In Episode 9 we’re heading to Imperial Russia! We’re covering:

  • Alexanders II and III
  • Tsarevich Nicholas
  • Princess Alix
  • The romance

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Russia and Her Rulers

The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg

The Romanov family had ruled Russia for almost 300 years. And like many monarchs before the Romanovs, they believed that it was God who gave them the power to rule Russia. The Divine Right to Rule as it was called, the Divine Right of Kings.

St. Petersburg was, for centuries, the seat of the Tsar of Russia. From here, the Tsar ruled over 130 million people from all different backgrounds: Slavs, Jews, Balts, Germans, Georgians, Armenians, Uzbeks and Tartars. Some of the people lived in cities, but even more of them lived throughout the countryside in villages filled with log huts.

Russia was a place where progress came very slowly. It wasn’t until 1861 that the Russian serfs were freed by Alexander II, Nicholas’s grandfather, which earned Alexander the title of Alexander the Liberator.

Soon things started to change, thanks to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which was started in 1891. The people of Russia could travel from Moscow along a 4000 mile set of tracks ending at the Pacific Ocean. And Moscow was where a lot of the hubbub of the country took place. It was originally the capital of Russia until 1712, when the capital became St. Petersburg. In 1918 it became the capital once more. 

But in St. Petersburg stands the Winter Palace, one of the most beautiful palaces every built. In St. Petersburg, Peter the Great built his buildings in the Western European style, not Russian.

St. Petersburg became the very center of life and culture for the Russian uppercrust. Operas, ballets, symphonies, and the like were staged here, including the music of Tchaikovsky. What’s interesting is that the music and entertainment and books were very much Russian, authors like Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy. But the court language of the gliteratti was French. And all their fine clothing came from the fashionable shops of France, or the UK.

The wealthy Russian nobles spent all day futzing about to their heart’s content. The men goofed around by gambling while the ladies would sleep in, get up around noon, get their hair done, and then take a nice lovely drive. Or visited friends, or whatever else it is that fancy Russian noblewomen found joy in.

The Alexanders — II and III

Alexander II

In March 1881, a man threw a bomb at the Tsar’s carriage as it was making its way through St. Petersburg. Alexander II was just fine, but some of the people who were with him weren’t. He went to go check on them when a second bomb was thrown. This was the bomb that spelled the end for him.

The explosion kind of sort of tore him apart. He lost one of his legs, his stomach was torn open, and his face was basically destroyed. Before he was taken to the palace, he managed to get out “To the palace, to die there.”

The future Nicholas II was only 13 when this happened, his father Alexander was the Tsarevich. Or as it’s known in Russian “naslednik” – the successor, the next in line. It was here that Nicholas watched his grandfather pass away.

Nicholas became the Tsarevich, and his father became Tsar Alexander III. Unlike his father, Alexander III believed in strict control over Russia and the populace. The Russian monarchy was very much absolute. The Tsar’s word was final and the only being he had to answer to was God. 

When Alexander III became the Tsar he moved his residence to the Anitchkov Palace from the Winter Palace. 

Alexander’s wife, the Tsaritsa, was Maria Feadorovna, which was actually the name she took when she married him. Maria was born Princess Dagmar of Denmark. She was originally supposed to marry Nicholas, Alexander III’s older brother. But when he died, she was passed along to Alexander. 

By the time Maria was 30 years old, she had given birth to five kids. Nicholas was born May 18, 1868, then came Alexander (in 1869 and died in 1970), George (1871), Xenia (1875), Michael (1878) and Olga (1882). And naturally, she was the one who looked after the kids and played referee during their squabbling. Alexander III was busy being Tsar. 

The Young Tsarevich

Alexander III

Alexander III was tall and burly. He spoke his mind and didn’t care at all if he hurt someone’s feelings, including his own son’s. He liked the simple things, which included wearing the same set of clothing until it was falling apart.

Nicholas, on the other hand, was shy and overwhelmed by the future duties he would have to take on. He was a much gentler soul than Alexander, and a voracious reader. It was one of his favorite hobbies, especially military history.

He was sweet with his siblings, and was close to his brother George, who unfortunately was sent to live alone in the Caucuses (with servants) since he had somehow caught tuberculosis when he was a kid. 

The kids slept on army beds, took bracing cold baths because what’s better in the morning?, and had a really simple breakfast: porridge. And this was because Alexander III was all about the simple life. Alexander would roll out of bed at 7, also used some refreshing cold water to wash himself, put on what amounted to peasant’s clothing, and always made his own coffee. Maria took it a step further and had some boiled eggs with rye bread for breakfast.

Nicholas had several different tutors growing up, which included history, language, geography, and dancing. And one of his tutors was Constantine Petrovich Pobedonostsev, the same guy who served as a tutor to Alexander III when he was young. He taught Nicholas that autocracy is the best form of government, the Orthodox religion is the end all be all, and anti-Semtisim is a must. 

But all the studying and simple living couldn’t prepare him for his future as Tsar. Only Alexander could, and he was doing anything but that. Nicholas didn’t learn the ropes. Not how to speak to politicians, or how to win a room. He didn’t learn how to deal with people on an international scale either. Nicholas was better off being a scholar or military historian than Tsar.

Nicholas II

His English language skills were top notch. Nicholas could also speak French and German, both of which would come in handy.

Nicholas spent his time at operas and ballets instead of spending his time as a Tsar in training. He went ice skating, saw plays, and attended lovely balls. And that was just fine with Alexander, who didn’t think too highly of his son. They did spend some time together. Almost every morning, dad and son went hunting.

Nicholas did have a mistress. Just one and only before he was married. Her name was Mathilde Kschessinska, and Nicholas first met her in 1890. She was a dancer in the Imperial Ballet. They didn’t see each other until a year later since Nicholas and his brother George left on an adventure.

A cruise that lasted 9 months, starting in the Mediterranean and heading out to India and Japan. The reason for this cruise was so Nicholas could forget about Princess Alix of Hesse.

Alicky

Alix of Hesse

Princess Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice of Hesse-Darmstadt was born on June 6, 1872 in Darmstadt, near the River Rhine, to Princess Alice of England (daughter of Queen Victoria) and Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse. She was kid number 6 out of 7. Alix was a happy little girl, always smiling and laughing. Out of all her grandkids, and Victoria had quite a few, Alix was her favorite.

When it came to raising her kids, Princess Alice was very involved, even with all the charities and causes she was a part of. Though an English nurse did see to the day to day things. And like Nicholas’s childhood, Alix’s was also filled with the simple things in life: simple furniture, food, and lots of fresh air. Being a good person was important to Alice and she made sure that she passed that on to her kids. 

In 1872, young Frittie (Friedrich), the second boy of the family, started showing signs of hemophilia. Also known as the royal disease. Then, in 1873, poor young Frittie died at the age of 2 from internal bleeding. He had fallen out of a window. Alice was devastated. 

And then, more tragedy came along. In 1878, everyone in the family caught diphtheria, except Ella. Princess Alice took care of every family member herself, but all the love and devotion in the world couldn’t save the youngest child, May. Diphtheria took her at the age of 4. Just when all her kids were starting to get better, Princess Alice caught the disease. On December 14, 1878, aged 35, Princess Alice of England passed away. Young Alix was torn apart by the loss of her mother and younger sister. 

Queen Victoria swooped in to fill the void for Alix. The death of her mother and sister, especially since it happened as an awful one, two punch, took the light out of Alix. Only 6 years old, and she’d already lost so much. Smiles became rare. As she grew up, it made her so awkward around people she didn’t know.

Queen Victoria

Now Victoria sent English tutors to educate little Alix. Like Nicholas, she was smart and picked things up quickly. She even liked learning and talking about politics. In the end, she was taught to be quite the Victorian Englishwoman, which would have been great if she was going to be living in England or Hesse her entire life. Alix spent quite a bit of her life in England. Visiting and staying with her grandmother they became quite close. And Alix picked up some of Victoria’s lesser appreciated traits: stubbornness and the need to control the things around her.

In 1884 Nicholas and Alix first crossed paths. Alix was only 12 while Nicholas was 16. Alix’s sister Elizabeth (Ella) was getting married to Grand Duke Serge, Nicholas’s uncle. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other. The two wouldn’t meet again until 1889, when Alix came back to Russia for a visit with her sister Ella when Alix was 17 and Nicholas was 21. By the end of this visit, the two were madly in love with one another. 

The one thing Alix wasn’t sure of when it came to Nicholas was the Orthodox religion. Alix had been born and raised a Lutheran. She was devoted to her faith, very religious. The thought of converting didn’t sit well with her. And the future Tsaritsa of Russia had to convert to the Russian Orthodox faith in order to marry the Tsarevich.

After her wonderful visit, her father, Louis, passed away in March 1892. There was no warning. Alix and her father had become really close. The duke’s death was another huge blow to her. 

Once again Queen Victoria swooped in to take care of Alix, whom she lovingly called Alicky. Victoria was so not Team Nicholas for Alix. She thought Russia was too harsh a place for her Alix. She thought something bad could happen in Russia.

Back to Nicholas

When Nicholas went on a cruise in 1889, he and his brother George stopped in at Athens and picked up their cousin George, Prince of Greece. They went to Egypt and then India, where Georgiy had to say goodbye and head back home to the Caucasus since he wasn’t feeling fell due to his TB.

Eventually, Nicholas arrived in Japan. In Otsu an assassin tried to take Nicholas out with a sword. The blow was coming at his head, but luckily all Nicholas came away with was a scar on his forehead. His cousin Prince George of Greece stopped the second swing from hitting Nicholas at all. With that, the cruise was over and Nicholas headed back to Russia. Unfortunately, he returned with a new dislike for Japan.

Nicholas II and King George

Nicholas and Mathilde Kschessinska started seeing one another. He wasn’t in love with her, not like he felt about Alix. He gave her gifts, came to see her ballet performances and rehearsals, and took her out on drives in his troika – a sled pulled by three horses. Eventually she rented a house in St. Petersburg so they could be alone together. 

It wasn’t always all fun and games. He chaired a committee that was responsible for caring for people when there wasn’t enough food. He showed up and got his hands dirty, even giving his own money to help the cause.

In 1893, Nicholas was invited to attend the wedding of his cousin George, the Duke of York, to Princess Mary of Teck in London. Nicholas and George looked so much alike that people kept confusing them! There’s a picture of them together, and they look like twins. Someone mistook George for Nicholas the day before his wedding. 

Back in Russia, Nicholas and his mistress were finally starting to fizzle out. In 1894 Nicholas flat out told Mathilde that he wanted to marry Alix, and eventually their dalliance came to an end. 

Nicky and Alix

From the moment he first saw her, Nicholas was in love. And that love never wavered. Not even when the people of Russia didn’t feel the same way about Alix. She was shy and awkward, and the people of Russia weren’t afraid to call her out on her behavior or style of dress. They did so knowing that Alexander III, who was Alix’s godfather, and Maria didn’t have any intention of encouraging the match between their son and a minor German princess. 

Alexander wanted Nicky to marry Princess Helene of France. She was the daughter of the Count of Paris who was the Pretender to the French throne. Nicky wanted no one other than Alix. Helene, on the other hand, refused to convert from Catholicism to the Orthodox religion. But that wasn’t going to stop Alexander III from shopping around for another princess. And he found one — Princess Margaret of Prussia. She wouldn’t convert, which was great since Nicholas threatened monkhood if he was forced to marry Margaret. 

It wasn’t until Alexander III fell sick with Influenza during the winter of 1894 that he decided to stop opposing the marriage between Nicky and Alix. Since his health was so unpredictable, Alexander started thinking about what would happen to Russia once he was gone. He didn’t believe Nicky had the experience necessary to rule well; however, Alexander wanted to give his son a stable marriage. 

The moment finally came for Nicholas to pop the big question, when Alix’s brother Ernest’s was getting married in Coburg in the spring of 1894. Royalty from all over Europe were coming to the wedding, and Nicholas attended as a representative of Russia. When Nicky’s train stopped in Coburg, he stepped onto the platform in full uniform to find Alix waiting for him. 

Nicholas II and Alix of Hesse

Nicholas didn’t propose to Alix until the next morning. But, Alix was hesitant. Love wasn’t the issue. Religion was. While Queen Victoria she was against the match before, now she understood how deeply Nicky and Alix loved one another. She sat down with Alix talked it all out. Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, not that much of a difference. 

Her sister Ella was the one who really helped Alix rationalize and think over everything. Since her husband Serge was never going to become the Tsar, Ella didn’t have to convert to Orthodoxy. Eventually she chose to do it. Because changing from one faith to another, it wasn’t that weird a thing to do. Eventually Alix decided that by converting, she wouldn’t actually be switching religions. Lutheranism and Russian Orthodoxy both fell under the umbrella — Christianity. She’d just practice it differently.

The next day, after her brother’s wedding, Alix agreed to marry Nicholas. The next ten days in Coburg were like a dream. They had breakfast every morning with Queen Victoria, went on walks, picked flowers, took carriage rides, sat together by ponds, ate dinner together every single night. It was the perfect way to spend the days following their engagement. And then, it was time to say goodbye. 

It wouldn’t be until June, a few months later, that they would see each other again. Nicky traveled to England and spent three days all alone with Alix at a cottage at Walton-on-Thames which was owned by her oldest sister, Princess Victoria of Battenberg. As they had done in Coburg, they cut themselves off from the outside world and enjoyed the time they had together. 

When their three days were over, they left the cottage and made their way to Windsor Castle where Queen Victoria and Father Yanishev, who was sent by Alexander III to start teaching Alix about Russian Orthodoxy, were waiting for them. Alix and Nicholas quickly fell into a predictable schedule. It wasn’t anything extravagant by any means, but it was a nice and relaxing way to spend six weeks. So at the end of July, Nicholas and Alexandra said goodbye one more time. 

Tsardom and Marriage

Nicholas’s happiness wouldn’t last long. Alexander III wasn’t feeling well. When his doctors told him to go to Crimea and rest there, Alexander instead went to Spala, Poland in September to stay at the family’s hunting lodge. Alexander’s health kept getting worse. So Dr. Leyden, a specialist from Vienna, came on the scene and diagnosed the Tsar with nephritis. 

When Dr. Leyden told Alexander he had to go to Crimea and rest, he listened. For the first few days, Alexander looked like he was getting better. He was able to walk on the beach, breathe the fresh air, but then he was confined to bed once again. He couldn’t walk, his food was seriously limited. 

Nicholas asked Alexandra to come to Russia as quickly as she could. Nicholas met Alexandra at the station and traveled back with her to Livadia. Alexander III, ever the stubborn bull, insisted he greet Alexandra in full uniform while sitting in a chair, rather than laid up in bed. This was the proper way to receive the future Empress of Russia. It was at this time that the engagement between Nicholas and Alexandra was made official.

Alexander III & Maria Feadorovna

For days, Nicholas and Alix were in a kind of limbo. They were happy because they were with each other, their engagement was official, but there was a dark cloud hanging over them. Nicky’s father was dying. He was going to be Tsar soon, but even more than that, Alix was growing angrier and angrier at how those in the household treated Nicky. For people to completely disregard Nicky wasn’t right. He was next in line. 

For ten days Alexander suffered, growing worse with every passing day. And then on November 1, 1894, Alexander III passed away. Nicholas’s initial reaction was to panic. With the passing of his father, he was now Tsar. He turned to his cousin and friend, Sandro, and shared his fears. He wasn’t ready. He didn’t want it. He never wanted it. He wasn’t prepared. 

Shortly after, Nicholas stood on the front lawn of the palace where, among family, officials, household servants, and members of the aristocracy, a priest swore Nicholas in as His Imperial Majesty, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. 

The next morning, the priests arrived to complete the conversion ceremony for Alexandra. The ceremony was done in time for Nicholas, Alexandra, and Maria to attend a service at the palace chapel. Nicholas made his first Imperial Decree after the service, announcing Alix’s new name. She was from that moment on “Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna.” 

Originally, Nicholas and Alexandra planned to marry in the spring, but in light of everything that had happened, Nicky decided to move it up. With his father now gone, he wasn’t going to let go of Alix. He wanted to make it official between them as quickly as possible. 

Meanwhile, things were a mess when it came to Alexander III. Since he had died so young, there was no ceremony ready to go. No directives, plans, funeral arrangements, nothing. His body basically laid around for a week until arrangements and decisions could be made

Once things were settled, Alexander III, with his family in tow, left Livadia to Sevastopol where the funeral train began. He made his way to Moscow and the Kremlin and then on to St. Petersburg before finally being taken to the Cathedral of the Fortress of Peter and Paul, the resting place of the Romanov Tsars.

Friends and family from all over Europe traveled to St. Petersburg to attend the funeral and pay their respects, including monarchs from Greece, Spain, England, and Serbia. And this did include Edward, Prince of Wales and his son George, the Duke of York. 61 royals in all showed up to pay their respects and represent their nations.

Alexander III laid in state for seventeen days in St. Petersburg where the people of Russia could come and pay their respects. There were services held twice a day.

 The Wedding

On November 26, 1894, Nicholas and Alexandra were married at the Winter Palace. The day of the wedding was also the birthday of the Dowager Empress Maria Feadorovna, Nicholas’s mother. Due to the occasion, Alexandra was able to wear a white dress. Maria placed the nuptial crown on Alexandra’s head and together they made their way to the palace chapel where Nicholas was waiting. 

Since the wedding was during a time of mourning, the bride and groom were unable to host a reception or go on a honeymoon. So, after the ceremony, the couple went to Anitchkov Palace where Maria was waiting for them. After some food and conversation, Nicky and Alix called it an early night since Alix wasn’t feeling well. 

Win the People, and Maria

Before Alexandra left for Russia, Queen Victoria sat her down and shared some wisdom with her. Get the people to love her, and not just the nobles, but all the people of Russia. Love and respect. Key for any new monarch, especially a foreign princess.

For Alexandra it was hard. Even though she grew up in the public eye, she wasn’t comfortable with the attention. When she was in the privacy of her own home with Nicholas, she was a vibrant and affectionate person. She laughed easily, joked around, and was easy to talk to. When she was in public she held herself apart from everyone. Some people thought she was being uppity. In reality, Alexandra was just super uncomfortable having everyone’s eyes staring at her.

The aristocracy made fun of her behind her back. Her clothes, her dancing, even her manners. And since her manners were very much Victorian, the crazy excess the Russian nobility lived their lives by shocked the hell out of her. Gambling, partying, spending money on anything that took their fancy. To Alexandra, their lives were completely pointless.

As a result, she wanted to spend even less time out in public. If Nicholas or Maria were entertaining guests, she wouldn’t come down. Her private rooms became her safe haven from the rest of the world. 

Maria Feadorovna

Life in the palace wasn’t the easiest for Alexandra. Because of how quickly she and Nicholas were married, there was no time at all for their own residence to be prepared. This meant they were living in Anitchkov Palace in a set of six rooms he had lived in while growing up where Maria was the woman in charge of the household. The only time they had to spend alone was when they were sleeping or Nicholas was read to her in French in the evening. 

Somewhat worse than their lack of quality time was Alexandra’s role in the palace. Maria was the mistress of the house, and Nicholas spent a lot of time with his mother. She had just lost her husband after all, so he made sure to cut out time in his day to sit and chat with her. When he needed help or an opinion in regards to ruling, he asked her. And Alexandra was left on the outside. Nicholas was her partner and yet he went elsewhere for counsel. 

While Alexandra was unhappy with the status quo, Maria was hurt as well. She didn’t mean to offend or hurt Alexandra in any way. And then, of course, Alexandra felt awful that Maria felt awful. But that didn’t change things. And Maria, unfortunately, didn’t make things any easier. Through no fault of her own.

The Dowager Empress was technically more important than the current Tsaritsa. Even when they would arrive as a family Maria would enter with Nicholas and Alexandra would be escorted in by one of the grand dukes. Maria also wouldn’t hand over the crown jewels. Once Alexandra became Empress they were supposed to go to her. It wasn’t until Alexandra decided she longer wanted anything to do with the crown jewels that Maria handed them over. 

During this time, as tensions between Maria and Alexandra continued to get worse, there were two things running through her mind — get out from under Maria’s nose and into a house of her own and, of course, get pregnant with a son to ensure the Russian line of succession. 

The male line of succession was important in Russia because Tsar Paul I, who hated his mother Catherine the Great, changed the law to cut women from the line of succession. The only way a woman who ever inherit the throne of Russia was if all the boys in the family were dead. 

Unfortunately, Alexandra was really quite sick during her pregnancy. Headaches and terrible nausea were her constant companions. Luckily for her, there was an officialdom that protected the tsaritsa from the prying eyes of the public. Her health was a closely guarded secret. No one was allowed to talk to the press or make any announcements. 

She didn’t like the Winter Palace and wanted to make their home elsewhere. Wanting Alexandra’s happiness, Nicholas moved them from the Winter Palace, the place the Romanov rulers called home since the 1700s, to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, otherwise known as “the Tsar’s Village.”

There were two palaces located within the Imperial Park. The Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace, which was the smaller of the two. They absolutely loved it. And Alexandra chose two dozen rooms within the palace to make a home for her, Nicholas, and their future children.

Alexandra was able to decorate her home exactly how she wanted. She wasn’t raised in Russia. She didn’t have their taste. She decorated their rooms in a way that made her feel comfortable. She converted the rooms into what would be expected, but it was her private drawing room that people couldn’t get over. Everything in there was lilac, Alexandra’s favorite color. It was a room where she found peace, surrounded by photographs of her family. 

Nicholas and Alexandra retreating into the country was great for them. As a family, that is. It offered them a more private and peaceful life than in St. Petersburg. But, living in Tsarskoe Selo isolated them from their people. They couldn’t see what was going on around the country. As the Imperial Family, that wasn’t something they could afford. 

It’s A Girl!

After spending nearly the entire summer in bed, Alexandra was exhausted. The pregnancy had taken everything out of her. That little bundle of joy was active to the extreme. As Alexandra’s due date neared, she wanted her sister. So in the fall of 1895, Ella came to stay with her. 

Nicholas and Alexandra thought their child would arrive by mid-October, but that didn’t seem to be happening. Unfortunately, when Ella had arrived at the end of the month, there was still no baby. Nicholas kept a constant eye on Alexandra and crossed his fingers he wouldn’t be swamped with work while when the baby came. They even had a name prepared — Paul. 

Alexandra finally went into labor around 1 a.m. on November 16, 1895. She spent twenty very painful hours in labor. She was forced to lay in bed or on one of her couches. Ella and Maria rubbed her back and legs to relieve some of the pressure. While Victoria couldn’t be there for her favorite grandchild, she received constant updates about Alexandra’s condition. 

Nicholas was present for the labor and he was in a constant state of tears, pacing, or chain-smoking. Sometimes at the same time. Maria spent much of the day praying. But Alexandra was a trooper. Finally, at 9 p.m., the baby was born, weighing 10 lbs. 

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna

In Russia, there’s a tradition. When a baby is born to a Tsar, the cannons in St. Petersburg are fired. 300 rounds meant a Tsarevich was born. 101 rounds meant a Grand Duchess was born. On this day, when the cannons began firing, the people immediately dropped whatever they were doing to count the rounds. Only 101 shots. Nicholas and Alexandra had had a girl — Olga Nikolaevna. And she was absolutely perfect. Nicholas made sure to let the people of Russia know how excited they were. It didn’t matter that they had a girl. They were still young enough to have many more children.

Victoria, the Russian people, members of the British Press, almost fell over when they found out Alexandra would be breastfeeding the child, just as her mother had with her. That was incredibly unheard of in royal families. Because babies were usually passed onto a nanny and wet nurse. 

Alexandra was also was going to bathe Olga and knit her clothing. She wasn’t just going to be the aloof mother who sees her children at the appropriate times of day. Alexandra was determined to be involved and actually do the raising.

Nicholas, of course, helped and delighted in it. He fed Olga, recorded all of her “firsts” in his diary, took photos of her. They were completed besotted. There was no way Alexandra and Nicholas were going to let their little girl out of their sight. She even slept in their room.

On November 26, 1895, Olga was christened Olga Nikolaevna Romanova. This was a joyous occasion 3 times over! That very same day, Alexandra and Nicholas celebrated their first year anniversary and Maria turned 48. It also meant that one year had passed since the death of Alexander III, officially ending the period of mourning. And what a way to end it. 

From the day of her birth until about the middle of December, Olga slept in the same room as Nicholas and Alexandra, in a bassinet beside the bed. When Mrs. Inman, the nanny Victoria sent to Russia, arrived, she immediately had Olga moved upstairs to her own rooms as it wasn’t seen as the best use of a Tsaritsa’s time. 

From the moment Mrs. Inman arrived, Nicholas and Alexandra weren’t fans. English nannies are strict. Alexandra’s constant visits to the nursery were apparently bothering Mrs. Inman. To the happiness of Alexandra, Nicholas fired Mrs. Inman in April 1896. He couldn’t stand her, so back to England she went!

It was around this time that Alexandra had to stop breastfeeding Olga. Alexandra and Nicholas would soon be leaving for Moscow for their coronation. With the mourning period over, Nicholas could at last be crowned.

*Music: Initial classical piece that’s a part of the intro is Concerto for 2 Oboes in F Major Op9 no3, 3 Allegro by Advent Chamber Orchestra under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.*

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