Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Victoria’s Grandchildren: Empress Alexandra of Russia
She was born in Darmstadt on June 6, 1872, the sixth child of Princess Alice and Grand Duke Louis of Hesse, and christened Victoria Alix Helena Louisa Beatrice (though her family nicknames were Alicky or Sunny, because of her cheerful disposition). The Hesse household was a close one; Princess Alice was a loving, involved mother who paid close attention to her children’s upbringing...until tragedy struck in 1878, when diphtheria raged through the ducal house, killing Alicky’s younger sister Marie...and her mother as well. Six year old Sunny underwent a radical personality change as a result, becoming withdrawn and brooding and able to relax only with her closest family members.
Bertie, Prince of Wales) but also of Ferdinand of Roumania. Both were refused, for Alix was in love with yet another cousin, Nicholas, Tsarevitch of Russia.
But when Nicky proposed, Alix refused, for marrying him would mean converting to the Russian Orthodox church and giving up her Lutheran faith. She suffered agonies of conscience, madly in love yet unable to say yes, until at her brother’s wedding in 1894, with most of the crowned heads of Europe gathered for the event, she relented. Alix and Nicky married just months later, following the death of Nicky’s father, Tsar Alexander III. The orphaned princess from a tiny German principality became Empress of Russia at the age of 22...and took the first steps on the road that would lead to tragedy 23 years later.
In July 1918, with different factions still struggling for power in Russia, the Bolsheviks who held Nicky and Alix and their family decided that they were too dangerous to be left alive. The entire family—22 year old Olga, 20 year old Tatiana, 19 year old Marie, 17 year old Anastasia, and 14 year old Alexei—were horribly executed in the cellar of their house...on the site of which today stands a cathedral. The devout Alix and Nicky, as well as their children, were made saints in the Orthodox Church.