Author Topic: Life in the Alexander Palace  (Read 16104 times)

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Offline Sarai

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2004, 04:16:50 PM »
In response to Robert_Hall's statement that the children "were quite prejudiced in their outlook towards others," this is at least partly true from what I have read. I have read accounts that in their early childhoods they were prejudiced towards Asians, referring to them as "monkeys," but this seems to have been a product of their resentment towards them during the Russo-Japanese War, as well as them being a product of their times, when people were very racist towards Asians, Jews, and anyone else who was different in race or religion.

In her book, "Six Years at the Russian Court," Miss Eagar recounts a few different times when the little Grand Duchesses displayed prejudiced streaks:

1) Tatiana: This was regarding a visit from the young Prince of Siam to the court: "The Empress came to the Grand Duchess Tatiana, 'Come, shake hands with this gentleman, Tatiana.' She laughed, and said, 'That is not a gentleman, mama; that's only a monkey.' The Empress, covered with confusion, said, 'You are a monkey yourself, Tatiana,' but the prince laughed heartily."

2) Olga: During the Russo-Japanese War: "Olga was working very diligently one day and said to me, 'I hope the Russian soldiers will kill all the Japanese; not leave even one alive.'" After an explanation from her nurse that there were many innocent little children and women in Japan who did not deserve to be killed, that they also had an Emperor, and various other sympathetic points, little Olga said, "I did not know that the Japs were people like ourselves. I thought that they were only like monkeys." Fortunately, Miss Eager tells us that "She never said again anything about being pleased to hear of the deaths of the Japanese."

3) Maria: This occured when the little girl saw a picture of the baby children of the Crown Prince of Japan: "...and with a look of hatred coming into her sweet little face Marie slapped the picture with her open hand. 'Horrid little people,' said she; 'they came and destroyed our poor ships and drowned our sailors.' I explained to her that it was not these little children, who were only babies younger than Anastasie. So she said, 'Yes; those little babies did it. Mama told me the Japs were all only little people.'"

So at least as very little children they could be considered prejudiced, but it seems that it was mostly due to the result of the war they experienced so early on. These kinds of comments were of course also repeated about the Japanese during WWII. And it was also a product of hearing what their parents and other people said, as since everyone knows children absorb everything. They were a product of their times. But I would like to think that they grew out of that as, like Olga, they all eventually realized that we were all just human beings.

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2004, 09:27:33 PM »
I'd first like to say that I am very much enjoying this forum.  My own Internet is currently not working--tho' my e-mail and word processing remain, knock wood, functional!--and I stop by the library on my way home from work to see what other people are saying about the Romanovs.

I think Mr. King's analysis of the Romanov family in his latest book is startling but well-drawn.  I don't find any tremendous conflicts with the other accounts I have read--rather, it's like that old story of the seven blind men and the elephant . . . each were correct in relaying what they touched, but only when their viewpoints were compiled would a person get a true picture of what an elephant was really like!  I know from experiences in my own family that family members and their relationships evolve, and nothing that Mr. King has stated really conflicts with what we already know about OTMA, Alexei and their parents, especially given the stressful situation and the transformation of the girls into young women.

I think Alexandra was, as much as she could possibly be, a good mother, but that various situations--cultural, as well as her own personal limitations--sometimes caused her to be a less-than-satisfactory parent. The children were fortunate to have a father who, when possible, played with and listened to them.

I am curious to know where the reference to Tatiana slamming the door of their theater box at Kiev was found.  Until this time the only account I have found is Nicholas's own letter to his mother, mentioning that Tatiana cried a great deal.  I would imagine Olga did so as well, but later; it must have been shocking for her to see her normally reserved, in-charge sister show so much emotion.  

As for their intellectual development, these children lived under tremendous stress and a great deal of rigidity, and I think we can forgive them their "laziness" with regard to studies . . . after all, even those of us who excelled in school needed "time-outs" now and then! Olga, with her penchant for reading and poetry, was perhaps the most intellectually minded of the children, but it's important to remember that Winston Churchill was considered a dunce at his studies, and that many people do not hit their stride, intellectually or otherwise, until later in life.

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this forum!

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2004, 09:55:57 AM »
Janet:
Alexander Spiridovitch was Nicholas II's Chief of Personal Security (the early equivalent of our own Secret Service) and was in the Theater in Kiev guarding the Imperial Family. From his book "Les Dernieres Annees de la Cour de Tsarzkoe Selo", Vol 2, Ch. 4 "The Year 1911"...
[The Imperial Family had gone from the outer room (facing the stage) into the inner room, opening out to the corridor, for refreshements during the intermission. Spiridovitch himself was in the corridor]:

"This is what he [Nicholas II] himself later recounted several days later to the officers of the Standardt, the Emperor had heard the gunshots,  but thought they were to signal the rising of the curtain, he went toward the door of the outer box room.  Grand Duchess Tatiana had had the time to look out the door and for her to see and understand what was happening in the theater, she had shut the door on the Emperor.
     "Papa, don't come in, they are shooting" she yelled to him, crying."

The translation from the French is mine. Spridovitch has never been published in English that I am aware of.

Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2004, 07:56:35 PM »
Hello Janet:
I´ve read that Greg King and Penny Wilson are plannig a translation of this and other very interesting books for publishing. You can learn about it in their web page of the Atlantis Magazine. I´m eager to read it in english!

elisa_1872

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2004, 11:19:15 AM »
Forum Admin!

Thanks very much for translating that passage from the French from the Spirodovitch book! Ive been after a copy of it for such a long time, so its really great to read extracts. Thanks for posting!

Any idea whether this book was reprinted? I've no idea where to locate it, as ive never seen it anywhere, save in bibliographies.

Elisa :)

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2004, 11:24:36 AM »
Elisa,
Spirdivotch has never been reprinted nor translated into English. We spent ten years searching for a copy before we could find one...Very rare, and usually very expensive when they turn up.

Offline La_Mashka

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2005, 01:24:06 PM »
Does anyone know how they kept clean?

I know Nicholas had a huge bathtub, which looks more like a small swimming pool.

I believe  Alexandra had her own bathroom next to her bedroom... what did it have?  a bathtub? a shower?

and also the GD, I think I read they had a bathroom in between the rooms... with a shower...

Would they have hot water???

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Offline leanora

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2005, 12:11:44 PM »
Alexandra had a bathtub. As childs, the children were allowed to take only cold showers  :o... and hot baths in the evenings as teenagers.. some entries in their diaries shows that  sometimes they were allowed by their father to use his swimming pool....  
Quote
Does anyone know how they kept clean?

I know Nicholas had a huge bathtub, which looks more like a small swimming pool.

I believe  Alexandra had her own bathroom next to her bedroom... what did it have?  a bathtub? a shower?

and also the GD, I think I read they had a bathroom in between the rooms... with a shower...

Would they have hot water???



Offline Ortino

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #23 on: March 13, 2005, 12:17:31 PM »
Quote
Alexandra had a bathtub. As childs, the children were allowed to take only cold showers  :o... and hot baths in the evenings as teenagers.. some entries in their diaries shows that  sometimes they were allowed by their father to use his swimming pool....  


Nicholas didn't have a swimming pool. His bath was just very deep and wide so they liked to go swimming in it. They didn't have showers back then really. Everyone took baths. Yes, the girls did take take cold baths in the morning and warm in the evening, but I think they had been doing it since they were young (about the time that Anastasia was around 11). I remember reading that Alexandra wrote to Nicholas about this when the girls complained about it. Alexandra had a bathtub undoubtedly, but since that part of the interior was destroyed, it is unlikely we will ever know what it looked like.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

Offline Ming

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2005, 11:34:26 PM »
This is a very interesting topic to me.  I appreciate all who have contributed so far.

I have always wondered about how some of the ordinary things were done at the palace if one is a Grand Duchess.  For example:

Who did the girls' hair?
Did they almost always wear white? Even for "playclothes"?

The rooms were so very large...how were they filled?

Were there guards at all the doors to all the rooms?  Were they in colorful uniforms?

Did the young girls run and race down the long hallways, etc.?

I once read that their aunt Olga held "children's parties" fairly often on Sundays, so the little Grand Duchesses could play with other children and have a little fun and freedom.  Was this true?

Thank you all for your very interesting information!

Offline Sarai

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2005, 03:33:07 PM »
Quote
This is a very interesting topic to me.  I appreciate all who have contributed so far.

I have always wondered about how some of the ordinary things were done at the palace if one is a Grand Duchess.  For example:

Who did the girls' hair?
Did they almost always wear white? Even for "playclothes"?

The rooms were so very large...how were they filled?

Were there guards at all the doors to all the rooms?  Were they in colorful uniforms?

Did the young girls run and race down the long hallways, etc.?

I once read that their aunt Olga held "children's parties" fairly often on Sundays, so the little Grand Duchesses could play with other children and have a little fun and freedom.  Was this true?

Thank you all for your very interesting information!


Ming,
These little questions about the homely day to day life of the children are interesting to me as well. The only question that I can answer is the one about the children's parties with their aunt Olga. This is indeed true. It is described by Olga herself in the book The Last Grand Duchess by Ian Vorres. It says, in part, "Beginning with the end of 1906, every Sunday in the winter meant a day with Tyotya Olga, who spent the Saturday night at Tsarskoe Selo. In the morning, four excited girls and their equally excited aunt boarded the train for St. Petersburg. [...] The glory of the day broke upon the young people once they were under their aunt's roof. Tea was followed by games and dancing, the Grand Duchess having collected quite a number of equally youthful 'eligibles' to share her nieces' fun. [...] Those red-letter Sundays continued until 1914, the Grand Duchess having come to look on them as one of her most important tasks."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Sarai_Porretta »

Offline Ortino

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #26 on: May 14, 2005, 06:52:55 PM »
Quote
This is a very interesting topic to me.  I appreciate all who have contributed so far.

I have always wondered about how some of the ordinary things were done at the palace if one is a Grand Duchess.  For example:

Who did the girls' hair?
Did they almost always wear white? Even for "playclothes"?

The rooms were so very large...how were they filled?

Were there guards at all the doors to all the rooms?  Were they in colorful uniforms?

Did the young girls run and race down the long hallways, etc.?

I once read that their aunt Olga held "children's parties" fairly often on Sundays, so the little Grand Duchesses could play with other children and have a little fun and freedom.  Was this true?

Thank you all for your very interesting information!



I don't think anyone can answer all these for sure, as Sarai pointed out, but I'll try what I can.

1. I'm almost positive that the girls had maids to do their hair or they did each other's. I know that Tatiana did her mother's hair, which leads me to believe that they didn't just have other hands helping out with that.

2. They seemed to wear white frequently in the summer, which makes sense. White is light and airy, which would be appropriate in areas like the Crimea or even at Peterhof during the summer months. These white dresses would have made the heat more comfortable for the girls. It is clear though that their overall wardrobe contained many other colors as well. The girls wore pinafores I'm sure when they played and kept on their regular clothes.

3. From what I know, the girls filled their rooms with personal items (pictures, drawings, photos, momentos from trips, sewn pillows) and their furniture was an assortment of mismatched pieces generally in green, white, and a light lemonwood. And of course, Alexandra had chintz incorporated into the rooms.

4. I know that the state/formal rooms in the center of the palace had servants and dooropeners, whose costumes varied according to the room they were stationed in. I doubt that the left wing possessed guards inside for privacy's sake, but guards patrolled the grounds.

5. I'm sure they did race and run around the halls like other rambunctous children. Maybe they even skated down them.



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

Offline Holly

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #27 on: May 26, 2005, 02:57:27 PM »
A letter written by Olga even described Marie and Anstasia taking their bicycles into the hallways and rooms, making alot of noise and racing.
"Господь им дал дар по молитвам их размягчать окаменелые наши сердца за их страдания..Мне думается, что если люди будут молиться Царской Cемье, оттают сердца с Божией помощью."

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