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In 1902, Michael met Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. They fell in love and began to correspond in her native English. Michael spoke both French and English fluently. At first it seemed they would marry; however, the Orthodox Church prohibited the marriage of first cousins, and Michael’s father and Beatrice’s mother were siblings. Nicholas refused to permit the marriage and, to Michael’s and Beatrice’s mutual dismay, their romance ended.

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Michael’s attention turned to Alexandra Kossikovskaya (September 1875, Orel region – 1923, Berlin), known affectionately as “Dina”, who was his sister Olga’s lady-in-waiting. Dina’s father, Vladimir Kossikovsky, was a lawyer and Dina was a commoner. Michael rejected the notion, proposed by his friends, that he keep her as a mistress, and in July 1906, he wrote to Nicholas asking permission to marry her.

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Alexandra Kossikovskaya

Nicholas II and Dowager Empress Marie were appalled. Both felt that royalty should marry royalty and, according to Russian house law, any children of a marriage between a royal and a commoner would be ineligible for the succession. Nicholas threatened to revoke Michael’s army commission and exile him from Russia if he married without his permission. Marie had Dina dismissed as Olga’s lady-in-waiting and took Michael to Denmark until mid-September.

Shortly after his return to Russia, three British newspapers announced on September 24, 1906 that Michael was to marry Princess Patricia of Connaught, (first cousin of Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) but neither he nor Patricia knew anything about it. Buckingham Palace issued a denial. Nevertheless, two years later, in October 1908, Michael visited London, and he and Patricia were “paired” at social engagements. It seems likely that Michael’s mother was plotting to get him married to a more suitable bride and the originator of the false report, Reuters correspondent Guy Beringer, read too much into the plans.

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Princess Patricia of Connaught

Michael and Dina were planning to elope, but their plans were stymied as Dina was under surveillance by the Okhrana, Nicholas’s secret police, and she was prevented from travelling.Under family pressure and unable to see Dina, by August 1907 Michael appeared to be losing interest. Dina went to live abroad. She never married and believed herself to be Michael’s rightful fiancée, but their romance was over.