A year ago we took a look at the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their five children in 1917, from the months leading up to it to its impact in Britain after George V and Queen Mary failed to offer refuge. Today we’re going to jump back a couple decades and take a look at their marriage, their rule and how Alexandra – born Alix of Hesse – fared (or rather, didn’t) as Tsarina.
In the middle of World War I, Queen Marie of Romania wrote to her first cousin, King George V of Great Britain: “I never imagined that it would be the lot of our generation, we who are children together, to see this great war and in a way to have to remodel the face of Europe.”
Grandchildren of Queen Victoria alongside the Kaiser of Germany, the Queen of Norway, the Queen of Spain, the Tsarina of Russia, the Queen of Greece, the Crown Princess of Sweden and countless German royals, that is in fact very much with what George and Marie were tasked in the 20th century. For the royal men, they at least had something approaching an education and training to complement such a job, but for Queen Victoria’s granddaughters, born and raised in the height of the Victorian Era, it was by far easier to stumble as they were dropped in the midst of increasingly politicized foreign courts with few tools to leverage.
As for Marie, Bucharest was far from home and her husband a far cry from her first love (George V), but despite a tyrannical father-in-law, an unstable mother-in-law, a series of affairs, illegitimate children, proximity to Russia and a shared heritage with Germany, she established herself as a popular and effective queen consort to the Romanian people.
Ninety-nine years ago today, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, alongside his wife and four children, was brutally executed at Ekaterinburg in the midst of the Russian Revolution and before the close of World War I. The extermination of the Romanov line impacted not only the course of Russian history, but that of Western Europe and Great Britain, in particular, with whom the two ruling families were closely tied.
Personally, it was would deeply affect George V who had been forced to deny his cousins refuge in England out of political necessity.