While all history students will be well aware of the events in Russia of 1917 that saw the Royal Family overthrown, how much do we really know about the last Tsar and Tsarina? It’s a shame in many ways that the only part of their history that is generally understood is the period leading up to their grisly deaths in 1918, so what else should we know about Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov?
Alexandra Romanov was born into a Grand Duchy on the 6th of June 1872 in Darmstadt, as Princess Alix Viktoria Helena Luise Beatrice of Hesse and by Rhine. At that stage, Darmstadt was part of the German Republic.
Her grand upbringing saw her mix in Royal circles from a very young age and in particular, it brought her into direct contact with the English and Russian Royal Families.
Her future husband Nicholas was born on the 18th of May 1868 as the son and heir of Tsar Alexander III. The man born to be the last Tsar was also introduced to the European Royal circles where he met his future wife.
Meeting, engagement and marriage
Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov met and were engaged in April 1894. There was some resistance to their union, largely due to Alexandra’s German nationality and this general disapproval was headed by none other than Nicholas’ father, the reigning Tsar.
However, when Alexander III died suddenly on the 1st of November 1894, the main obstacle to their marriage had effectively gone. With no reason to delay, they were married just eighteen days later.
Early years at court
Sadly Alexandra wasn’t a popular Tsarina and she was very distant from her people. Her character meant that she was very blunt and it seemed that she had a superior air when dealing with her subjects.
As a result, she became isolated and withdrawn during her time in the Russian court.
Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov had five children and after four daughters were born, they finally sired an heir to the Russian throne when Alexei was born in August 1904. Sadly he had inherited haemophilia, a rare and incurable disease which was to have great implications for the Romanov family as a whole.
The First World War
A major turning point in the Romanovs’ rule came with the outbreak of the First World War. Tsar Nicholas II decided that he should personally lead his troops into battle.
While he was away, Alexandra became increasingly withdrawn and began to fall under the spell of Grigory Rasputin who had been brought in with a view to curing Alexei’s haemophilia.
Rasputin exerted this influence to such an extent that he became responsible for some decisions of court – a situation that angered government ministers and ultimately led to his murder.
Following the revolutions of 1917, the Romanovs were deposed and Nicholas and Alexandra, along with their five children were murdered the following year to ensure that they weren’t rescued by their supporters.
It was an unspeakable end to the lives of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov.