Saturday, November 10, 2007

Russian Romance


Sometimes you just feel like reading something nice...just a little bit of romance to break up the day or to allow yourself some light reading. You know...that 'nothing' sort of reading that just makes you feel good. The Romanov's are good for that, and I'll tell you why...Nicky and Alix (the Russian Tsar and his Tsarina) were madly in love and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you strip away all the details of the government of the day, take away some of their numerous servants...and put them at Livadia, which was their home at the sea...well, you have sort of a normal family. They didn't have the white picket fence, but, oh, who cares---they had the stone white walls around the palace!
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Alix had loved Nicky for years and years and probably wouldn't have married anyone if she hadn't married Nicky. And she almost didn't! In her own mind, the differences between her religion and his were insurmountable. She couldn't be crowned as Empress of Russia, knowing in her heart that she did not believe in their religion. It was wrong, wrong and wrong. So, she kept telling Nicky no. This went on for the longest time. Now...here you've got this Princess who has a handsome Tsar begging her for her hand...and she loves him too...yet she can't say yes. You have to give her a little credit. Her beliefs were very strong and in her heart she could not lie to God. It's a long story, and there's much more to tell, but finally, at a family wedding in Coburg, he got the news he had been waiting for. She said YES. I have a book here with some of their very private love letters to each other, and diaries. I thought I would share some of them...so you can see them as the real people they were...excited, in love, missing each other... so, we'll start with Nicky.
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Coburg, April 8, 1894 ~ 'A wonderful, unforgettable day in my life - the day of my betrothal to my dear beloved Alix. She came to Aunt Michen after 10 o'clock, and after they had talked, she and I had our discussion. God, what a mountain has fallen from my shoulders; with what joy I have been able to delight dear Papa and Mama! I spent the whole day in a haze, not quite knowing what had happened to me!'
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Nicky, Diary - April 11, 1894, Palais Edinburg, Coburg ~ 'Slept splendidly in Uncle Alfred's rooms downstairs to the left of the entrance. The weather was much warmer than in Coburg, everything was in full bloom and the scent wonderful. After coffee with the whole family, sat with Alix answering telegrams. Her attitude towards me has changed so much during the last few days, I am utterly entranced. This morning she wrote three sentences in Russian without a single mistake! At 11:30 we went together by char-a-banc to Rosenau, where her late parents, a brother and sister, are buried in a pavilion.'
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Nicky, April 12, 1894 ~ 'Woke up to a beautiful day. Went with Alix to have coffee with the Queen; now I must call her Granny. The infantry played under my windows like the dragoons. Wrote telegrams with Alix. At 11 0'clock went to church with the Queen. Looked at the group photographs taken before and after Ducky and Ernie's wedding. Alix and I went together to Rosenau by char-a-banc. Quite a number of people of people have gathered to play lawn-tennis and drink tea. Sat with my delightful bride. With Aunt Marie's permission, have moved from the castle into the cottage in her garden, next to the villa where Alix is staying. I am in Alfred's rooms, as he left today for Potsdam. Its very cosy, convenient and, most importantly, near to her.'
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Nicky, Diary- April 15, 1894, Good Friday - Coburg ~ 'At 10 o'clock went with Alix to breakfast with the Queen; it is so strange to be able to drive and walk alone with her, without feeling at all embarrassed, as if there was nothing unusual in it! The weather started to deteriorate, but we nevertheless set out on foot to the antiquary and to the wicker shop, where I brought a number of baskets for mushroom picking as well as a chaise-lounge for the camp. Alix gave me a ring. How funny it seemed to put it on my finger for the first time! Went with my darling bride to Rosenau by char-a-banc. We gathered flowers along the way and walked up to the house. Learned that the Queen would remain a further day because of the brisk weather in the Channel! During the service I carried the Shroud with Uncle Sergei. Dined with the Queen at 9 0'clock. Afterwards there was music, while some people sat in the adjoining room and talked. Returned home, sat for a further hour with dear Alix, she is calm and happy. Poured with rain.'
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Alix to Empress Marie, her future mother-in law, April 18th, 1894, Palais Edinburg, Coburg ~ 'Darling Motherdear, Nicky tells me I may call you so, oh thank you so much - you are too kind and good to me. How can I thank you and dear Uncle enough for the magnificent present you were so awfully kind as to send me. It is much too beautiful for me! It gave me quite a shock when I opened up the case - saw those beautiful stones. I thank you ever so much for it, and kiss your hands most tenderly. I feel so proud to have your lovely order, and am most grateful and thankful for it, and the sweet egg and dear letter - all touched me deeply. Only two days still, and then darling Nicky and I have to part, it makes me feel miserable, but I am sure that his little Motherdear is longing for him. You will let him come to England this summer, won't you, because it would be too hard to be parted so long, and Grandmama is looking forward to his visit so much. He has quite won her heart, as he has of all those who know him.'
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Nicky, Diary - April 20, 1894 ~ "Awoke with the melancholy feeling that the end had arrived of our soul to soul existence. After coffee I went with Alix to visit the widowed Duchess, who lives quite alone in her castle on the hill. At 12:45 I went with Alix to the station and said goodbye to her. She is going to Darmstadt and from there to England with Victoria (her eldest sister) to visit the Queen. How sad it seemed when I returned home! As if on purpose the weather had started to clear up and the sun broke through. Yes, it's no fun without her!'
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Nicky to Alix, April 20, 1894 - this sad Wednesday - Palais Edinburg, Coburg ~ 'My sweet darling beloved Alix! Oh! It was too awful saying goodbye like that, with a lot of people looking on from all sides! I shall never forget the sweet sad and yet smiling expression of your angelic face looking out of the window as the train was beginning to move! To know that you had to spend 9 hours in that small compartment nearly by yourself - was cruel to me and especially the thought that I was of no help any more! The coming home was more than unpleasant and when I came into my room, where you had just been a few minutes before, I could not keep back my tears. But then oh! what a delightful surprise - on my table in the bedroom there lay a note from you, my darling little girl. Thank you and thank you for the soothing comforting words you wrote in it. Oh! really those few lines did me good!'
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Alix to Nicky - April 20, 1894 - Darmstadt ~ 'My own precious Nicky Darling, I am lying in bed, but cannot go to sleep before I have written to you, as speak alas, we cannot. Oh, how I miss you, it is not be be described and I long for the two hours all alone with you. No goodnight kiss and blessing, it is hard. But our thoughts will meet won't they? Your dear telegram made my heart rejoice, and I have got it lying near me. What a delight it will be to find your letter in Windsor. And there you are rattling away in the beastly train, whilst I am comfortably installed in my own 'sweet house' - It reminds me all so much of last week - how glad I am that you have been here and know my rooms a bit. I want you badly. Forever and ever your dear photo stands before me, and makes me feel lonely. I shall write tomorrow from Windsor.'
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Alix to Nicky - April 22, 1894 - Windsor Castle ~ 'My own precious Nicky dear, I have just arrived and had breakfast with Granny. How it reminded me of Coburg and made me miss you more than ever. But there the delight t finding your sweet letter for which many tender kisses and thanks for the flowers. I am going to put them in my Bible and Prayerbook- they smell still excellently. The comfort of having your letter is great and I don't know how often I have read it in these few minutes and covered it with kisses. How I miss your kisses and blessing. The journey went off well and the crossing was splendid, not a movement and I do not feel very tired. Granny has a tiresome cough. The whole journey I kept your coin in my hand and played with it and looked at the photo - a little comfort. Not only that I miss you, but Ernie too, everything reminds me of a few weeks ago where we were here together and I feel quite lost without him. Granny tells me she has written to you - she wrote to me even to Darmstadt. Aunt Beatrice is going up to London for some function, so Granny, I and the children will be left to ourselves. Your letter has made me too awfully happy. I also feel shy to express my feelings...we shall have to conquer this weakness, don't you think so?'
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Queen Victoria to Nicky - April 22, 1894 - Windsor Castle ~ 'Dear Nicky, I must thank you very much for so kindly sending me that splendid copy of your Travels which I shall value very much. I need not say how much my thoughts (have) been with you and my sweet Alicky (Alix) since we left dearest Coburg and I am sure the parting from her will have been very painful for both... I shall watch over her most anxiously and carefully that she should get rest and quiet and do all to get strong which she has not been for some time.'
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Nicky to Alix - April 23, 1894, Gatchina ~ 'Good morning my own precious one! I am aroused from my slumber, which had been disturbed at 3.0 in the night by an insolent bat. My man, my dog and myself hunted the beast for nearly half an hour before we at last manged to catch the brute in the corner.'
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Alix to Nicky - April 30, 1894 - Windsor Castle ~ 'Oh, Nicky sweet, do you really not get frightened when you think what a creature is to become your wife, will she not drive you mad? I shall do all in my power to get my legs in order till next year, (Alix had much pain in her legs from a bad back) but it is not so easy and you who are so fond of walking, oh dear, what could I do? The post has brought me nothing from you, let's hope tonight a letter may still come, or else I shall be so sad.'
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Nicky, Diary- May 2, 1894 - Anichkov Palace, St. Petersburg ~ 'I am sitting in nothing else but my shirt, all the windows open though it's night...I ran about through our future apartments in the Winter Palace (a killing sight), returned home for 5 minutes and drove to Ella (Alix's sister). We two dined together...Ella gave me some excellent ideas about arranging our rooms- and we talked away till 11. I was glad to see her as of all the sisters she reminds me mostly of my sweet darling. Isn't it so?'
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Nicky to Alix - May 8, 1894 - Gatchina ~ 'Papa is always so dear and kind to me - today I asked whether he would allow me to go over to England in his lovely yacht the Polar Star - and he at once consented, adding he was sure I am delighted not to have to go through Berlin! I should think I am mad at the idea of going over to see my sweety by sea and on board that ship. Oh you ought to see her - she is a beauty and so comfortable, but the best of engines - she steams 18 knots easily an hour! '
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Alix to Nicky - May 10, 1894 - Harrogate (the baths in England) ~ 'I had my first sulphur bath this morning, it did not smell lovely, and made my silver bracelet, which I never take off quite black, but that one can clean with the powder one uses for cleaning up one's silver things. ' May 11, 1984 ~ 'Before slipping into bed I am going to read your sweet letter over again, and it makes me happy. Oh, what an indescribable joy it is, one is loved and longed for - and I pray on my knees that I may become worthier of your great love. Oh, my Nicky, my own sweet Boysy, dear God bless you now and for ever. I could cry for love for you. Not only do I miss you but I long for Ernie, who used to be always running into my room at every hour of the day - und ich gonne es ihm vom Herzen (and I was always happy for him to do so). A kinder, dearer brother never was... And beloved Papa, oh, it is terrible to know that I shall nevermore see him in this world. I miss him daily more and more especially now that through you my heart is so full. Tomorrow my little sister May would have been 20, think only, quite grown up. Sweet little Child that she was. But my love I think I better go to bed, as my legs have been so painful today and as I had my first bath, it is also getting on for eleven.'
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Personally, I'm so glad they didn't have telephones in those days. If they had, we probably wouldn't be reading these very private things! If you enjoy the Russian Royal Family, take a peek at the Alexander Time Machine. It has everything a person could want on these royals...pictures and descriptions of their private rooms, wonderful archives, stories, personal accounts and diagrams of the palaces...as well as lots of information on their children. It's one of the best sites out there. http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/ Go ahead and hit it when you're ready! You won't be sorry.

3 comments:

Jennifer Linforth said...

My first introduction to Nicky and Alix was through the BBC series "Fall of Eagles." One of my contacts at the Center for Austrian Studies pointed me toward that book and series for reearch into my historicals.

I agree, they were passionately in love. In my eyes... the love that Franz-Josef and Elisabeth WANTED to have... but power, family and Austria got in the way.

Cozy aka Susan Flanders said...

Just imagine if Franz-Josef and Elisabeth had the same relationship... a very interesting thought!

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

What a lovely post. I've adored Nicolas and Alexandra ever since I read Robert Massie's book and watched the film version. I cried when I read how they died, and I was so moved by their love story.