Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna

Grand Duchess Tatiana in 1914

The 2nd eldest of the Imperial children, Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna was born on the 10th June(o.s May 29th) 1897 to Nicholas II and his wife Tsarina Alexandra at Tsarskoe Selo, just outside of St.Petersburg, Russia.

With her Dark Auburn hair and dark eyes, Tatiana was less frank and spontaneous than Olga, well balanced, reserved, shy, very regal, unselfish, did not like to argue  and managed to keep her emotions under control.

One of the nannies, Margaretta Eagar recalls:  “One day the children and I were walking in the garden of the Winter Palace. The Emperor has some really beautiful collie dogs, and these were taking exercise in the garden at the same time. One of them, a young untrained creature, jumped on Tatiana Nicolaivna’s back, and threw her down. The child was frightened and cried most bitterly. I lifted her up and said: ‘Poor Sheilka! she did not mean to hurt you; she only wanted to say ‘Good-morning’ to you.’ The child looked at me and said, ‘Was that all? I don’t think she is very polite; she could have said it to my face, not to my back.’ “

Like Olga, Tatiana played the piano, but more dry and not with emotion or feeling. She enjoyed needlework and pratical work and would often do it to pass the time away. She was also very well organized and her favourite perfume was ‘Jasmine’. Her name day was on the 12th January.

Out of the four sisters, Tatiana was said to be the one that was most like her mother and the two were very close. It was the Empress who taught Tatiana to do needlework and once wrote to Nicholas that Tatiana was the only daughter who would “Grasp it” when she explained her way of looking at things. It was Tatiana was the one who would take care of her

Tatiana in 1907

Younger siblings(and Olga) and would help/instruct them in what to do. The other siblings would say that if a favour was required, “Tatiana must ask papa to grant it!”, earning her the infamous nickname, “The Governess”.

Like her sisters, Tatiana was called by her Patronymic, Tatiana Nikolaevna by family, servants and friends. She was raised as simply as possible: sleeping on hard camp cots unless she was ill and taking cold baths every morning.

One time, Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden address Tatiana as “Your Imperial Highness” and Tatiana, being used to being called by her pantronymic, kicked Sophie under the table with her for and whispered “Are you crazy to speak to me like that?!”

Tatiana was very close to her elder sister, Olga. The two sisters were totally opposite in personalities, but they were said to be “more like best friends than sisters” and were “passionately devoted to one another”. They also shared a room and bacme known as “The Big Pair”

As a student, while not as smart as Olga,  Tatiana was clever, but dutiful and got all her work done, doing well in her studies. She, like her sisters learnt French, Russian, English, history and art. They also took dancing classes and Religion classes.

Her tutor, Pierre Gilliard said of Tatiana: “Tatiana was rather reserved, essentially well balanced, and had a will of her own…If the Tsarina made any difference between her children, Tatiana Nikolaevna was her favorite. It was not that her sisters loved their mother any less, but Tatiana knew how to surround her with unwearying attentions…”On Jan 12th 1911(her name day), Tatiana received her regiment, the 8th Voznesensky Uhlans (lancers) the uniform was

Tatiana in Regiment uniform

navy and yellow and has survived to this day and is on display in the Alexander Palace (uniform). Unlike Olga, she never received another regiment.

In early 1913, illness struck Tatiana after supposedly drinking Orangeade mixed with water at the Winter Palace in St.Petersburg, contracting Typhoid. She suffered from a high fever, a high temperature and headches, causing her hair to fall out, resulting in her having to have it cut short. By 1914, her hair had grown back into a flicked bob, as seen in the 1914 formal photo above.

August 1914 soon came and Russia declared war on Germany. Tatiana, her mother and Olga soon became red cross nurses and helped the soldiers that were wounded in the war. Anna Vyrubova wrote that: “Tatiana was almost as skillful and devoted as her mother, and complained only that on account of her youth she was spared some of the more trying cases.”. Unlike Olga, she could cope with the pressures of being a nurse.

During her time of Nursing, Tatiana met a young solider, Dmitri Malama. A romance developed between the two of them. He gave her a French Bulldog, which she named Ortino. However, within a year or so, the small dog died, so Malama gave Tatiana another small bulldog, which she also named Ortino. Tatiana

1917 soon came around, and another Revolution had started. There were many riots and protests and in March 1917, Tsar Nichoals II abdicated and Tatiana and her family were put under house arrest in the Alexander Palace. The children all fell ill with measles around this time and this left Tatiana part deaf in one ear.

In August 1917, Tatiana, her siblings and parents were taken to captivity in Siberia, to a town called Tobolsk, where they stayed in the Governer’s mansion. Her english tutor, Charles Sydney gibbes wrote that Tatiana had become “Razor thin” whiel in captivity and became more and more haughty and more inscrutable to him.

Tatiana and a guard, c.1917

In April 1918, Nicholas, Alexandra and Maria left for their final destination, the Ipatiev house in Yekaterinburg. Tatiana, Olga, Anastasia and Alexei all stayed behind with the servants and the tutors.  One of the reasons Tatiana stayed behind was so that she could “look after the household” and Alexei, who was “very sick with his haempohilia”.

Tatiana and her siblings soon joined Maria, Nicholas and Alexandra in Yekaterinburg, boarding the ferry, The Rus in May 1918, taking her beloved Ortino with her. Pierre Gilliard, who was not allowed into the Ipatiev hosue, recalled his last sighting of Tatiana and her siblings:

“The sailor Nagorny, who attended to Alexei Nikolaevitch, passed my window carrying the sick boy in his arms, behind him came the Grand Duchesses loaded with valises and small personal belongings. I tried to get out, but was roughly pushed back into the carriage by the sentry. I came back to the window. Tatiana Nikolayevna came last carrying her little dog and struggling to drag a heavy brown valise. It was raining and I saw her feet sink into the mud at every step. Nagorny tried to come to her assistance; he was roughly pushed back by one of the commisars …”

Life at the Ipatiev house was different. Tatiana and her sisters were required to do their own laundry and they learnt how to make bread. On one occasion, one of the guards at the Ipatiev house had forgotten himself and told an off colour joke to the Duchesses. Tatiana ran from the room “as pale as death” and Maria scolded the guards for their bad language.

There, they remained until the early hours of the morning on July 17th 1918, when the entire family and other members of the household were shot to death by the Bolsheviks in the cellar of the Ipatiev House. Tatiana’s short life of 21 years had come to an end in an abrput and horrible way.

One of Tatiana's last photos: With her mother and sister Olga in 1918. Tatiana is on the left, Olga on the right and the Empress in the middle.


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