Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna

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Olgachair

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, 3/15 November 1895–17 July 1918

Grand Duchess Olga was the firstborn of Tsar Nicholas II and Empress Aleksandra (Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine)’s five children. Like all four of her siblings, she was a very large baby, 10 pounds. She was named for the character Olga Larina in Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin’s classic novel Yevgeniy Onegin. Had she been a boy, she would’ve been named for the worthless, pathetic Tsar Pavel. The Tsar’s firstborn child had usually been a boy, but everyone figured there was always next time.

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Her parents were delighted with their pretty, charming little daughter, and somewhat glad she was a girl instead of a boy. A boy would’ve belonged to the Russian people, but a daughter belonged only to them. However, since no one had moved to amend the ridiculous, draconian House Laws created by Tsar Pavel, she was unable to inherit the throne. Pavel wanted to stick it to his mother, Catherine the Great, for having deposed his alleged father, Peter III, and so ruled women could never again rule Russia. Thus, the pressure was on to produce a boy.

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With her little sister Tatyana. They died in one another’s arms.

Olga was known to be the most intelligent of Nicholas II’s children, an inveterate bookworm, perhaps not best served by most of the tutors her parents hired. She was also very compassionate, and after she came into her trust fund at 20, she used much of her vast fortune to help those in need. Along with these positive traits, she was also moody, brutally honest, temperamental, and autocratic. Unfortunately, because she was so sheltered from the outside world and rarely went to court functions, she was quite naïve, and her mental age didn’t really match her chronological age. She and her sisters talked and acted like little girls.

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With her little brother. Olga was one of Aleksey’s several godmothers.

Though it was normal for Romanova women to be married in their late teens, the only marriage prospect Olga was ever offered was the sleazy Prince Carol of Romania. Romania’s Royal Family came for a visit to Russia in 1914, and then later that year, the Russian Imperial Family went to Romania. However, neither Olga nor Carol liked one another. She dodged a bullet, since he proved to be a lousy husband to his several wives, and an all-around serpent’s tooth, scumbag, and traitor.

Her parents had also been seriously considering her cousin Dmitriy Pavlovich, but their personalities weren’t exactly compatible. Dmitriy was too worldly and earthy for her, and then, of course, he was involved in Rasputin’s murder.

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With Tatyana, after both had started wearing their hair up

The outbreak of the Great War put a bit of a damper on Olga’s marriage prospects, but it’s still rather surprising her parents didn’t have her married off before then. She and Tatyana were a bit old to be unmarried, by European royalty standards of the era. Both kept falling in love with men of unequal rank, like the officers on board their yacht The Shtandart and the wounded soldiers they nursed in their hospital. They rarely interacted with men of equal rank, due to how their family almost never went to court functions.

During the war, Olga was a nurse just like Tatyana and their mother, though the emotional stress of treating wounded soldiers took its toll on her. She was already emotional and moody, and this led to some breakdowns. In October 1915, she received arsenic injections to try to heal her nerves and mood.

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In the uniform of her regiment, the 3rd Yelisavetgrad Hussars

In early 1917, all five Imperial children caught measles, and Olga was one of the worst affected, getting both pleurisy and encephalitis (because measles actually IS deadly, contrary to what the anti-science woonatics claim). During this time, their father illegally abdicated, and they fell under house arrest. In August, they were moved to Tobolsk, and in April 1918, the family were briefly separated when Nicholas, Aleksandra, and Mariya went to Yekaterinburg. Olga stayed behind with her other sisters and Aleksey, who was recovering from a serious hemorrhage in the groin.

In May 1918, the Bolsheviks decided, against obvious evidence, that the sickly Aleksey was suddenly well enough to travel, and they were forced to go to Yekaterinburg. Olga’s mood continued deteriorating, and she was in an even worse state after reaching Yekaterinburg.

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In my alternative history, Olga and her siblings are rescued, and she marries Prince Konstantin Konstantinovich the younger, who had a crush on her in real life. They heal one another’s wounded hearts and souls.

Of the five Imperial children, I always felt a suprarational soul connection to Aleksey, but of the Grand Duchesses, I always was most drawn to Olga.

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11 comments on “Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna

  1. I wonder if things might’ve been different—not just for Olga but for all the Romanovs—if the family had participated more in court life… Maybe. Maybe, though, it was already too late. Lovely piece you have here, Carrie-Anne, and I love that your alternate history has given Olga a happy ending 🙂

    Thanks for the visit over at Life In Dogs! Super interesting question you asked; I’ll get cracking on an answer for Wednesday 🙂

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  2. rxena77 says:

    Poor Olga. No wonder you changed her fate in your alternate history. I do the same in my own, 🙂

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  3. Such beautiful portraits. Interesting how the parents thought of her as belonging to them, rather than a boy belonging to the country. For all the riches and glamour, there is an element of sadness when looking at children in such a way. In so many ways they were victims of their fame during such turbulent times … better to imagine them (Olga) in an alternate history.

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  4. A sheltered life isn’t good for anyone. What did become of her?

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  5. Such a fascinating family. I’d not heard Olga’s side before. (Anastasia gets all the press.)

    @ShonnaSlayton from
    Author Shonna Slayton: A to Z of the 1800s

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  6. Kathryn says:

    A really interesting post. What a beautiful looking person she was. I can imagine caring for wounded soldiers would have been a huge shock to her system.

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  7. Fascinating! There are so many areas of history I would never encounter if it weren’t for other people being interested and knowledgeable. Even though I’ve heard Olga’s names and tidbits about the Romanovs, I’ve never specifically delved into them. This post makes me want to read your version of Olga’s life.

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  8. Engaging, wonderful post. I’ve always really enjoyed learning about the Russian royals – a passion that I think stems not only from my general love of history, but also from the fact that I have some Russian blood in my veins (though it certainly isn’t royal) and as such I feel a greater connection the country’s past than if I wasn’t part Russe.

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  9. jazzfeathers says:

    Great story. And I love these pics. I think they are among the best you’ve posted 🙂

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

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