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TG History—Prince Felix Yussupov

| Sep 27, 2010
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Part I: Royal Crossdresser

“The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” — Harry S Truman, Plain Speaking

Few events in the past 20th century were as pivotal as the Russian Revolution. It resulted in the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas and Alexandria, led to the creation of the Soviet Union as a Communist superpower, and changed the world forever. Less known however was the key role in this drama played by one of history’s most fascinating transgendered individuals.

Felix Yussupov (also spelled Yusupov) was born in 1887, the second of two sons to Princess Zinaida Yussupova and her husband Count Felix Sumarokov-Elston. The young Prince inherited his mother’s great charm and beauty. He also took an early interest in her elegant clothes. But, you know, being a royal can put a crimp in one’s social life, as this next story proves. It seems Felix’s brother Nicholas had a mistress named Polia. During an all-nighter at her flat where everyone had drunk a good deal more than was good for them it was decided to continue partying with those fun loving rogues, the Gypsies. But with Felix in his highly visible royal uniform how do they slip away? His brother’s mistress hit on the answer, as Felix would relate in his memoirs: “Polia had the bright idea of dressing me up as a woman, and by the time she had finished with me not even my best friends would have recognized me…. I also realized that my disguise allowed me to go wherever I chose, and from that moment I began to lead a double life: by day I was a schoolboy and by night an elegant woman. Polia dressed very well and all her clothes suited me to perfection.

Prince Felix Yussupov
Prince Felix Yussupov

Felix made a stunningly attractive woman and officers of the Imperial Guard, unaware of the Prince’s true identity, made frequent passes. Now able to slip out of the royal court unnoticed Felix continued to go out as a woman.

A memorable incident occurred one night when Felix was at an exclusive St. Petersburg club heavily corseted into one of her mother’s finest evening gowns and adorned in her famous jewels and luxurious furs. During the evening’s entertainment a long strand of priceless pearls suddenly broke, hit the floor with a loud rattle, and scattered widely in every conceivable direction. After a frantic hunt Felix and his friends were able to retrieve most of the pearls but unfortunately several of the precious stones went missing, rolling into the dark corners of the room.

The next day the incident came to the attention of his parents when the missing pearls were found and returned by the club managers. Felix’s royal father finally had enough of his son’s behavior. Tough military men were brought in to “man up this crossdressing party girl. But the new rules imposed by his father gradually relaxed and Felix soon returned to his merrymaking ways.

During a trip to Paris another famous incident took place, as Felix related: “One evening there was a fancy-dress ball at the Opera and we decided to go, Nicholas in a domino and I dressed as a woman. To while away the first part of the evening we went to the Theatre des Capucines and sat in the front row of the stalls. After a while I noticed that an old gentleman in a stage box was eying me persistently. When the lights went up for the interval I recognized King Edward VII. My brother, who had been smoking a cigarette in the foyer, came back laughing; he told me that he had been accosted by a most dignified person with a message from His Majesty who wished to know the name of the lovely young woman he was escorting. I must confess that this conquest amused me enormously and greatly flattered my vanity!

King Edward VII was known for his womanizing, and though married in 1863 he had a series of mistresses (including Lilly Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt) his romantic liaisons did not include Prince Felix. Fate had other plans for Felix.

Felix and Irina
Felix and Irina

In 1908 his brother Nicholas was killed in a duel and Felix inherited the family fortune. To his credit Felix chose to devote his time and money to charitable works benefiting the poor. Then in 1914 Felix fell in love and married Princess Irina Alexandrovna, who was none other than the Tsar’s niece. Court gossips wondered why Irina would marry a man of Felix’ “nature and there is widespread historical speculation Felix may well have been bisexual. But the couple gradually won over their skeptics, gave birth to a daughter, and remained devoted lifelong partners.

Yet for all of this Felix Yussupov would probably have been a minor historical footnote. Except, that is, for the arrival of one of history’s most notorious figures: The Mad Monk, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin.



Lost Splendor, Prince Felix Yussupov

The Man Who Killed Rasputin, Gregory King

Prince Felix Yussupov Biography, Bob Atchison

A Treasury of Royal Scandals, Michael Farquhar

Edward VII and the Triple Entente, Webster G. Tarpley

Felix Yusupov, Wikipedia entry

The name of Felix’s brother “Nikolai is usually anglicized as “Nicholas

Felix’s last name has been translated from Cyrillic to English as Yussupov, Yusupov, Yossopov, Iusupov, Youssoupov, or even Youssoupoff. Take your pick.

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Category: Transgender History


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