grand duchess marie alexandrovna

Grand Duchesses of Russia - Daughters of Alexander Pavlovich

Marie Alexandrovna, 1799-1800

  • Daughter of the future Alexander I and Louise of Baden
  • Born with dark hair and eyes, unlike her parents
  • Rumored to be the child of her mother and a Polish Prince
  • Died before the age of 1

Elizabeth Alexandrovna, 1806-1808

  • Daughter of the future Alexander I and Louise of Baden
  • Nicknamed Elise or Lisinka
  • Rumored to have been the child of her mother and a Russian noble
  • Died at 17 months of age from an infection, supposedly due to teething
8

Granddaughters of Alexander II of Russia:

  • Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia, born on 6th April 1875, was the elder daughter and fourth child of Alexander III of Russia (1845-1894), the second son of Alexander II, who wasn’t expected to be Emperor until his older brother died. She was also the sister of Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Emperor of Russia. She married her cousin, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia; they had seven children. After the fall of the Russian monarchy in February 1917, she fled from Russia and eventually settling in United Kingdom. She died on 20th April 1960.
  • Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, born on 13th June 1882, as the younger daughter of Alexander III of Russia, and sister of the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. She married twice, first to her cousin, Duke Peter of Oldenburg, who in private was believed by family and friends as homosexual henceforth their marriage remained unconsummated. Their marriage was annulled in 1916, and the following month after her annulment to her first husband, she married secondly to a cavalry officer, Nikolai Kulikovsky (whom she had fallen in love years before), with whom she had two sons. After the downfall of the monarchy in February 1917, she fled to Crimea, then later to Denmark with her husband and children, accompanying her mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928). Although in 1948, she and her family, migrated to Canada. Where she died, seven months after her sister, on 24th November 1960. After her death, she was widely recognised as the last Grand Duchess of Imperial Russia.
  • Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, was born on 17th January 1882, as the youngest child and only daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909), the third son of Alexander II. She married her second cousin, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark on 1902, with whom she had three daughters, including Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. She and her family lived in France for a time, after the turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the turmoil in Greece. Though eventually going back to Greece, where she died as a widow in Athens on 13th March 1957.
  • Princess Marie Alexandra Victoria of Edinburgh, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, better known as Marie of Romania, born on 29th October 1875, as the second child and eldest daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna (1853-1920), the only surviving daughter of Alexander II. She was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, through her father, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (later, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) (1844-1900), the second son of Victoria. On 1893, she married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania, with whom she had six children, including Carol II of Romania. She later became the Queen consort of Romania in 1914, and was popular with the Romanian people. During the First World War, she like many of her female relatives including her cousin, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918), volunteered as Red Cross nurse, aiding the sick and the wounded. She died on 18th July 1938.
  • Princess Victoria Melita of Edinburgh, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, born on 25th November 1876, as the second daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. Also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married twice, firstly to her first cousin through her father, Ernst Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse (who was the sister of her cousin through her father, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, in turn wife of Nicholas II of Russia, who was also her cousin through her mother), thus becoming Grand Duchess of Hesse. They had one daughter, who died at the age of eight in 1903, of typhoid fever. Their marriage was a failure, as they divorced on 1901. Victoria Melita later remarried, to her first cousin through her mother, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich (brother of Elena Vladmirovna) on 1905. They had three children. Due to the shock of her second marriage, Tsar Nicholas stripped Grand Duke Cyril of his offices and honors, initially banishing him and Victoria from Russia - settling in Paris. Though in 1910, they eventually moved to Russia. After the downfall of the monarchy, Victoria and her family fled to Finland. Victoria died from suffering a stroke on 2nd March 1936.
  • Princess Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria of Edinburgh, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was born on 1st September 1878, as the fourth child and third daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. She was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married Ernst II, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, despite of her father’s objection; they had five children. She lived in Germany for the rest of her life, and served as a Red Cross nurse (like her older sister, Marie of Romania). She died on 16th April 1942.
  • Princess Beatrice Leopoldine Victoria of Edinburgh, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, born on 20th April 1884, the youngest child and fourth daughter of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. She was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married into the Spanish Royal Family, to Infante Alfonso, Duke of Galleria, thus becoming Duchess of Galleria; together, they had three children. She died on 16th July 1966.
  • Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, also known as Maria Pavlovna the Younger (to distinguish her from her aunt-by-marriage, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the Elder, the mother of Elena Vladimirovna). She was born on 18th April 1890, as the elder child and only daughter of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (1860-1918), the youngest son of Alexander II, from his first marriage. Her mother died when she was not yet two from complications after giving birth to Maria’s younger brother, Grand Duke Dmitri. In result to her mother’s death, her father was so distraught and neglected his two children, leaving them in the care of their uncle and aunt-by-marriage, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who had no children in their own. And was left to be raised by them, as their father was banished from Russia for marrying a commoner in 1902. Maria was married off to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland, thus she became Duchess of Södermanland. They had one son. Their marriage was unhappy and ended in divorce in 1914. She served as a nurse during World War I, until the fall of the monarchy in February 1917. She later remarried during the provisional government, to Prince Roman Mikhailovich Putyatin, whom she had one son with but died in infancy. The couple fled to Ukraine in 1918, eventually divorcing in 1923 whilst still in exile. She died on 13th December 1958.

In spite of her grandeur, Marie, like all the Romanovs, was startlingly earthy. At the christening of her first child, she breastfed the baby, regardless of Queen Victoria finding it ’ indecent and dégoutent !!! ’ When the child puked over her fine dress, Marie was quite unembarassed : ’ she stood up and the Empress [of Russia] took the little one and Marie ran about with her big breast hanging down in front of everyone and wiped the dress clean !!! ’ Alexandra Princess of Wales to her sister Minnie, 22 November 1874.

Bertie A life of Edward VII

3

The Sapphire Parure given to Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia by her father, Tsar Alexander II on her wedding to Queen Victoria’s second son, Prince Alfred, The Duke of Edinburgh.

The parure is styled with the different national flowers of the United Kingdom, the Rose of England, the Thistle of Scotland and the Shamrock of Ireland.

The Grand Duchess gave the parure to her daughter Princess Victoria Melita (later Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna of Russia), who is pictured wearing the parure

7

“In these large, well-aired chambers, the four Grand Duchesses were brought up simply, in a manner befitting granddaughters of the spartan Alexander III. They slept on hard camp beds without pillows and took cold baths every morning. Their nurses, both Russian and English, were strict, although not without their own weaknesses. A Russian nurse assigned to little Olga was fond of tippling. Later she was found in bed with a Cossack and dismissed on the spot. Marie’s nurse, a Miss Eager, was fascinated by politics and talked incessantly about the Dreyfus case. ‘Once she even forgot that Marie was in her bath and started discussing the case with a friend,’ wrote the Tsar’s youngest sister, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. ‘Marie, naked and dripping, scrambled out of the bath and started running up and down the palace corridor. Fortunately, I arrived just at that moment, picked her up and carried her back to Miss Eager, who was still talking about Dreyfus.”

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K Massie

Queen Marie of Romania wearing the Vladimir Sapphire Kokoshnik Tiara (Cartier, 1909) and her Cartier Sautoir with the Sapphire Pendant, 1920s.

2

♔ January 23, 1874 – Wedding of Prince Alfred & Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna

Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred was determined to make the grand duchess his wife and serious negotiations began. However by then the only seventeen years old, the grand duchess wasn’t enthused about leaving Russia. Nor were her parents keen on seeing their daughter leave the family net. When Prince Alfred met Tsar Alexander II in 1871 in Germany, the suitor found his father-in-law hesitant. In a letter to Queen Victoria, Alexander II wrote :

Your praises for our daughter, flattered us a great deal, but [Alfred] has surely told you, Madam, that while not in any way opposing a union between our two families, we have made it a principle never to impose our will upon our children as regards their marriages. Although speaking to him of a term of one year before taking any definitive decision, we expressly declared that neither he nor we would consider ourselves bound in any way, neither before nor after, and he seemed to understand this perfectly. » Queen Victoria was also against the idea that the couple live in Russia. This was simply out of the question and something Victoria declared she could « never consent to ”.

Hense the projected marriage between the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrvna of Russia and Prince Alfred was delayed.However by the time Marie Alexandrovna was twenty, family life in Russia was no longer blissful. Her father’s acknowledged mistress bore him a son, which created a rift between alexander II, his wife, and their children. With such a fractions family life in Russia, Marie began warming to the thought of making a future with Prince Alfred abroad. And so by the beginning of 1873, negociations were again underway for the marriage. In April 1873, Alfred visited the tsarina and Marie in Sorrento, Italy, to renew his appeal. This meeting was not a great sucess Alfred had hoped for, as his intended bride fell ill with fever. Even more disappointing, his official engagement did not materialize. Alfred’s sister Alice, who accompanied him, reported to Queen Victoria about « poor Alfred. He is very patient and hopeful. » 

With her parents’ marriage in tatters, Marie’s thoughts clung to a happy future as Prince Alfred’s wife. In June 1873, her dearest wish occurred with the announcement of the official engagement. The joyful propective bride wrote to an aunt : «  I know that you will be glad to know how much I love Alfred and how happy I am to belong to him. I feel that my love for hi mis growing daily ; I have a feeling of peace and of inexpressible happiness, and a boundless impatience to be altogether his own. »

The wedding took place at St. Petersburg on January 23, 1874 and consisted of two religious ceremonies – Orthodox and Anglican. On her wedding day the grand duchess looked «  very pale but sweet and earnest and calmly happy ». Marie was dressed as was customary, in the regal finery of a Russian imperial bride, in a gown that trailed off a silver train with an ermine-trimmed pruple mantle. On her head she wore a glimmering crown as well as a fabulous tiara embedded with a magnificient pink diamond. Alexander II was so overcome with emotion that at the end of the wedding ceremonies the bride’s father commented resignedly : «  It is for her happiness, but the light of my life is gone. »

After a prolonged stay in Russia lasting several weeks, the newlyweds finally bid farewell to Russia and journeyed to Russia.The Marriage of Prince ALfred and the Grand Duchess Marie, which looked promising at the beginning of 1874, was not a happy one. Nor did it, as had been hoped, improve relations between their countries. It was, in fact, little more than a political irrelevancy - a union that did nothing to alter the alignment of powers so carefully arranged by Bismarck

From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847-1928 & An Uncommon Woman : The Empress Frederick

English, Russian, Danish and Greek royalty, ca. 1888

Back row: Princess Marie of Denmark; Princess Louise of Denmark; Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Louise of Denmark; Prince Maximilian of Baden; Princess Marie of Greece; Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia; Prince Albert Victor of Wales; Crown Prince Constantine of Greece; Princess Victoria of Wales; Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich of Russia; Princess Alexandra of Greece; Prince Nicholas of Greece; Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of Russia.

Front row: Princess Ingeborg and Princess Thyra of Denmark; Albert Edward Prince of Wales; Alexandra Princess of Wales; Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia; Queen Louise of Denmark; Tsar Alexander III of Russia; Princess Maud of Wales; King Christian of Denmark.

3

Marie of Romania

Princess Marie of Edinburgh, more commonly known as Marie of Romania (Marie Alexandra Victoria; 29 October 1875 – 18 July 1938), was the last Queen consort of Romania as the wife of King Ferdinand I. Born into the British royal family, she was titled Princess Marie of Edinburgh at birth. Her parents were Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Marie was Crown Princess between 1893 and 1914, and became immediately popular with the Romanian people. Marie had controlled her weak-willed husband even before his ascension in 1914, prompting a Canadian newspaper to state that “few royal consorts have wielded greater influence than did Queen Marie during the reign of her husband”. On 1 December 1918, the province of Transylvania, following Bessarabia and Bukovina, united with the Old Kingdom. Marie, now Queen consort of Greater Romania, attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, where she campaigned for international recognition of the enlarged Romania. In 1922, she and Ferdinand were crowned in a specially-built cathedral in the ancient city of Alba Iulia, in an elaborate ceremony which mirrored their status as queen and king of a united state.

As queen, she was very popular, both in Romania and abroad. In 1926, Marie and two of her children undertook a diplomatic tour of the United States. They were received enthusiastically by the people and visited several cities before returning to Romania. There, Marie found that Ferdinand was gravely ill and he died a few months later. Now queen dowager, Marie refused to be part of the regency council which reigned over the country under the minority of her grandson, King Michael. In 1930, Marie’s eldest son Carol, who had waived his rights to succession, deposed his son and usurped the throne, becoming King Carol II. He removed Marie from the political scene and strived to crush her popularity. As a result, Marie moved away from Bucharest and spent the rest of her life either in the countryside, or at her home by the Black Sea. In 1937, she became ill with cirrhosis and died the following year.