romanov birthdays

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAND DUCHESS OLGA NIKOLAEVNA OF RUSSIA || 15 November 1895 – 17 July 1918

“She inherited many traits of her father. To me she produced her own kindness, an enchanting impression all her own of a sweet, good Russian girl. She disliked domestic [activities]. She loved solitude and books. She was well-read. In general she was mature. It seemed to me that she, much more than all her family, knew her position and was aware of the danger of it. She cried terribly when her father and mother left Tobolsk. Maybe she knew something then. She strikes me with the impression of a person who has experienced something unfortunate. Sometimes she laughs and you feel that her laughter is from above, but there, deep down, she’s not at all funny, but sad. Just like her father, she was totally simple and affectionate, helpful and welcoming.”

Romanov Birthdays Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, June 26

Born the third daughter of the last Emperor of Russia on 26 June 1899, Maria was known as the “angel” in the family because the sweet-natured Maria hardly got into mischief. Once, as a little girl, she stole some biscuits from her mother’s tea table. As a punishment for her surprising behavior, the governess and Alexandra suggested she be sent to bed; however Nicholas objected, stating, “I was always afraid of the wings growing. I am glad to see she is only a human child.” She was close with her younger sister, the famous Anastasia, and the two were known as the ‘Little Pair.’ Her elder sisters, Olga and Tatiana, were the 'Big Pair.’

Contemporaries described Marie as a pretty, flirtatious girl, broadly built, with light brown hair and large blue eyes that were known in the family as “Marie’s saucers”. Her French tutor Pierre Gilliard said Maria was tall and well-built, with rosy cheeks. Tatiana Botkina thought the expression in Marie’s eyes was “soft and gentle.” From an early age, she had a great interest in the lives of soldiers, and experienced a number of innocent crushes on officers she met at the palace and on family holidays. She loved children and hoped to have a large family someday. But unfortunately, her wish was unrealized.

Alexandra’s letters reveal that Maria, the middle child of the family, sometimes felt insecure and left out by her older sisters and feared she wasn’t loved as much as the other children. Alexandra reassured her that she was as dearly loved as her siblings. Maria was artistically talented, and noted for her fine sketches, always drawn with her left hand. She loved lilacs, very much like her mother who famously decorated one of her boudoirs with lilac or “mauve” colors. Her favorite scent was lilac and often wore lilac-scented perfumes. However, despite sharing the love of lilacs with her mother, Maria was actually closer to her father.

Maria inherited her strength from her bearlike grandfather, Alexander III, and she enjoyed lifting her tutors off the ground. During in exile, the charwomen, who came to the house to clean, recalled that Marie was “as strong as any man” because Marie moved the furniture as well as joined her sisters to help with the washing. She would carry Alexei down to the garden and once Marie was swinging on a tree in the Ipatiev garden with such force, the commandant yelled “Citizeness Romanov! Stop damaging the trees!” Despite being so strong, Maria was also very clumsy. She would always find a way to fall.

When World War I broke out, her mother and elder sisters studied to become Red Cross nurses, caring for the wounded soldiers at Tsarskoe Selo. At 15, Maria was considered too young to be a nurse. Instead, she and her sister Anastasia entertained the wounded and kept them company. They also assisted in caring for the children at the nurses’ school. Along with her mother and sisters, Maria also visited her father and brother at the Army Headquarters in Mogilev. During these visits, Maria developed an attraction to Nikolai Dmitrivich Demenkov, an officer of the day at the Tsar’s Headquarters. When the women returned to Tsarskoe Selo, Maria often asked her father to give her regards to Demenkov and sometimes jokingly signed her letters to the Tsar “Mrs. Demenkov.”

In early 1917, the February Revolution erupted. Most of the family were coming down with the measles. Maria had the signs of the illness when she and her mother went outside of the Alexander Palace in the freezing weather to appeal with the soldiers to stay loyal to them. She developed virulent pneumonia on the top of measles and the seventeen-year-old Maria nearly died from this. When Maria’s fever came down and began to recover, she learned of the news of her father’s abdication.

Maria and her family were put under house arrest. The family were moved twice, to Tobolsk and Yekaterinburg  On her nineteenth birthday in June 1918, which would be her last, a sympathetic soldier smuggled in a cake to celebrate. Just three weeks later, on the night of 16/17 July 1918, Maria was brutally massacred along with her family and loyal household servants.

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Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, born June 26, 1899

“She was broad-boned and physically very strong…. She was the most unaffected, affectionate, and friendly member of the family. By nature, she was the archetypal mother. She loved little children, especially playing with and fussing over them. She loved being with ordinary people: she would talk to the soldiers, asking them about their homelife.” -Professor Gibbes, tutor to the Imperial Children 

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Steve likes to mope a bit and think big thoughts on his birthday.  Good thing Nat is prepared this time.  [See: last year’s comic]

Many apologies to Tony, who I really need to give proper screen time to.  (But it’s hard to figure out Steve/Tony dynamic when there’s also everyone else.)  And also apologies to Nat, who unfortunately had to play attentive listener here (buying time for the reinforcements to show up).  If it helps, Nat totally bought secret agent watches for everyone.  (”But we already have earpieces”  “But does your earpiece play spy music? and have cool buttons?”)

Oh hey, it’s been a while – here’s my master post of Cap stuff.

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✿ Happy birthday,Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna! ✿

she was a wonderful girl, possessed of tremendous reserve force, and I never realised her unselfish nature until those dreadful days. She too was exceeding fair, dowered with the classic beauty of the Romanoffs; her eyes were dark blue, shaded by long lashes, and she had masses of dark brown hair. Marie was plump, and the Empress often teased her about this ; she was not so lively as her sisters, but she was much more decided in her outlook. The Grand Duchess Marie knew at once what she wanted, and why she wanted it.
- Lili Dehn, The Real Tsaritsa.


May you rest in peace, and may your memory inspire others to be as caring, loving, selfless, and beautiful inside and out as you were.

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Happy 119th Birthday Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia!

Born 119 years ago today, June 10th 1897 / June 10th 2016

‘The second bright happy day in our family: at 10:40 in the morning the Lord blessed us with a daughter - Tatiana. Poor Alix suffered all night without shutting her eyes for a moment, and at 8 o’clock went downstairs to Amama’s bedroom. Thank God this time it all went quickly and safely, and I did not feel nervously exhausted. Towards one o’clock the little one was bathed and Yanyshev read some prayers. Mama arrived with Xenia; we lunched together. At 4 o’clock there was a Te Deum. Tatiana weighs 8 ¾ pounds and is 54 centimeters long. Our eldest is very funny with her.“ - Nicholas II, June 10th 1897.

‘’She was a picture-book beauty … Taller even than her mother, willowy and with a tiny waist, she was the most elegant and ’aristocratic’ looking of the four sisters and exuded a sense of her status from head to toe. People often remarked that she behaved ’like the daughter of an emperor’. Confident with her beauty, with a fixed, almost challenging expression in her eyes, Tatiana could look effortlessly imperious. Her profile was exquisite; with her pale, almost marble skin, lovely dark chestnut hair and a slightly mystical Asiatic look about her wide, tipped-up dark grey eyes, she was naturally photogenic. She loved clothes and carried them with grace and elegance, as well as a slightly coquettish air. But she was very much her mother’s daughter: reserved, inscrutable, less open and spontaneous than her sisters and less inclined to smile…’’  - Helen Rappaport : Ekaterinburg - The Last Days of the Romanovs.

Romanov Birthdays Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, September 18

Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich was born at Ilinskoe near Moscow, the second child and son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and a grandson of Alexander II of Russia; thus, he was a first cousin of Nicholas II of Russia. His mother, Alexandra, was seven months’ pregnant with him when, while out with friends, she jumped into a boat, falling as she got in. The next day, she collapsed in the middle of a ball from violent labor pains; Dmitri was born in the hours following the accident. Alexandra slipped into a coma, from which she never emerged. Dmitri and his sister Maria were mostly raised by their uncle and aunt, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the elder sister of Empress Alexandra.

In 1905, Sergei, then governor-general of Moscow, was murdered by socialists during the 1905 Revolution. The bomber had refrained from an earlier attack because he saw that Grand Duchess Elizabeth, fifteen-year-old Maria and her younger brother Dmitri were in the carriage and he did not want to kill women and children. A second attack a few days later succeeded in killing Sergei. Dmitri rushed with his aunt and sister and saw Sergei’s broken body in the snow. After this incident, young Dmitri was sent to live with the tsar and his family. At some point, there was even speculation whether he might be made heir in place of the hemophiliac tsarevich by marrying the tsar’s eldest daughter, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna.

A womanizer and allegedly a bisexual, Dmitri had a relationship with Felix Yusupov in the winter of 1912-1913 that caused quite a scandal. It was this relationship that caused the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to decide against Dmitri marrying her eldest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna. Later, in 1916, Felix was the one who involved him in the murder of Grigori Rasputin. However, some sources say Dmitri was only involved because he owned a car that could navigate through Saint Petersburg during the war without being impeded because of its imperial status. As a direct result of his involvement in the murder, Dmitri Pavlovich was sent to the Persian front, which ultimately saved his life; most of his relatives were executed by the Bolsheviks, including his father, his aunt Elizabeth, and his morganatic half-brother Vladimir Paley, but he himself escaped, with British help.

Dmitri married an American heiress, Audrey Emery, in 1927. The two had a son, Prince Paul Romanovsky-Ilyinsky, who was elected Mayor of Palm Beach, Florida in 1989, and thus the only Romanov descendant known to have held elected public office. Despite his athletic interests, Dmitri Pavlovich’s health had always been somewhat frail, and in the 1930s his chronic tuberculosis became acute and necessitated extended stays at a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland, where he died in 1941 from acute uremia following complications after having been pronounced cured. Rumours circulated that either the Bolsheviks finally got him (or that Hitler had taken his firm “no” badly), but soon lost relevance in the general clamour and mayhem of World War II.

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Today in History: The Birth of Tsar Nicholas II - 18 May 1868 [6 May O.S.]

Nicholas Alexandrovich was born on May 18 in 1868 to Tsarevich Alexander Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (future Tsar and Tsarina of Russia). Nicholas was the oldest of five siblings, and heir to the throne of the Russian Empire after his father. Nicholas was a well mannered, and intelligent child who excelled in academics and was fluent in many different languages. In 1884, Nicholas met his future wife, Alexandra Feodorovna (nee Alix of Hesse), while at the wedding of Elisabeth Feodorovna (nee Elisabeth of Hesse) to Sergei Alexandrovich. Years later, in 1894, Nicholas and Alix married on 26 November. A month prior to the wedding, Nicholas’s father fell ill and unfortunately succumbed to his illness. All of a sudden, Nicholas was the new Tsar of Russia. The coronation took place in May of 1896. Together, Nicholas and Alexandra had five children, one of which was the hemophiliac Tsarevich Alexei. In 1917, Nicholas chose to abdicate the throne in favour of the rising communist government. The family was exiled to Siberia in 1917 where they lived the remainder of their lives. Unfortunately, the family was murdered 17 July 1918 by the Bolsheviks.

Videos from CriticalPast

To remember:
  • Before celebrating any Romanov birthday, make sure you have the right date! Because of the differences between Julian (Old Style) and Gregorian (New Style) calendar the anniversaries shift. While for example November 3rd 1895 in the Old Style corresponded with November 15th in the New Style back in the 19th century, it corresponds with November 16th post 1900!
  • Nicholas II was the eldest child of his parents, even though some (even otherwise reliable) sources state his brother Alexander was born before him.
  • Not all the pictures of the Imperial family aboard a ship were taken on Standart. 
  • Tatiana does NOT mean “fairy Queen” (for actual origin and meaning go here)
  • It was not after Anastasia was born that the Tsar went for a walk before congratulating his wife. It had been after Maria was born.
  • There is no source as yet that Grand Duchess Olga was ever called “Olishka”. The nickname that does appear in the sources is “Olenka”.
  • The Imperial children DID learn German and knew it, even if only badly.
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 “She was a wonderful girl, possessed of a tremendous reserve force, and I never realised her unselfish nature until those dreadful days. She too was exceeding fair, dowered with the classic beauty of the Romanovs: her eyes were dark blue, shaded by long lashes, and she had masses of dark brown hair. She was not so lively as her sisters, but she was much more decided in her outlook. The Grand Duchess Marie knew at once what she wanted, and why she wanted it.” - Lili Dehn 

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna Was Born Today 26th Of June 1899
                  Happy 116th Birthday Mashka!!

Romanov Birthdays Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia, August 12

While Russia was at war with Japan, Alexei was born in Peterhof, Russian Empire, on 12 August 1904. He was the youngest of five children and the only son born to Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. He was doted on by his parents and sisters and known as “Baby” in the family. He was later also affectionately referred to as Alyosha and Lyoshka. Alexei was christened on 3 September 1904 in the chapel in Peterhof Palace. As a child, Alexei was often photographed in his favorite garment, the sailor suit. He wore sailor suits more commonly than any other European royal, even the possible exception of the British royals.

Alexei inherited hemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her maternal grandmother Queen Victoria. According to his French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, Alexei was a simple, affectionate child. Courtiers reported that his illness made him sensitive to the hurts of others. However, Alexei can be very mischievous at times and his elder sister Anastasia was often his partner-in-crime. As a small child, he occasionally played pranks on guests. One example occurred at a formal dinner party, where Alexei removed the shoe of a female guest from under the table, and showed it to his father. Nicholas sternly told the boy to return the “trophy”, which Alexei did after placing a large ripe strawberry into the toe of the shoe.

During World War I, Alexei joined his father at Stavka, when his father became the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army. Alexei seemed to like military life very much and became very playful and energetic. The imperial family was arrested following the February Revolution of 1917, which resulted in the abdication of Nicholas II. When he was in captivity at Tobolsk, Alexei complained in his diary about how bored he was. He was permitted to play occasionally with Kolya, the son of one of his doctors, and with a kitchen boy named Leonid Sednev.

As he became older, Alexei seemed to tempt fate and injure himself on purpose. While in Siberia, he rode a sled down the stairs of the prison house and injured himself in the groin. The hemorrhage was very bad, and he was so ill that he could not be moved immediately when the Bolsheviks moved his parents and older sister Maria to Yekaterinburg in April 1918. Alexei and his three other sisters joined the rest of the family weeks later. He was confined to a wheelchair for the remaining weeks of his life. The Tsarevich was less than a month shy of his fourteenth birthday when he was murdered on 17 July 1918 in the cellar room of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg.

Romanov Birthdays Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia, April 6

Xenia Alexandrovna was born the fourth child and eldest daughter of Tsar Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna. Throughout the reign of his brother, Nicholas II, she lived a private life and was uninterested in politics.

As a child, Xenia was a tomboy and was very shy. Xenia was only six years old when her grandfather was brutally murdered by a terrorist bomb and her father ascended to the throne during a difficult political time. The family was plagued with terrorist threats and they moved from the Winter Palace to Gatchina Palace for security reasons. Xenia, along with her siblings, were raised with modesty and simplicity.

Xenia, like her brothers, received her education from private tutors. Apart from her native Russian, Xenia studied English, French and German. Xenia learned cookery, joinery and making puppets and their clothes for their theater. She also enjoyed riding and fishing in the nearby river on the Gatchina estate, drawing, gymnastics, dancing and playing the piano.

Xenia knew her future husband from a young age. Xenia and her first cousin once removed, Grand Duke Alexander “Sandro” Mikhailovich of Russia, her eventual husband, played together as friends in the 1880s. Alexander was also a friend of her brother Nicholas. In 1886, twenty-year-old Alexander was serving in the navy. Eleven year old Xenia sent him a card when his ship was in Brazil, “Best wishes and speedy return! Your sailor Xenia”. In 1889, Alexander wrote of Xenia, “She is fourteen. I think she likes me.”

At age 15, though Xenia and Alexander wanted to marry, her parents were reluctant to trust because Xenia was too young and they were unsure of Alexander’s character. But eventually, their engagement was accepted and the couple married on 6 August 1894. Xenia was nineteen and Sandro twenty-eight. Over the next 13 years, Xenia gave birth to seven children, one girl and six boys.

Xenia was heavily involved in charitable works. She was a member of many associations that involved women, children, and workers. Like other members of her family, Xenia had been thankful to her father for keeping Russia out of wars. She had been angry about the start of the Russo-Japanese war in 1904 and recorded her thoughts on the end, “and ended even more stupidly!” In October of 1905, her brother was forced to agree to the establishment of a Duma as a concession to the people. Some of Xenia’s family saw it as “the end of Russian autocracy”.

The outbreak of the first World War caught Xenia and her mother unaware: Xenia was in France while the Dowager Empress was in London. Arriving back in Russia, Xenia threw herself into war work, providing her own hospital train and opening a large hospital for the wounded. She also chaired the Xenia Institute which provided artificial limbs for the maimed.

On 28 October 1916, increasingly depressed by Russia’s predicament, Xenia wrote to her mother, speculating what her father would have done. Xenia, her mother, and her sister Olga urged Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich of Russia to write to the Tsar warning him about the influence of the Tsarina in government affairs. Nicholas did not even open the envelope. Late in December, her son-in-law had been involved with Rasputin’s murder. Xenia was embarrassed by the episode.

At the beginning of 1917, Xenia hoped her mother would make Nicholas see sense about the collapsing situation in Russia but her mother could not see how. By the time Nicholas abdicated, Xenia tried to see him but she was refused permission by the Provisional Government. In 1918, while in Crimea, Xenia learned that her brothers Grand Duke Michael and Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and his children had been murdered by the Bolsheviks.

Xenia fled Russia in 1919 with her family. Xenia later lived in Great Britain and visited her mother and sister in Denmark as often as she could. Xenia died in 1960, the second last surviving Romanov Grand Duchess. Her younger sister, who died shortly after Xenia, was the last Grand Duchess ever to have lived in Imperial Russia.

Romanov Birthdays  George Mikhailovich, Count Brasov, August 6

Georgy Mikhailovich, Count Brasov was a Russian noble and a descendant of the House of Romanov through a morganatic line. The nephew of the last Tsar Nicholas II, Count George was born in Moscow during the last years of Imperial Russia. George was baptised on 22 September 1910 at the Church of St Basil of Caesarea in Moscow, by Father Peter Pospelov, and named after his late uncle, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of Russia, who had died in 1899.

In the fall of 1914, after the start of World War I, four-year-old George returned to Russia with his parents. Their parents married without the Tsar’s permission and they lived in exile. After returning, Michael wrote to Nicholas asking him to legitimise George so, he argued, that the boy would be provided for in the event of Michael’s death at the front. Six months later, Nicholas legitimised George by decree, and created him a count. George and his descendants would, however, be excluded from the order of succession.

New Year 1917 was spent back at Gatchina. Her uncle, Nicholas, abdicated the throne to George’s father Michael, but Michael refused to accept. With the revolutionaries in power, and the influence of the imperial family all but ended, George and his family were placed under house arrest at the villa in Gatchina. The family planned to move to the greater safety of Finland. Valuables were packed and the children were moved to an estate south of Gatchina owned by the brother of one of Natalia’s closest friends. Their plan was discovered by the Bolsheviks, and the children returned to Gatchina, once again under house arrest. In March 1918, George’s father was exiled to the remote city of Perm by the Bolsheviks, and Natalia became concerned for her family’s safety. With the help of Natalia’s friends, George was smuggled out to Copenhagen, Denmark, and got there safely.

On the night of 12–13 June 1918, George’s father was shot dead on the outskirts of Perm by the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. George was joined by his mother in England in 1919, where George was educated. As he matured, many remarked at his strong resemblance to his father. To George’s amusement, the idea of him claiming the throne was circulated during his lifetime. By the 1920s, the Soviets had a firm grip on power in Russia, and the return of the monarchy was not a serious possibility. Nevertheless, George’s cousin, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich, declared himself Emperor Cyril, and granted George the empty title of prince.

In the summer of 1931, he finished his final examinations at the Sorbonne, and planned a holiday in the south of France with his 19-year-old Dutch friend, Edgar Moneanaar. On the drive from Paris to Cannes, their car skidded near Sens, while Moneanaar was driving. They crashed into a tree, and Moneanaar was killed. With both thighs broken and severe internal injuries, George was taken to hospital and Natalia rushed to be at his bedside. He died without recovering consciousness the following morning, aged only 20.

Romanov Birthdays Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia, June 10

Considered to be the most beautiful of the sisters in her time, she was truly the Tsar’s daughter. Tatiana was described as tall and slender, with dark auburn hair and dark blue-gray eyes, fine, chiseled features, and a refined, elegant bearing befitting the daughter of an Emperor. Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna was born in Peterhof, the second daughter of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, on 10 June 1897.

She was given the name “Tatiana” as an homage to the heroine in Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin. Her father liked the idea of having daughters named Olga and Tatiana, like the sisters in the famous poem. Many felt Tatiana’s artistic talents (her elder sister Olga was more artistic) were better expressed in handiwork and in her talent for choosing attractive fashions and creating elegant hair styles.

Tatiana and her siblings were raised with some austerity. She and her sisters slept on camp beds without pillows, took cold baths in the morning, and were expected to keep themselves occupied with embroidery or knitting projects if they had a spare moment. Their work was given as gifts or sold at charity bazaars.

Tatiana was practical and had a natural talent for leadership. Tatiana was reserved and “well balanced.” Her sisters gave her the nickname “The Governess” and often sent her as their group representative when they wanted their parents to grant a favor. She was closer to her mother than any of her sisters and was considered by many who knew her to be the Tsarina’s favorite daughter. Tatiana was the conduit of all her mother’s decisions.

As a young teenager, Tatiana was assigned a regiment of soldiers, the Vosnesensky Hussars and given the rank of honorary colonel. She and Olga, who was also given her own regiment, would go out and inspect the soldiers regularly, an occasion they greatly enjoyed. While she enjoyed the company of the soldiers she met, the young Tatiana also sometimes found their behavior shocking. A group of officers aboard the imperial yacht gave her older sister Olga a portrait of Michelangelo’s nude David, cut out from a newspaper, as a present for her name day on 11 July 1911. “Olga laughed at it long and hard,” the indignant fourteen-year-old Tatiana wrote to her paternal aunt.

That fall, the fourteen-year-old Tatiana experienced her first brush with violence when she witnessed the assassination of the government minister Pyotr Stolypin at the Kiev Opera House. The event had upset both Tatiana and her elder Olga. Both of them had trouble sleeping that night. A few years later, when World War I broke out, Tatiana became a Red Cross nurse with her mother and Olga. They cared for wounded soldiers in a private hospital on the grounds of Tsarskoe Selo.

The family was arrested during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and imprisoned first at Tsarskoe Selo and later at private residences in Tobolsk and Yekaterinburg. While in captivity, Tatiana was extremely bored with no hospital work. Tatiana’s English tutor, Sydney Gibbes, recalled that Tatiana had grown razor thin and seemed more mysterious to him than ever.

One night, Tatiana, her family, and servants were woken up by the Bolsheviks and led into a cellar room being assured that they were there for safety from the unrest in the town. While they waited, Yurovsky came in, ordered them to stand, and read the sentence of execution. Tatiana and her family had time only to utter a few incoherent sounds of shock before the death squad under Yurovsky’s command began shooting. It was the early hours of 17 July 1918.

Romanov Birthdays Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, June 6

Born as a Hessian princess and brought up with simplicity and modesty, Alix had a tragic childhood and a somewhat happy adulthood. As a child, Alix suffered great losses in her family. She lost her older brother, Friedrich, to Hemophilia, and her mother and younger sister, to Diphtheria. After the illness took her mother and sister, Alix and her surviving siblings grew close to her British cousins, spending holidays with Queen Victoria.

Alix was married relatively late for her rank in her era, having refused a proposal from Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale (the eldest son of The Prince of Wales) despite strong familial pressure. It is said that Queen Victoria had wanted her two grandchildren to marry, but because she was very fond of Alix she accepted that she did not want to marry him. The Queen even went on to say that she was proud of Alix for standing up to her, something many people, including her own son the Prince of Wales, did not do. Alix had already met and fallen in love with Tsarevich Nicholas, the heir to the throne of Russia, whose uncle was already married to Alix’s sister Elizabeth.

Nicholas’s father, the Emperor Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna, were both vigorously anti-German and had no intention of permitting the match with the Tsarevich. That was until Alexander’s health began to fail in 1894. Alix 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 couple became engaged in April 1894.

The marriage with Nicholas was not delayed. Alexandra and Nicholas were wed in the Grand Church of the Winter Palace of St Petersburg on 26 November 1894, less than a month after Alexander’s death. The marriage that began that night remained exceptionally close for their lives and the marriage was outwardly serene and proper but based on intensely passionate physical love. Within the first year of their marriage the couple had their first daughter, Olga. Following their eldest daughter, Nicholas and Alexandra had three more daughters and they desperately needed a son for the heir.

It wasn’t until 1904 that they finally had a son, Tsarevich Alexei. For Alix, tragedy struck again when they discovered Alexei was hemophiliac, just like her brother. Alix never stopped worrying about her son, who was fondly nicknamed ‘Sunbeam’ to match her 'Sunny,’ and often reminded him to take precaution during his playtime.

The outbreak of World War I was a pivotal moment for Russia and Alexandra. The war pitted the Russian Empire of the Romanov dynasty against the much stronger German Empire of the Hohenzollern dynasty. When Alexandra learned of the Russian mobilization, she stormed into her husband’s study and said: “War! And I knew nothing of it! This is the end of everything.” Born a German princess, Alix was very unpopular with her adopted country. Many thought Alix was controlling her husband, and it was among one of many reasons that the tsar's abdication took place. Alix was brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 along with her husband, children, and loyal servants.

Romanov Birthdays → Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, October 17

The Grand Duchess was born on 17 October 1853 to Alexander II, the Emperor of Russia, and his wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. After losing their first daughter just four years before, her parents were thrilled when they had a second daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, because they had so missed having a little girl. While devoted to both parents, she was particularly close with her father.

Grand Duchess Maria was introduced to Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria, by the Princess of Wales and the Tsesarevna of Russia during a family holiday in Denmark in 1871. The Princess and Tsesarevna were sisters and Danish princesses. Maria and Alfred married on 23 January 1874 at the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. The marriage, however, was not to become a happy one, and the bride was thought haughty by London Society.

Marie had a dislike of life in England. She never got on with Queen Victoria, finding her court dull, in contrast to court of St. Petersburg. In retaliation for the quarrel over precedence, Marie attempted to upstage her mother-in-law by wearing jewels that surpassed those of the queen. She also had a dislike of English weather, and deeply distrusted the British Parliament, convinced that the institution was dangerous and radical.

Marie was in England when she received the news on March 1st, 1881, that her father had been assassinated by a terrorist group on his way home to the Winter Palace, and that consequently her eldest surviving brother had become Tsar Alexander III. Alfred and Marie traveled to St. Petersburg for the funeral. Upon her husband’s ascension to the Ducal throne, the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna became Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in addition to being Duchess of Edinburgh. She thoroughly enjoyed being in Coburg, having yearned to leave England.

In 1894, Marie’s eldest brother, Tsar Alexander, died tragically of nephritis, aged forty-nine, leaving his twenty-six year-old son as Tsar Nicholas II. Alfred and Marie, yet again, traveled to Russia for an imperial funeral. Alfred and Marie’s only son, also named Alfred, attempted suicide in 1899. Although the attempt failed, he died of complications a couple of weeks later. The elder Alfred died of cancer in July of 1900. World War I broke out in August of 1914. In February of 1917, Marie’s Romanov relatives in her Russian homeland were overthrown. Marie died just three years later in October 1920 in Zürich, Switzerland.

Romanov Birthdays Empress Marie Alexandrovna, August 8

Marie was born on 8 August 1824, the youngest of seven children born to the Grand Duchess Wilhelmine of Hesse, who was the youngest sister of the Russian Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna. The younger four were likely the biological children of Baron August von Senarclens de Grancy, but to avoid a scandal, Ludwig II, Grand Duke of Hesse acknowledged Alexander and Marie as his own children; the other two had died young. When in 1838, the Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich toured Europe to find a wife, he fell in love with the 14-year-old Marie. He married her on 16 April 1841, even though he was well aware of the “irregularity” of her birth. His mother Empress Alexandra Feodorovna objected, but Alexander insisted. In 1865, the death of her eldest and favourite son, the Tsarevich Nicholas, was a great blow.

As she was very shy, she was regarded as stiff, austere, and with no taste in dress, no conversation, no charm. The damp climate of St. Petersburg did not agree with the delicate chest Marie had inherited from her mother, so that she had a racking cough and recurring fever. Nevertheless, she became the mother of eight children. These pregnancies together with ill health kept her away from many Court festivities, which brought temptations to her husband. Although he always treated her well, Marie knew Alexander was unfaithful and had many lovers. He already had three children with his favourite mistress, Princess Catherine Dolgoruki, when he moved her and their children into the Imperial Palace. They entered into a morganatic marriage on 6 July 1880, less than a month after Marie’s death. In later years Nicholas II’s eldest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga, claimed to have seen the ghost of her ancestor, the Empress Maria Alexandrovna as a small child, according to her nanny, Miss Margaretta Eagar.

Romanov Birthdays Prince Gabriel Constantinovich of Russia, July 15

Prince Gabriel Constantinovich of Russia was born on 15 July 1887 at Pavlovsk. Gabriel Constantinovich spent his early life living in fabulous splendor on the last period of Imperial Russia. His father, a respected poet, was a second cousin of Tsar Nicholas II and one of the wealthiest members of the Romanov family. As a child, Prince Gabriel had frail health; he was pale and prone to illness. He and his eldest brother Prince John were both often sick and together spent more than a year of their childhood living at Oreanda in the Crimea with a doctor and several servants. Their health improved in the temperate climate, and the boys enjoyed their time spent on the beaches and in short tours around the peninsula.

Prince Gabriel was brought up strictly; he and his siblings were taught to speak pure Russian without a mixture of foreign phrases. From a very early age, Gabriel was passionately devoted to his father and to all things military. Following his father’s example, Gabriel Constantinovich chose a military career, traditional for the male members of the Romanov family. Unlike his serious and reserved brothers, Prince Gabriel was much more social, and began to associate with an aristocratic crowd considered fast by the standards of the day.

At the outbreak of World War I, Prince Gabriel and four of his brothers joined the active Russian army in the military effort, fighting in advance operations. His brother Prince Oleg was killed in action at the beginning of the war. The following year Gabriel’s father died of a heart attack. After the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in the February Revolution of 1917, Prince Gabriel asked his mother for permission to marry Antonina Nesteroskaya, but she did not give him her consent. He decided to disobey, and on 9 April 1917 in a little church, they married. Gabriel was arrested in the summer of 1918 along with other Romanov males, but he was the only one who escaped execution and was permitted to leave Russia to Finland with his wife.

In 1920, Prince Gabriel and his wife took residence in Paris. The couple did not lose interest in society once they were in exile. They were constant attendees at many Russian balls, frequently enjoyed evenings out in Russian nightclubs, and continued their friendship with other Romanovs in exile. Gabriel and his wife, with the proceeds from their successful couture business, lived a comfortable, if not splendid life. Their entire hallways in their apartment were filled with family photographs. They lived happily and often had tea parties. In Paris, they often mingled with other Russian émigrés. The couple lived very modestly in a Paris suburb, where Prince Gabriel wrote his memoirs. To earn money he organized bridge parties and his wife occasionally gave ballet lessons. Prince Gabriel died on 28 February 1955 in Paris, leaving no children.

Romanov Birthdays Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, July 13

Alexandra Feodorovna was born on 13 July 1798 at the Charlottenburg Palace, as Princess Charlotte of Prussia. Princess Charlotte’s childhood was marked by the Napoleonic Wars. After the French defeat of the Prussian army, Princess Charlotte and her whole family were forced to flee to East Prussia, where they were given protection by Tsar Alexander I. Soon, Berlin fell under Napoleon’s control, and Princess Charlotte grew up in war-torn Memel, Prussia. 

Nicholas Pavlovich, the younger brother of Tsar Alexander I, fell in love with the then-seventeen-year-old Princess Charlotte in 1815. The feeling was mutual. On her nineteenth birthday, she and Nicholas were married in the Chapel of the Winter Palace. Weeks after the wedding, Alexandra was pregnant. On 29 April 1818, she gave birth to her first son, the future Tsar Alexander II. Alexandra Feodorovna had six more children, three girls and three boys. Alexandra became Empress in December 1825, when his husband Nicholas succeeded his eldest brother.

Alexandra Feodorovna spent her first years in Russia trying to learn the language and customs of her adopted country. The Imperial family spoke German and wrote their letters in French, and as a consequence, Alexandra never completely mastered the Russian language. Nicholas and Alexandra Feodorovna were private people who found great pleasure in each other’s company.

Alexandra was tall, slender with a small head of refined features. Her blue eyes were set deep in her head. Her quick, light walk was graceful. Her voice was hoarse, but she spoke rapidly and with decision. Alexandra Feodorovna was an avid reader and enjoyed music. She dressed elegantly, with a decided preference for light colors, and collected beautiful jewels. Neither arrogant nor frivolous, Alexandra was not without intelligence and had an excellent memory; her reading was quite extensive. She took no active interest in politics and fulfilled the role of being an empress consort, rather than being active in the public sphere.

The Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was always frail and in bad health. At forty, she looked far older than her years, becoming increasingly thin. For a long time, she suffered from a nervous twitching that became a convulsive shaking of her head. Towards the end of 1854, Alexandra Feodorovna became very ill, and she came very close to death, though she managed to recover. In 1855 her husband contracted influenza, and he died on 18 February.

She retired to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. In the autumn of 1860, her doctors told her that she would not live through the winter if she did not return once more to the south. Knowing the danger, she preferred to stay in St. Petersburg, so that if death did come it would happen on Russian soil. The night before her death, she was heard to say, “Niki, I am coming to you.” She died in her sleep at the age of sixty-two on 1 November 1860 at Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.