How many Australian-born Princesses do you know?
If the answer is one, than you are wrong. Crown Princess of Denmark, born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, became the Princess in 2004, but she was not the only one and definitely not the first one. Do not forget the story of Margaret Sheila Mackellar Chisholm from Sydney, who married Prince Dimitri Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia in 1954.
But this is the story of Pauline Curran from Tasmania who was born 9 February 1893. She was the daughter of late Mr. J. B. Curran, Auctioneer & Land Valuer, and one of the many beneficiaries of the George Adams estate.
On 20 January 1926 she married a Russian Prince Maximillian Melikoff. Even so Prince Melikoff had lost his nobility status after the Revolution of 1917 and he was not an heir to a throne or had any fortune, Hobart treated the Melikoff marriage as a ‘royal event’. The wedding took place at St. David’s Cathedral in Hobart and created a buzz in Tasmanian society.
”So intense was the desire of the public to catch a glimpse of Australia’s first princess, that ‘the police suspended traffic in Murray Street for three hours. The cathedral was crowded and 5000 people surged around the gates. The police were forced to fight a way through the crowd for the bride.” says Queanbeyan-Canberra Advocate on 28 January 1926.
Pauline and Maximilian met each other in London, England where Pauline was on a prowl for a husband. Maximilian (Max) was a taxi driver and Pauline’s chauffeur during her trip in London. A taxi driver’s position was not a perfect job for an impoverished Prince, who fled the Revolution, but it did not stop the couple from falling in love. Their engagement was announced on 21 January 1925, three months after they met, and the couple married one year later.
She supplied the money, he supplied the title. This was the verdict of the public.
”Australians who met him voted the Prince handsome, charming, popular and obviously in love with his wife”. The Australian Women’s Weekly, 24 February 1934
Who was Prince Maximilian Melikoff?
Melikoff (or Melikishvili) was a famous in Russia family of Armenian origin, which is dating back to the end of the XVI century. The early representatives of the family have been researched extensively and you can find the family tree at www.rodovid.org. The family of Melikishvili were included in the part V of the genealogy book of Tiflis province as Princes and, as a result, their files are in FGURGIA archive in fond 1343, inventory 51.
Grandfather of Maximilian -Prince Levan Ivanovich Melikov (1817-1891) – was Adjutant General and General of Cavalry, who ruled Dagestan region between 1859-80. He was also the assistant Chief of the Caucasus Army (1880-82) and member of the State Council.
Prince Levan had seven kids including Petr Levanovich Melikov (father of Max) (21.09.1862- 11.07.1934), who graduated from the Corps of Pages and continued his military career achieving the position of the Officer for special assignments at the Warsaw Governor-General Office in 1906 and becoming a Major-General in 1909.
In his marriage to Baroness Anna Maximilianovna von der Osten-Sacken he had two sons Maximilian and Levan. Being born in a military family, boys continued in footsteps of their ancestors and served the Tsar and Russia.
Maximilian Petrovich Melikov (Melikishvili), Максимилиан Петрович Меликов (Меликишвили), was born on 21.11.1894 based on Russian records. Australian records, more likely based on marriage record of 1926, state that he was born in 1884, giving him a nearly 10 year advantage in age. He graduated from the Alexander Suvorov Cadet Corps of the Imperial Russian Army located in Warsaw and was appointed to serve in the Chechen Cavalry Regiment.
When the World War 1 started Max went to fight. His military record should be located in Military Historical archive in Moscow but it appears that, at present, no one investigated his military career. Australian records place him in 13th Hussars Russian Imperial Calvary during the war (1914 to 1917). After the Revolution Max fought against the Bolsheviks.
“He went to General Denekin’s army in 1918, and from that in 1919 he went to Persia to instruct the Persian cavalry , and fought against the Bolsheviks in Northern Persia. In 1921 Prince Melikoff left Persia and went to Italy”
and then to France. Some Australian newspapers state that Maximilian was awarded the Order of the Persian Lion and Sun.
Life after marriage
After spending four months in Tasmania the Melikoff’s moved to Sydney and then on to Cannes in 1926. The following years included trips back to Australia and frequent sojourns in London. Approximately in 1929 ”he went to East Africa for big game shooting, and stayed there for nine months. On his return he gave private lessons in Russian and did a little “crowd” work for the films”, state the papers.
”I love the life. Horses have always been a passion of mine, and I have never been so happy before”,
revealed Max in February 1934, when the story of him being a stable boy in Ascot stables of Sir Archibald Weigall, former governor of South Australia, broke out unexpectedly. By then Max and Pauline separated and Max was in need for work.
”I have roamed the world and done most things. I have been an instructor in the Turkish cavalry, a tennis instructor, and a film actor”
said Maximilian. The article on 21 April 1938 in Nepean Times (Penrith) tells us that he was also a ”ballet dancer in Rome, a tennis teacher in San Remo, a partner in a chicken farm enterprise in Nice, professional gambler at Monte Carlo, a trapper of leopards In Kenya”. In 1938 Maximilian was running a motoring school in Holland Park, London in 1938.
Then – nothing. At least not in newspapers. Obviously after such turbulent and public life he’d chosen a seclusion.
Maximilian Melikoff died on 16 April 1950 in Southsea Hampshire.
http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/06/24/2284591.htm ( with photos)
The Mercury ,Hobart, 29 August 1933