His grandmother was the last Grand Duchess of Imperial Russia, and he was the great-grandson of Alexander III, the penultimate Tsar, but when Leonid Kulikovsky, 72, died alone and unknown in a small Australian town this year, the extravagances of a White Russian funeral were not observed.
In fact, quite the opposite—it took two months for the authorities to establish the identity of the quiet, retired water engineer who lived on a trailer park and whose greatest passion appears to have been walking his dog.
Leonid may have been a ‘White Russian’, as the Russian nobility and descendants of the royal family are known in Europe, but he did not advertise the fact, although there was a clue to his true identity in his nickname, “Old Nick”—a reference to his relative Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, who was executed along with his family, doctor, cook, and maids by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.
Peter Byers, the owner of the caravan park in the dusty town of Katherine in the Northern Territory, said, “Old Nick decided it was all a bit much for him and traded his Winnebago for a car. He rented a small unit from us and stayed put.”
Mr Byers told The Northern Territory News, “He said he’d made a few friends in Katherine and was happy here … He got on with everybody. He loved his dog and took great care of him. He was a great reader and had a huge number of books on Vikings.”
Leonid’s grandmother, Grand Duchess Olga, was a sister of Tsar Nicholas, who was shot by revolutionary forces in 1917 when the Romanovs were deposed.
Olga fled to the Crimea and then to Denmark, and purchased a dairy farm in Ballerup, near Copenhagen.
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, she led a simple life, raising her two sons—one of whom, Guriy, was Leonid’s father—while also working on the farm and painting.
In 1948, apparently feeling threatened by Josef Stalin’s regime, Olga emigrated with her immediate family to a farm in Ontario, Canada, and died, aged 78, in Toronto.
Mr Kulikovsky reportedly moved from Denmark to Sydney in 1967. He has a sister who still lives in Denmark.
According to the Telegraph, his identity was only discovered after the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church in Australia visited Moscow and was told a member of the Romanov family had died in the Northern Territory.