Members of the royal dynasties of Georgia are calling one another impostors and are taking their beef with one another to court
Tbilisi City Court has been presented with an unusual case – a panel of three judges must determine which branch of the royal Georgian Bagrationi family has the right to use the name of the royal house of Georgia.
The suit has been brought by Anna and Nugzar Bagration-Gruzinsky.
The Bagration-Gruzinsky family says that their distant relative and Anna’s previous husband, David Bagration-Mukhraneli, is ‘using the Georgian royal household’s name without the right to do so’.
The Bagration-Gruzinsky family says that David Bagration-Mukhraneli is using the royal family name to organize meetings, including in Europe, and has even given out titles.
David Bagration-Mukhraneli’s lawyer Levan Chkheidze says that the aim of the Bagration-Gruzinsky family is to “receive recognition from the Georgian government of their [status] as the heirs to the Georgian throne”.
Representatives of both branches calls the other impersonators.
David Mukhraneli has offered Nugzar Gruzinsky to take a DNA test, which would either confirm or deny his connection to the Bagrationi line. Gruzinsky declined.
The legal firm hired by Anna and Nugzar Bagration-Gruzinsky, Samartlis Gza, has published a special message on its Facebook page, attesting to the necessity of going to court.
“Taking into account the importance of the case, it will be examined by a panel of three judges,” the firm wrote.
Leading historians in the country have been invited to serve as a jury in the case, which is quite without legal precedence in Georgia. The court will interview historians Roin Metreveli and Giorgi Otkhmezuri, and on the basis of their responses will try to ascertain which party has the right to use the name of the royal house of Georgia.
The Bagrationi dynasty goes back to 978 in Georgia, with the ascendance of Bagrat III to the throne. The line comes to an end in 1810, after the manifesto of Russian Emperor Aleksandr I officially incorporated Georgia into the Russian Empire.
In the 19th century, members of the Georgian royal family were forcefully resettled to Russia in order to avoid possible unrest that might be stoked by their presence in Georgia. Later, the majority of the Georgian royal family ended up in Spain and other European countries.
Today, there are three lines within the Bagrationi family: the Gruzinsky, Mukhraneli and Imereli lines.
The Mukhraneli line is headed by David Bagrationi, who was born and raised in Spain. His father, Giorgi [or Jorge], was close to the royal Spanish family, and was a Formula1 1 driver. In 2004, he resettled his family from Spain to Georgia.
The Gruzinsky line is represented by Nugzar Bagration-Gruzinsky. His daughter, Anna, married David Bagration-Mukhraneli.The main initiator of their marriage was the Georgian church. The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II came up with a scheme to reconcile the two branches and unite them in marriage. Their child, Ilia II reasoned, would be the undeniable, legal heir to the throne.
The church itself was responsible for organizing their grandiose wedding.
They were married in the Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. The church named the marriage a ‘historic event’. In 2011, Anna and David had a child – Giorgi. The child was personally baptized by Ilia II. The church announced him the future heir to the Georgian throne. In 2013, Anna and David officially divorced.
Who finances the Bagrationi family?
The Georgian budget has no official expenditures for the royal family.
They do not own any property of historic value.
Various sources say that members of the royal family are supported by several Georgian businessmen – on the order of the Georgian Patriarchate.
One of them is Levan Vasadze, a businessman with ultranationalist and pro-Russian views.
The Bagrationi family is periodically present at various, pompous events and come out in royal garments.
They even have a Facebook page – The Royal House of Georgia, which publicizes the life events of the Bagrationi family.
A revival of the Georgian royal monarchy?
Discussion of a potential ‘revival’ of the Georgian monarchy began after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The topic was frequently brought up, however without much sincerity.
The main proponent of the idea was the church and Ilia II, who believes that the institution of the monarchy could ‘bring stability and peace’ to a country which for many years has been politically polarised.
Two years ago, the topic was discussed with special vigor after Ilia II delivered a Sunday sermon in which he came out in favor of the revival of the monarchy.
Ilia II’s statement was supported by the ruling party and other government officials. In particular, Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze noted that a “constitutional monarchy would bring peace to the political life [of the country]”.
Salome Zurabishvili, the country’s current president, has also supported the idea of reviving the monarchy on several occasions, saying that the monarchy would be able to aid in the revitalization of relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The opposition has come out against the idea, saying that the topic of restoring the monarchy is an attempt of the current authorities to distract the public from the more serious issues at hand. The opposition also says that the monarchy is an expensive luxury, which requires considerable resources for maintenance, which is at the very least ‘impractical’ for poor Georgia.
Kings and Facebook
Facebook users have not let the topic slip them by either – many are curious as to others’ ‘aristocratic origins’, and who, on the contrary, is ‘a plebeian’. Naturally, the suit between Anna and David Bagrationi had given rise to active discussions. Here are a few Facebook statuses:
“After the collapse of Georgia, Bagrationi was presented in an unenviable light, everyone was fighting with one another: mother with heir, brother with brother, father with children, cousins, etc. Looks like they decided to continue this “brilliant” tradition. The difference is that their struggle attracted human sacrifices, while now tragicomedy or just comedy unfolds.”
“These are the Bagrationi who divided the country into three kingdoms.”
“Isn’t it better for the Bagrationi to lead the country? At least they would be better than Ivanishvili or Saakashvili.”