Boris Skosyrev – king of Andorra
In the autumn of 1933 a strange Russian appeared on the territory of the principality of Andorra. The foreigner amazed the locals with his manners, wealth and the ability to charm people. His name was Boris Skosyrev. He was an adventurer, a Russian emigre. In 1934 Boris became the king of Andorra Boris I. His life was more like an adventure novel than a reality.
Boris Mikhailovich was born on June 12, 1896 in Vilnius, the Russian Empire.
Skosyrev claimed that he was a nobleman who had escaped from Russia after the execution of the whole family and that at one time he had studied at the best universities in England and France. Also he was proud of his friendship with British politician Oliver Locker-Lampson, the future creator of British military aviation. Until 1919 Skosyrev was in Ukraine as part of the British group of assistance to the White Movement.
Once in London, he worked as a military interpreter. Soon Boris was arrested because he was in Britain without registration and paid for living with invalid checks. In 1922, he moved to the Netherlands, where, as he said, he began to provide secret services to the royal family, for which Queen Wilhelmina awarded him the title of Count and the name Orange. This, of course, was not true. The adventurer managed to live in Colombia and many European countries, where he had a reputation as a spy.
By 1923 Skosyrev had Dutch citizenship.
Researchers believe that the impetus for the adventure was not only the energetic nature, but also a woman. He was married to Frenchwoman Marie-Louise Para de Gassier. But shortly before the decision to ascend the throne of Andorra, Boris began an affair with the rich American, Florence Marmont. As they say, his ideas, her money.
At that time, Andorra was a small principality in the Pyrenees, sandwiched between Spain and France. There were only 5 thousand people in the country and they were ruled by the bishop and the king of France, and after the revolution by the French president. Lawyers disagreed with this form of government, because they believed that the head of the principality should not be the president, but the great-grandson of the last French king, Jean of Orleans, Duke of Guise.
In 1933, because of the reform of the electoral law, riots in Andorra began. To subdue Andorrans, France sent 50 gendarmes to the principality. The inhabitants of the Pyrenean valleys were unhappy. Skosyrev decided to take advantage of this situation. In the autumn of 1933 he arrived in Andorra, where he immediately attracted attention. Excellent manners, knowledge of Spanish, German, English, French amazed the Andorrans.
Being on the territory of the country as a private person, Skosyrev attended meetings of the local General Council. He told about the prosperous principality of Monaco and claimed that Andorra could follow its path. He proposed to carry out democratic reform, abolish taxes, start construction of hotels, a casino, attract foreign capital. In writing, the document was prepared on May 17, 1934. For a successful outcome of the transformation, the principality was to become a kingdom headed by King Skosyrev.
Surprisingly, the Russian emigre had reason to claim the throne. Skosyrev had a letter from Jean of Orleans, Duke of Guise, in which he transferred his powers to Boris Skosyrev. It is unknown where this document came from. However, soon the reformer was deported from the territory of the principality.
Skosyrev was not going to give up and on July 7, 1934, he returned to Andorra and … became the King. He wrote the country’s constitution which was short, only 17 paragraphs. It had to protect the rights of indigenous population. However, the Bishop of Urgel didn’t like the idea of Andorra’s transformation into the gaming zone. As a result, the king decided to declare war. Boris I lost the war, and his reign lasted 9 days. Skosyrev was arrested by five Spanish civil guards.
On October 31, 1934 Spanish court sentenced him to one year in prison. Soon he was released and sent to Portugal. After spending several months in Portugal, Skosyrev went to France at the end of 1935, where he lived with his wife.
On October 7, 1939 Skosyrev was arrested by the French authorities and sent to the camp at Le Vernet.
In 1958, Dr. Francisco Fernando Lopez, Portuguese friend of Skosyrev, received letters from him and his wife. They were sent from the German town of Boppard. According to Skosyrev, in October 1942 he was released from the camp by the Germans and sent to the Soviet Union. At the end of the war, he fell into the hands of Soviet troops, was sent the Gulag (where he stayed until 1956), and then he was able to return to Germany, where he lived in Boppard.
Boris Skosyrev died on February 27, 1989 in Germany.