Nicholas II’s little known third brother: Alexander (1869-1870)

PHOTO: The only photograph of the “Angel Alexander”, was taken by his parents posthumously

Up until the early 20th century infant mortality in Imperial Russia was among the highest in the world[1]. Many a family lost at least one child either during childbirth or disease. Infant mortality was something that did not discriminate, regardless of one’s position in life, including members of the Russian Imperial Family.

Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich was born on 7th June (O.S. 26th May) 1869. He was the second child, of the then Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich (future Emperor Alexander III) and Tsesarevna Maria Feodorovna (future Empress Maria Feodorovna, née Princess Dagmar of Denmark).

Alexander was the younger brother of the future Emperor Nicholas II, and third in line to the Russian throne at the time of his birth.

Sadly, the “Angel Alexander” did not live a full year, he died of bacterial meningitis, one month before his first birthday, on 2nd May (O.S. 20th April) 1870, age 10 months and 26 days.

The doctors who observed the infant – obstetrician Jacob Schmidt, pediatrician Karl Rauchfus and surgeon Gustav Hirsch recorded the course of the disease in detail. They noted that on the night of 15/16 April, after the secondary flu which infected the child’s right lung, signs of acute damage to the meninges appeared. On 17th April, there was a “slight improvement in the patient’s condition”, on 18th April – “a feverish state of moderation”, on 19th April – “for the most part he was conscious”, but the next day there was a deterioration and sudden death.

PHOTO: the tiny white marble sarcophagus bearing the remains of Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg

Tsesarevich Alexander wrote in his diary: “God, what a day You sent us and what is this test that we shall never forget to the end of our lives? Be it Your Will Lord and we shall conciliate before You and Your Will.”

“The doctors maintain he did not suffer, but we suffered terribly to see and hear him,” Maria Feodorovna wrote to her mother, Queen Louise of Denmark.

Grand Duke Alexander was sketched on his deathbed by the famous Russian portrait artist Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi (1837-1887). The only photograph of the “Angel Alexander”, was taken by his parents posthumously.

Sergei D. Sheremetev, the adjutant to Tsesarevich Alexander, accompanied the infant’s body on horseback to the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, where he was buried in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral. The infant Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich was laid to rest in the northern nave of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in a tiny white marble sarcophagus. On the upper edge of the sarcophagus there is a gilded cross made of bronze, on the side there is a bronze plaque with an epitaph inscribed on it

Alexander’s death was the first of many personal losses which the Empress Maria Feodorovna would endure before her own death in 1928. She outlived her beloved husband “Sasha”, her parents, her sister Alexandra, all four of her sons, and five grandchildren.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!


[1] At the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia had the highest infant mortality in Europe – 250 out of 1000 newborns died before they reached one year of age.

Infant mortality under Nicholas II steadily declined. The downward trend in mortality (both children and adults) began before the revolution. According to statistics, the death rate during the reign of Nicholas II per 1000 people had been steadily decreasing.

In 1913, the All-Russian Guardianship for the Protection of Motherhood and Infancy was established by a personalized Imperial Decree, with the goal of reducing infant mortality in Russia, setting up shelters for mothers and children, Russia’s first dairy kitchens, children’s hospitals, maternity hospitals, etc.

© Paul Gilbert. 6 May 2023

5 NEW Romanov Titles

I am pleased to offer 5 additional Romanov titles on AMAZON in both PAPERBACK and EBOOK editions. The bulk of these titles are books which I published in paperback editions about 20 years ago, and have been out of print for some time. I decided to repackage each with new covers, and updated with prefaces and introductions. In addition, are also new titles.

Please note that some of these titles are available in both paperback and eBook editions, while others are available in either just paperback or eBook editions at the present time.

Prices for eBooks start at $9.99 USD, paperback editions start at $12.99 USD. Each title offers a FREE Look Inside feature.

All of these books are available from any AMAZON site in the world and are priced in local currencies [CLICK on any of the following links]: Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico and Australia

Please refer to the links provided below to view this month’s selection – PG

Compiled and Edited by Paul Gilbert

AMAZON’S #1 New Release in Historical Russia Biographies


Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich (1878-1918) was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, and the younger brother of Russia’s last emperor Nicholas II.

This book explores the milestones in the life of Grand Duke Michael in a series of essays by four distinct authors, and complemented with 50 black and white photographs.

Among them are the memories of Princess Olga Pavlovna Putyatina, who in February 1917, offered refuge to the grand duke at her flat on Millionnaya Street in Petrograd.

Independent researcher Paul Gilbert offers two fascinating essays: the first reviews an album of some 200 photographs taken by Grand Duke Michael, during his stay at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. England, 1913-1914 . The album sold at auction for more than 2 million rubles ($34,000 USD).

The final essay examines the myth that Michael was the last Tsar of Russia, he was not. Nicholas II remained Emperor and Tsar of Russia until the day of his death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and his Secretary Nikolai Nikolaevich Johnson, were both murdered by the Bolsheviks near Perm on 13 June 1918. Their remains have never been found.

by Dr. Thomas E. Berry


The history of the Corps des Pages in Russia dates back to the days of Peter the Great. Each of his successors made changes or improvements up until the end of the monarchy in 1917.

The Corps des Pages was both a military and a Court institution which prepared young men to serve the Tsar and his family at Court. Many would also go on to serve in the military or enter into the diplomatic or civil service of the Russian Empire. The chief among the Pages of the Chamber was ipso facto the Page of the Chamber of the Tsar. The Tsarina and each member of the Imperial Household had a Page of the Chamber assigned to them, as did all the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses. As a rule, Pages of the Chamber and Pages were invited to participate in many Imperial Court events.

These memoirs provide eyewitness accounts of their education and training at the Vorontsov Palace in St. Petersburg. From here, these young men went on to serve the Russian Imperial family. Their recollections of the elegance of the Russian Court as well as many, new intimate details of Emperor Nicholas II, provide us with a rare glimpse into his private world.

The memoirs also tell of the sadness and heartache felt as the First World War swept them, their country and monarchy into history. Some lived to tell of the destruction brought on by war and the revolution and reflect on a world lost forever.

by Paul Gilbert


Six eyewitness accounts of the crowning of Russia’s last tsar with more than 200 rare vintage photographs & illustrations

The pomp and pageantry surrounding the Coronation of Nicholas II is told through the eye-witness accounts of six people who attended this historic event at Moscow, held over a three week period from 6th (O.S.) to 26th (O.S.) May 1896.

The authors came from all walks of life and different nations: Francis W. Grenfell and Mandell Creighton, Bishop of Peterborough (Great Britain); John A. Logan, Jr., Kate Koon Bovey and Richard Harding Davis (United States); and Boris Alexandrovich Engelgardt (Russia).

Historians have left us only brief descriptions of this historic event, but it is thanks to the authors of this unique book that we are grateful. They recorded their observations in diaries and letters, leaving to posterity a first-hand record that allows modern-day readers to relive the crowning of Russia’s last tsar and the splendour and opulence of a world that is gone forever.

These exceptional memoirs offer a wealth of information that include the preparations and events leading up to and during the coronation festivities, the tsar’s entry into Moscow, the procession to the cathedral, the crowning of the tsar and the celebrations that followed. No two memoirs are alike; each of the authors guides the reader through this historic event through his or her own eyes.

Paul Gilbert is an independent researcher specializing in the study of the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II. He has committed his research to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

by Anna Taneeva-Vytrubova


Due to her privileged position at the Court of the last Russian Tsar and her close association to the Imperial Family, Anna Vyrubova’s memoirs are highly regarded by those who share a special interest in Nicholas II and his family.

From the summer of 1905 on, Anna Vyrubova centered her life on the Empress Alexandra and became a part of the Tsar’s family. In order to be closer to the family, Anna moved into a summer home at Tsarskoye Selo, just two hundred yards from the Alexander Palace, and her telephone was connected directly to the palace switchboard.

Her memories provide a rare peek into the private world of the Imperial Family, sharing many intimate details and personal impressions. She sailed with them on the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ to the Finnish islands and Livadia in Crimea.

In 1920 Anna escaped to Finland and lived quietly at Vyborg. There she wrote these remarkable memoirs which offer a unique eyewitness testimony of the life and character of Empress Alexandra, Emperor Nicholas II and their five children. Vyrubova describes a diverse array of incidents in the life of the Imperial family which collectively attest to the sincere and loving nature of the often misunderstood Empress.

Anna took vows as a Russian Orthodox nun but was permitted to live in a private home because of her physical disabilities. She died in 1964 at the age of 80, in Helsinki, where her grave is located in the Orthodox section of Hietaniemi cemetery. This book was first published in 1923.

by Princess Olga Paley


Every victim of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 had a story to tell. One of the most tragic was that of Princess Olga Valerianovna Paley (1865-1929) the morganatic second wife of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (1860-1919).

Born in 1865, she married an officer of the Imperial Guard of Russia, Erich Augustinovitch von Pistohlkors, the couple had four children.

Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, a long-time friend of Pistohlkors, often spent his evenings with the Pistohlkors couple in Tsarskoye Selo; where he became smitten with Olga’s beauty, elegance, and her worldly and lively spirit. Their affair resulted in the birth of a son, Vladimir

Their affair created a scandal at Court and the Emperor forbid his uncle to marry Olga. Following her divorce from Pistolkors, Olga and Paul defied Nicholas II, resulting in their expulsion from Russia. They married in Livorno, Italy, and settled in an elegant mansion built in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France for several years. It was here that Olga gave birth to two more daughters,

In 1904, Prince-Regent Leopold of Bavaria titled Olga Countess of Hohenfelsen, and upon their return to Russia, the Tsar created the title of Princess Paley for her and their children.

During the revolution, her husband the Grand Duke and their son Vladimir were captured and murdered by the Bolsheviks. Olga and her daughters escaped to Finland and then returned to Paris, where she died in 1929.

Princess Olga Paleys memories are a poignant, often harrowing account of the ‘last happy days’ before the disintegration of the empire, and the Tsar’s abdication. She records in stark detail the actions of the revolutionary officials, the increasing humiliation and cruelty that she and her husband, who was already in poor health, suffered under the new order, the ‘reign of blackguardism’ as they gradually requisitioned or destroyed her property and that of the other Romanovs, and how they responded to each gesture of brutality with dignity during ‘the dreadful calvary of 1918’. It is a moving document by one who survived, while so many of those closest to her did not.

Click HERE to view 4 NEW Romanov titles published in August 2021

© Paul Gilbert. 16 September 2021

Britain’s first memorial to the Russian Imperial Family

Up until a few years ago, Britain’s first and only memorial to Emperor Nicholas II and his family was located in the Battenberg Chapel in St Mildred’s Church, Whippingham, Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.

It was here that Princess Victoria Mountbatten (1863-1950), the elder sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, created a memorial plaque for the members of her family who were brutally murdered in the Urals by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.

The memorial is tucked away in a corner of the Battenberg Chapel.

“Give rest O LORD to the Souls of thy Servants
who have fallen asleep, for they have set their hope on Thee”.

In loving memory of
ELISABETH, Grand Duchess Serge of Russia – b. Nov. 1st 1864
perished in the Russian Revolution on the 18th of July 1918

ALEXANDRA, Empress of Russia – b. June 6th 1872
NICHOLAS II, Emperor of Russia – b. May 18th 1864*
and of their children
OLGA – b. Nov. 5th 1895 TATIANA – b. June 10th 1897
MARIA – b. June 26th 1899 ANASTASIA – June 13th 1901
and ALEXEI, the Caesarevich – b. Aug. 17th 1904
perished in the Russian Revolution on the 17th July 1918

* Nicholas II was born in 1868, not 1864, as shown on the plaque

On 7th July 2018, a granite memorial [above photo] with bronze relief portraits of the Russian Imperial Family, was unveiled at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The monument marking the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family was created by the Moscow sculptor Elena Bezborodova.

On 13th July 2018, a monument [above photo] was also erected in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, on the grounds of the Cathedral of the Nativity Of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Royal Martyrs in the London Borough of Hounslow.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 July 2021

#ROMANOVS100: Last Days of the Romanovs Recreated in Multimedia Project


NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 9 April 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

Note: to access any of the 4 social media networks, please click on the appropriate link, all of which are highlighted in RED below – ENJOY!

The Russian international television network Russia Today (RT) and its award-winning team behind #1917Live have launched #Romanovs100 to bring the story of Russia’s last royal family to life through thousands of Romanov family photographs recently unearthed from within the national archives. Working with nearly 4,000 original photos of the Romanovs – the largest media release of its kind – across four social media platforms, the project will retell the last decades of imperial Russia over 100 days leading up to the centenary of their execution on 17 July 2018.

In conjunction with the Russian State Archive, RT will publish the most complete collection of the Romanovs’ personal photos ever assembled across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, as a large-scale ‘digital photo-puzzle’.


Kirill Karnovich-Valua, creative producer of the project at RT said:

“The Romanovs are deemed to be among the pioneers of photography – they had several cameras and recorded almost every meaningful event in their lives. The audience will be able to discover many sides of the Romanovs: last rulers of the Russian Empire, a devout loving family, passionate travelers, amateur tennis players, dog lovers, fans of breakthrough photography, and much more.”

Each of the four platforms will retell certain pieces of the family’s narrative using different formats and perspectives.

Mini-videos based on the Romanovs’ photo collection will be posted on YouTube, featuring historic aspects of the era in which the last Tsar’s family lived, as well as the little-known stories behind rarely seen photos. Photos from the family album featuring the most artistic and unusual images taken by the Romanovs will be published on Instagram. On Facebook, project followers will find high-quality panoramic photos in 180-degree format, and Russian composer and singer Peter Nalitch will record a special soundtrack to be integrated into lyrical videos for the project. On Twitter, individual accounts will tell first-person stories through personal photos.

In late 2016, RT launched one of the biggest-ever historical re-enactments on Twitter – #1917LIVE. The project has already been recognized by over a dozen international awards such as the New York Festivals, the Webby Awards, and the Shorty Awards, where it won five prizes, including one for “Best Twitter Partnership” for collaboration with world-renowned author Paulo Coelho.


RT’s #Romanovs100 project ran for exactly 100 days – from 8 April to 17 July – the day which marks the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ tragic execution.

© Paul Gilbert. 15 December 2019