Actor and musician Nicholas Galitzine plays Prince Charming in the new Cinderella and is himself descended from the noble House of Golitsyn.
Many are taking notice of British actor Nicholas Galitzine in Amazon Prime's new take on Cinderella, a modern-day story of female empowerment, which is currently the number one streaming movie and soundtrack in America. And the film's star prince turns out to be of princely birth in real life.
Buckle up, because I'm going to unfold 1,200 years of his noble ancestry and the meaning of his unique surname.
Nicholas Galitzine a Prince in the Noble House of Galitzine
According to some official records in the U.K., actor Nicholas Galitzine, his father, and his grandfather are all styled as Prince Galitzine. All are direct descendants of the noble House of Golitsyn.
In addition to the records, Nick's surname is a dead giveaway of his noble lineage, as the Golitsyns or Galitzines were one of the largest princely houses in the ancient Tsardom of Russia.
The Galitzines were grand princes ruling over principalities and duchies that stretched from present-day Lithuania to Poland, Ukraine, and Russia.
From medieval history to the modern era, many Galitzines were boyars, warlords, generals, chamberlains, and members of the Tsar's imperial court.
Nick Galitzine's Noble Family Lines
The Galitzine princely line goes back to the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the Grand Princes of Kyiv, Novgorod, and Moscow.
As you can see in the chart below, actor Nick Galitizine's family line traces back nearly 1,200 years to legendary figure Rurik, Grand Prince of Novgorod, who was born around 830 A.D.
Origin and Meaning of the Surname Galitzine
Nick's ancestor Mikhail, Prince Bulgakov (b.1466) was nicknamed "The Iron Glove" for the iron glove he often wore on his left hand (either because he lost his hand in battle or he just wanted to beat Michael Jackson as the trendsetter for wearing a single glove).
Because of his fancy iron glove, Mikhail was referred to as "Golitsa," which in ancient speak was "iron glove," which in present-day Lithuanian is geležinė. Thus, Prince Mikhail's nickname became the surname of his descendants: Galitzine — the Iron Glove.
The Realms Ruled by Nick's Ancestors
The Galitzine princes descend from three ancient Eastern European houses. In the maps below, you can see the extent of their realms laid over present-day countries.
Above: The realms of the ancient noble houses that Nicholas Galitzine is descended from. | Maps by Mike Batie
The Galitzine Family's Fall from Power
After reigning for over a millennium, this illustrious family line lost its power — almost overnight — in the modern era.
During the 1917 Russian Revolution, the ruling class of imperial royals and nobility was overthrown. Tsar Nicholas Romanov, his wife, and five children were murdered by the Bolshevik revolutionaries who transformed Russia into a communist nation.
Noble families like the Galitzines were hunted down and executed or imprisoned (where they were worked and starved to death). Noble families who were still alive and able to escape fled the country, losing everything overnight: their elite status, ruling power, wealth, lands, and palaces.
Exiled Galitzine Princes
Actor Nick Galitzine's recent ancestors were a family branch that managed to escape Russia by fleeing to safety in England. They had to leave behind everything.
Despite losing all their earthly possessions, the Galitzines remain as a non-reigning princely house today. They rose from their sudden fall and worked hard to establish themselves anew in England. Today they are successful working business owners, entrepreneurs, and artists.
That leads us down to our boy Prince Nicholas Galitzine.
While his family may no longer be reigning today, we still find ourselves bowing to Nick's many, many talents.
Nick has already been off to an amazing start with a breakout role in the critically acclaimed Irish film Handsome Devil, which I remembered him well from his performance as the brooding, talented star rugby player.
In his personal life, Nick is a fantastic rugby athlete and even attended a school with the best rugby program in the nation.
In 2014, Galitzine also starred in The Beat Beneath My Feet with the late actor Luke Perry. More recently he starred in the 2020 film The Craft: Legacy. Up next for Galitzine is the film Purple Hearts in which he stars opposite Sofia Carson.
In addition to being an excellent athlete, Galitzine is also a talented musician. It's no wonder he is drawn to music, dancing, acting, and the arts — his Russian aristocratic ancestors were all patrons of music and the arts. It's in his blood, and he put all that cultivated talent to good use in Cinderella.
Abandon your ideas about the plot of the original fairy tale for this new incarnation of Cinderella. Much like the 1991 film Hook asked the question: "What if Peter Pan grew up?" this version of Cinderella asks the question: "What if Cinderella and Prince Charming had other dreams they wanted to pursue besides being royals?"
Since Nick comes from a long line of Galitzine princes, it's no wonder that standing on palace balconies and ballroom dancing look like they come naturally to him. I think his ancestors would be tickled to see him portraying for audiences something of a fantasy of the life they once lived.
The House of Golitsyn's family motto is "Vir est Vis," meaning, "Man himself is power." Think of this motto the next time you set out to chase your dreams: the power is within you. That motto is certainly embodied in Nick, who said:
"To me, power really is being able to have some kind of resonance and to be able to impact other people's lives in a positive way. It's one of the things that really drives me as an actor, is to be able to provide some kind of positive resonance with people. Every project, I hope someone takes something positive from it. That feels empowering to me."
— Nicholas Galitzine
Nick's original passion was actually to pursue rugby professionally, but multiple injuries and a lack of a creative outlet made him eventually tire of the pursuit.
When he decided he wanted to get into acting, people told Nick that he was too late, that he should have started when he was just a child in order to be successful.
Boy did he prove them wrong.
Nick has shown us that when it comes to pursuing your passions, there is no striking of the clock at midnight — it's never too late to get started pursuing your dreams.
My YouTube Video on Nicholas Galitzine's Surname Origin
About the Author
Storytelling binds generations. Films and family history are both powerful forms of storytelling that do just that. Family history research has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager. Having researched my own family tree extensively, I enjoy looking into the family trees of notable people. It gives me a sense of their background and what shaped their family into who they are today. To see their roots and where they come from is always inspiring. Being a history geek, I’m often in awe of the historical experiences of their ancestors and how they connect to the present day. I hope to inspire others to research their own family trees and find out where they come from by sharing interesting insights from the family trees of some of my favorite artists and entertainers.
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Regarding Nicholas Galitzine, many are asking the following questions:
Who is Prince Robert in Cinderella 2021?
Who is the Prince in Cinderella?
Who is Nicholas Galitzine?
Who is the prince in the new Cinderella movie?
Amazon Prime Cinderella prince?
Answer: Nicholas Galitzine stars as Cinderella's love interest, Prince Robert, an updated version of Prince Charming, in the 2021 Cinderella movie retelling on Amazon Prime.