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Ana Dabrundashvili

Georgia’s Parallel Reality: The Not-So-New Royal Family

The descendants of the Georgia’s royal Bagrationi family try to re-establish their authority over the country. How realistic is it for Georgia to become a constitutional monarchy?

The Bagrationi family is back

In 2007, after months of tension between then-ruling United National Movement and its political opposition, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church Patriarch Illia II suggested that Georgia should bring back the constitutional monarchy and re-instate the throne of Bagrationi family, who ruled the country for centuries before Russia annexed Georgia in the beginning of 1800’s.

The Georgian Public Broadcaster reports on the baptization of Prince Giorgi:

Though the idea sounded ridiculous at best, parts of the public picked it up: the words of the Georgia’s spiritual father often have enchanting effect on Georgians; besides, there was logic about it as Presidents had been an exhausting disappointment.

“Patriarch Illia II suggested that Georgia should bring back the constitutional monarchy and re-instate the throne of Bagrationi family”

For the last two hundred years the Bagrationis existed only on the pages of the history textbooks. After the Patrairch’s statement they suddenly re-emerged in public and gradually acquired the attributes (with the exception of a kingdom to rule) of a modern royal family – a dramatic royal matrimony, a cute little prince Giorgi and a mysterious single sexy Prince Ugo.

Erekle II of Georgia (the Bagrationi dynasty), a monument in Kakheti, author: Rita Willaert, source: Flickr

Erekle II of Georgia (the Bagrationi dynasty), a monument in Kakheti, author: Rita Willaert, source: Flickr

The Game of a Throne

In 2009, Davit and Ana, representatives of the two lines of the Bagrationi family – Bagration-Mukhranski and Bagration-Gruzinski –  married and in 2011 Ana gave birth to their first son named Giorgi Bagration-Bagrationi. Giorgi, now the two-year old heir of the non-existent throne, was baptized by the Patriarch this November.

Shortly after the baptization, sad news broke out on through the website of the royal family that Davit and Ana’s marriage has come to an end.  The matrimony was shaky from the beginning and there were rumors that the couple was forced to marry to give birth to the heir. They split shortly after the marriage (some say Davit had an affair) but reconciled and settled in Spain where Davit’s family (including his brother Ugo), had been living for generations.

Little is known about the reasons of the breakup. Little is known at all about the past or the future plans of the royal family of Georgia, though there have been vague plans to raise Giorgi as king with the participation of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Anyhow, the royal family’s enthusiasm does not fade: Ana’s father has recently granted couple of knighthoods and ladyships to prominent Georgians including businessman Levan Vasadze, an avid supporter of the constitutional monarchy and one of the godfather’s of Prince Giorgi. Knighthood has never existed in Georgia, but such is the king’s will.

And Back to reality

According to the constitution, Georgia is a democratic republic, hence has no place for a king. Amendments to the constitution would require 3/4 of the 150-seat Parliament. It is hard to imagine that such a vast majority of MPs will ever support the idea. Creating suitable legal environment for the constitutional monarchy could become a mission impossible for Georgian lawmakers. The country has a recently elected President and it is unclear how a monarch can be squeezed in here. And generally, it might not be easy to find legal grounds for Bagrationis’ claim of the country’s leadership after a two-century gap – even if Georgia agrees to bring Bagrationis back, why particularly these ones out of possibly  many descendants?

“The re-establishment of the royal family is wrong for so many reasons that it is hard to explain why the Church would continue promoting the idea”

The public support could ease the task. But one thing that Georgia’s twenty-year history of independence shows is that Georgians do not have much respect towards their leaders and enjoy changing them. The public has probably long understood that it has power and it is unlikely that it will recognize a higher authority in the face of the royal family, the one that cannot be touched but must be paid for.

The re-establishment of the royal family is wrong for so many reasons that it is hard to explain why the Church would continue promoting the idea. It’s true that there is time till the Prince comes out of age. Georgians might use this time to get used to the idea and if the country faces another political crisis, some day there might be a window of opportunity for Giorgi and a chance for the church to acquire higher legitimacy and the degree of influence unavailable in any secular state. But many believe, or better to say, many hope, that even the strong influence of the church cannot drive Georgians this far.

Georgia on Eastbook.eu 

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Ana is from Tbilisi, Georgia, where she currently works for the Caucasus Research Resource Centers. She has an MA in International Relations and BA in Journalism. Pursues writing in free time and is interested in literature.

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