Author Topic: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?  (Read 91759 times)

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Offline historyfan

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #60 on: October 20, 2011, 07:51:58 PM »
Maybe it's just me, and I lack a clear understanding of the dynamics between royal mothers- and daughters-in-law, but I consider it rather tactless to throw something unsolicited at Alexandra like that, and expect her to like it. She was already displeased with Marie choosing her ladies-in-waiting - can the reigning Empress not be trusted to choose her own dresses??

well, I guess diplomacy was never her forte, was it?

No. So it's interesting to see her complain about it.

Offline historyfan

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #61 on: October 20, 2011, 07:55:55 PM »
Both Queen Alexandra and Empress Marie were so similar in temperament and in their views about their offspring.  Both were intensely possessive and just never thought that they were interfering by choosing dresses or redecorating homes.

Of course, I am not saying that they were right in their actions, but in Empress Alexandra's case moving to a new country and not being at all knowledgeable about society and precedence, one would think that she would have welcomed her mother in law's help.  

That was "help"?

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I look at Queen Victoria's message about "not becoming to proud" as a warning - not about jewelry - but about attitude.  Historians might have misinterpreted that.  The queen may have already seen her grand daughter taking on "airs" and putting herself above others because she was going to be Empress.

And yet, she was criticized for her simplicity of dress, not being a "fashion plate" like her mother-in-law, and then when she tried to initiate works of charity, sewing circles and the like, not to mention her wartime nursing, she was accused of acting "below her station".

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #62 on: October 21, 2011, 04:09:09 AM »
Alexandra's basic problem was that she would never listen to advice, still less make use of it. She was convinced she was always right. When she became Empress she was aged 22, with absolutely no experience of Russia, and came from a provincial German court, where she had already, as I understand it from van der Kiste's book on Victoria Melita, fallen out with her sister-in-law over precedence and related matters. A sensible person would have been prepared to learn from those around her. Admittedly, Marie Feodorovna was no model of tact, but neither was Queen Victoria (just read her advice to her daughter Victoria on 'baby worship'!)

Dare I say that I find the plain speaking in letters of those days rather fun! - 'Wilhelm has grown dreadfully fat.....'

Ann

Alixz

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #63 on: October 21, 2011, 10:28:39 AM »
That was exactly what I was trying to say.  Thanks.

One can dress badly and still think that one is "above all" because one is Empress.  Actually being Empress, she seemed to think that she could do no wrong in action or in deeds.

She made that clear the last time she spoke to her sister Ella.  Alix was Empress and Ella was not.

Offline Clemence

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #64 on: October 21, 2011, 10:29:56 AM »
Alexandra's basic problem was that she would never listen to advice, still less make use of it. She was convinced she was always right. When she became Empress she was aged 22, with absolutely no experience of Russia, and came from a provincial German court, where she had already, as I understand it from van der Kiste's book on Victoria Melita, fallen out with her sister-in-law over precedence and related matters. A sensible person would have been prepared to learn from those around her. Admittedly, Marie Feodorovna was no model of tact, but neither was Queen Victoria (just read her advice to her daughter Victoria on 'baby worship'!)

Dare I say that I find the plain speaking in letters of those days rather fun! - 'Wilhelm has grown dreadfully fat.....'

Ann

Being a great fan of Marie Feodorovna and Alix, for very different reasons, I believe some people have the quality to become public figures and leaders and some just don't. Marie was a clever open minded woman, perfect and beloved empress, good wife and mother. She could even have some flaws. Alix was not like her, but she never even tried to learn from her mother in law and her flaws were neither understood nor forgiven. Life is unfair.
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #65 on: October 21, 2011, 11:26:14 AM »
I wonder whether relations 'pussyfooted' around Alexandra when she was a girl because she had lost her mother so young, and therefore allowed her sense that she was always right to develop.

Ann

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #66 on: October 21, 2011, 02:36:15 PM »
I doubt that the Prince of Wales would have put up with her actions.   He was too "down to earth" to allow such foolery.  Look at what he said about Kaiser Wilhelm who was also a child of one of his sisters.

It is an interesting subject and would involve reading diaries and letters.  Finding a complete answer would take a lot of time.

Offline historyfan

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #67 on: October 21, 2011, 08:50:49 PM »
I doubt that the Prince of Wales would have put up with her actions.   He was too "down to earth" to allow such foolery.  Look at what he said about Kaiser Wilhelm who was also a child of one of his sisters.

It is an interesting subject and would involve reading diaries and letters.  Finding a complete answer would take a lot of time.

I agree. It would've been interesting to see what would have happened had Edward VII lived.

Offline James_Davidov

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #68 on: January 06, 2012, 09:53:59 AM »
I have been slated in this forum for expressing my views on Alexandra. If one reads everything here that is said about her, it is generally negative. many people glamourise her, because of her tragic end, and compare her to Marie Antoinette. But one gets out of life what you put in. ( Mostly) I dont think these two ladies knew anything about projecting the correct image, or doing what was right for their countries, and rather indulged themselves. I think Alexandra's attitude was that because she was the wife of an Autocrat, chosed by God, she could just lie back on her daybed and make no effort. How wrong she turned out to be. 
Queen Mary tolerated Alexandra for family reasons, but was quoted as saying that Alexandra was entirely responsible,single handedly, for the Russian revolution and therefore alll the horrors that followed. ( See James Pope-Hennessy's famous biography of Queen Mary). Furthermore, Queen Mary was quite vocal about her opinions as to the level of Alexandra's intelligence, and competence.
The British Royal family was very critical of the fact that Russia was an Autocracy, and outdated. Queen Mary was very often quoted as saying that she was living in "Modern times", and therefore one had to adapt. Alexandra, having removed herself and her family from the real world,lived in ignorance of what was really happening in her country, and virtually neglected her duties and function as Empress.

I think there are a few reasons for this. She was terrified of the revolutionaries, and withdrew to Tsarskoe to protect her family.
She realised that she was not sophisticated enough to compete with the glamorous and aristocracy of Russia. ( and she was not).
 
The Russian  system should have changed to a democracy in 1905, which was the perfect moment in history I think, to do so. Had she not constantly, and stupidly clung to the outmoded idea that her husband hang on to being an Autocrat, in order to pass it on to their heir, things may have ended differently. Yes there were many other contributing factors as well, but many of these were aggravated by the archaic ideas of both nicholas and Alexandra.

I dont dislike Alexandra, she was a good mother, and nobody deserves to end your life like she did.

I tend to agree with Queen Mary though, and I dont think she was alone in her opinions of Alexandra either. Queen Mary's commitment to her Royal duties, are today reflected in Queen Elizabeth ll, and her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

One has the greatest respect for them.     

 


I also find AF an extremely frustrating historical figure, however I don't think your appraisal is particularly fair.  Alexandra was not a lazy and detached woman who neglected her duties for her day bed, true like Marie Antoinette she did isolated herself from her court, but she was not consumed with escapism and preoccupying herself with fetes and frivolities.  To the contrary Alexandra was an extremely intense and complicated individual, burdened by fervent theology and personal anxieties, her destruction lay in the fact that unlike Marie Antoinette, she was determined to influence her husband, and his 'divine position', when she saw fit.

she was basically a very difficult neurotic, and the worst possible candidate to be let loose on a Autocratic Monarchy - had she been brilliant and enlightened, such as her German forbear Catherine II, her forthright interference could have done the world of good, instead she poured salt onto the wounds of an already rapidly deteriorating Tsardom.

one can only imagine how things could turned out had she been a liberal, and hounded Nicholas to grant reforms.
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Offline Russian Art Lover

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #69 on: January 07, 2012, 05:34:06 PM »
I do agree with the above post that AF was an absolute disaster - in fact Nicky and Alix were the worst possible combination you could think of, and I am sure that the other royals of Europe also thought so, not least of all Queen Victoria. It was already seen how obstinate and petulent Alix had been with Ducky in the Grand Duchy of Hesse, so goodness only knows what she could get up to as the empress of the largest country on earth!

Here is a small example of Maria Feodorovna managing to provide some small, albeit constructive help to Alix. It happened when the situation in Russia deteriorated at the very start of 1905 and Marie Feodorovna moved into the Alexander Palace. To a certain extent, this helped to bridge the gap between Russian society and the increasingly isolated court (Alix claimed that they wanted a family life, which was why they hid themselves away in Tsarskoe Selo, but the real reason was so that she could keep Nicky away from other people, knowing how easily persuaded he could be!).

Marie Feodorovna wrote to her sister in England: "I have been here three weeks now and, in my opinion, it is a good thing that I have come -- for many reasons. For when we are together, one can really talk and tell Nicky what other, intelligent people think, etc. ... Over this time, I have achieved something: we have begun to invite guests to breakfast and dinner. At first, we always gathered solely in our own circle at the table, and did not meet a single outside soul. And so I told Alicky that it was impossible to live like this and that Nicky was absolutely obliged to meet with people -- and not only at audiences. At first, she opposed this idea, because the very thought of playing hostess was not to her liking. She replied: where shall we find people? Which, of course, sounded quite naive. However, imagine, we got things going and have already managed to hold three small luncheon parties, which were a great success -- so much so that they themselves found much to enjoy about them. And for this I now pay them the loudest compliments, especially her, for Nicky was always very sociable, and I hope this continues in the future. As you can believe, I am extremely proud and glad that I have managed to make them do this."

[MF to sister Queen Alexandra, Tsarskoe Selo, 30 January/12 February 1905 (Hoover Institution, Stanford. Maria Feоdorovna, Empress, Box 2, Folder 31]

But I cannot help thinking that the moment Maria Feodorovna moved back to the Anichkov Palace, these parties came to an abrupt end!


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Offline Justine

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #70 on: January 07, 2012, 06:29:55 PM »
It was already seen how obstinate and petulent Alix had been with Ducky in the Grand Duchy of Hesse


can you prove this somehow(excerpt form a letter perhaps)? how Alix was obstinate & petulant in Hesse?


(Alix claimed that they wanted a family life, which was why they hid themselves away in Tsarskoe Selo, but the real reason was so that she could keep Nicky away from other people, knowing how easily persuaded he could be!).

again what proof do you have that the real reason was to keep Nicholas away from people?


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Offline Helen

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #71 on: January 08, 2012, 06:21:40 AM »
Like Justine, I too would like to know what specific evidence you have showing "how obstinate and petulant Alix had been with Ducky in the Grand Duchy of Hesse". To which period of time are you referring? The few weeks when Alix and Victoria Melita both lived in Darmstadt in the late summer of 1894, when it was only natural that both Alix and Victoria Melita needed some time to adjust to their new roles?

As regards the reason why Nicholas and Alexandra moved away from St Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo: Alexandra wrote to her brother that they preferred Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo because the fresh country air turned out to be much better for Nicholas' health and because those few miles between downtown Petersburg and Peterhof/Tsarskoe Selo allowed her husband to work on.

As regards Maria Feodorovna's letter to her sister, it's true that Alexandra never felt at ease as hostess of parties or other events, and her situation would probably have been easier if she had felt more at ease. However, the 'luncheon parties'  that Maria Feodorovna made Nicholas and Alexandra organise were parties for members of the Romanov family and small, very select groups of members of the nobility - one can find the names of the guests in Nicholas' diary - which hardly helped to bridge the gap between the millions and millions of ordinary Russians and the court.

I also cannot help but notice that Maria Feodorovna prided herself on making her son and daughter-in-law organise luncheon parties at a time when both Nicholas and Alexandra must have had other and more important things on their minds than luncheon parties for the happy few. The date of the letter, 30 January/12 February 1905, was a date during the Russo-Japanese War, when Alexandra occupied herself almost every day for the sick and wounded that returned from the war. It was also a date less than three weeks after Bloody Sunday, during the 1905 revolution, when St Petersburg was considered too unsafe for the Tsar to visit. Maria Feodorovna had actually left - or fled? - St Petersburg for Tsarskoe Selo in the morning of 9/22 January 1905, the very day of Bloody Sunday. Yet she was "extremely proud" of herself for making Nicholas and Alexandra organise luncheon parties during her stay. The date of the letter, 30 January/12 February 1905, was also only five days before Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated, which introduced a period of mourning, while the socio-political situation remained difficult.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 06:49:21 AM by Helen »
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #72 on: January 08, 2012, 11:09:16 AM »
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in fact Nicky and Alix were the worst possible combination you could think of, and I am sure that the other royals of Europe also thought so, not least of all Queen Victoria.

The evidence does not support this certainty.  George V (then Duke of York), in 1894 wrote to his wife about the newly engaged couple that he "never saw two people more in love with each other....I told them both that I could not wish them more than that they should be as happy as you & I were together..."  The Empress Frederick in 1895 reported to her daughter Sophie that "Grandmama tells me that Nicky and Alicky write to her often, and seem very happy" and Queen Victoria wrote to her daughter of their visit to Balmoral in 1896, that "Dear Nicky and Alicky are quite unspoilt and unchanged and as dear and simple as ever and as kind as ever.  He is looking rather thin and pale and careworn, but sweet Alicky is in great beauty and very blooming.........I think the charming visit will have done great good.  I had a very frank conversation with dear Nicky who I think very good and thoughtful....".  Later, the Empress Frederick met the couple on the German part of their 1896 journey and reported to Sophie that "Nicky was so nice and kind, and I think him such a dear.  Alicky is looking very happy and blooming....Here at Friedrichshof it was quite pleasant and everyone seemed at their ease, not still or ceremonious...."  The Empress Frederick was very dismayed at Nicholas' speech after his accession in which he pledged himself to continue with autocratic government, so was not an automatic fan, but did not in any shape or form criticise his relationship with his wife; Queen Victoria fought tooth and nail to prevent Alix going to Russia which she greatly distrusted, but never breathed a word suggestive of her being the wrong partner for Nicholas, and George V, later very keen to blame Alix for the Romanov disasters, was genuinely struck by their love for one another and made no criticism of their marriage. 

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #73 on: January 08, 2012, 11:45:46 AM »
I do not think that their love and devotion to each other is in question. My impression is that Alix was rather smothering and possessive but that may be common in some relationships.
 It is their suitability to rule that I see the issue. They were certainly inept as autocrats.
 If one avoids the hagiographies,  I see Alix described as  complex and  perhaps "disturbed". IMO. Personally, I have not liked the woman since N&A [Massie]
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 01:32:02 PM by Alixz »
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Offline Thomas_Hesse

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Re: Was Alix of Hesse disliked by British royals?
« Reply #74 on: January 08, 2012, 04:30:22 PM »
Massie's book is perhaps not the best argument - written at a time when huge part of the significant personal documents were still not available for most people.

It is sad that so many people seem to judge historical figures just out of their own sympathies - or the contrary...
Most have barely read part of the immense correspondence etc...
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