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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tsar's Murder Remembered by Royals

ST. PETERSBURG -- Eight members of the Romanov family were in St. Petersburg this week for the 79th anniversary of the murder of Tsar Nicholas II to attend a memorial service.


The scions of what was once Russia's royal family attended a service at the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral Thursday and opened an exhibition at Smolny Cathedral documenting the family's history in power and in exile.


But at a press conference held to publicize the exhibit, memories of the tragedy at Yekaterinburg in 1918, when Nicholas was murdered by communist revolutionaries, were outweighed by the current-day Romanovs' delight in being back on native soil.


"Each time I step on Russian soil, my eyes fill with tears like a child returning to his mother," said Michael Romanov-Ilinsky, a descendant of Nicholas II. "I was born and raised in the United States. My body and blood is American, but my soul is Russian."


Romanov-Ilinsky made it clear, however, that his emotions were related to the cultural ties he still felt to the country, rather than aspirations to power.


"I would ask a favor," he said. "As long as you see me as royalty, you won't see me as I am."


While acknowledging current discussion about restoring a figurehead monarchy, members of the family said such talk is premature. Several Romanovs did express the desire to move back to Russia, however.


Leonard Bernadott, 88, a Swedish prince and descendant of Tsar Alexander II, who was assassinated in 1881, said he recalled coming to Russia in 1913, during the 300-year jubilee of the Romanov reign. He thanked people "in front and behind of the curtain" who worked to establish the exhibition at Smolny.


Another unsettled issue is the fate of the remains of the tsar and his family. Most experts believe bones found in 1991 in Yekaterinberg in the Ural Mountains are those of Nicholas II and his family. They are currently unburied in a laboratory in Yekaterinburg.


A government official said Friday that the remains will not be laid in their final resting place before April of next year.


"Before finishing all the necessary studies, we need money and a minimum of several months," said Andre Sebentsov, secretary of the government identification commission, cited by Interfax.


Leonida Georgiyevna Romanov, one of the descendants of the imperial family, suggested last April that the tsar be buried in Moscow's cathedral of Christ the Savior, razed by Stalin in 1934, but which has now been rebuilt.


The Kremlin has indicated it would consider this proposal.