Grand Duke Michael

The Greatest Adventure Story ever told

      The Two Lives


Grand Duke Michael

 Assisted by Sidney Reilly ‘Ace of Spies’

Grand Duke Michael


GRAND DUKE MICHAEL and his British secretary, Nicholas Johnson, in a backdrop of secrecy during World War One, embark on a perilous two-week round journey from Bolshevik Russia to England during the winter of 1918. Assisted by MI6’s Reilly, ‘Ace of Spies’ they meet with the Allied Powers and agree terms to invade Russia with a remit to remove Lenin and reinstate the Russian Throne with Michael as Tsar.

Returning to Russia, he was assassinated on the orders of the Bolshevik Revolutionary Government.


Here the story turns on the one incontestable fact …. that after years of searching,


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The Mystery Surrounding the Life of Grand Duke Michael

The popular successor to the Russian Throne was claimed to have been murdered in 1918 by Bolshevik thugs on the orders of Vladimir Lenin. Despite stories appearing in the world press that he was alive through sightings, raising hope of him defeating Bolshevism through his reported activities, Lenin later admits he had been assassinated. However, this account remains unproven other than dubious admissions by the assumed assassins some years later.
What is evident, after years of searching in this century by international teams of investigators and the Russian Government, no trace of any bodies have been found.
This novel creates a credible story and challenges the contemporary accounts of the murder of Grand Duke Michael, inviting an alternative theory supporting his second life in the UK from 1919 to his death in 1947… through the weaving of fact and fiction.

The truth is in the belief of the reader!

Introducing the characters

romanov history

Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch Romanov

Grand Duke Michael was the youngest son and fifth child of Emperor Alexander III of Russia and younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II.
In 1912, Michael shocked Nicholas by marrying the unpopular Natalia (Natasha) Wulfert, who had two previous marriages behind her. Nicholas, in anger, accused Michael of disloyalty to the pledges of the line of succession and exiled Michael to England and removed him from the line of succession.
After the outbreak of World War I, Michael returned to Russia, assuming command of the ’Savage Division‘, which was a cavalry regiment. When Nicholas abdicated on 15th. March 2017, he named Michael as his successor instead of his son Alexie, but he deferred acceptance of the Throne until ratification by an elected assembly. He therefore became Tsar for twelve hours. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, he was imprisoned and murdered in Perm in June 1918.

Grand Duke Michael

Nicholas Johnson

Nicholas Johnson was born in Russia in 1878. His father, a British Citizen, was a Captain in the Imperial Army being posted to the Royal Courts.
He shared a love of music with the Anglophile Grand Duke Michael, who, like Nicholas, was also a graduate of the Mikhailovsky Artillery School. These connections and shared interests led to a deep friendship between them and he was given the nickname ‘Johnny’.
Speaking three languages, he was sociable, smiling, and an accomplished pianist, and would accompany the very musical Michael, who played several instruments, notably the guitar. In late 1912 the Grand Duke Michael chose Nicholas as his private secretary. He devoted himself to serving his master, and even in the face of certain death his loyalty never wavered. Thus, after the Revolution, Michael pleaded with his faithful servant to flee to Britain, but Nicholas refused to leave his side.

Grand Duke Michael

Countess (Natalia) Natasha Brasova

Natalia Brasova was a Russian noblewoman who married Grand Duke Michael. They were both exiled from Russia in 1912 and eventually, after a year of living in European hotels, went to England and lived there until the start of the war.
At that point Michael asked his brother if he could return and partake in duties of the war. This was accepted and in September 1914 he left Paddockhurst in Sussex and returned with Natasha and their son George, eventually settling back in the family home at Gatchina.
She died in poverty in 1952.

Grand Duke Michael

Olga Bystrovia (Novel Character) aka Hannah Chudasama

During 1917 and 1918, Olga was covertly working in Russia for MI6 in the guise of a Senior Commander Commissar, with sweeping powers of arrest from non-conformity in party doctrine and ideology. She was expert in several European languages and adept at mathematics and creative thinking. Known for her coolness under stress, she could marginalise aggression in her opponents through her wit and charm. Together with her planning and strategic thinking, Olga was key in assisting Sidney Reilly in the Russian theatre of operations, and settlement of Imperial Families in exile. In her post-war years, after decommissioning from MI6, she chose to continue using her covert operational code name, Olga Bystrovia.

Grand Duke Michael

Ethel Voynich

Ethel Lilian Voynich was an Anglo-Irish novelist and musician, and a supporter of several revolutionary causes. She was born in Cork, but grew up in England. Voynich was a significant figure, not only on the late Victorian literary scene, but also in Russian émigré circles. She is best known for her novel The Gadfly, which became popular in her lifetime, especially in Russia. It is said that she had an intense relationship with Sidney Reilly in 1895, and subsequently wrote the book with him as the main character in 1897.
However, a noted biographer of Reilly, recalls that these were romanticised versions of such events and very doubtful, and counters instead that Reilly was perhaps informing on Voynich’s radical, pro-émigré activities to the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

Grand Duke Michael

Albert Stopford

Albert Henry Stopford, known as Bertie Stopford, was a British antique and art dealer, who also specialised in the manufactured jewellery from the houses of Fabergé and Cartier. He was well known to the three British Monarchs of the first part of the twentieth century, and as an emissary for the M16 becoming the eyes and ears of Petrograd during the First World War. During the years leading to, and the war, he forged friendships with several high-ranking members of the Russian Royal Family, becoming an intimate friend of the Romanovs. He carried out many courier activities under the guise of his diplomatic immunity, transporting out of revolutionary Russia, vast quantities of wealth in antiques and jewellery.

Grand Duke Michael

Sidney Reilly

Sidney George Reilly, commonly known as the ‘Ace of Spies’, was a secret agent of the British Secret Service Bureau, the precursor to the modern British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. He is alleged to have spied for at least four different powers. Reilly was heavily involved in the revolutionary years, in the main to facilitate and support the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime via the planned invasion of Russia by the Western Powers.

Grand Duke Michael

Winston Churchill

Parliamentary Minister for Munitions to the British Government, Secretary of State
for War and Air during 1917–1919. A major preoccupation of his tenure in the War Office was the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, declaring that Bolshevism must be ‘strangled in its cradle’ and created a plan for an allied invasion of Russia in 1918. He secured, from a divided and loosely organised Cabinet, intensification and prolongation of the British involvement in Russia, beyond the wishes of any major group in Parliament or the nation and in the face of bitter hostility from the Labour Party.

Grand Duke Michael

Carl Fabergé

When he inherited the family business in the nineteenth century, he moved from producing jewellery in the then-fashionable French eighteenth-century style to becoming artist-jeweller.
Fabergé’s production of the very first so-called Fabergé egg, the Hen Egg, given as a gift from the Tsar to his wife Maria Fyodorovna on Easter of 1885, so delighted her that the Emperor assigned Fabergé the title 'Goldsmith by Special Appointment' to the Imperial Crown.

Grand Duke Michael

David Lloyd George

The last serving Liberal British Prime Minister, Lloyd George welcomed the fall of the Tsar in a message to the new Russian Prime Minister Kerensky but became concerned to the suggestion of the Russian Foreign Minister Pavel Milyukov that the toppled Tsar and his family be given sanctuary in Britain. In April 1917, the British Government withdrew its consent under Royal pressure. Eventually, the Russian Royal Family were moved to the Urals where they were executed in 1918. Lloyd George was often blamed for the refusal of asylum.

Grand Duke Michael

Admiral of the Fleet, Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe

Jellicoe, commanded the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. Both sides claimed victory, but history shows the battle was drawn as each side lost many ships and thousands of men. The German High Seas Fleet retreated to port, but the British public were disappointed that the Royal Navy had not won a victory on the scale of the Battle of Trafalgar. Jellicoe later served as First Sea Lord, overseeing the expansion of the Naval Staff at the Admiralty and the introduction of convoys.

Grand Duke Michael

Woodrow Wilson.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921.
Wilson found it increasingly difficult to maintain neutrality in World War I, due to Germany’s commitment to unrestricted submarine warfare and their promise to the Mexican Government that if Germany was victorious, she would support them in winning back the southern states from the USA. On April 2 1917, the USA declared war with Germany.
The overthrow of the Russian Monarchy brought the war with Russia and Germany to an end. This allowed them to dedicate more troops to the Western Front, thus making U.S. Forces central to Allied success in the remaining battles of 1918.
Wilson dedicated military resources to an intervention in Russia against the Bolsheviks, as he was convinced of the potential benefit to assist the Allies on the Eastern Front and bring Russia back to war with Germany.

Grand Duke Michael

King George V

George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. When Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, George’s first cousin, was overthrown in the Russian Revolution of 1917, the British Government offered political asylum to the Tsar and his family. However, worsening conditions for the British people, and fears that revolution might come to the British Isles, led George to think that the presence of the Romanovs would be seen as inappropriate. Advanced planning for a rescue was undertaken by MI1, a branch of the British Secret Service. But because of the strengthening position of the Bolshevik Revolutionaries and wider difficulties with the conduct of the war, the plan was never put into operation. The Tsar and his immediate family remained in Russia, where they were murdered by Bolsheviks in 1918.

Grand Duke Michael

Admiral Scheer

Reinhard Scheer was an Admiral in the Imperial German Navy during World War I.
In 1916 Admiral Scheer took command of the 3rd Battle Squadron, which consisted of the newest and most powerful battleships in the High Seas Fleet. Scheer led the German fleet at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May–1 June 1916, which was one of the largest modern naval battles in history.
Scheer joined those calling for unrestricted submarine warfare against the Allies, a move the Kaiser eventually permitted. In August 1918, Scheer was promoted to the Chief of Naval Staff and retired after the end of the war.

Grand Duke Michael

Admiral Tirpitz

Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy, starting in the 1890s, and turned it into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in the First World War. The one great engagement at sea, the Battle of Jutland, ended in a draw with both sides claiming victory. Tirpitz turned to submarines, which antagonised the United States, and called for the most extreme use of weapons, especially unrestricted submarine warfare.

Grand Duke Michael

Vladimir Lenin

Russian Communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served
as head of government of the Russian Republic from 1917 to 1918, of the Russian
Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1918 to 1924, and of the Soviet Union
from 1922 to 1924. His main concern during 1918 was the possibility of a resurgence of support for the return of the Imperial Throne. His only certainty of retaining control was the ultimate permanent removal of the Imperial Families.

Grand Duke Michael

Andrei Marcov

Marcov was a member of the gang that murdered Grand Duke Michael and Nicholas Johnson in June 1918 and fired the fatal shot to the head of Michael. As a token of the work they had carried out for the Bolshevik Revolution, Marcov stole a wristwatch from Johnson. He kept it until his death in 1965, claiming it had never needed any repairs and had kept perfect time.

Grand Duke Michael

Sir Stewart Menzies

Menzies entered service with MI6 and was soon promoted as second in command to Sir Hugh Sinclair. He became an associate of Sidney Reilly and through Reilly’s skulduggery became allegedly involved in the downfall of the Labour Government. After the death of Sinclair, Menzies was made Chief of SIS in 1939.

Michael Roman


Winter 2016. I am sitting at the bay window of a caravan which is sited on the East Coast of Yorkshire, overlooking one of nature’s most beautiful bays. To the right, I can see the rugged thirty four metre high limestone cliffs of Speeton towering over the rock-strewn beach below. To the left, I can see the charming and unspoilt old fishing town of Filey, which today is a haven for thousands of discerning tourists each year, often accompanied by children and dogs.
The two hundred metres of soft golden sands at low tide, bordered by cobalt-coloured waters and blue skies from the left… scanning towards the right and seeing the thrashing waves on the defending Speeton Cliffs is a dichotomy of vibrating senses which excite the spirit.
I am holding a pen in one hand and a 1912 nickel silver egg-shaped wristwatch in the other.
I am about to reconstruct a story of monumental proportions, revealing events that took place in the early part of the last century which held the balance of fundamental and radical changes of the world order, played out by the younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II, the emerging fledgling Bolshevik regime and the Western Powers of the First World War.
My mind is slowly transported to the year of 1917… one hundred years ago.


Grand Duke Michael

Nicholas Johnson, in the background of the destruction of the Romanov dynasty during the Bolshevik revolution must be one of the greatest adventures ever told.  They embark on a daring journey to the UK with the help of Sidney Reilly `Ace of spies`, where a meeting with the Allied Powers of WWI, plan an invasion of Russia to remove Lenin from power, and bring Russia back to war with Germany.

Grand Duke MichaelThe fantastic array of machinery to aid the journey is a mouth watering list for adventures in those times and included, a Silver Ghost winterized half-track Rolls Royce, Romanov Royal Yatch, HMS Iron Duke Battleship, Sea plane and a German U-151 submarine.

Grand Duke Michael

Before returning to Russia, they buried a horde of Russian Romanov treasures on the East Coast of Yorkshire, hoping to retrieve them shortly after he became Tsar.  Arriving home after completing the two-week round trip in the depths of winter, the pair were arrested by Lenin’s Bolsheviks, exiled to Siberia, imprisoned, and then murdered.

Michael was rescued by Reilly barely alive and sent back to the UK.  Grand Duke MichaelSuffering a total memory loss, he built a new life protected by MI6, worked at Bletchley Park during WW2 and later married, Olga Bystrovia, an MI6 spy, who had assisted him in Russia.


A son was borne as the legitimate ascendant

to the Russian Throne.


Michael was a very eligible bachelor in the early part of the last century and had many Royal suiters. He fell in love with Natasha Wulfert, a twice married commoner, and given a stark choice from his brother Tsar Nicholas II to either abandon the love affair, or face exile.  He chose to marry Natasha which resulted in their exile to the UK in 1912 and not returning until the outbreak of WW1 where he became a successful leader of a famous cavalry division on the Eastern Front.Grand Duke Michael

At the fall of the Romanov Dynasty Michael was placed under house arrest and exiled to Siberia where he was eventually murdered.

Sidney Reilly rescues him at the questionable murder scene barely alive.  He is transported back to the UK where he recovers but suffers a total loss of memory.  Whilst under the care of  Olga Bystrovia, who was also a British spy and accomplice to Reilly, he falls deeply in love with her.  They marry in 1946 and the child George is born who is the legitimate heir to the Russian Throne.

Upon his deathbed in 1947, Olga tearfully meets his first wife Natasha who had previously thought that Michael had died at the hands of Lenin in 1918.


This part of the story carries with it the intensity of his two romances

and the captivating heartbreak at his death of which both his wives are present.


  • Controversy surrounds the apparent murder of Michael in 1918.  After years of searching in Siberia, his body has never been found, giving credence to the mystery that Michael survived and spent his second life in Britain!
  • The creation of a 51st. Fabergé Egg is rumoured to have been given to the Romanovs, encouraging the authors claim that it is laying within the grave site of Nicholas Johnson!
  • Ethel Voynich, the author of `The Gadfly` is said to have had a love affair with Sidney Reilly and modelled the hero of the book, Arthur Burton on him.  The author reveals a private conversation between them…
  • Andrei Marcov murdered Nicholas Johnson, stole his wrist watch which has survived through these past 100 years. Are the coordinates of the buried Romanov Gems in Yorkshire to be found in the back of the watch?
  • Speculation abounds about James Bond and whose role model did Ian Fleming base this internationally Carl Faberge eggfamous character.  From his friendship with Bruce Lockhart, who was an accomplice of Sidney Reilly, it is almost certain….. with this novel providing inspiration towards that reality.
  • The credibility of the authors weaving of facts and fiction prompts this question; did Michael survive and start a new life in Britain marrying Olga Bystrovia and producing a son and heir to the Russian Imperial Throne.

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