In the The Romanovs: One Last Dance Novel:
Hello there! I am Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, but there's no need for such formalities! Olga Nikolaevna or Olga will do. I am the eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. I was born on the 3/14 November 1895 at nine o'clock in the evening, weighing a rather large 10 lbs. But I was not the longed-for boy everyone wanted; you see, only boys can rule in Russia, so I was a disappointment...at least to some of the family. Papa was happiest though, as he later told a court chamberlain: "I am glad our child is a girl. Had it been a boy he would've belonged to the people. Being a girl, she belongs to us."
Even more disappointing though, was the fact that I was joined by three more sisters! Tatiana - my roommate! - arrived in June 1897, Maria in 1899 and Anastasia in 1901. Tanya and I always shared a room, while Maria and Anastasia shared another across the hall from ours. Tanya and myself were often referred to as 'The Big Pair', while our younger sisters were 'The Little Pair'. Collectively, we were 'OTMA', and often signed ourselves as such. Our little brother Alexei arrived in July 1904; we always called him 'Baby', since he is the youngest. For Mama, he was always her 'dearest Sunbeam' or 'Baby Tsar'.
Before Alexei's birth, Mama would often demand that the ladies at court kiss my hand. They also called me their 'little empress'. I was the eldest after all! I grew to be rather serious, having to take on more responsibility than my sisters over the years. Of course there was always Mama to remind me of my position as the eldest. Our English teacher, Sydney Gibbs, thought Tatiana and I were "good looking, high-spirited girls, simple in their tastes and very pleasant to deal with."
While Anastasia and Tatiana seemed to take after Mama's side of the family, I was said to appear more like Papa. I have dark blonde hair and blue eyes. I was never quite as tall as Tatiana, nor short like poor Anastasia.
For my fourteenth Name Day (more important than birthdays in Russia), Papa gifted to me honourary command of the 3rd Elizavetgrad Hussars regiment. Like my sisters, I was quite good at horse riding, and did so proudly in uniform whenever necessary. At least we girls had something to look forward to, aside from balls and future husbands!
Growing up in a palace was not what one would have thought. My brother, sisters and I all slept on camp beds, and had a cold bath each morning; we were allowed warm baths at night. Tanya and I always dressed ourselves, and were expected to make our own beds and keep our rooms tidy.
Once I celebrated turning sixteen in November 1911, the topic of whom I would marry became a favorite for everyone. But not before marking the ocassion with a grand affair at Lavadia. I've never been much for writing, but on this day, I managed to jot something down in my journal:
Today for the first time I put on a long white dress. At 9 p.m. was my first ball. Knyazhevich (Major General of the Suite) and I opened it. I danced the whole time, right up till 1 a.m. and was very happy. There were many officers and ladies. Everyone was having a terribly good time. I am 16 years old.
Once I had come of age, a match with Aunt Missy's son, Crown Prince Carol of Romania was proposed. This was certainly a desirable one...for everyone that is, but myself and Aunt Missy. I found Carol to be rather cruel and distasteful. His mother was did not like me either, as she later said I was "not pretty". Thankfully, Mama said that if I did not want to marry him, I would not be forced to. Rumors of a marriage to my English cousin, The Prince of Wales swirled about as well, but nothing ever came of it. I longed to marry a Russian and remain in Russia, nothing more, nothing less.
Pavel Voronov, an officer aboard Papa's yacht, the Standart, was my choice. I was always so terribly happy to see him whenever our paths crossed. And when he was not around, my days were boring and awful, as they were without him! He was such a sweetheart, always polite and kind toward me. He looked so handsome in uniform, wearing my favorite dark jacket. But he was not to be my betrothed. Once more, I turned to my trusted diary:
I learned that S is to marry Olga Kleinmichael...May the Lord grant happiness to him, my beloved.
At Mama's insistence, Tatiana and I joined the Red Cross as nurses at her side when war was declared with Germany in 1914. We would often help with surgeries, and dressing wounds of the soldiers. Maria and Anastasia would sometimes join us in sitting with the young men, and chatting with them; anything to keep their minds off the pain and suffering! Tatiana and I began our training that September, and later helped create a hospital wing in the ballroom of the Catherine Palace.
Devoted to my work in the hospital wards, I threw myself into it, perhaps too much. As Mama's friend, Anna "Anya" Vyrubova later described: "Olga within two months [of her training] was almost too exhausted and too unnerved to continue."
By 1917, the war was lost for Papa, and we were imprisoned in our own home at the Alexander Palace. By April 1917, we seven had been moved to the Governor's Palace in Tobolsk, and a year later, to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. I had a sense that something awful was going to happen to us. Even so, we were still all together.
In the early morning hours of 17 July 1918, Olga, her parents, brother, sisters and servants were awakened and told they needed to retreat to the basement rooms for safety. It was a trap; while the family waited for a photographer to take their photo, their captors entered the room, armed with pistols and bayonets and began firing. Olga and her sisters, at their mother's request, had sewn the family jewels into their corsets, which temporarily served as a sort of bullet proof vest. But this did not protect them for long. The twenty-minute massacre ended in a flurry of smoke, and the bodies of the last Imperial family were covered in sheets and put on a waiting truck outside. They were burned and buried in a shallow grave in the nearby forest, only to be rediscovered in 1991. The mystery of Anastasia's supposed survival was finally put to rest in 2007 when the charred bone fragments of Alexei and one of his sisters was identified. The family was interred at the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg. In 2000, all seven were made saints of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In the 'What If?' Story line:
Hello again! In the 'What If' story line, we're all still here! Papa was forced to sign over his rights as autocrat in favor of a constitutional position, but our lives were spared in the process. My brother, sisters and myself are all separated now, and living outside Russia...with the exception of Mashka and Baby of course.
Although I was initially disappointed at the prospect, I gave in and said 'yes' to Edward, Prince of Wales (or 'dear David' as I call him) during a visit to England in the summer of 1920. Of course, poor David only proposed at the constant badgering of his father, the King.
We were married on 15 April 1921 at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Of course, not before I gave up my Russian Orthodox faith and my name, in favor of David's Anglican views. I've adopted the name of Alexandra here in England (short for Alexandra Alice Augusta Victoria Olga! At least they let me keep my real name!) Everyone was more than pleased, especially Mama, Uncle Georgie and Aunt May. David and I aren't a perfect match - there is no such thing! - but we get on well enough. I still think of him as a bit childish, and he reminds me constantly that I'm rather moody. So, you see, it's not a romance like that of my parents, for certain, but we make it work. We have two girls, Catherine ('Kate') and Louise Elizabeth (we call her Ella), who are our world really. Ella arrived during our stay at home in Russia for Baby's wedding festivities; perhaps we should've named her Catherine instead!
Tatiana, our darling 'Governess', much to her own disdain, married Papa's Greek cousin, Christo in July 1919. We all know she only did so to stay in Russia to be with Mama. That plan seems to have backfired though, as Papa negotiated to make Christo the King of Lithuania. They have three children now. Alexandra, Michael and Sofia; the littlest one seems to have inherited my large head, poor dear!
Dear Mashka was the only one of us to be so lucky as to stay home. In June 1918, she married her soldier boyfriend, Ivashko Tarkhan. They have three children now: Natalia, Nikolai (we call him Kolya), and Grigory. The poor dear has had to constantly explain that little Grisha was named for Vashko's late father and not Our Friend, Rasputin. Either way, I do so envy her!
Who knew my youngest sister, our imfamous Shvibzik, would make such a glittering match? Somehow, Anastasia managed to charm Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium into marrying her and has since moved to Brussels. They have a little boy named Philippe. Nastya calls him her 'Brussels Sprout'!
And then of course there's Alexei. Much to Mama's horror, he is now married to our Greek cousin, Princess Elizabeth, and Aunt Miechen's granddaughter. I do hope for Masha's sake that Baby lives long enough to have a family of his own.
Photos colored by me and Lanie
Border and Background From The Inspiration Gallery
The Romanovs - One Last Dance
Mashkas Tea Room
Princess Irina Alexandrovna
Tatiana of Lithuania
Alexei Nikolaevich Tsarevich
Freda Dudley Ward
Christopher of Greece
Olga of Russia
Astrid of Sweden
Dec 29, 2019 09:11 am