Early in 1894 it became clear that Alexander III was going to die, evidently as a consequence of the train wreck at Borki six years earlier. The tsar had received only a bruise, but that bruise developed into a fatal kidney disease. Now the heir’s marriage had to be readied with all due speed.
In April 1894, Alix’s brother Ernie was to marry his cousin the Saxe-Coburg Princess Victoria Melita, (“Ducky”), another granddaughter of Queen Victoria.Emperor Wilhelm II, Queen Victoria, and innumerable European princes were assembling in Coburg. One of the last brilliant balls of royal Europe was to be held at the brink of the terrible new century.
Russia was represented by a powerful phalanx of grand dukes. Even Father Ioann Yanyshev, confessor to the tsar’s family, attended. His presence spoke clearly to the very serious intentions of those who had come: Father Ioann was supposed to instruct Alix in the Father Ioann was supposed to instruct Alix in the fundamentals of Orthodox teaching. Also arriving in Coburg was Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider, who had taught Russian to Ella, Alix’s sister. Should the matter reach a favorable conclusion, she would teach Russian to the Hessian princess. And naturally, Alix’s favorite sister, Ella (Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna), came too. The engagement of Nicholas and Alix was to take place at the wedding of Alix’s brother Ernie. Everyone knew it.
“5 April.… She has grown remarkably more beautiful, but she looked extremely sad. They left us alone, and then there began between us the conversation I have wished for and at the same time greatly feared for so long. We talked until 12, but with no result: she still objects to conversion. Poor thing, she cried a lot, and we parted more calmly.”
Despite her refusal, he was joyously calm. He knew that all his people were now in favor of this marriage, and most of all he knew she loved him. He had discovered a rule for himself, having twice found himself on the brink of death: trust the Lord in all things. He would be governed by this rule all the rest of his life, but during those Coburg days, in violation of this rule, he was quite persistent. The girl he wanted for a wife was deeply religious, and he ached for her, understanding what a religious, and he ached for her, understanding what a change of religion meant. Loving her for her despair and her tears, he helped her with his tender persistence to shift responsibility for the decision onto him. She, however, cried a lot during the interval. Subsequently she would write many times about how hard it had been for her to accept the idea of converting.
Religion played an enormous role in her life. But her predecessor princesses of Hesse had set out for distant Russia many times and had converted. Even her sister Ella had accepted Orthodoxy and was happy in her new religion.
“7 April. Ducky and Ernie’s wedding day. It began with me being late for breakfast and having to walk like a cock past the crowd on the square. At 12 everyone gathered upstairs, and after the civil marriage act was signed, we went into the church. Ernie and Ducky make a fine couple. The pastor gave a good sermon, the point of which was amazingly apropos to the essence of what I am going through. At that moment had a terrible urge to look into Alix’s soul. After the wedding, a family dinner. … The young people left for Darmstadt. Went for a walk with Uncle Vladimir, climbed the hill, and finally reached the castle. We viewed the weapons museum at reached the castle. We viewed the weapons museum at length and had dinner with Aunt Marie, in our uniforms, because of the emperor [Wilhelm II], who will not wear civil dress. Then we went, or rather ran, to the theater in a downpour. They gave the first act of Pagliacci.”
“8 April [he underscored the date three times in the diary]. A marvelous, unforgettable day in my life! The day of my engagement to my precious, beloved Alix. After our conversation we declared ourselves to each other. So joyful to be able to gladden dear Papa and Mama. Walked around the entire day in a haze, not fully conscious, actually, of what had happened to me.… Then a ball was arranged. Didn’t feel like dancing; walked and sat in the garden with my fiancée. Can hardly believe that I have—a fiancée.”
In a letter to his mother he described in more detail Alix’s strange despair and tears: “She cried the whole time, and only whispered now and then: ‘No, I cannot.’ Still I continued to insist and repeat my arguments, and though this conversation went on for two hours, it came to nothing.… I gave her your letter [the letter of a Danish princess who had converted letter [the letter of a Danish princess who had converted happily], and after that she could no longer argue.… She joined us in the drawing room, where we were sitting with Ella and Wilhelm, and then and there, right away, she agreed. God Almighty only knows what that did to me. I was crying like a baby, as was she. No, dear Mama, I cannot express how happy I am. The whole world changed for me in an instant: nature, mankind—they all seem so good, and dear, and happy. I cannot even write, my hands are trembling so.… She has completely changed—she is gay, amusing, and talkative.”
He gave her a ruby ring and that brooch—the brooch he had given her at the children’s ball long ago. She wore his ring around her neck, along with her cross, and the brooch was always with her.
On April 9, Alexander Volkov was sent by his master, Grand Duke Paul, to deliver a present on the occasion of the engagement. He found Nicholas and Alix in the drawing room, sitting on the sofa, holding hands. So swallowed up were they in each other that Nicholas did not notice Volkov right away.
“Oh, it’s you, dear friend Volkov!”
Volkov, too, was “dear.” Everyone was “dear” (Nicholas’s favorite word).
At that time Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider was already tutoring Alix in Russian. They were conjugating verbs, and Alix was recording them neatly in notebooks. She liked to study. Alix learned the language by conjugating three verbs: forget, sing, and believe.
After their deaths in 1918, a little book was found in that washroom, behind the pipes. In it was a code and the inscription “For my own beloved Nicky to put to good use when he is far away from his spitzbube. From his loving Alice Osborne, July 1894.”
This was the code book for their correspondence (she adored secrets), which “loving Alice” had given to him during their days of happiness in Osborne, the queen’s home on the Isle of Wight. “Nicky and Alice make a fine couple.” Separated, they wrote each other letters almost every day.
These delicate sheets with small crowns—their letters. He wrote her from the castle at Spala, in Poland, where the Polish kings had had an ancient hunting lodge and where the Russian tsar loved to hunt. He wrote to her from the imperial train taking him to Livadia, where his father lay dying. Hundreds of his letters. And hundreds of her replies. Endless incantations of love.
ASDFGHJKLXFCHAGDKN I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE?! OH MY GOD THANK YOU - NOT ONLY FOR YOUR WONDROUS BLOG, BUT FOR REASSURING ME THAT I AM NOT ALONE IN MY SLIGHT OBSESSION WITH THE MOST PERFECT FAMILY IN HISTORY!!!
AHAHAH, you’re most welcome. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only weirdo (if I may say so) out there :)
Towards the end of their exile, some, if not all, of the captives realized the desperate nature of their position, and had scant hope of surviving Bolshevist rule for any length of time. Evidences of their attitude were found among the papers that remained at Tobolsk and came into the investigating magistrate. Among them are two prayers written in verse - apparently composed by Countess Hendrykova and transcribed by Grand Duchess Olga. Here is an approximate rendering of some of the verses:
Grant us Thy patience, Lord, in these our woeful days, The mob’s wrath to endure, The torturer’s ire;
Thine unction to forgive Our neighbors’ persecution And mild, like Thee, to bear A bloodstained Cross.
And when the mob prevails, And foes come to despoil us, To suffer humbly shame, O Saviour aid us!
And when the hour comes To pass the last dread gate, Breathe strength in us to pray, Father forgive them!
Source:The Last Days of the Romanovs: How Tsar Nicholas II and Russia’s Imperial Family Were Murdered by Robert Wilton.
oh god my creys!!!!!!! I swear dear every time i see Tsar Nicholas on my dashboard (especially coming most of them from you) i wanted to cry and i always always ALWAYS stare at him for 5minutes before i move on (more like scroll down). Why!!!!! Why is he so handsome!!!!!! Why!!!!!!!! I think i have an incurable obsession to him now. Why!!!!!!!!!!
You are not the only one, I also have a (somewhat and not so secret) morbid obsession about him. Why else would I be posting about him? ahaha. Now, back to reality. What I admire most about Nicholas are his personality traits, his looks are just a bonus.
Okay, so in an effort to try and organize one aspect of my life, I’ve decided to at least figure out how many Romanov related books I have, and if someone needs something, they can ask me to verify something. Because I’m just that nice :)
In no particular order, here are my books on the Romanovs,…
hi thurrrr!!! Have you read the secret plot to save the tsar by shae mcneal (i think)? Coz it's the only book available in this bookstore i frequent to. The cover is purplish. If you've read it (or not) what's you verdict/opinion/review? Thanks :)
I never heard of that book before but I’ll try to buy it and put together a nice review.
Morning service and obednya ended at one 40… The day was bright, really festive. Took a walk in the morning. Before breakfast exchanged triple kisses with all the servants, and Alix gave them china eggs which we had in stock. Altogether there were 135 people [there]. During the day started to work by the bridge, but soon a large crowd of onlookers gathered behind the lattice fence – we were forced to leave and spend the rest of the time bored in the garden. Aleksei and Anastasia went outside for the first time. At 7 o’cl. there was an evening service in the playroom. After dinner [we] dispersed at 10 o’cl.; read to Tatiana aloud in my room. Went to bed early.