♔ Romanov Family Photo Spam ♔
7 / ∞ : NAOTMA after a game of Tennis
From left to right: (above) Grand Duchess Eleonore of Hesse, two Standart officers, Anna Vyrubova, Tsar Nicholas II holding Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, (behind) Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna (infront) Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, (behind) Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, Nikolai Sablin and Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna.
Early adulthood and World War I
Olga cared for and pitied the soldiers she helped to treat. However, the stress of caring for wounded, dying men eventually also took its toll on the sensitive, moody Olga’s nerves. Her sister Maria reported in a letter that Olga broke three panes of a window on a “caprice” with her umbrella on September 5, 1915. On another occasion, she destroyed items in a cloakroom when she was “in a rage”, according to the memoirs of Valentina Chebotareva. On October 19, 1915 she was assigned office work at the hospital because she was no longer able to bear the gore of the operating theater. She was given arsenic injections in October 1915, at the time considered a treatment for depression or nervous disorders. Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, one of her mother’s ladies in waiting, recalled that Olga had to give up nursing and instead only supervised the hospital wards because she had “overtired herself” and became “nervous and anaemic.”
According to the accounts of courtiers, Olga knew the financial and political state of the country during the war and revolution. She reportedly also knew how much the Russian people disliked her mother and father. “She was by nature a thinker”, remembered Gleb Botkin, the son of the family’s physician, Yevgeny Botkin, “and as it later seemed to me, understood the general situation better than any member of her family, including even her parents. At least I had the impression that she had little illusions in regard to what the future held in store for them, and in consequence was often sad and worried.”
Born eldest daughter of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna, Olga was considered the cleverest of her siblings. With a sharp mind and love for books, she was close to her father and together they enjoyed talking about politics. She was sometimes moody and bluntly honest, but had a good heart, Olga adored poetry and was a sensitive person. She had a ear for music and according to her mother’s friend, Olga sang prettily in a mezzo soprano and could play even the most complicated pieces on the piano. Perhaps the most talented of her siblings, Olga’s happiness came crushing down during WW1. She became distant and lost that happy glint in her eyes, that were now instead filled with sadness and exhaustion. It is thought by some that Olga perhaps knew the horrible fate that awaited her and her family.
Close ups of several official photos of the Imperial family, Maria Nikolaevna 1913.
Romances and marital prospects
Olga was a chestnut-blonde with bright blue eyes, a broad face and a turned up nose. She was considered less pretty than her sisters Maria and Tatiana, though her appearance improved as she grew older. “As a child she was plain, at fifteen she was beautiful”, wrote her mother’s friend Lili Dehn. “She was slightly above the medium height, with a fresh complexion, deep blue eyes, quantities of light chestnut hair, and pretty hands and feet.”
Olga and her younger sisters were surrounded by young men assigned to guard them at the palace and on the imperial yacht Standard and were used to mingling with them and sharing holiday fun during their annual summer cruises. When Olga was fifteen, a group of officers aboard the imperial yacht gave her a portrait of Michelangelo’s nude David, cut out from a newspaper, as a present for her name day on July 11, 1911. “Olga laughed at it long and hard”, her indignant fourteen-year-old sister Tatiana wrote to her aunt Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia. “And not one of the officers wishes to confess that he has done it. Such swine, aren’t they?”
At the same time the teenage Olga was enjoying her innocent flirtations, society was buzzing about her future marriage. In November 1911 a full dress ball was held at Livadia to celebrate her sixteenth birthday and her entry into society. Her hair was put up for the first time and her first ballgown was pink. Her parents gave her a diamond ring and a diamond and pearl necklace as a birthday present and symbol that she had become a young woman. A. Bogdanova, the wife of a general and hostess of a monarchist salon, wrote in her diary the following summer, on June 7, 1912, that Olga had been betrothed the previous night to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, her first cousin once removed. In his book The Rasputin File, Edvard Radzinsky speculates that the betrothal was broken off due to Dmitri’s dislike for Grigori Rasputin, his association with Felix Yussupov and rumors that Dmitri was bisexual. However, no other sources mention an official betrothal to Dmitri Pavlovich. Before World War I, there was also some discussion of a marriage between Olga and Prince Carol of Romania, but Olga did not like Carol. During a visit to Romania in the spring of 1914, she struggled to make small talk with the Romanian crown prince. Carol’s mother, Queen Marie of Romania, was unimpressed with Olga as well, finding her manners too brusque and her broad, high cheek-boned face “not pretty.”The plans were, in any event, put on hold upon the outbreak of war in 1914. Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son of England’s George V, and Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia were also discussed as potential suitors, though none were considered seriously. Olga told Gilliard that she wanted to marry a Russian and remain in her own country. She said her parents would not force her to marry anyone she could not like.
Grand Duchesses Maria & Olga of Russia (zoom from GARF)
Rare photo of Olga and Maria on the balcony of the Livadia Palace, 1913.
When I first knew the Grand Duchess Marie, she was quite a child, but during the Revolution she became very devoted to me, and I to her, and we spent most of our time together she was a wonderful girl, possessed of tremendous reserve force, and I never realized her unselfish nature until those dreadful days. She too was exceeding fair, dowered with the classic beauty of the Romanoffs; her eyes were dark blue, shaded by long lashes, and she had masses of dark brown hair. Marie was plump, and the Empress often teased her about this ; she was not so lively as her sisters, but she was much more decided in her outlook. The Grand Duchess Marie knew at once what she wanted, and why she wanted it.
Hearing their terrified screams, Ermakov turned from the lifeless body of their eldest sister, rounding on them with his blood-stained bayonet. Kabanov watched as he grabbed Marie, “stabbing her in the chest over and over again.” Yurovsky looked on in horror as Ermakov attacked her, but “the bayonet would not pierce her bodice.” She was, Yurovsky wrote, “finished off” with a shot to the head.
The Fate of the Romanovs - Greg King and Penny Wilson