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Topics - Sarai

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The Final Chapter / Officer letters
« on: March 20, 2004, 06:29:54 PM »
I remember reading about a series of approx. four letters sent to the family in Ekaterinburg in June 1918 by an anonymous and mysterious source offering the family a hope for escape. I don't have any books now to quote from about this, but from memory I recall that these letters were smuggled to the family from the outside and basically said that they would be rescued soon, not to give up hope, etc. The family apparently believed these promises as they wrote back. And then suddenly the letters stopped and obviously nothing that they promised came true. My question is, who is believed to have written these letters? Was it part of an actual monarchist plot, with a real intention to help the family, which was discovered and ended before the plan could come into fruition, or was it perhaps a cruel joke someone was playing on the prisoners to offer them false hope? What is the general consensus on this matter?

The Imperial Family / Names, Patronymics, Nicknames and Name Days
« on: March 10, 2004, 07:33:19 PM »
These are some of the origins of the girls' names that I have come across in my readings. Perhaps some of you have other possibilities or concrete conclusions:

Olga and Tatiana: Most of what I have read states that these girls were named after the main female characters in Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin, a favorite of the Imperial couple's. The book Nicholas II: The Imperial Family states that Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich heard this explanation from the Tsar himself. If Nicholas thought he would have another girl, then naming the first Olga so he could name the second Tatiana after these characters would make sense, but then again he could also have had only sons after Olga, thus naming her simply for that purpose wouldn't make much sense. I think a more accurate explanation is that, as I have read, Nicholas liked the name Olga because it was an ancient Russian name.

I also recall reading elsewhere that Olga was named after Nicholas's sister Olga, as that was his favourite sister. Yet I have also read that Xenia was his favourite sister, so I am not too sure about the veracity of this explanation.  

Tatiana was said to have been a very popular name choice with the common people, as it was a name used much amongst them and not so much amongst the nobility, so they felt a special affinity towards her.

I don't know whom Maria was named after, although I seem to recall reading that she was named after her paternal grandmother.

Finally, I have read two different explanations regarding whom Anastasia was named after, the first being the most popular. That is that she was named after the Montenegrin princess who was Alexandra's close friend at the time; she was also the same person who first introduced the Tsarina to Rasputin. The other explanation comes from M. Eagar's memoirs Six Years at the Russian Court, where she states "Anastasie means 'the breaker of chains,' or 'the prison opener' [...] The little Grand Duchess was called by this name because, in honour of her birth, the Emperor pardoned and reinstated the students who had been imprisoned for participating in the riots in St. Petersburg and Moscow during the winter." This is the only such explanation I have heard about this, however, and I have also read that Anastasia means "she who will rise again" and not "the breaker of chains," so I am unsure about how accurate this particular explanation may be.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Alexandra's Personal World
« on: March 09, 2004, 12:37:31 PM »
I have read that Nicholas II did not like to hear his wife sing. Now, I assume this only applied to non-religious singing, as I am sure he approved of singing hymns and singing in church, having recalled accounts I have read of them engaging in this as a family. But as far as his aversion to hearing Alexandra sing outside of church, I have wondered why that was, especially since the Empress was said to have had a lovely singing voice. In her memoirs, Anna Vyrubova states that "The Empress was gifted with a lovely contralto voice" and yet, whenever she sang, she was compelled to do it in another room, away from her husband, so as "not to disturb the Emperor, who, for some strange reason, did not like to hear his wife sing." So Anna also found it strange. I also seem to recall reading elsewhere that Nicholas would even leave the room if he heard Alexandra singing. Why was he so uncomfortable with this? Did he perhaps think it was improper for an Empress to engage in this activity? Or perhaps he just felt awkward, as I have noticed people often do when hearing others sing?

The Hesse-Darmstadts (Hesse and by Rhine) / Grand Duke Ludwig IV
« on: March 08, 2004, 07:24:33 AM »
So much is known about Alexandra's mother and the maternal side of her family. However, I have not read very much about her father, Ludwig IV, and his side. Does anyone have more information about Alix's father and whom she is descended from with regards to that side of the family? I have read that, while a basically good man, he wasn't the most intellectual of characters and was more interested in military affairs; as such, he wasn't a very good match with Princess Alice, what with her sharp mind and progressive way of thinking. I have read in a biography of Princess Alice (Princess Alice: Queen Victoria's forgotten daughter by Gerard Noel) a rather remarkable letter she wrote to her husband basically pouring her heart out and outlining how unhappy she was with their marriage, how disappointing it was that he was not her intellectual equal, and how they did not have much in common at all.

I am also interested in learning more about Alix's relationship with her father. She and her brother Ernie spent the most time with him as the youngest children. I recall reading that she was rather attached to her father, and deeply shocked and affected by his death. As the only surviving parent she had while growing up, I imagine this must have been an important relationship. I know that she was raised in part by her grandmother Queen Victoria, but what about her father's role in her upbringing?

Rules for This Forum / Explanation of symbols, titles
« on: February 15, 2004, 03:42:33 PM »
This topic has been moved to [link=;action=display;num=1081866609;start=0]The Discussion Forum[/link] by Forum Admin.

The Imperial Family / OTMA - smoking, make up and clothes
« on: February 15, 2004, 03:36:36 PM »
I recall reading that the Grand Duchesses all smoked, and were taught to do so by their father himself. I have also seen pictures of them with cigarrettes in hand and apparently smoking. Yet a caption next to a photograph showing Anastasia apparently smoking in the book "Nicholas and Alexandra: The Family Albums" (pg. 218) reads: "Anastasia is smoking - is she simply trying to imitate her father or has she inherited this vice from him? This seems unthinkable, particularly since the parasol means that the Empress is present, and she would never have allowed her daughters to smoke."

Despite this assertion on the part of the author, I tend to believe that they did in fact engage in smoking due to having read and seen more information supporting that fact. Which leads me to the question - WHY were they allowed to smoke? What did people of the time think about this habit with regards to ladies doing it? I suppose that at the time the great health hazards of smoking were unknown, so it was probably acceptable in general as a pleasurable and relaxing vice. However, did they not at least think that it was un-lady like and improper? I imagine that a proper Victorian lady like Alexandra would indeed have been disapproving of her daughters taking up such a habit, and yet apparently it was done. Any thoughts?

The Imperial Family / Languages of NAOTMAA and how they sounded
« on: February 15, 2004, 03:26:07 PM »
I am curious to know how the Imperial family sounded when they spoke English - what accents did they have? I recall reading that the children spoke English with a kind of Irish accent, owing partly to the fact that their early nurse, Miss Eager (an Irishwoman), influenced their way of speaking.

I imagine Alexandra spoke English with a British accent instead of a German one, as her mother was British and she was practically raised in Queen Victoria's household. This leads me to wonder, therefore, whether her children would not also have spoken with British accents?

And finally Nicholas - did he speak English with a Russian accent? I assume that he, too, spoke with a British accent.

The Imperial Family / What got you interested in the Romanovs?
« on: February 12, 2004, 10:08:38 AM »
I was wondering what originally got everyone here interested in the Romanovs (specifically, I mean in Nicholas II's family) and what has inspired you to maintain that interest? For me, I first became acquainted with their story in 1992 as a thirteen year old girl when I saw an article about them in íHola! magazine (the Spanish equivalent to Britain's "Hello!" magazine). There were several pictures of the children and I was especially captured by the beauty of the little girls in their 1906 picture that shows headshots of the four sisters in a row. A caption below  said that those lovely little girls would eventually be murdered, and I couldn't believe that such beauty and innocence could be so mercilessly obliterated. I started researching more about their story and the more I found the more I was interested, especially in finding family photographs like those found in the wonderful "family album" books that came out in the 1990's, such as "The Romanovs: Love, Power, and Tragedy" and Prince Michael's "Nicholas and Alexandra: The Family Albums."

The more I read about this family, the more human they became to me and I felt as if I almost knew them personally after having read so much about them. I could actually relate to them as fellow human beings and not as inaccessible royals. I could personally relate to Alexandra's shyness and being misunderstood for it, her love and devotion for her family above everyone and everything else, etc. To me, this family was not just some abstract and arrogant royal family you would just read about in a history book but never be able to relate to, but real people with compassion, charity, innocence, love, and overall good hearts. I like the fact that they were so different than other royals, that they were involved more in their quiet family life than in socializing and politics (although, of course, this was a great detriment for them as rulers), that they cared about their more humble subjects, and how they maintained  tremendous dignity and patience in their last days. They seemed more like ordinary people than great rulers, despite their incredible wealth and prestigious bloodlines. Even when stripped of their ranks and wealth, they could have lived happily just as well among ordinary middle class persons, as that was in their humble souls. I remember seeing pictures of the Grand Duchesses as adolescents kneeling in the dirt with and holding peasant children, and I thought that perfectly captured their essence and made them seem all the more real, as I couldn't imagine many princesses of royal blood dirtying their clothes with mud and dirt to hug poor and dirty little peasants, and even taking care to record their names and put their photos in their albums. They seemed like people we could all be friends with today if we had the chance.

Finally, something to consider as a final thought is would we be nearly half as interested in their story if they had not met such a tragic end? If they were just any other royals who lived out their lives in peace and comfort, I don't think they would have such a following, even if their lives had turned out to be interesting. Knowing their fate is what makes their story that much more compelling, even though of course I wish they could have been spared of that terrible end and not perhaps had such a fascinating story as a result.

Imperial Russian Antiques / Current House of Faberge
« on: February 06, 2004, 07:55:20 AM »
If anyone is interested in what the current House of Faberge (which I assume is the legitimate and direct descendant of the original House) offers today, check out the Franklin Mint website( The Mint appears to be the exclusive seller of Faberge items today. They offer many lovely, but generally expensive, items, including Faberge eggs ranging in price from less than $100 to well over $1,000. I'd like to think the more expensive and sumptuous eggs, which are made with real diamonds and precious stones, are perhaps what the Imperial Family would have been interested in and purchased. I found it curious to find that they also offer a Czarina Alexandra vinyl bride doll dressed as she would have on her wedding day, complete with her silver wedding gown (beautiful doll, although she doesn't look anything like the real Czarina in my opinion). They had a less expensive Princess Anastasia vinyl doll portraying the child in a charming pink outfit not too long ago, but I don't see her for sale anymore. Anyway, I just thought I'd share this site for anyone who is curious to see what the House of Faberge offers nowadays and for those of us here who are also interested in collecting dolls, especially dolls inspired by the Imperial Family.

Servants, Friends and Retainers / Nannies of OTMAA
« on: February 06, 2004, 07:38:40 AM »
After reading M. Eagar's book "Six Years at the Russian Court," which is one of the most poignant first-hand accounts of the Grand Duchesses' early childhood, I can't help but wonder what happened to its author? From what is stated at the end of the book, she left Russia for her homeland of England in 1904 to take care of personal and family affairs. But does anyone know if she was alive to witness the Russian Revolution and find out the horrible fate of her beloved charges? She was so close to the little girls practically from the day they were born, I can imagine how such tragic news would have affected her.

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