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They had packed their belongings in wicker laundry baskets, and were ready to leave, when Emanuel's mother realised that she had mislaid her wedding ring.

A great-grandson of Emperor Paul I (a son of Catherine the Great), Prince Emanuel Vladimirovich Galitzine was born on May 28 1918 at Kislvodsk, a spa town in the Caucasus.

Before the Revolution, his father had served as aide-de-camp to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, head of all the Russian armies until 1916, and afterwards commander of the southern troops confronting Turkey.

He was later told that the man had been Gandhi's assassin.

Galitzine returned to Britain in 1950, then had a spell in South America, before coming back to London to fly for British European Airways (BEA) until joining the Avro aircraft company.

In due course Galitzine was detached from his squadron to experiment with a Spitfire which had been adapted for high altitude flying.

The idea was to confront the Junkers 86 P, an extremely high flying reconnaissance aircraft.On the outbreak of war, Galitzine began to dream of flying with the RAF; but the Soviet attack on Finland in 1940 convinced him that he must first fight the Communists who had dispossessed his family.Having been accepted by the Finnish Air Force, he was just settling in when Mannerheim, the inspirational Finnish leader and an old friend of Galitzine's father, told Emanuel that his mother had been killed in the London Blitz.He then formed Curzon Films with a friend, Sasha, Count de Lasta, and soon became known for throwing glamorous parties.At one party - held on the banks of the Thames - Galitzine dived into the river and swam across, though dressed in white tie and tails.In this role he travelled widely, selling the Avro 748 passenger aircraft.

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