Alexandra Fyodorovna

Photograph by Boasson and Eggler (1908). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Johanna Strong

Alexandra Fyodorovna was born Victoria Alix Helena Louise Beatrice, Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, on 6 June 1872 in Darmstadt, Germany, as the sixth child of Grand Duke Louis IV and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom.

She was the maternal granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was educated by her grandmother, spending many of her holidays with her British family, too. She went on to study philosophy at Heidelberg University.

Photograph of Nicholas II and Princess Alix at the time of their engagement, by Eduard Uhlenhuth (April 1894). Image Credit: Royal Collections Trust.

On 26 November 1894, she married Nicholas II of Russia and converted to Russian Orthodoxy, taking the name Alexandra Fyodorovna. Together they had 5 children, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and heir to the throne Alexei. Through Alexandra, Alexei had inherited hemophilia and suffered from it throughout his life, leading his mother to consult Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, who was looked upon with great suspicion at the royal court. This did not help the existing general dislike of Alexandra at the court.

Colourised version of Alexandra at her wedding (1894). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

When Nicholas II went to the front in August 1915 to lead the troops, Alexandra was left in power as regent and she dismissed many ministers, replacing them with people loyal to Rasputin.

Photo of Nicholas and Alexandra at the 1903 Winter Ball. Image Credit: WikiCommons,

After the October Revolution in 1917, Alexandra, Nicholas, and their children were imprisoned in April 1918 by the Bolsheviks at Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, where they were executed on the night of 16-17 July.

Photo of the empress in 1906. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

In 1979, bodies were found in an unmarked pit near Yekaterinburg which showed signs of shooting, stabbing, and the posthumous pouring of acid over the bodies. Believing these were the bodies of the last tsar, Alexandra, and 3 of their daughters, they were buried in 1991 in St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg and were canonised in 2000.

Photograph of the Russian imperial family (1913). Left to right: Grand Duchess Maria, Tsarina Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, Tsar Nicholas II, and Grand Duchess Anastasia. Tsesarevich Alexei sits in front of his parents. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Recommended Reading

“Alexandra, Empress Consort of Russia,” The Encyclopedia Britannica, 31 October 2021.

Carolly Erickson, Alexandra: The Last Tsarina (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2001)

Helen Rappaport, The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2009).

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