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9 Feb, 2009 03:44

Royal wedding in Georgia captures public imagination

A blue-blood marriage in the Georgian capital Tbilisi has sparked rumours of the beginning of a new chapter in Georgia's history and the restoration of a constitutional monarchy.

Both happy newlyweds are descendants of the ancient Bagrationi royal dynasty, a family that ruled a large part of present-day Georgia.

David Bagrationi-Mukhraneli and Anna Bagrationi-Gruzinski are descended from the family which ruled the country from the early ninth century until Georgia became part of the Russian Empire and the Georgian monarchy was abolished.

For many this union of love is not just of historic importance. Amid the ongoing political tensions in Georgia, many have questioned whether they would be better off without a president and instead have a monarchy again. The idea is backed by the country's religious leader, Patriarch Iliyah II.

“The Georgian people must be ready to accept this kind of state system. In the Bagrationi family we

Bagrationi dynasty

The Bagrationi dynasty was first mentioned in Georgian chronicles in the 6th century A.D. It was said to be related to even earlier dynasties. For over a thousand years the history of the family is closely linked with that of Georgia itself. The Bagrationi family started to rule Georgia in the early 9th century A.D., bringing prosperity to Georgia from the 11th to 13th centuries, bringing several neighbouring lands under its control. The dynasty continued as an Imperial Russian noble family even after Georgia’s becoming part of the Russian Empire in the early 19th century. Following the establishment of Soviet rule in Georgia in 1921, most of the family relocated to Europe.

should find a worthy child, or bring up one who will potentially ascend the throne,” he said back in 2007.

Despite this support from Georgia’s Orthodox Church, public opinions differ. Some say life has changed irreversibly and the very idea of a monarchy sounds laughable, while others say that adopting a more liberal form of a parliamentary republic could eventually lead to at least a discussion about the monarchy’s fate in Georgia.

For the opposition, which has continually called for President Mikkhail Sakashvilli to go, the idea's a no-brainer.

“It's absolutely clear that very strong presidential power in Georgia failed and we think that a constitutional monarchy in Georgia is the best way to organise Georgia's political system,” says Georgy Targamadze, who represents Georgia’s opposition, which has repeatedly called for President Mikkhail Sakashvilli’s departure.

A recent survey on Georgian TV showed more than 40% backed the idea of putting the Bagrationi family back on the throne.