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Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich of Russia (18 September 1891 – 5 March 1942) was a son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia, a grandson of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and a first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II.
His early life was marked by the death of his mother and his father's banishment from Russia after marrying a commoner in 1902. Grand Duke Dimitri and his elder sister Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, to whom he remained very close throughout his life, were raised in Moscow by their paternal uncle Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, a sister of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. His uncle was killed in 1905 and as his aunt entered religious life, Dimitri spent a great deal of his youth in the company of Tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family at the Alexander Palace as they viewed him almost like a foster son.
Grand Duke Dimitri followed a military career, graduating from the Nikolaevskoe Cavalry School. He was commissioned as a cornet in the Horse Guards Regiment. An excellent equestrian, he competed in the Olympics games of 1912 in Stockholm. As a grandson of Tsar Alexander II on the male line, he occupied a prominent position as the Russian Imperial court, but he had little interest in his military career leading instead a fast life. Through his friendship with Felix Yusupov, he took part in the Assassination of the mystic peasant Grigori Rasputin, who was seen to have undue influence on the Tsar and his wife.
His final break with Yusupov in London in 1920 is documented in letters exchanged between the two men, none of which have ever been published. The originals are all part of the Ilyinsky family collection, along with Pavlovich's diaries. Pavlovich, who, as an adolescent, had envisioned Nicholas II as a 'man of action' and admired him greatly, was disillusioned by the Tsar's attitude and behavior during the war years. Like many other grand dukes, he had unsuccessfully tried to warn Nicholas of what he saw as Russia's imminent peril. The assassination was, in his conception, a patriotic act and one of desperation, but he almost immediately regretted it and would later describe on several occasions in his letters and diaries the disgust and remorse that he felt about his own involvement in the affair. Yusupov was, in 1920, offered a chance to speak about the assassination on a US lecture tour, the profits from which would go to the Red Cross, and it was his interest in pursuing the tour that proved to be the last straw in his relationship with Pavlovich.
Banished to the war front in Persia, this allowed him to escape the Russian Revolution and he emigrated to Westen Europe, first to England and later to Paris where he lived during the 1920s and had a brief, but notorious, affair with the famous French fashion designer Coco Chanel. He also lived briefly in the United States and in 1926 he married Audrey Emery an American heiress. The couple had a son before divorcing in 1937.
As the youngest Grand Duke to have survived the Russian Revolution, he was a prominent figure of the Russian community in exile, but he was not interested in politics, supporting instead the claim of his first cousin Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia. By the outbreak of World War II his health was already in decline and he died of tuberculosis in Davos, Switzerland age 50.
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