The Home of the Last Tsar - Romanov and Russian History

Biographies - Princess Maria Victorovna Bariatinskaya

by Tim Boettger

Princess Maria Victorovna Bariatinskaya was one of the Empress Alexandra's first maids of honour (along with Countess Maria Alexandrovna Lamsdorff and Princess Elisaveta Nicolaievna Obolenskaya), and a close friend over the years, although their relationship did have its ups and downs. She was the eldest child of Prince Victor Ivanovich Bariatinsky and his wife n&eacutee Maria Apollinarievna Butenieva. She was most likely appointed maid of honour (freilina) in 1896. Together with Baroness Budberg and Countess Pahlen, she assisted the Mistress of the Robes, Madame Narychkina, at the coronation of Their Majesties that same year. She remained with the Empress for approroximately two years, resigning her functions sometime in 1898, as her relationship with the Empress had become somewhat strained. Princess Sophia Ivanovna (Sonia) Djambakourian-Orbeliani was her replacement.

Having settled in Rome, where her cousin, Prince Chigi Albani possessed a magnificent palace, she was summoned back to Russia by the Empress, who had had no contact with her for some three years. In his memoirs, Alexander Alexandrovich Mossolov, head of the Court Chancellery, relates that "This lady, who had a great deal of energy and plenty of common sense, at once established herself as a sort of Chief of Staff to the Empress. She discussed with me and the ministers the problems that the Empress wanted settled, and 'prepared' solutions that would be satisfactory to her mistress."

In Alexandra's letter to the Tsar dated June 29, 1914, she states that "Marie Bariatinsky will lunch with us & spent her last afternoon with me." This is the last mention we have of her. It is possible that she returned to Rome following the Revolution, where, before the war, she and her sister, Princess Olga Victorovna, shared a residence at Piazza SS Apostoli 73 (this sister, also a maid of honour, died in Rome in 1932).

Princess Bariatinskaya did carry on a correspondance with the Empress, excerpts of which are cited by Baroness Buxhoevden in her book The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia. In one letter to her, the Empress described what she desired in a friend, "I must have a person to myself; if I want to be my real self. I am not made to shine before an assembly - I have not got the easy nor the witty talk one needs for that. I like the internal being, and that attracts me with great force. As you know, I am of the preacher type. I want to help others in life, to help them to fight their battles and bear their crosses."


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