Emperor Alexander III of Russia inspects an honor guard with his son, the future Nicholas II. Alexander III proved to be a good father, loved by his children and his nephews, my father foremost among them. Did he know that his successor was too weak for the position? In any case, he raised his son for the task but died too young, leaving Nicholas II unprepared for the role.
Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna with her two eldest children, Grand Duchess Vera and her elder brother Nicholas Constantinovitch, Grand Duke of Russia and the black sheep of the family, a polygynist who died in exile in Tashkent.
Queen Olga, Grand Duchess of Russia, loved to wear the court dress of the Russia Court and don her jewelry. Here she displays the famous emeralds which remain to this day with her descendants.
Nicholas and the future Empress Alexandra. It was a marriage of love, and the two remain in love throughout their lives. It was also a tragic marriage, as the weakness of Nicholas II and the blind stubbornness of Alexandra in part provoked the catastrophe that would overthrow the monarchy and lead to their deaths.
Who is this Grand Duke of Russia who wears this spectacular helmet adorned with the two headed eagle, the emblem of Imperial Russia? It is most likely one of the sons of Grand Duke Constantin Constantinovitch and therefore a first cousin to my father. Royalty, and in particular the Russians, loved to wear flamboyant uniforms, which isn’t to say they were necessarily great warriors. However, one of the Grand Duke’s sons did die on the front during World War I.
Grand Duke Constantin Constantinovitch, the brother of my grandmother, was a poet and a linguist. He translated Hamlet into Russian, amongst other works, and as an amateur actor, he even played the role of Hamlet himself. As Hamlet was a prince of Denmark, the grand duke wore the decoration of the Danish elephant for the occasion, which he received from the king of Denmark.