After 95 years in exile, the daughter of a Tsarist-era army general has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin, before her 100th birthday on 15 December.
Irene de Dreier left Russia when she was just five. Her father, Vladimir von Dreier, was an imperial officer who fought for the White Army against the Bolsheviks during the Russian civil war, which broke out after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.
The family fled to Crimea, where the last stand of the Whites took place, and left the peninsula by ship in 1920. The Von Dreiers eventually settled in Paris where the former general opened a wine shop. Irene won second place in a 1936 Miss Russia beauty contest held in Paris among émigrés from the nobility. She was married three times – to a Frenchman, an Italian and an American – and has travelled widely, but always dreamed of returning to Russia.
De Dreier had appealed to Putin in recent weeks: “I want to meet the creator not as a foreigner but as a real citizen of Russia, as a Russian in my heart and soul.”