The events of 1917 marked the end of a Royal Family in Russia and the fate of the last Tsar has been well documented ever since. But what do we know about the last Tsarina, Alexandra Romanov? It is often said that she played a major part in the downfall of the Royal Family because of her relationship with the mystic Grigory Rasputin but how much of this is true?
Alexandra was born on the 6th of June 1872 in Darmstadt, as Princess Alix Viktoria Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine. She was born into a grand duchy which was at that point part of the German Empire.
Throughout her early life she mixed in Royal Circles across Europe and as she reached adulthood, it is said that she turned down a proposal from Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence. At this point it is quite possible that she had already fallen in love with her future husband, Grand Duke Nicholas, heir to the Russian throne.
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As a German national, there was much resistance to any prospect of marriage between Alix and Nicholas but when Tsar Alexander III died on the 1st of November 1894, Nicholas took the throne.
With the main object of opposition now deceased, there was no reason to delay the union any further and Alix and Nicholas were married just 26 days later in the Winter Palace at St Petersburg.
Alix the Tsarina
On the date of her wedding, Alexandra became Empress of Russia, although the formal coronation didn’t take place for another two years.
Sadly for the new Tsarina, her subjects had a general dislike of her and it wasn’t just down to her German upbringing. It was said that she was very cold and curt towards them and treated them with an air of superiority. It didn’t help that her predecessor, Maria Feodorovna was loved by the Russian people.
As a result, Alexandra lived mainly as a recluse in her time at the Russian court.
A year after their marriage, Alexandra gave birth to a daughter, Olga. However, under the rules of court, the Royal couple needed to sire a son in order to have produced a rightful heir to the throne.
Three more daughters followed before the birth of Alexei Romanov on 12 August 1904. Sadly, the young prince has born with haemophilia, a rare and incurable disease and this fact was to have grave consequences for the future of the Russian family.
World War I
When Russia became embroiled in the First World War, the Tsar followed a rather romantic notion that he should lead his troops from the front. As a result, he was away from court for long periods of time which left the Tsarina even more isolated.
It was during this time that she fell under the ‘spell’ of Rasputin, a mystic who was called in to treat Alexei’s haemophilia. Rasputin stayed at the Tsarina’s side and had an increasing influence on her royal decisions.
The events of the February revolution of 1917 saw the Romanov’s thrown into prison by the provisional government. From this point, details of their grisly end are well known as Alexandra and the entire family were executed in Yekaterinburg in July 1918.
Her death was brutal but the life of Alexandra Romanov was a curious mix of public appearances and internal isolation.