Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia (Alix of Hesse and by Rhine)

Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia (Alix of Hesse and by Rhine)

Alexandra Feodorovna. Empress of Russia as the spouse of Nicholas II—the last ruler of the Russian Empire—from their marriage on 26 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. Originally Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine at birth, she was given the name and patronymic Alexandra Feodorovna upon being received into the Russian Orthodox Church and—having been killed along with her immediate family while in Bolshevik captivity in 1918—was canonized in 2000 as Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer. A granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Alexandra was, like her grandmother, one of the most famous royal carriers of the haemophilia disease.

Alexandra Feodorovna
Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess of Hesse and by Rhine
Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess of Russia
Her Imperial Majesty The Empress of All the Russias
Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova
Saint Alexandra the Passion Bearer

Born
6 June 1872
New Palace, Darmstadt,
Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire

Died
17 July 1918 (aged 46)
Ipatiev House, Yekaterinburg,
Russian SFSR

Burial
17 July 1998
Peter and Paul Cathedral,
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

Spouse
Nicholas II of Russia

Children
1 Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna

2 Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna

3 Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna

4 Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna

5 Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich

In addition to her five live-born children,
Alexandra suffered a miscarriage in the
summer of 1896, presumably because she
became physically exhausted during her
coronation festivities, and she had a
phantom pregnancy in August 1902.

Full name
English: Alice Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice
German: Alix Viktoria Helene Luise Beatrix
Russian: Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova

House
of
Hesse-Darmstadt

Father
Louis IV
Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine

Mother
Princess Alice
of the United Kingdom

Alexandra’s Signature

Alexandra was born on 6 June 1872 at the New Palace in Darmstadt as Princess Alix Viktoria Helene Luise Beatrix of Hesse and by Rhine, a Grand Duchy that was then part of the German Empire. She was the sixth child and fourth daughter among the seven children of Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, and his first wife, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the second daughter of Queen Victoria and Albert, Prince Consort. Alix was baptized on 1 July 1872 (her parents’ tenth wedding anniversary) according to the rites of the Lutheran Church and given the names of her mother and of her mother’s four sisters, some of which were transliterated into German. Her mother gave her the nickname of “Sunny”, due to her cheerful disposition, a practice later picked up by her husband. Her British relatives gave her the nickname of “Alicky” in order to distinguish her from her aunt by marriage, the Princess of Wales, who while having the given name Alexandra, was known within the family as Alix.

Her godparents were the Prince and Princess of Wales (her maternal uncle and aunt), Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom (her maternal aunt), the Duchess of Cambridge (her great-grandaunt), the Tsesarevich and Tsesarevna of Russia, and Princess Anna of Prussia. In November 1878, diphtheria swept through the House of Hesse; Alix, her three sisters, her brother Ernst (“Ernie”), and their father fell ill. Elisabeth (“Ella”), Alix’s older sister, had been sent to visit her paternal grandmother, and thus escaped the outbreak. Alix’s mother Alice tended to the children herself, rather than abandon them to doctors. Alice herself soon fell ill and died on the 17th anniversary of her father’s death, 14 December 1878, when Alix was only six years old. Alix, Ernst and her sisters Victoria and Irene survived the epidemic, but Marie did not. After her mother and her sister’s death, Alix grew from a happy and cheerful girl into one who was reserved and withdrawn.

Alix and her surviving siblings grew close to their British cousins, spending holidays with their grandmother Queen Victoria. Along with her sister, Princess Irene, Alix was a bridesmaid at the 1885 wedding of her godmother and maternal aunt, Princess Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg, and was also present at her grandmother’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887. Alix was said to be Queen Victoria’s favourite granddaughter. Despite being renowned as beautiful in her youth, Alix was married relatively late for her rank in her era. Though Queen Victoria had intended for Alix to be Britain’s future queen, she relented, accepting Alix’s objections as indicative of her strength of character.

Nicholas and Alix had first met in 1884 at the wedding of Nicholas’s Uncle Sergei to Alix’s sister Elizabeth. When Alix returned to Russia in 1889, they fell in love. They were related to each other via several different lines of European royalty.

Nicholas wrote in his diary…

Initially Nicholas’s father, Tsar Alexander III, refused the prospect of marriage. Alexander and his wife, both vehemently anti-German, had no intention of permitting a match with Princess Alix and the Tsesarevich. Although Alix was his godchild, it was generally known that Alexander III was angling for a bigger catch for his son, someone like Princess Hélène, daughter of Philippe, Comte de Paris, pretender to the throne of France. Fortunately for Nicholas, Hélène also resisted, as she was Roman Catholic and her father refused to allow her to convert to Russian Orthodoxy. The tsar, despite his anti-German sentiments, then sent emissaries to Princess Margaret of Prussia, sister of German Emperor Wilhelm II, who—like Alix—was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Nicholas flatly declared that he would rather become a monk than marry the plain and boring Margaret, who in turn stated that she was unwilling to give up her Protestant religion to become Russian Orthodox. As long as he was well, Alexander ignored his son’s demands, only relenting when his health began to fail in 1894.

At first, Alix was troubled by the requirement that she renounce her Lutheran faith and become Orthodox. Nicholas proposed to Alix, and she rejected him on the grounds of her refusal to convert to Orthodoxy. However, after pressure from the Kaiser, who had told her that it was her duty to marry Nicholas, and her sister Elisabeth, who tried to point out the similarities between Lutheranism and Russian Orthodoxy, she accepted Nicholas’s second proposal. Following the engagement, Alix returned to England with her grandmother. In June, Nicholas travelled to England to visit her, bringing with him his father’s personal priest, Father Yanishev, who was to give her religious instruction. Along with visiting Alix and the Queen, Nicholas’s visit coincided with the birth and christening of the eldest son of Nicholas and Alix’s mutual cousin, Prince George, Duke of York and his wife, Mary of Teck, and both of them were named as godparents of the boy, who would reign briefly as King Edward VIII in 1936. Alexander III died in the early afternoon of 1 November 1894, leaving Tsesarevich Nicholas the new Emperor of Russia. The following day, Alix was received into the Russian Orthodox Church as “the truly believing Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna”. Alix apparently expressed a wish to take the name Catherine, but on Nicholas’s suggestion, she took the name Alexandra.

The wedding of Aliland Nicholas occurred on November 26 [O.S. November 14] 1894 at the Grand Church of the Winter Palace. Invitations had been sent out, along with a dress code: Russian gentlemen were to wear full regimental dress, bureaucrats were to wear the appropriate uniforms as stipulated in Peter the Great’s Great Table of Ranks; Russian ladies were to come in full court dress, foreign women in evening gowns, with full jewels and awards. At the Winter Palace, Alexandra was dressed in her wedding gown and imperial mantle. Her Honiton lace veil had been designed by her grandfather Prince Albert and had been worn at the weddings of her Grandmother Queen Victoria, her mother Princess Alice and her sisters. When Queen Victoria died, she was buried with her wedding veil over her face. All Romanov brides wore the same jewels on their wedding day: the nuptial crown; imperial rivière necklace; diamond earrings (which were so heavy that they couldn’t hang from the earlobes but instead had to be looped around the ear); imperial clasp, originally made in 1750 for the coronation mantle of Empress Elisabeth and the imperial wedding tiara, which was originally created for the Empress Elisabeth Alexeievna in 1810 and has over a thousand diamonds with a beautiful 13 carat pink diamond ornamenting the centre.

Due to court mourning, there was no reception, nor honeymoon, with Nicholas and Alexandra going to reside with his mother and brother at the Anichkov Palace. Alexandra wrote to her sister: “Our wedding seemed, a mere continuation of the funeral liturgy for the dead Tsar, with one difference; I wore a white dress instead of a black one.” Many people in Russia took the arrival of their new Empress so soon after the death of Emperor Alexander as a bad omen: “She has come to us behind a coffin. On 15 November 1895, Alexandra gave birth to her eldest child and daughter, Grand Duchess Olga at the Anichkov Palace. While Alexandra wished to name her daughter Victoria after her beloved grandmother, the couple chose the name Olga instead after Nicholas’s younger sister Olga Alexandrovna and because it was an ancient Russian name. Although many Russians and the Romanovs were disappointed an heir to the throne was not born, Nicholas and Alexandra were delighted. It was expected that since Alexandra was only twenty three and still young, there would be plenty of time for a son to be born.

On 14 May 1896 the coronation of Nicholas and Alexandra took place at the Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin in Moscow. The following day, the coronation celebrations were halted when the deaths of over one thousand people became known. The victims had been trampled to death at the Khodynka Field in Moscow when rumours spread that there would not be enough of the food being distributed in honour of the coronation for the thousands who had gathered there. In light of these events the tsar declared he could not go to the ball being given that night. Nonetheless his uncles urged him to attend so as not to offend the French. Nicholas gave in and he and Alexandra attended the ball.

Alexandra was affected by the loss of life; “The Empress appeared in great distress, her eyes reddened by tears,” the British Ambassador informed Queen Victoria. Although Alexandra and Nicholas had visited the wounded the day after and offered to pay for the coffins of the dead, many Russians took the disaster at Khodynka Meadow as an omen that the reign would be unhappy. That autumn Nicholas, Alexandra, and the infant Grand Duchess Olga—who was approaching one—traveled to Scotland to spend time with Queen Victoria at Balmoral Castle. While Nicholas was in somewhat of a bad mood due to days spent with “Uncle Bertie” (the Prince of Wales) shooting in bad weather while Nicholas suffered from a toothache, Alexandra relished the time with her grandmother. It was in fact, the last time that grandmother and granddaughter would see each other.

Alexandra was very supportive of her husband, yet often gave him extreme advice. She was a fervent advocate of the “divine right of kings” and believed that it was unnecessary to attempt to secure the approval of the people, according to her aunt, Empress Frederick of Germany, who wrote to Queen Victoria that “Alix is very imperious and will always insist on having her own way; she will never yield one iota of power she will imagine she wields…” Alexandra was heartily disliked among her subjects. She came off as very cold and curt, although according to her and many other close friends, she was only terribly shy and nervous in front of the Russian people. She felt her feelings were bruised and battered from the Russians’ “hateful” nature. She was also frowned upon by the wealthy and poor alike for her distaste for Russian culture (her embrace of Orthodoxy notwithstanding), whether it was the food or the manner of dancing.

She spoke Russian with a heavy accent. Her inability to produce a son also incensed the people. After the birth of the Grand Duchess Olga, her first-born child, Nicholas was reported to have said, “We are grateful she was a daughter; if she was a boy she would have belonged to the people, being a girl she belongs to us.” When her second daughter Tatiana was born, Alexandra was said to have burst into tears over what the Russian people would think of her. The disappointment only increased with the birth of her subsequent daughters, Maria and Anastasia. When her “sunbeam”, the Tsarevich Alexei, was born, she further isolated herself from the Russian court by spending nearly all of her time with him, his haemophilia did little to distance their close relationship. Alexandra suffered a great deal of guilt for passing down the disease to Alexei and eventually suffered what many termed as a breakdown due to the worry for her son’s health.

Alexandra lived mainly as a recluse during her husband’s reign. She was reported to have had a terrible relationship with her mother-in-law, Maria Feodorovna. The Dowager Empress had tried to assist Alexandra in learning the position of empress, but was shunned by the younger woman. Unlike other European courts of the day, in the Russian court, the position of Dowager Empress was senior in rank and precedence to that of the tsarina—a rule that Maria, with the support of Nicholas II, enforced strictly. At royal balls and other formal Imperial gatherings, Maria would enter on her son’s arm, and Alexandra would silently trail behind them according to court protocol. Alexandra was determined to care for her children herself; to the shock of the Russian aristocracy, she even breast fed them. Their upbringing mirrored that of Alexandra’s own.

Grand Duchess Olga was reportedly shy and subdued. As she grew older, Olga read widely, both fiction and poetry, often borrowing books from her mother before the Empress had read them. “You must wait, Mama, until I find out whether this book is a proper one for you to read,” Olga wrote. She was the cleverest of her siblings and possessed a quick mind, according to her tutors. While she adored her father, whom she physically resembled, she had a more distant relationship with Alexandra Alexandra was close to her second daughter, Tatiana, who surrounded her mother with unvarying attention. If a favour was needed, all the Imperial children agreed that “Tatiana must ask Papa to grant it.” During the family’s final months, Tatiana helped her mother move from place to place, pushing her about the house in a wheelchair. She was the daughter who most resembled Alexandra, both in terms of appearance and personality. Tatiana was also considered the most elegant of her sisters, and more attractive than Olga.

The third Grand Duchess, Maria, was sweet and gentle and liked to talk about marriage and children. She took after her paternal grandparents and inherited Tsar Alexander III’s famous strength. The tsar thought she would make an excellent wife and Maria was considered the “angel” of the family. Maria was also considered to be the most beautiful of her sisters, along with Tatiana. Anastasia, exuberant and vivacious, was the youngest and most famous daughter, was dubbed the “shvibzik,” Russian for “imp.” While Anastasia, like Tatiana, physically resembled her mother, she was immensely different in nature; she was incredibly mischievous throughout her childhood, and was known to climb trees and refuse to come down unless specifically commanded by her father. Her aunt and godmother, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, once recalled a time when Anastasia was teasing so ruthlessly that she slapped the child.

Alexandra doted on Alexei. The children’s tutor Pierre Gilliard wrote, “Alexei was the centre of a united family, the focus of all its hopes and affections. His sisters worshiped him. He was his parents’ pride and joy. When he was well, the palace was transformed. Everyone and everything in it seemed bathed in sunshine.” Having to live with the knowledge that she had given him the bleeding disease, Alexandra was obsessed with protecting her son. At first the boy seemed healthy and normal, but in only a few weeks’ time it was noticed that when he bumped himself, his bruises did not heal. He would bleed from the navel and his blood was slow to clot. It was soon discovered that Alexei suffered from haemophilia, which could only have been transmitted from Alexandra’s side of the family. It had entered the royal houses of Europe via the daughters of Queen Victoria, who herself was a carrier.

As an incurable and life-threatening illness suffered by the sole son and heir of the emperor the decision was made to keep his condition secret from the Russian people. At first Alexandra turned to Russian doctors to treat Alexei. Their treatments generally failed. Burdened with the knowledge that any fall or cut could actually kill her son. Alexandra turned toward religion for comfort, familiarising herself with all the Orthodox rituals and saints, spending hours daily praying in her private chapel for deliverance. In desperation, Alexandra increasingly turned to mystics and so-called holy men. One of these,Grigori Rasputin, appeared to have a cure for her son. Rasputin’s debauched lifestyle led Nicholas at times to distance him from the family. told by the director of the national police that a drunk Rasputin exposed himself at a popular Moscow restaurant and bragged to the crowd that Nicholas let him top his wife whenever he wanted, she blamed it on malicious gossip. She wrote “Saints are always calumniated, He is hated because we love him.”

From the start there were persistent murmurs and snickers behind Rasputin’s back. Although some of St Petersburg’s top clergy accepted Rasputin as a prophet, others denounced him as a fraud and a heretic. Stories from back home in Siberia chased him, such as how he conducted weddings for villagers in exchange for the first night with the bride. In his apartment in St Petersburg, where he lived with his two daughters and two housekeepers, Rasputin was visited by anyone seeking his blessing, healing or favour with the tsarina. Women came to him for “private blessings” in his bedroom, jokingly called the “Holy of Holies”. He liked to preach that one must first become familiar with sin before one can have a chance to overturn it. In 1912, Alexei suffered a life-threatening haemorrhage in the thigh while the family was at Spala in Poland. Alexandra and Nicholas took turns at his bedside and tried in vain to comfort him from his intense pain. In one rare moment of peace, Alexei was heard to whisper to his mother, “When I am dead, it will not hurt any more, will it, Mama?” Devastatingly, it seemed to Alexandra that God was not answering her prayers for her son’s relief.

Believing Alexei would die, Alexandra in desperation sent a telegram to Rasputin, who immediately replied: “God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Do not grieve. The Little One will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much.” Alexei recovered after Rasputin’s advice was followed. From this time onwards, Alexandra came to rely increasingly on Rasputin and to believe in his ability to ease Alexei’s suffering. The outbreak of World War I was a pivotal moment for Russia and Alexandra. 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.” The Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine, ruled by her brother, formed part of the German Empire. This was, of course, the place of Alexandra’s birth. This made Alexandra very unpopular with the Russian people, who accused her of collaboration with the Germans. When the tsar travelled to the front line in 1915 to take personal command of the Army, he left Alexandra in charge as Regent in the capital Saint Petersburg. Alexandra had no experience of government and constantly appointed and re-appointed incompetent new ministers, which meant the government was never stable or efficient. This was particularly dangerous in a war of attrition, as neither the troops nor the civilian population were ever adequately supplied.

She paid attention to the self-serving advice of Rasputin, and their relationship was widely, though falsely, believed to be sexual in nature. Alexandrawas the focus of ever- increasing negative rumors, and was widely believed to be a German spy at the Russian court. There was great concern within the imperial house of the influence empress Alexandra had upon state affairs through the Tsar, and the influence Grigori Rasputin was believed to have upon her, as it was considered to provoke the public and endanger the safety of the imperial throne and the survival of the monarchy. On behalf of the imperial relatives of the Tsar, both Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha had been selected to mediate and ask Empress Alexandra to banish Rasputin from court to protect her and the throne’s reputation, the former twice, but without success. In parallel, several of the Grand Dukes had tried to intervene with the Tsar, but with no more success.

World War I put what proved to be unbearable burden on Imperial Russia’s government and economy, both of which were dangerously weak. Shortages and hunger became the daily situation for tens of millions of Russians due to the disruptions of the war economy. Fifteen million men were diverted from agricultural production to fight the war, the transportation infrastructure (primarily railroads) was diverted towards war use, food shortages in the cities as available agricultural products could not be brought to urban areas. Inflation was rampant. This and the food shortages and poor performance by the Russian military, generated a great deal of anger and unrest among the people in Saint Petersburg and other cities By 1917, the tsar realized that Russia could not fight the war much longer and a make or break spring offensive was planned. Steelworkers went out on strike on 7 March, and the following day, crowds hungry for bread began rioting on the streets of St Petersburg to protest food shortages and the war. After two days of rioting, the tsar ordered the Army to restore order and on 11 March they fired on the crowd. In an effort to put an end to the uprising in the capital, Nicholas tried to get to St Petersburg by train from army headquarters at Mogiliev. The route was blocked so he tried another way. His train was stopped at Pskov where, after receiving advice from his generals, he first abdicated the throne for himself and later, on seeking medical advice, for himself and his son the tsarevich Alexei.

Nicholas finally was allowed to return to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo where he was placed under arrest with his family. The Provisional Government formed after the revolution kept Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children confined in house arrest in their home, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. They were visited by Kerensky from the government, who interviewed Alexandra regarding her involvement in state affairs and Rasputin’s involvement in them through his influence over her. She answered she and her spouse kept no secrets from each other, they often discussed politics and she naturally gave him advice to support him; as for Rasputin, he had been a true holy man of God, and his advice had been only in the interest of the good of Russia and the imperial family. After the interview, Kerensky told the tsar that he believed that Alexandra had told him the truth and was not lying. In August 1917, the family were moved to Tobolsk in Siberia, a step by the Kerensky government designed to remove them from the capital and possible harm. Nicholas and Alexandra had themselves suggested to be moved to the Livadia Palace in the Crimea, but Kerensky deemed this to be too dangerous, as they would have to travel through Central Russia, an area which was at the time full of riots where the upper classes were attacked by the public and their mansions burned

From Tobolsk, Alexandra managed to send a letter to her sister-in-law, Xenia Alexandrovna, in the Crimea.

Alexandra and her family remained in Tobolsk until after the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917. In 1918, they were subsequently moved to Bolshevik controlled Yekaterinburg. Nicholas, Alexandra and their daughter Maria arrived at the Ipatiev House on 30 April 1918. On entering their prison, they were ordered to open all their luggage. Alexandra immediately objected. Nicholas tried to come to her defence saying, “So far we have had polite treatment and men who were gentlemen but now -” The former Tsar was quickly cut off. The guards informed him he was no longer at Tsarskoe Selo and that refusal to comply with their request would result in his removal from the rest of his family, a second offence would be rewarded with hard labour. Fearing for her husband’s safety, Alexandra quickly gave in and allowed the search. On the window frame of what was to be her last bedroom in the Ipatiev House, Alexandra scrawled a swastika, her favourite good luck symbol. In May, the rest of the family arrived in Yekaterinburg.

For the Romanovs, life at the Ipatiev House was a nightmare of uncertainty and fear. The Imperial Family never knew if they would still be in the Ipatiev House from one day to the next or if they might be separated or killed. The privileges allowed to them were few. For an hour each afternoon they could exercise in the rear garden under the watchful eye of the guards. Alexandra rarely joined her family in these daily activities. Instead she spent most of her time sitting in a wheelchair, reading the Bible or the works of St. Seraphim. At night the Romanovs played cards or read. Tuesday, 16 July 1918 passed normally for the former imperial family. At four o’clock in the afternoon, Nicholas and his daughters took their usual walk in the small garden. Commandant Yurovsky summoned all the Cheka men into his room and ordered them to collect all the revolvers from the outside guards. With twelve military revolvers lying before him on the table he said, “Tonight, we shoot the entire family, everybody.” Upstairs Nicholas and Alexandra passed the evening playing bezique at ten thirty, they went to bed. The former tsar and tsaritsa and all of their family, including the gravely ill Alexei, along with several family servants, were executed by firing squad and bayonets in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where they had been imprisoned, early in the morning of 17 July 1918, by a detachment of Bolsheviks led by Yakov Yurovsky. They were took to the basement in pretense of having a family photograph be taken. Alexandra and her children had sewn into their chemises diamonds, emeralds, rubies and ropes of pearls.

Alexandra complained about how there were no chairs, Nicholas asked for and received three chairs from the guards. Minutes later, at about 2:15 a.m., a squad of soldiers, each armed with a revolver, entered. Yurovsky ordered all the party to stand, Alexandra complied “with a flash of anger”, and Yurovsky then casually pronounced, “Your relations have tried to save you. They have failed and we must now shoot you.” Nicholas rose from his chair and only had time to utter “What…?” before he was shot several times, not (as is usually said) in the head, but in the chest his skull bears no bullet wounds, but his ribs were shattered by at least three fatal bullet wounds. Standing about six feet from the gunmen and facing them, Alexandra watched the murder of her husband before military commissar Peter Ermakov took aim at her. She instinctively turned away from him and began to make the sign of the cross, but before she could finish the gesture, Ermakov killed her with a single gunshot which, as she had partly turned away, entered her head just above the left ear and exited at the same spot above her right ear.

After allowing the haze to clear for several minutes, the gunmen returned. Alexei remained sitting in the chair, “terrified,” before the assassins turned on him and shot at him repeatedly. The boy remained alive and the killers tried to stab him multiple times with bayonets. “Nothing seemed to work,” wrote Yurovsky later. “Injured, he continued to live.” Unbeknownst to the killing squad, the Tsarevich’s torso was protected by a shirt wrapped in precious gems that he wore beneath his tunic. Finally Yurovsky fired two shots into the boy’s head, and he fell silent. Olga and Tatiana were crouched against the room’s rear wall, clinging to each other screaming for their mother. Ermakov stabbed both young women with his 8-inch bayonet, but had difficulty penetrating their torsos because of the jewels that had been sewn into their chemises. The sisters tried to stand, but Tatiana was killed instantly when Yurovsky shot her in the back of her head. A moment later, Olga too died when Ermakov shot her in the jaw. Ermakov then turned on the wounded Maria and Anastasia, who was still unharmed. He struggled with Maria and tried to stab her with a bayonet. The jewels sewn into her clothes protected her, and he said he finally shot her in the head. But the skull that is almost certainly Maria’s has no bullet wound. Perhaps drunken Ermakov inflicted a scalp wound, knocking her unconscious and producing a considerable flow of blood, leading him to think he had killed her. He then struggled with Anastasia, whom he also claimed he shot in the head. As the bodies were being removed from the house, Maria regained consciousness and screamed. Ermakov tried to stab her again but failed, and struck her in the face until she was silent. After all the victims had been shot, Ermakov in a drunken haze stabbed Alexandra’s body and that of her husband, shattering both their rib cages and chipping some of Alexandra’s vertebrae. A short time later, the bodies were retrieved. Their faces were smashed and the bodies, dismembered and disfigured with sulphuric acid, were buried under railway sleepers with the exception of two of the children whose bodies were not discovered until 2007. The missing bodies were those of Anastasia—and Alexei. The Ekaterinburg region’s chief forensic expert said, “Tests conducted in Yekaterinburg and Moscow allowed DNA to be extracted from the bones, which proved positive,”

Alexandra, Nicholas II and three daughters were reinterred in the St. Catherine Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral at the Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg in 1998, with much ceremony, on the eightieth anniversary of the execution In 1981, Alexandra and her immediate family were recognised as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. In 2000, Alexandra was canonized as a saint and passion bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church

Personal Belongings of Alexandra

Alexandra In popular culture
.Nance O’Neil in The Fall of the Romanoffs


.Ethel Barrymore in Rasputin and the Empress


.Renée Asherson in Rasputin the Mad Monk

.Janet Suzman in Nicholas and Alexandra


.Gayle Hunnicutt in Fall of Eagles


.Claire Bloom in The Mystery of Anna

.Greta Scacchi in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny


.Lynda Bellingham in The Romanovs: An Imperial Family


.Luise Wolfram in Matilda

.Alix and Nicky by Virginia Rounding


.The Romanov Empress by C. W. Gortner


.The Princess Aline by Richard Harding Davis

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