Our British aristocrats are lovely, but oh, so predictable.
You know what they’re going to wear, what they’re going to say, when they’re going to wave. And what they have done in the annals of history: even Henry and his wives lead like an anti-fairy tale. I know what’s coming next.
Those Russian Romanovs, not so much.
History of the indistinct type swirls round their origin and if you peer past the propaganda it seems they may just have started as custodians of the Tsar’s horses. But nothing advances a family’s fortune as well as a pretty face. Look at the Middletons.
A very beautiful ancestor of the Romanovs swept Ivan IV off his feet. And she married him and became the first Tsarina, and had a son. But their misfortune was to be in competition with Boris Godunov, who fought them and won, and sent each member of the Romanov family to distant parts of Russia to die.
All bad things must come to an end, and Godunov was no exception. And the people of Russia, to all intents and purposes welcomed the Romanovs warmly to the Russian throne because after all, were they not Ivan the Terrible’s in-laws?
That was in 1612. On July 17, 1918, the remaining Romanovs were lined up against a wall and shot. The girls did not die from the first shots, the story goes, because the bullets rebounded off their jewels.
The White Army got there too late. They bundled the bodies into coffins and carried them around with them to prevent desecration.And last I heard, they are underneath a car park in Beijing.
You didn’t see that coming, did you? In 2006 there were noises about disintering them and bringing them home, but I can’t trace anything after that.
See, that’s the thing. Those Romanovs, even in death, they keep you guessing.
I think I have mentioned before that there are Russian aristocrats walking around in many, many countries. They fled far and wide after the revolution. But if they went by their real names in the early days, when they first got off the boat, chances were they’d end up with an ice axe in their back.
As the boat arrived in the port, they’d cast around for some shop name or advertisment or factory label, and they’d use that.
So that by the time they reached immigration, they were someone else entirely.
You know anyone with a history like that?