Author Topic: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?  (Read 32901 times)

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Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #105 on: August 13, 2016, 08:52:55 AM »
Helen Rappaport, Ekaterinburg, Hutchinson 2008, p 150-152

"...the King's anxiety levels rocketed about his promise of asylum to the Imperial Family... By 16 April, such was the King's heightened state of anxiety that Stamfordham [the King's secretary] was obliged to send a second letter to Balfour, categorically stating that the arrival of Nicholas and Alexandra in Britain "would be strongly resented by the public and would undoubtedly compromise the position of the King and the Queen". Lloyd George was obliged t concede. His sympathies as a Liberal on the left of the party had all along been with the Revolution [February Revolution] but nevertheless he would have supported the offer of asylum to the Romanovs had the King insisted. Yet for years afterwards both Lloyd George and the Ambassador Buchanan would be vilified for their supposed failure to effect the Romanov family's rescue. Buchanan was made to fall on his sword in his memoirs and cover up the truth of the British government's failure to act, on pain of losing his pension. Bound by the Official Secrets Act, he could not reveal the truth of diplomatic moves at the time but had to go along with the official line that a handful of left-wing extremists in government, including Prime Minister Lloyd George, had pressurised the King into relentiing...

Official records, however, do not back up the accusations that Lloyd George was directly instrumental in preventing the Romanovs from coming to England. Indeed, he too come under pressure when writing his War Memoirs in 1934 to cover up the King's ignominious abandonment of the Tsar, by scrapping an entire chapter on the discussions over the asylum offer, substituting a brief comment on the effect that it was the provisional government that had scuppered the Romanovs' chances of leaving Russia by placing obstacles in the way of effecting this."

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #106 on: August 13, 2016, 09:26:12 AM »
Now, the actual documents. Source: A lifelong passion, Maylunas and Mironenko, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1996 and King George V, Kenneth Rose, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983

Lord Stamfordham (Private Secretary to King George V), note of meeting, 9 March, Buckingham Palace

"I saw the Prime Minister this morning. He had not seen Sir George Buchanan's telegram received last evening reporting his conversation with Mr Miliukov [new Foreign Minister], in which the latter urged the earliest possible departure of the Emperor from Russia, and suggested that the King and British Government should offer His Imperial Majesty an asylum in this country.

I pointed out to Mr Lloyd George that naturally the King would wish to be consulted before his Government gave a definite reply to this suggestion. ...

Lord Hardinge then joined us, and later Mr Bonar Law... it was generally agreed that the proposal that we should receive the Emperor in this country (having come from the Russian Government which we are endeavouring with all our powers to support) could not be refused....

Lord Hardinge undertook to draft an official telegram to Sir George Buchanan to the effect that the King and His Majesty's Government would be prepared to give effect to Monsieur Miliukov's request that the Emperor and his family should be received in this country."


King George V, Diary - 11 March

"Michael [Grand Duke, Miche-Miche] came to see me and we discussed the idea of poor Nicky coming to England."


Lord Stamfordham to A.J. Balfour [Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs]  - 17 March

My dear Balfour,

The King has been thinking much about the Government's proposal that the Emperor Nicholas and his Family should come to England.
As you are doubtless aware the King has a strong personal friendship for the Emperor, and therefore would be glad to do anything to help him in this crisis. But His Majesty cannot help doubting, not only on account of the dangers of the voyage, but on general grounds of expediency, whether it is advisable that the Imperial Family should take up their residence in this country.
The King would be glad if you could consult the Prime Minister, as His Majesty understand no definite decision has yet been come to on the subject by the Russian Government"


A. J. Balfour to Lord Stamfordham - 20 March - Foreign Office, London

My dear Stamfordham,

Many thanks for your letter of March 17....

The question was therefore reconsidered by the Prime Minister, Lord Hardinge, and yourself, and it was decided that Sir G. Buchanan should be told that His Majesty's Government thought if preferable, the initiative having come from the Russian Government, that the Imperal family should come to England. M. Milyukov was informed accordingly, but the Russian Government have as yet come to no decision.
His Majesty Ministers quite realize the difficulties to which you refer in your letter, but they do not think, unless the position changes, that is now possible to withdraw the invitation which has been sent, and they therefore trust that the King will consent to adhere to the original invitation, which was sent on the advice of His Majesty's Ministers".


Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #107 on: August 13, 2016, 09:47:53 AM »
Lord Stamfordham to A.J. Balfour - 21 March - Buckingham Palace

My dear Balfour,

I have received and laid before the King your letter on the 2nd. inst. respecting the proposal that the Emperor Nicholas and his family should come to England.
As His Majesty's Ministers are still anxious that the King should adhere to the original invitation sent on their advice His Majesty must regard the matter as settled, unless the Russian Government should come to any fresh decision on the subject.

Nicholas II, Diary, 23 March - Tsarkoe Selo

"I looked through my books and things, and started to put aside everything that I want to take with me, if we have to go to England.

Lord Stamfordham to A.J. Balfour - 24 March - Windsor Castle

My dear Balfour,

Every day the King is becoming more concerned about the question of the Emperor and Empress coming to this country.

His Majesty receives letters from people in all classes of life, known and unknown to him, saying how much the matter is being discussed, not only in Clubs but by working men, and that Labour Members in the House of Commons are expressing adverse opinions to the proposal.
As you know, from the first the King has thought the presence of the Imperial Family (especially of the Empress) in this country would raise all sorts of difficulties, and I feel sure that you appreciate how awkward it will be for our Royal Family who are closely connected both with the Emperor and Empress.
You probably also are aware that the subject has become more or less public property, and that people are either assuming that it has been initiated by the King, or deprecating the very unfair position in which His Majesty will be placed if the arrangement is carried out.
The King desires me to ask you whether after consulting the Prime Minister, Sir George Buchanan should not be communicated with a view to approaching the Russian Government to make some other plan for the future residence of Their Imperial Majesties?

Same day,
My dear Balfour,
The King wishes me to write again on the subject of my letter of this morning.
He must beg you to represent to the Prime Minister that from all he hears and reads in the Press, the residence in this Country of the Ex-Emperor and Empress would be strongly resented by the public, and would undoubtedly compromise the position of the King and Queen from whom it is already generally supposed the invitation has emanated.
I would particularly call your attention to an article in last Thursday's Justice by Hyndman who condemns the invitation, and implies that it has come from Their Majesties. And Hyndman is the person that Mr Henderson told the King he wished to send to Russia as one of the representatives of our Socialist in this Country!
Buchanan ought to be instructed to tell Milyukov that we must be allowed to withdraw from the consent previously given to the Russian Government proposal.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 10:03:03 AM by NicolasG »

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #108 on: August 13, 2016, 10:01:11 AM »
Lord Stamfordham, note of meeting - 28 March - Windsor Castle

I saw the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, and tried to impress upon him the King's strong opinion that the Emperor and Empress of Russia should not come to this country, and that the Government ought to inform Monsier Miliukov that since they had agreed to his proposal that their Imperial Majesties should take up their residence in this country public opinion here had become so stoutly opposed to the idea that His Majesty's Government must withdraw the consent previously given...

I afterwards saw Mr Balfour and called attention to a telegram which I had just seen from Sir George Buchanan, who in his conversation with Monsieur Miliukov evidently took it for granted that the Emperor and Empress were coming to England, and that it was a question of delay with regard to certain matters that had not been cleared up, which prevented an early start.
I told Mr Balfour that after what the King had written to him His Majesty expected that Sir George Buchanan would by now have been informed that the whole question was being reconsidered, and that our previous Agreement could no longer be held as binding. Mr Balfour said that he would draft a telegram to Sir George Buchanan this afternoon and send it to the Prime Minister for his approval.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #109 on: August 13, 2016, 10:20:55 AM »
I think that the previous posts prove beyong doubt that:

1. The Russian Provisional Government, through the Foreign Minister Miliukov, requested its ally, Britain, to grant asylum to the Russian Imperial Family.

2. The British Government agreed to grant them asylum and let the Russian Provisional Government know their decision.

3. Shortly afterwards George V, as a consequence of the advice of his secretary, Lord Stamfordham, some articles in the press and some letters he had received, decided to block the arrival of the Russian Imperial in Britain, already decided by his government.

4. George V really panicked, asking his secretary Lord Stamfordham to send two letters on the very same day to David Balfour, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, before he had had time to reply to the first one.

5. Meanwhile, the Russian Provisional Government kept thinking all the time that the Russian Imperial Family would go to Britain, that the matter was settled (as George V said on 21 March, before changing his mind and going back on his word) and they let the Imperial Family know (entry on Nicholas II's diary, 23 March)

6. Nowhere did Lord Stamforham or George V mention or suggest that the presence of the Russian Imperial Family in Britain would be a safety risk for the country or would affect the British war effort. These are excuses made up by apologists after the fact. They talk about "the position of the King and the Queen", "embarassment"... that is, erosion of the popularity of the British monarchy, not revolution, mutiny and civil war.

Offline Horock

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #110 on: August 13, 2016, 03:02:56 PM »
NicholaG
You have not supplied evidence that George V acted unconstitutionally.  The records of meetings and correspondence between the government and King make this clear.
A reliable account of George V' life and times would state this if this had occurred. Is there such an account?

You have not supplied evidence that George V blocked any government decision. Nowhere is such wording such as 'forbid' or 'not allow' used.
A reliable account of George V' life and times would state this if this had occurred. Is there such an account?

You have not supplied evidence that George V panicked. You have merely offered an opinion. The despatch of two letters on the same day to the Government regarding the Romanovs
showed that the King saw this as a serious matter. Why should such an act indicate panic? 

Even with hindsight, King George V was right to act as he did.  He seems to have reasoned that the interests of his country and his family in Britain were best served by the Romanovs not coming to live in Britain and if so, he was right to do so. Given the circumstances at that time it was a reasonable decision.

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #111 on: August 13, 2016, 04:38:22 PM »
NicholaG
Even with hindsight, King George V was right to act as he did.  He seems to have reasoned that the interests of his country and his family in Britain were best served by the Romanovs not coming to live in Britain and if so, he was right to do so. Given the circumstances at that time it was a reasonable decision.

You know, I agree. The decision was not only reasonable, it was praiseworthy. Other person might have succumbed to the temptation to help the Russian Imperial Family: revolutionaries running amok in Russia, a first cousin, five children, empathy, professional solidarity among monarchs.... that kind of things. George V, instead, like a titan, remained unmoved and steadfastly opposed offering them asylum in Britain. That way he saved something much more valuable than several lives: his approval rating.

What I don't understand is why the British Crown decided to cover up the whole matter, muzzling the ambassador Buchanan and censoring Lloyd George's Memoirs, as if George V had done something dishonourable (he hadn't, of course!). They should have given the maximum of publicity to the King's unselfish behaviour. Poets should have dedicated him odes and the story should have been included in schoolchildren's textbooks, as an example of high moral values.

Offline Horock

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #112 on: August 15, 2016, 01:05:38 AM »
Even if agreement had been reached for the Tsar and his family to travel to Britain there might have been a number of difficulties in such a journey.  A journey by sea, through the Baltic could only really have been attempted by agreement with the German government.  A deal between Britain, Germany and Russia during what was then the most terrible war in history to facilitate the travel of a former head of state who was related to the heads of state in Germany and Britain. What would have happened if word of such a deal at that time had got out can only be guessed at.  If Britain had sent a ship to fetch the Romanovs, such an act might have caused further problems. A C Class Cruiser with a complement of 350 plus, even with the benefit of being safe passage by the enemy might still have encountered difficulties. One such possibility would have been if the ship had hit a stay mine in the Baltic and sank with some or all of the people on board drowned. If word had got out about the ship's mission and its fate then the Government would have been open to the charge of sacrificing British lives to transport the King's foreign relatives. Doubtless there were other potential difficulties and hazards that such a voyage might have encountered.

NicholasG.
You might have done better to properly consider other aspects of this subject besides than your own opinion before having to resort to making an attempt at sarcasm.

Offline TimM

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #113 on: August 15, 2016, 05:05:08 AM »
The Kaiser could have secretly told his Navy to not sink the ship.  He still cared for his Russian relatives. 

Mind you, this is all speculation. 
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Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #114 on: August 15, 2016, 07:47:47 AM »
I agree with both the latest points, but Tim needs to bear in mind that the Baltic was heavily mined in that period, and sea mines do quite frequently break free from their moorings. Instructions from the Kaiser not to sink the ship would therefore not have been enough.

A voyage from Murmansk would have been possible, but, of course, the journey there would have been much longer and more complicated than that to Kronstadt.

Ann

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #115 on: August 15, 2016, 08:52:05 AM »
Even if agreement had been reached for the Tsar and his family to travel to Britain there might have been a number of difficulties in such a journey.  A journey by sea, through the Baltic could only really have been attempted by agreement with the German government.  A deal between Britain, Germany and Russia during what was then the most terrible war in history to facilitate the travel of a former head of state who was related to the heads of state in Germany and Britain. What would have happened if word of such a deal at that time had got out can only be guessed at.  If Britain had sent a ship to fetch the Romanovs, such an act might have caused further problems. A C Class Cruiser with a complement of 350 plus, even with the benefit of being safe passage by the enemy might still have encountered difficulties. One such possibility would have been if the ship had hit a stay mine in the Baltic and sank with some or all of the people on board drowned. If word had got out about the ship's mission and its fate then the Government would have been open to the charge of sacrificing British lives to transport the King's foreign relatives. Doubtless there were other potential difficulties and hazards that such a voyage might have encountered.

NicholasG.
You might have done better to properly consider other aspects of this subject besides than your own opinion before having to resort to making an attempt at sarcasm.

So we have reached the conclussion that, after all, taking the Russian Imperial Family to Britain was impossible. Therefore the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Foreign Minister, Kerensky... , while a world war was going on, wasted their time with meetings, telegrams, discussions of something that obviously would never happen. And George V wouldn't have had to get anxious: he could have kept doing whatever a king is supposed to do during a war instead of continually pushing his secretary, Lord Stamfordham, to keep pestering the British government so they withdraw the offer of asylum. There are two possibilities: they were very stupid or they thought that it could be done.

And it could be done. "How could countries fighting a war reach an agreement to provide safe passage to a ship? What a scandal!". Well, it happened all the time: hospital ships, repatriation of interned civilians... Officers belonging to neutral countries, like Spain, were on board to check that the ships were not carrying military supplies. Not only might it have happen: according to Kerensky, it WOULD have happen, were it not for Britain going back on its word.

"Once again, the Russian government approached England on the matter of asylum.

"We enquired of Sir George Buchanan as to when a cruiser could be sent to take on board the deposed ruler and his family", said Kerensky. "Simultaneously, a promise was obtained from the German government through the medium of the Danish minister, Skavenius, that German submarines would not attack the particular warships which carried the Royal exiles. Sir George Buchanan and ourselves were impatiently awaiting a reply from London. I do not remember exactly whether it was in June or early July when the British ambassador called, greatly distressed... With tears in his eyes, scarcely able to control his emotions, Sir George informed[us]... of the British Government's final refusal to give refuge to the former Emperor of Russia. I cannot quote the exact text of the letter... But I can say definitely that this refusal was due to considerations of internal British politics."

Nicholas and Alexandra, Robert K. Massie, World Books, London, 1969, p. 447-448 (chapter 31)

Offline NicolasG

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #116 on: August 15, 2016, 09:32:12 AM »
I agree with both the latest points, but Tim needs to bear in mind that the Baltic was heavily mined in that period, and sea mines do quite frequently break free from their moorings. Instructions from the Kaiser not to sink the ship would therefore not have been enough.

A voyage from Murmansk would have been possible, but, of course, the journey there would have been much longer and more complicated than that to Kronstadt.

Ann

If there is a place in Russia where the Provisional Government did not want to take the Imperial Family, that is Kronstadt. The sailors in Kronstadt were the most violent revolutionaries: they massacred their officers during the February Revolution, supported the bolshevists and after the October Revolution were used to "spread class war", that is, looting, murder and rape. Finally they got their wages: they mutinied against the bolshevists in 1921 and were shot or sent to concentration camps.

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #117 on: August 15, 2016, 10:28:54 AM »
Thanks for the reminder about Kronstadt, which obviously reinforces my point that there were major practical difficulties in trying to get the Imperial Family to Britain.

The Germans reimposed unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917, and attacked neutral merchant ships as well as those belonging to belligerents. Hospital ships were supposed to be protected by the Geneva Convention, but there are several incidents where they were attacked and sunk. Probably the most notorious is HMHS Llandovery Castle, torpedoed off Southern Ireland on 27 June 1918 and the subject of one of the few post-WW1 war crimes trials.

As Tim reminds us, anti-German feeling in Britain ran extremely high during the war, so secret negotiations for safe conducts for a former monarch who was anyway unpopular in this country would be a chancy business, politically speaking.

We need to consider how reliable Kerensky's account of discussions is.

Ann

Offline Horock

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #118 on: August 15, 2016, 04:49:46 PM »
Even if agreement had been reached for the Tsar and his family to travel to Britain there might have been a number of difficulties in such a journey.  A journey by sea, through the Baltic could only really have been attempted by agreement with the German government.  A deal between Britain, Germany and Russia during what was then the most terrible war in history to facilitate the travel of a former head of state who was related to the heads of state in Germany and Britain. What would have happened if word of such a deal at that time had got out can only be guessed at.  If Britain had sent a ship to fetch the Romanovs, such an act might have caused further problems. A C Class Cruiser with a complement of 350 plus, even with the benefit of being safe passage by the enemy might still have encountered difficulties. One such possibility would have been if the ship had hit a stay mine in the Baltic and sank with some or all of the people on board drowned. If word had got out about the ship's mission and its fate then the Government would have been open to the charge of sacrificing British lives to transport the King's foreign relatives. Doubtless there were other potential difficulties and hazards that such a voyage might have encountered.

NicholasG.
You might have done better to properly consider other aspects of this subject besides than your own opinion before having to resort to making an attempt at sarcasm.

So we have reached the conclussion that, after all, taking the Russian Imperial Family to Britain was impossible. Therefore the British Prime Minister, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Foreign Minister, Kerensky... , while a world war was going on, wasted their time with meetings, telegrams, discussions of something that obviously would never happen. And George V wouldn't have had to get anxious: he could have kept doing whatever a king is supposed to do during a war instead of continually pushing his secretary, Lord Stamfordham, to keep pestering the British government so they withdraw the offer of asylum. There are two possibilities: they were very stupid or they thought that it could be done.

And it could be done. "How could countries fighting a war reach an agreement to provide safe passage to a ship? What a scandal!". Well, it happened all the time: hospital ships, repatriation of interned civilians... Officers belonging to neutral countries, like Spain, were on board to check that the ships were not carrying military supplies. Not only might it have happen: according to Kerensky, it WOULD have happen, were it not for Britain going back on its word.

"Once again, the Russian government approached England on the matter of asylum.

"We enquired of Sir George Buchanan as to when a cruiser could be sent to take on board the deposed ruler and his family", said Kerensky. "Simultaneously, a promise was obtained from the German government through the medium of the Danish minister, Skavenius, that German submarines would not attack the particular warships which carried the Royal exiles. Sir George Buchanan and ourselves were impatiently awaiting a reply from London. I do not remember exactly whether it was in June or early July when the British ambassador called, greatly distressed... With tears in his eyes, scarcely able to control his emotions, Sir George informed[us]... of the British Government's final refusal to give refuge to the former Emperor of Russia. I cannot quote the exact text of the letter... But I can say definitely that this refusal was due to considerations of internal British politics."

Nicholas and Alexandra, Robert K. Massie, World Books, London, 1969, p. 447-448 (chapter 31)


You may have reached a conclusion. I have not. All I did was to point out one of the difficulties the Royal Navy might have encountered in fetching the Romanovs from Petrograd to Britain by sea and how that might have impacted on the political situation in Britain.

The latest post by Kalafrana sums this up very well.

Offline DNAgenie

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Re: Attempts of European royal families to save the Imperial family?
« Reply #119 on: August 15, 2016, 06:36:31 PM »
Quote
"We enquired of Sir George Buchanan as to when a cruiser could be sent to take on board the deposed ruler and his family", said Kerensky. "Simultaneously, a promise was obtained from the German government through the medium of the Danish minister, Skavenius, that German submarines would not attack the particular warships which carried the Royal exiles.

Clearly it was in the German interest to get the Tsar out of Russia. Nicholas II was committed to continuing the war against Germany and if he was no longer on the scene in his home country he would have less influence on Russian political decisions. One of the reasons that Nicholas refused the German offer to rescue his family from Tobolsk was his fear that it would be conditional on his undertaking to support the Brest-Litovsk agreement, to which he was implacably opposed.