Princess Catherine Galitzine was born in London to a Russian father and English mother. Her father emigrated from Russia in 1919 with his family at the age of 3, and was brought up in England as part of the White Russian community. Princess Catherine was brought up as an English girl, and did not discover that she was Russian (and, in fact, a direct descendant of Catherine the Great) until she went to the USSR at the age of 20.
After school, she went to theatre school and learnt to sing, dance, fence and act. She had always been interested in the human face and emotion, and discovered she could sculpt. In 1989, she took up an offer to study sculpture with the famous sculptor, Mikhail Konstantinovich Anikushin, in Leningrad, learning Russian along the way.
Princess Catherine settled in St Petersburg as her new home, where she worked as a portait artist. Between 1990 and 1992, she had a radio programme on Radio Rossiya and introduced Russian young people to alternative music from England.
In 1994, she and her mother founded the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in a mansion that had belonged to her grandmother. The Library is run from the UK as a British registered charity that focuses on books about Russia published abroad. Last year, she became Chief Executive of the Hermitage Foundation UK, which looks after the Hermitage in UK, runs the Friends of the Hermitage scheme and fundraises for exhibitions for the Hermitage 20/21 project. In 2013, Princess Catherine became a patron of the Gift of Life foundation.
Why have you decided to become a Patron of the Gift of Life foundation?
If my name can add anything to help, I am honoured to be asked to be a patron of Gift of Life. It is a truly wonderful cause, giving children the chance to live, to get better and survive, and for their parents to know that there are people out there in the big wide world who are ready to help. They are ready to reach into their pockets and help complete strangers because there are good people in the world who care about others. Sometimes life in Russia can be horribly tough, especially when you are sick, poor or down. The Gift of Life brings hope to the children it helps and their parents, and hope is needed in today’s Russia.