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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prince to Enter Russian Naval Academy

In accordance with a long-standing family tradition, the official heir to the Russian throne, 13-year-old Grand Duke Georgy Romanov, is to enter the Nakhimovskoye naval academy in St. Petersburg, Alexander Radashkevich, spokesman for the royal family said Monday.

The decision was announced during a visit to Russia by Georgy's grandmother -- the Grand Princess Leonida Georgiyevna, the closest living relative of Tsar Nicholas II and senior member of the Romanov family.

"Naval traditions are very strong in our family and I am happy Georgy will follow his great grandfather's military career," she said in an interview Monday.

According to Radashkevich, Georgy's grandfather Grand Prince Kiril also studied at the academy in the same building as the modern day Nakhimovskoye Uchilishche.

Leonida Georgiyevna said that the three years Georgy planned to spend at the academy would be very useful for the young prince and help him to know his native country better.

"I want Georgy to be closer to Russia, have friends here and stay in Russia not only as a tourist," she said.

She also added that they had already visited the academy and discussed the plan with senior naval officers who had given their approval.

Vasily Dyomkin, deputy commander of the academy, which is known for its rigorous military discipline, said that they were aware of the plan.

"The decision is to his credit. Naval service is not only smart white uniforms and parades, as many young people think, but hard everyday work. His family is famous for its military tradition and I am sure he knows all about it," he said.

Dyomkin also said that applicants faced tough competition and that it wouldn't be easy for Georgy to pass the entrance exams -- or the physical tests.

"The prince is a bit overweight and will have to do a lot of work in order to be in good physical shape in a year." he said.

He said that study at the academy helped young people to develop a tough character but denied mass media reports that hazing at the academies is even stronger than in the regular army and navy units.

"Sometimes boys solve their problems by fighting and it is normal for teenagers, especially in closed groups. Such things go on all the time everywhere. But I can't say that in our academy this is a routine," he said.

"For Georgy these three years will be hard but interesting," Dyomkin added.