Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna as a child, the Future Duchess of Edinburgh
Maria Alexandrovna was the daughter of Tsar Alexander II and his first wife. She married Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria. The queen opposed the marriage. She hated the Russians, both for their status as international political rivals and for what she saw as their insufferable pretension. Maria Alexandrovna similarly disliked England where, after having been the pearl of the Imperial Court, she found herself second rank. It didn’t help that her husband turned into a drunken grouch.
Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich
Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich was the second son of Emperor Nicholas I. He was significantly more intelligent than his older brother, and rather short, a distinct contrast when compared to the rest of the imperial family. Cultivated and a great personality, he was also an outspoken liberal and favored establishing a constitution. Constantine Nikolaevich clearly distinguished himself from other Grand Dukes.
Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna
Alexandra Iosifovna came from the tiny Court of Saxe-Altenburg in Germany. She was raised in an immense yet inelegant medieval chateau, which that lacked the type of artwork one might expect. Alexandra was as beautiful as could be, and kept this extraordinary allure until late in her life. She was the shining light of the Court. The Grand Duchess never traveled without her piano, which had its own custom train car.
Empress Maria Feodorovna
Empress Maria Feodorovna was a young Danish Princess at the time of her engagement to the eldest son and heir of Tsar Alexander II. Then the prince unexpectedly died of consumption. His younger brother, Alexander, now the heir, sought the hand of his dead brother’s fiancée. She accepted. Empress Maria was tiny, but she possessed an innate majesty that soon stood out. Her husband was a giant. The two got along marvelously.
Grand Duke Constantine and his family
From the beginning, the art of photography required incredible dexterity and a technical acumen. It was always moving in novel and unpredictable directions. The successes were extraordinary, but difficult to come by. This photograph of Grand Duke Constantine and his wife Grand Duchess Alexandra, along with their children, captures only their faces.