Princess Olga Valerianovna Paley (2 December 1865 – 2 November 1929) was the morganatic second wife of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia.
Early life and first marriage
She was born as Olga Karnovich in Saint Petersburg, the daughter of Valerian Karnovich and his wife, Olga Vasilyevna Meszaros. She married Erich Gerhard von Pistohlkors (1853–1935 Riga) in 1884, by whom she had four children:
- Alexander Erikovich von Pistohlkors (1885–1944), who married Alexandra Taneyeva.
- Olga Erikovna von Pistohlkors (1886–1887).
- Olga Erikovna von Pistohlkors (1888–1963), married firstly in 1906 to Count Alexander Belzig von Kreutz and secondly in 1922 to Fürst Sergius Kudaschew.
- Marianna Erikovna von Pistohlkors (1890–1976), married firstly in 1908 to Peter Durnowo, secondly in 1912 to Christoph von Derfelden and thirdly in 1917 to Count Nicolaus von Zarnekau.
Scandal and second marriage
She later began an affair with Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, causing a great society scandal, and had a child with him, Vladimir. Her marriage to Pistohlkors was terminated by divorce, and Paul asked permission from Tsar Nicholas II to marry Olga, but he refused.
In 1902, Paul married her morganatically, but the marriage was not approved, and she was given no titles. In 1904, Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria granted Olga the title of Countess von Hohenfelsen. Nicholas II later acquiesced to the marriage and granted her the title of Princess Paley in 1915.
Olga and Paul had three children:
- Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley (1897–1918), a poet.
- Princess Irina Pavlovna Paley (1903–1990), married her cousin Prince Feodor Alexandrovich and later Count Hubert Conquere de Monbrison.
- Princess Natalia Pavlovna Paley (1905–1981), a fashion model and film actress, married firstly Lucien Lelong and secondly John Chapman Wilson.
Olga left Russia in 1920 with her two daughters and went to Finland, after her son and her husband were executed by the revolutionary government. She died in exile in Paris on 2 November 1929, at the age of 64.
Titles and styles
- 1865-1884: Miss Olga Valerianovna Karnovitsch
- 1884-1898: Mrs Olga Valerianovna von Pistohlkors
- 1898-1902: Ms Olga Valerianovna Karnovitsch
- 1902-1904: Mrs Olga Valerianovna Romanov
- 1904-1915: Countess Olga Valerianovna von Hohenfelsen
- 1915-1929: Princess Olga Valerianovna Paley