The immediate families of the Russian Emperor and British King pose together for a portrait on the Isle of Wight, Cowes, England, 1909.
Prince Albert, the future King George VI and father of the current Queen Elizabeth II, was missing from the portrait because he was ill with whooping cough and no one wanted to risk passing on the illness to the hemophiliac Tsarevich.
After King Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra’s state visit to Russia in the previous year, the Romanov Family repaid the visit by sailing the imperial yacht Standart to the Isle of Wight. The bustling city of London was out of the question for a meeting place because Tsar Nicholas II was a popular target of the anarchists and anti-monarchists. The Standart and the accompanying Russian fleet was met by the English’s Victoria and Albert before reaching the seaport town of Cowes, England. The King and the Emperor spoke in their toasts of the Anglo-Russian friendship and of world peace. The King observed that the Emperor was no stranger to England in general, nor to Cowes in particular.
After lunch, the older two Grand Duchesses, Olga and Tatiana, went alone into the town, accompanied by several members of the suite. One had to see the joy and pleasure they expressed above all at being able to walk about without being recognized. Gay, hardy, they seemed quite at ease, entering into shops, buying postcards and all kinds of souvenirs. They took a ferry from one part of the town to another and were very happy that they could pay the price of the passage themselves.
However, the public soon learned who these young ladies were, happy, svelte, frolicking, in grey dresses. Returning to the disembarkation quay, the Grand Duchesses looked at the time and decided that it was still too early to return to the yacht. So they hailed two carriages which took them back to town, as they wanted to visit the local church. The pastor was extremely happy to show them anything about the church which interested them. They visited the tomb of Henry of Battenberg, their grand-uncle, and the armchair used by Queen Victoria when she went to the church. The Grand Duchesses returned to the Standart for tea. This state visit was dramatized in the 2003 British film, The Lost Prince.