Princess Nina spent the first years of her life in apartments at the Mikhailovsky Palace outsideSt. Petersburg, the residence of her paternal grandfather Grand Duke Michael Nicolaievich of Russia. In 1905, the family moved to a newly built small palace in the Crimea. Constructed in English style, they gave the property a Greek name, “Harax”. For nine years the family led a quiet life. A contemporary of Tsar Nicholas II two youngest daughters, Princess Nina and her only sibling Princess Xenia, played sometimes with them, while they were in the Imperial capital.
The marriage of Nina’s parents was unhappy. Grand Duke George was a devoted father, and the two sisters were close to him, but Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna never liked Russia and eventually became estranged from her husband. In June 1914, Maria took her two daughters to England on the pretext of improving their health; in reality, she wanted to be separated from her husband. When the war broke out a month after her arrival, the Grand Duchess did not rush back to Russia and later it was too dangerous to attempt a return.Princess Nina and her sister never saw their father again. He was killed during the Russian Revolution. Imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, he was shot by a firing squad, along with other Romanov relatives in January 1919. During the turbulent years of World War I and the Russian Revolution, Princess Nina remained living safely in London with her mother and her sister. Both sisters treasured their father’s memory and resented their mother. In part to escape her control they both married very young.
Royals vacationing in Denmark, Fredensborg Palace (1899). Emperror Nicholas II of Russia, King Christian IX of Denmark, Queen Alexandra, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom; Prince Aage, Prince Viggo, Princess Margrethe of Denmark, Duchess Irina Alexandrovna of Russia, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia […] from the BBC documentary Royal Cousins at War.
Empress Maria Fyodorovna with two of her six children, Grand Duchess Xenia and Grand Duke Mikhail, probably in the spring of 1881. The Empress was a loving mother, who did not escape the vice so many other mothers share as well: she could be very possessive of her offsrping. Also, like many mothers with numerous children, she was prone to favouritism, but aware of it, she tried to resist it. As she confessed in a letter to King Christian IX of Denmark: “Little Misha [Mikhail] is so sweet and affectionate and could almost be my favourite if I were not against making any difference. I love all of them alike, but each in his own way.”
Prince Andrew and Prince Christopher of Greece; Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia; Prince John of Glucksborg; Queen Olga of the Hellenes; Princess Alexandra of Wales; King George I of the Hellenes; Queen Louise and King Christian IX of Denmark; Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia; Prince George of Greece, Princess Maud of Wales; Princess Marie of Greece; Princess Victoria of Wales; Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia with one of his royal cousins, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark.
Both royal cousins were descended from King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906) and Tsar Alexander II of Russia (1818-1881). Alexander II’s granddaughter, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, married Christian IX’s grandson, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark (nicknamed the “Greek Nicky” to distinguish from his Russian cousin, Emperor Nicholas II, Alexei’s father). The Greek Nicholas and Elena were Olga’s parents.
The British Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is their closest living relative. Prince Philip was once part of the Greek and Danish royal families before marrying into the British Royal Family. Through Alexei’s side of the family, Philip is the grandson of Alexei’s mother’s eldest sister, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine. Through Olga’s family, her father is Philip’s parental uncle, making Olga a first cousin of Philip.
Princesses Alexandra and Dagmar, future Queen of England and Empress of Russia
The first four … children [of Christian IX of Denmark], Prince Frederick, Princess Alix, Prince William (Willi) and Princess Dagmar (Minnie) were all born within five years of each other and formed a close and loving group, and also made a particularly handsome quartet. Although well disciplined by their parents, their education was sketchy. … Only Minnie among them showed any curiosity about the intellectual world, although they were all musically talented. Alix and Minnie were especially close, sharing a sparsely furnished bedroom, helping one another with their dressing and the few lessons they were taught. …
For all her life, when asked about her childhood, Alix would smile and recount how happy it was. She told how the servants would tease her for her unpunctuality, and how she and Minnie took over their duties on their day off, cooking and serving the meals. She related how Hans Christian Andersen would sometimes call at bedtime and tell them fairy stories; how she and Minnie competed with one another cartwheeling across the lawn, and swam in the sea when it was warmer. Both these effervescent girls chattered away as they sewed and as they went riding outside the walls of the city. Both of them had good seats and were healthily competitive. … Guests of the Christians enjoyed watching these two sisters at play or giving unselfcounscious displayes of their gymnastics. None of the children would be called solemn, but Alix and Minnie were the brightest stars, “always a joy to be with - so funny and full of jokes and lively. I could spend all day with them.”
Princess Marie was the daughter of King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark. Her features were less regular than those of her sister, Queen Alexandra of England, but she had extraordinary charm, which her children and grandchildren have inherited from her. Although she was of small stature, her bearing was so majestic that when she entered a room one noticed no one else. When she married Tsar Alexander III, Russia immediately took her to its heart. She was a model wife and a loving mother, yet she was able to devote much time and energy to charitable works. Her intelligence and political flair enable her to play an important part in domestic and foreign affairs. A bitter enemy of Germany, she exerted all her influence in favour of the Franco-Russian alliance. Russian public opinion was divided on this subject; many people thought that only a triple alliance, Franco-Russo-German, could safeguard peace.
King Christian IXof Denmark with four of his grandchildren, Princess Alexandra of Greece later Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgiana, Princesses Victoria and Maudof Wales and Prince Constantine of Greece, c.1885.
From left to right (standing): Alexandra, Princess of Wales; Prince Waldemar of Denmark; Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia; Tsar Nicholas II of Rusia; Queen Louise of Denmark; Princess Victoria of Wales holding Prince Viggo of Denmark; Marie, Princess Waldemar of Denmark.
Seated: Prince Aage of Denmark; King Christian IX of Denmark holding Princess Margarete of Denmark; Empress Alexandra Feodorovna holding Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaievna of Russia; Prince Erik and Prince Axel of Denmark.
Born as Alexandra Carolina Marie Charlotte Louise Julia in Copenhagen, 1844. She was the second child of King Christian IX of Denmark and his Queen Louise. The 19-year old Alexandra married Prince Edward of Wales in 1862 and became Princess of Wales and Crown Princess of the United Kingdom. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, Alexandra became Queen of the Kingdom. She died in 1925.