The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - X is for Xenia Alexandrovna.
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia was the eldest daughter of Emperor Alexander III and younger sister of Nicholas II. She married her cousin Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia, with whom she had seven children. During her brother’s reign she lived a private life, uninterested in politics. After the fall of the monarchy in February 1917 she fled Russia, eventually settling in the United Kingdom. She was the second last Russian grand duchess that lived before the collapse of the empire, dying in 1960 at age 85. Her younger sister, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, died only seven months later.
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - W is for War.
The opening of the war was greeted in Russia, as everywhere else in Europe, with overwhelming enthusiasm in an orgy of nationalist feeling that took even the participants by surprise. Tens of thousands of people feel to their knees outside the Winter Palace and sang the Imperial hymn when Nicholas and Alexandra appeared to greet them on the balcony on the day that war was declared.
The war brought out the best and the worst in Alexandra and Nicholas both - the best in their sincere and absolute dedication to the cause of Russia’s victory and the relief of her suffering soldiers, the worst in their failure to see that war could not be an answer to Russia’s problems at home. Within a month of the formal declaration, the tsar left for the first of many tours of his army’s headquarters. The tsar was never happier than when he was with military men.
Alexandra threw herself into nursing work, taking her daughters and friend Anya with her. Some of the imperial palaces in St. Petersburg had been converted into hospitals. After two months of intensive training, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, and Anya were certified as qualified nurses, while the younger grand duchesses, Marie and Anastasia, were established as “patronesses” at a smaller hospital in Tsarskoe Selo.
During the summer and fall of 1916, Alexandra and her four daughters made several trips to the Army’s headquarters at Mogilev. By late 1916 Russia was reaching the point of no return. On the stalemated eastern front thousands upon thousands of young Russian men continued to die in a war that now seemed pointless. Away from the fighting, the country was falling into economic chaos. The following months would bring the death of Rasputin, revolution, and the tsar’s abdication.
The Revolution came like the death of a friend who had been “lying sick for years and years,” according to Sydney Gibbes, the English tutor of the imperial children. It was neither unavoidable or unexpected, yet it took everyone by surprise. It was “a quite unbelievable event,” recalled Gibbes, and “a sad, sad time for all concerned.”
→ Peter Kurth - Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra.
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - V is for Victorian Era.
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign beginning from 20 June 1837 to 22 January 1901. The era was preceded by the Georgian period and followed by the Edwardian period. Victoria’s granddaughter, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, was pregnant with Grand Duchess Anastasia when the Queen died in 1901, thus marking the end of the Victorian Era.
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - U is for Uniform (Regimental).
When a Russian Grand Duchess by birth reached 14 years of age, she would be assigned to a regiment as a senior officer. The eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, became Colonel-in-Chief of the 3rd Elizavetgradsky Hussar’s Regiment in 1909. Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna was assigned the Vosnesensky Hussars in 1911, Maria the 5th Kazansky Dragoons in 1913, and Anastasia the 148th Kaspiansky Infantry in 1915. Due to the breakout of WWI, unfortunately for us, Anastasia never had the chance to be photographed in her regimental uniform.
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - T is for Tercentenary.
"The morning of March 6, 1913, was cloudy in Saint Petersburg - leaden would be a better word to describe the heavy skies, the mist, the torrents of rain and occasional roll of thunder that broke over the city on what was meant to be a day of national rejoicing, the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty.
Three hundred years before, at a sixteenth-century monastery on the banks of the Volga River, a deputation of princes, warriors, boyars and clergy had hailed Michael Romanov, the teenage nephew-by-marriage of the late Ivan the Terrible, as the new tsar of Russia, thus putting to an end the twenty years of civil strife known as the Time of Troubles.
Cossacks, lancers, cavalry, dragoons, scarlet-clad trumpeters, and teams of prancing white horses did nothing the dispel the general gloom. Neither did the gravity of the tsar’s expression nor the appearance of his son, Tsarevich Alexei, the eight-year-old heir to the throne who had to be carried during the celebration. The child’s left leg was bent at the knee which was due to the 1912 accident in Spała, crippled beyond any attempt to hide it. That the Tsarevich was ill was known, but the nature of his illness remained a mystery to all but the immediate family.
Immediately behind the tsar, his wife, and his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, stood the tsar’s daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, teenage girls of particular loveliness. There was hardly a soul in St. Petersburg who could have distinguished one of the girls from the other, so sheltered were their lives. For the rest of that tercentenary spring, the sun saw fit to shine on the Romanovs, at least when it came to official appearances.
In May, the imperial family took a week-long boat trip along the Volga, retracing the journey of the first Romanov tsar from Kostroma, where he had been called to the throne, to Moscow, the ancient capital and spiritual heart of Russia. In the winter of 1913 the dowager empress gave a brilliant ball at the Anichkov Palace for the tsar’s eldest two daughters the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, who danced till four in the morning. But when the proud father took his daughters home on the last train from town, he unknowingly brought down the curtain on the girls’ first and last appearance in St. Petersburg society.”
→ Peter Kurth - Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra.
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - S is for School.
Out of the five Imperial Children, the eldest Grand Duchess Olga was the one who achieved the most in the schoolroom. Olga was the cleverest of all, and was quite a bookworm. She easily grasped mathematical and scientific concepts. Olga wasn’t the only one who loved reading; her younger sister Tatiana loved reading as well. Olga was attached to poetry and literature books (her favorite was Les Misérables), while Tatiana preferred fashion magazines. Olga also enjoyed reading about politics in newspapers.
All of the children were very bright, but occasionally, they become lazy. The younger three children weren’t as scholarly as the oldest two. The Tsar’s Colonel Mordinov remembered Tsarevich Alexei: “Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich was an awfully lazy, but very capable boy (I think, he was lazy precisely because he was capable), he easily grasped everything, he was thoughtful and keen beyond his years.”
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - P is for Poland (Spała).
Spała, Poland was the location of the Romanov Family’s Hunting Lodge. Once every year as the leaves change, the Romanovs would retreat to Poland for some big-game hunting. Never they knew that it would be a place of sorrow and distress. In the year of 1912, Tsarevich Alexei accidentally slipped into a boat. The little boy was not hurt at first, but as time progressed, the bruise on his leg was swelling fast. Alexei was bedridden and very ill. His mother Alexandra was distraught and suffered from exhaustion because she stayed awake trying to comfort her son, who was in great pain.'When I am dead, I will not hurt anymore, will it Mama?…When I am dead, build me a little monument of stones in the woods.' Nearly everyone was ready to announce the death of the Tsarevich to the whole country of Russia. Alexandra wrote a letter to Grigori Rasputin, a Russian mystic and “monk,” begging him to heal her only son and heir to the throne. Alexei miraculously recovered right after Rasputin responded, leading Alexandra to believe him a true healer. After Alexei regained his health, Alexandra never wanted to go back to that “dreadful and dark place.”
The Romanov Family’s Alphabet v.2 - O is for the Orthodox Church.
The whole Imperial Family of Russia was born to the Russian Orthodox religion (with the exception of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna who was converted from Lutheranism). The family was very religious and was dutiful to their faith. In some of the rooms in the Alexander Palace, orthodox icons hanged on the walls. Before the marriage to Nicholas in 1894, Alexandra was troubled by the requirement that she renounce her Lutheran faith, as a Russian tsarina had to be Orthodox, but she was persuaded and eventually became a fervent convert. The Big Pair, Olga and Tatiana, was more religious than the Little Pair. However, Tatiana’s motive back of her religion was: ‘It is my duty,’ while Olga Nikolaevna had it in her heart.
The family was murdered on the night of July 16-17, 1918 at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia; the site of their execution is now beneath the altar of the The Church on Blood. The family was canonized in 1981 as new martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (outside Russia). They were canonized along with their servants, who had been killed along with them. All were canonized as victims of oppression by the Bolsheviks. The Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia did not canonize the servants, two of whom were not Russian Orthodox: Alexei Trupp was Roman Catholic and Catherine Adolphovna Schneider was Lutheran.
In 1992, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Varvara Yakovleva were canonized as New-Martyr Elizabeth and New-Martyr Barbara by the Moscow Patriarchate. The princes and others killed with them were not canonized. In 2000, after much debate (there were those who rejected the family’s classification as martyrs because they were not killed because of their religious faith), the Romanov family was canonized as passion bearers by the Moscow Patriarchate.