The birth of the future Emperor Nicholas II in the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: the Blue Boudoir in the Alexander Palace, where Nicholas II was born

At 4 o’clock in the morning of 19th May (O.S. 6th May) 1868, Tsarevna Maria Feodorovna began having contractions. The future Empress Maria Feodorovna was about to give birth to her first child. Immediately, the midwife Mikhailova was summoned and instructed to rush to the nearby Catherine Palace, to inform Maria’s father-in-law Emperor Alexander II, that his grandchild’s entry into the world was imminent. The Emperor rushed to the Alexander Palace from his apartments located in the Zubov Wing of the palace, followed shortly thereafter by his wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna.

At 12:50 p.m., Maria Feodorovna was taken into the bedroom [the Blue Boudoir, situated in the west wing of the palace – has not survived], which had been specially prepared for the pending birth. Lying down on the sofa, she was surrounded by her father-in-law, Emperor Alexander II, her mother-in-law, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, and her husband, the Heir-Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich [future Emperor Alexander III]. Her father-in-law and her husband kneeled on either side of the sofa, holding Maria Feodorovna’s hands when she gave birth – at 2.30 p.m. to her first child, a son – His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich – the future Emperor Nicholas II.

PHOTO: Maria Feodorovna with her first son Nicholas Alexandrovich. 1868

The happy young father wrote in his diary that day: “At long last, the final minute arrived and all suffering ceased at once. God has sent us a son whom we named Nicholas. What a joy it is, it is impossible to imagine, I rushed to hug my darling wife, who at once cheered up and was terribly happy. I cried like a child, it was so pleasant and easy on my soul. I hugged dear Papa and Mama heartily.”

The happy parents decided to name their son in memory of Alexander’s brother Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, who died from cerebro-spinal meningitis in 1865. Had he lived, he would have ascended the throne as Emperor Nicholas II.

Emperor Nicholas II was born on 19th May (O.S. 6th May) 1868, the day of St. Job of the Long Suffering.

© Paul Gilbert. 26 February 2021

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