Romanov Birthdays → Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, July 13
Alexandra Feodorovna was born on 13 July 1798 at the Charlottenburg Palace, as Princess Charlotte of Prussia. Princess Charlotte’s childhood was marked by the Napoleonic Wars. After the French defeat of the Prussian army, Princess Charlotte and her whole family were forced to flee to East Prussia, where they were given protection by Tsar Alexander I. Soon, Berlin fell under Napoleon’s control, and Princess Charlotte grew up in war-torn Memel, Prussia.
Nicholas Pavlovich, the younger brother of Tsar Alexander I, fell in love with the then-seventeen-year-old Princess Charlotte in 1815. The feeling was mutual. On her nineteenth birthday, she and Nicholas were married in the Chapel of the Winter Palace. Weeks after the wedding, Alexandra was pregnant. On 29 April 1818, she gave birth to her first son, the future Tsar Alexander II. Alexandra Feodorovna had six more children, three girls and three boys. Alexandra became Empress in December 1825, when his husband Nicholas succeeded his eldest brother.
Alexandra Feodorovna spent her first years in Russia trying to learn the language and customs of her adopted country. The Imperial family spoke German and wrote their letters in French, and as a consequence, Alexandra never completely mastered the Russian language. Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna were private people who found great pleasure in each other’s company.
Alexandra was tall, slender with a small head of refined features. Her blue eyes were set deep in her head. Her quick, light walk was graceful. Her voice was hoarse, but she spoke rapidly and with decision. Alexandra Feodorovna was an avid reader and enjoyed music. She dressed elegantly, with a decided preference for light colors, and collected beautiful jewels. Neither arrogant nor frivolous, Alexandra was not without intelligence and had an excellent memory; her reading was quite extensive. She took no active interest in politics and fulfilled the role of being an empress consort, rather than being active in the public sphere.
The Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was always frail and in bad health. At forty, she looked far older than her years, becoming increasingly thin. For a long time, she suffered from a nervous twitching that became a convulsive shaking of her head. Towards the end of 1854, Alexandra Feodorovna became very ill, and she came very close to death, though she managed to recover. In 1855 her husband contracted influenza, and he died on 18 February.
She retired to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. In the autumn of 1860, her doctors told her that she would not live through the winter if she did not return once more to the south. Knowing the danger, she preferred to stay in St. Petersburg, so that if death did come it would happen on Russian soil. The night before her death, she was heard to say, “Niki, I am coming to you.” She died in her sleep at the age of sixty-two on 1 November 1860 at Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.