The Princess Who Married the World’s Richest Boy

Jenni Wiltz
10 min readAug 12, 2020


…and lived happily ever after with someone else.

This is the story of Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia, best known for her entanglement in the longest-running royal mystery of the 20th century. We’ll get to that hot mess, but I think the rest of her life is way more interesting.

Princess Xenia was the second daughter of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich and Princess Maria of Greece and Denmark, born in 1903. But in case you thought being a princess is all tiaras and glitter, think again — sometimes you catch chicken pox from the tsar’s kids.

Quarantine Fail

In 1910, Xenia and her older sister Nina got a bundle of Christmas cards and presents from Tsar Nicholas II’s kids, who were down with the chicken pox. So when Xenia and Nina opened the presents, of course they came down with it, too.

But Xenia didn’t recover.

According to her mom, chicken pox turned into blood poisoning, which became peritonitis and then pericarditis. The doctors shook their heads and said there was no hope.

Then, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna got permission to bring St. Seraphim’s relics to Xenia’s bedside.

Ella in her nun’s habit.
Elizaveta Feodorovna by an unknown photographer, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The relics had never left Moscow before, but Xenia’s condition was grave enough to warrant drastic action. Two days after priests installed the relics on a special altar, Xenia whispered faintly, “Mama, you can send the Holy Saint home; I am cured!” ¹

But “cured” wasn’t the right word. She couldn’t walk for months, and weighed next to nothing. Her mom later wrote, “Nobody will ever know what that child suffered.” ²

Everything Falls Apart

In royal circles, it was no secret that although Grand Duke George loved his wife, Maria didn’t return the favor. By the summer of 1914, she was ready for a trial separation.



Jenni Wiltz

I write about fascinating royal women, their jewels, and quirky aspects of royal history no one else talks about. Find me at