In the summer of 1914 shortly after this formal photograph series of the last Grand Duchesses of Russia were taken, the First World War broke out. After their diplomatic visit to Romania, the Romanov family was cruising on their yacht, the Standart, on the way back to Russia when the spark that had started the World War occurred. The Austrian Archduke and his wife had been assassinated. This formal photoshoot of the girls was the last that had been taken during peacetime as the young grand duchesses were murdered by the Bolsheviks just four years later.
“Meanwhile the Tsarina and the Grand Duchesses were waiting for him in the dining-room, Her Majesty, becoming uneasy at the long delay, had just asked Tatiana Nikolaevna to fetch her father, when the Tsar appeared, looking very pale, and told them that war was declared, in a voice which betrayed his agitation, notwithstanding all his efforts. On learning the news the Tsarina began to weep, and the Grand Duchesses likewise dissolved into tears on seeing their mother’s distress,” the children’s French tutor Pierre Gilliard recalled the fateful day. Since that day nothing was ever the same.