Thanks to bulletproofjewels’s recentish post, I feel like I should probably try and explain ranks within the Imperial Family. I do already have two posts about them, including a rant on Alexandra’s title, and an explanation of Nicholas’s title, as Tsar.
The title tsar, which is similar to the European emperor, is like the head of the family. He’s the guy in charge, the ruler of the country. I’m assuming we’ve all heard the terms “Little Father” and “Little Mother” that were sometimes used to refer to the Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia. They’re like the parents of the whole family. Next you have the mother of the tsar, the Empress Dowager. She is widowed, which explains why her son is tsar. Next, we have the Tsesarevich, or the first born son of the tsar. He’s the head son, and comes before his sisters and other brothers in rank. He is second in line for the throne, meaning, if his father dies, then he will rule the country. Sometimes, in the event that no son is born to the ruling tsar, if he has a brother, the brother will be tsesarevich. In the case that there is no brother, the eldest of the tsar’s eligible paternal uncles will be tsarevich, and then it will be given to the uncle’s eldest eligible son, and etc. If there are no more eligible males, then the tsar’s daughter will be considered the heir. The closest term to confer that meaning is probably Tsesarevna, however, that title is actually given to the wife of the tsesarevich.
If the tsesarevich had any brothers or sisters, they would be called either Grand Duke, or Grand Duchess. These titles were reserved only for the children and grandchildren of a tsar. If a grandchild of a tsar had kid, then their title would be either Prince or Princess. Much different than Grand Duke or Grand Duchess.
If any female member of the Imperial Family were to marry, then they would take on their husband’s rank, if applicable. Titles cannot be passed on via the maternal side of the family, as they are correlated to the father’s status. So, if the father of a child is a King, and his/her mother a Grand Duchess, they would not be given the title of Grand Duke/Duchess, they would be given the title of Prince/ss, even if they were a grandchild of a ruling tsar.
If the husband and wife decide to stay in Russia however, and the husband’s rank is lower than the wife’s, he can be granted additional titles by the tsar, at the tsar’s whim, however, he cannot be titled a Grand Duke. The mother would retain her title of Grand Duchess, plus whatever her husband’s title is, ex. Countess of _____, Duchess of _____. If the husband died, or the two were divorced, the wife would still keep her title of Grand Duchess. Their children would carry their father’s rank, and not inherit the title of Grand Duke/Duchess.