vladimir to a waiting ambulance.
His wife, Grand Duchess Leonida, can be seen at the left.

An emergency crew arrived to transport the grand duke to hospital. His Imperial Highness was transported to Mercy Hospital. Dr Jose Centurion worked for almost two hours attempting, ultimately unsuccessfully, to revive the grand duke. Sister Elizabeth Worley, the chairman of Mercy Hospital’s board of trustees, provided Grand Duchess Leonida with some comfort by keeping journalists at bay. An Orthodox priest was called to the hospital to administer the last rites. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia, Head of the Imperial House, was pronounced dead at 1:54pm. A rupture of an artery in his abdomen was the cause of death. The grand duke was seventy-four years-old.

Prince Nicholas Ouroussoff delivers the grand duke’s speech.
Photo (c) Marice Cohn Band.

Just widowed, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna made the decision that Prince Ouroussoff should deliver her husband’s speech the following day. This had, after all, been the reason that the grand duke had for making this trip to the United States of America: to make its people and those who might read his speech more aware of the situation in Russia and the needs of its people after the fall of Communism. On Wednesday, 22 April, Grand Duchess Leonida joined Mr Brien Horan and Prince Ouroussoff at 8:00am. Mr Horan introduced the prince to the over one thousand guests. They had originally hoped to hear his words directly from the grand duke, who had written the address some days beforehand. This particular segment of the grand duke’s words were particularly poignant: “My wife, my daughter, and my grandson and I are Russians. We wish to participate and contribute in any way possible, whether official or unofficial, public or private, to the progress of our country. We all thank God that our country has been delivered from communism, and we are also grateful that this long and involuntary exile is ending.” Prince  Ouroussoff was overcome with emotion several times while delivering the address of his late friend.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *