Posts Tagged ‘russian history’

The Romanov Children in 1906: Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra had four daughters and one son. (L-R) The Grand Duchess Olga (b.1895), Tsarevich Alexei (b.1904), Grand Duchesses Tatiana (b.1897), Maria (b.1899) and Anastasia (b.1901) Romanov. They were the last Imperial children of Russia. They were murdered with their parents 12 years after this photo was taken, in 1918.

The Romanov girls – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia – were born only six years apart, which brought them close. As daughters of the Tsar, they naturally grew up in a very cloistered environment, without the usual playmates. This brought them even closer, closer than most sisters. They loved each other very dearly. 

The grand duchesses thought of themselves as one unit and, by adolescence, decided to declare this unity by adopting the single autograph, “OTMA,” derived from the first letters of their names. As OTMA, they jointly gave gifts and signed correspondence.

Unlike most sisters, they did not squabble over possessions. Rather, they freely shared their belongings with one another. Tatiana once remarked to Baroness Buxhoeveden, one of her ladies-in waiting: 

We sisters always borrow from each other when we think the jewels of one will suit the dress of the other.” 

The girls were thrilled when their mother, Empress Alexandra, gave birth to a son in 1904. They warmly welcomed little Alexei, the tsarevich or heir,  into their fold. He became everyone’s baby, especially when it was learned he was gravely ill with hemophilia.

Since there were five of them then, the grand duchesses modified the acronym OTMA to reflect the addition of their baby brother. OTMA thus became OTMAA.

Readers: For more about the Russian Royal Family on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

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1896 Coronation of Nicholas II and Alexandra Fyodorovna. 1898, Laurits Tuxen

On May 26, 1896, Nicholas and Alexandra were crowned Tsar and Tsarina of Russia in the Uspenski Cathedral in Moscow.  It was one of the most magnificent pageants in Russian history. Over 7,000 guests from across the globe, including most of Europe’s royalty, attended. The celebrations lasted for two weeks.

The newly-crowned Romanov Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1896

At Easter 1897, Tsar Nicholas II presented his wife with a fabulous Easter egg to commemorate the coronation.

Faberge's Coronation Egg (1897)

Nicholas was in the habit of giving his wife an Imperial Easter egg every year. But the Coronation Egg (1897) was larger and more lavish than any before. The surface was enameled primrose yellow in a field of starbursts. Trellised with bands of laurel made of gold, each intersection was marked by Imperial eagles bearing tiny diamonds on their chests.

Created by the court jeweler, Peter Carl Faberge, the exquisitely handcrafted egg had a tiny surprise inside:

a precise reproduction – under 4 inches long – of the 18th Century coach that carried Alexandra to her coronation.”

Faberge's Coronation Egg (1897): The Surprise

Working all day and into the night, seven days a week, it took approximately 15 months just to handcraft the carriage!  It was barely finished in time to be presented to the Empress. (1)

Close-up of the miniature carriage from the Faberge Coronation Egg

Readers, for more on Nicholas and Alexandra on this blog, click here.

To see more Faberge Imperial Egg history, click here.

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