Last modified: 1 October 2021
Later this year His Imperial Highness Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia will marry Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, at least when everything goes as planned (you never know with Covid-19 still around). Already quite a bit of news has come in. Here is an overview of the first imperial wedding to take place in Russia since the Russian Revolution. The last imperial couple to get married there were Prince Andrei Alexandrovich of Russia and Elisabetta di Sasso-Ruffo in June 1918. They got married in Yalta, the Crimea. In July 1993, Prince Dmitri Romanovich Romanov married Dorrit Reventlow in Kostroma. However he was not regarded as a dynast by the Imperial House.
All photos used with permission of the Russian Imperial House. Also many thanks for all the interesting information.
How they met
The couple already met for the first time as teenagers at the age of 16, had many friends in common, and met again at an event at the French Embassy in Brussels in 2012 when they were both working there for the European Union. Rebecca Bettarini helped him starting a new charitable initiative of the Russian Imperial House, and within months their friendship developed into a relationship.
They lived in Brussels for six years and since have decided to settle in Moscow, Russia.
Moscow, 21 January 2021
It is with great pleasure that Her Imperial Highness The Grand Duchess of Russia, Head of the Russian Imperial House, announces the betrothal of her beloved son, His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke George of Russia, to Nob. Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, daughter of His Excellency Ambassador Nob. Roberto Bettarini.
Nob. Rebecca Virginia Bettarini has converted to Holy Orthodoxy, with the name Victoria Romanovna.
The wedding is expected to take place in Autumn 2021. Further details of the date and time of the wedding will be announced in due course. His Imperial Highness and Nob. Rebecca Virginia Bettarini became engaged in December 2020, after the Grand Duke received permission to marry from his mother, as the Head of the Imperial House. His Imperial Highness has also received the blessing of Ambassador Nob. Roberto Bettarini.
As Grand Duke George told some media later on he proposed on the airport of Brussels, Belgium in August 2020, the place where lots of adventures together have begun. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia gave her son the ring when he was 18 years old, to give to his future fiancée as an engagement ring. The ring centers a ruby cabochon gemstone that represents love and nobility, and two diamond brilliants that represent purity and strength.
The Ceremony of Betrothal
In the Russian Orthodox Church the wedding ceremony is divided into the betrothal and the crowning. Although they are often combined nowadays, traditionally there were two separate ceremonies. Grand Duke George and Rebecca Bettarini chose to celebrate the Ceremony of Betrothal in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Ipatiev Monastery at Kostroma, Russia, on 24 January 2021 at noon. The ceremony was led by the Metropolitan Ferapont of Kostroma and Nerkhta. The couple in the morning had attended the divine liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Epiphany-St. Anastasia in Kostroma, where they received the holy communion. In the afternoon they visited the construction site of the new church at the Second City Hospital of Kostroma, and the Children’s Maritime Center.
During the ceremony there was a blessing of the rings by the priest in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Then the priest exchanged the rings, placed the bride’s ring on the groom’s finger and the groom’s ring on the bride’s finger. Then he exchanged them again, symbolizing that each spouse will constantly be complementing and enriching the other by the future union. It is also a symbol that the two are joined in marriage of their own free will and consent.
A September interview from the Spanish newsportal Vanitatis with Rebecca.
Seth Leonard of the European Royal History Journal posted this nice video of an interview, Rebecca talking about their first date and early relationship on Twitter.
The civil wedding
The couple had their banns published on 5 August 2021 at the marriage registry office of Khamovniki district, Moscow.
The civil wedding took place at 2pm on 24 September 2021 at the marriage registry office of Khamovniki district, Moscow. The parents of the bride and their dog Zhong were among the guests attending.
The ice blue wedding dress of Rebecca, now Princess Victoria Romanoff, was created by the Italian designer Chiara Boni. The gold thread embroidery was inspired by the traditional folkloric designs of Khokhloma. The color was chosen because it is the color of the Russian Imperial Order of Saint Andrew the First Called.
After the civil wedding the couple travelled from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
The religious wedding
On 5 March 2021 it was announced:
The Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, has the honour and pleasure to announce that the wedding of Her son and heir, H.I.H. Grand Duke George of Russia, and His fiancée, Miss Victoria Romanovna (Rebecca Virginia) Bettarini, will take place on October 1, 2021, in St. Petersburg. The German magazine “Bunte” revealed about a week later that the ceremony was to take place in the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
The wedding dresses
It was announced in September that the bride would have three dresses for the wedding celebrations. The evening dress for the welcome cocktail for the guests before the wedding will be a black velvet bustier with a tulle skirt with golden appliqué and embroidery by the house of Gattinolli by Marwan. Black and gold are the house colours of the Romanoff family.
The wedding dress itself is sober, refined and elegant and was designed by Reem Acra and is made of Italian Mikado silk. It has a six metres long train. The paneled cape was created by Elina Samarina for Sergio Marcone Moscow. The veil is embroidered with the Russian double-headed eagle in traditional Torzhok-style.
The dresses of the bridesmaids Beatrice and Veronica Scheda, the daughters of Rebecca’s cousin Giulia Cacciatore, were handmade by the nuns of the Danilov Monastery in Moscow, and were made out of yellow velvet in traditional Russian style. On their heads they will wear kokoshnik style headdresses.
The dress the bride choose for the gala dinner in the evening was also designed by Reem Acra. The tull dress is decorated with pearls, appliqué and embroidery. On top of it the bride will wear a white cape with puffy sleeves made of silk Mikado created by Elina Samarina.
The wedding tiara
When Russia was still an Empire the brides of the Romanov family were required to wear the “nuptial jewels” which were predetermined: the tiara of Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna, the “nuptial crown”, the earrings in the form of cherries by Duval, the great diamond necklace with pear-shaped drops called the “rivière” and the great clasp or “Agraffe” which held the heavy ermine cape in place. The nuptial crown is now in the Hillwood Museum in the USA, the rivière necklace was broken up, and the other jewels remain in the collection of the State Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation. They are not allowed to be worn, nor are they to leave Moscow.
It doesn’t happen too often that a new tiara shows up in the royal world. On 9 March 2021 the Imperial House revealed that the bride will wear a tiara designed by the House of Chaumet, of France. The tiara was created in July 2020 and will be worn for the first time at the wedding. In the past the Russian imperial family were among the most important clients of Chaumet. Grand Duke George’s great-great-grandmother Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder (1847-1920), the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, a brother of Tsar Alexander III, started the relationship with Chaumet in 1899. Up to 1914 she would regularly buy jewelery at Chaumet.
Rebecca Bettarini – Victoria Romanovna – on 4 March 2021 selected her tiara personally at Chaumet’s seat in the Rue Vendôme in Paris. Eleven tiaras were presented to her (I can tell you, I really envy her). The well-known photographer David Nivière for Point de Vue was able to take photos. She chose a tiara, made of white gold and over 438 brilliant diamonds of varying sizes, features an oval-cut D VVS1 diamond of over 5 carats, and a pear-shaped D VVS2 diamonds of over 2 carats. The tiara is a modern interpretation of the ancient Russian “kokoshnik” form traditionally worn in Russia, but it is a modern architectural deconstruction, using a network of interlaced white gold supports to lift and elevate the galaxy of diamond brilliants. The tiara uses the method of “fil couteau” or “razor’s edge” setting of the stones to enhance the beauty of the diamonds. This is a signature construction method of the house of Chaumet. The creation is by the workmaster of Chaumet Benoit Verhulle. Rebecca said to “Point de Vue”: “Its ships’ sail-like shape reminds me of St. Petersburg where we will be married, as well as George’s great-grandfather, the Grand Duke Kyrill, who was a Commandant of the Imperial Navy.”
The wedding rings
Fabergé on 14 May 2021 announced that – on request of Sarah Fabergé, great-granddaughter of Peter Carl Fabergé and Director of Special Projects at Fabergé – they are creating the wedding rings for the bridal couple. It will be the first time since before the Russian Revolution the jeweller creates wedding rings for the Russian imperial family. The wedding rings will be exchanged at the wedding in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The collaboration restores the relationship between the House of Romanov and Fabergé.
The title of the bride
In a statement issued at the time of the engagement it says:
GRAND DUCHESS MARIA OF RUSSIA
BY THE GRACE OF GOD
HEAD OF THE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL HOUSE
make it known to all that
Asking the Lord’s blessing, We are pleased to grant Our permission to Our beloved son and heir, His Imperial Highness The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke GEORGE of Russia, to enter into marriage with his chosen bride, the hereditary noblewoman Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, who, on 29 June / 12 July 2020, the Feast of the Holy Chief Apostles Peter and Paul, in the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg, was received into Holy Orthodoxy with the name VICTORIA ROMANOVNA.
We deem it proper that VICTORIA ROMANOVNA should, from the moment of her marriage with Our son, have the right to use the dynastic surname Romanoff with the title of Princess and the predicate of Serene Highness.
Announcing this event, so joyful for Our heart, and entrusting the future of our Most August son and heir, H.I.H. The Grand Duke George of Russia, and his future wife to the almighty protection of the Heavenly King, with firm faith in His mercy, We have every confidence that Our countrymen will join their prayers with Ours to Almighty God for a happy marriage, prosperity, and the blessing of children.
Issued in Madrid on the 20th day of January in the year of Our Lord 2021, and in the thirtieth year since Our succession to the rights and duties of Our Most August Ancestors—the Emperors and Empresses of Russia.