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'I've grown fat, got a tan & now look like a Siberian'
Vladimir Lenin, 1897, in Siberian exile

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family found in a remote Urals museum

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 May 2013

Tsar Nicholas II appears in a photograph to be teaching his daughter Grand Duchess Anastasia how to smoke.

A zoo on the Tzar's estate would be closed after the 1917 revolution, but on that day the ruler wrote in his diary: 'Took the elephant to our pond with Alexei today and had fun watching him bath'. Picture: Zlatoust City History Museum

Another picture taken by the emperor dated 1916 shows Tsarevich Alexei - heir to an autocratic throne that would be abolished the following year - posing on a tree in winter with his beloved pet spaniel Joy. 

These images of the Russian royal family, captured in photographs taken by the Tsar himself or his children, mostly date from the years of the First World War, and some very soon before the Romanov dynasty crumbled, to be rapidly replaced by Communism. 

Found in a vault in Zlatoust, the album shows the private moments of the royals as the storm clouds gather over a dynasty that had ruled for more than three centuries. 

The smoking picture shows the youngest princess Anastasia, then 15, evidently imbibing from a cigarette with every encouragement from the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. At the time there was not the same stigma attached to smoking and in fact a year earlier Anastasia had written to her father: 'I am sitting here with your old cigarette that you once gave me, and it is very tasty'.

She - like Alexei - would soon be central characters in the mystery of what became of the Romanov family. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

The smoking picture shows the youngest princess Anastasia, then 15, evidently imbibing from a cigarette with every encouragement from the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

For decades there were claims that the pair had survived the 1918 shooting that took the lives of Russia's last royal ruler, his former empress Alexandra, and their other three children, Olga, Tatiana and Maria. 

In the event, DNA evidence gathered from bones found near Yekaterinburg gives credible evidence that both were indeed killed in the shooting at the Ipatiev House, where the family were held by Lenin's forces. Anastasia and her brother were, however, buried separately from the rest of the family. 

The images of Alexei show a surprisingly strong boy given that his haemophilia saw him portrayed as sickly.

Indeed it was his serious illness that led his mother to rely on debauched holy man Grigory Rasputin, a relationship that did much to undermine royal credibility as the country became embroiled in an ugly war and revolutionary fervour. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

These images of the Russian royal family, captured in photographs taken by the Tsar himself or his children, mostly date from the years of the First World War, and some very soon before the Romanov dynasty crumbled, to be rapidly replaced by Communism. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

In one of the earlier pictures in the set, the four carefree Romanov princesses are seen in 1914 enjoying the royal yacht 'Standart' on the Black Sea. 

The same year at Peterhof, the Tsar is shown relaxing on rocks in a picture almost certainly taken by one of his children using a camera he had imported from Britain. And in another picture, the Tsar, Alexei and the boy's tutor are seen walking an elephant near their palace in Tsarskoye Selo.

A zoo on the estate would be closed after the 1917 revolution, but on this day the ruler wrote in his diary: 'Took the elephant to our pond with Alexei today and had fun watching him bath'.

With war breaking out in 1914, the heir is shown in a military game with his tutor's two smaller children. In 1916, as he commanded Russian forces in the First World War, the Tsar is seen playing with his son on the banks of the Dnieper River close to Mogilyov. Here - where the smoking picture was taken - Russian military headquarters was based during the war, and Nicholas insisted on having his family around him. 

Other pictures show the older princesses visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals. 

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Private pictures of Russian Royal family, Grand Duchess Tatiana

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family

Top to bottom: Grand Duchess Olga and Tatiana, Grand Duchess Olga pictured looking through family album; Grand Duchess Tatiana; clockwise Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia; Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna on board of Russian Royal Yacht. Pictures: Zlatoust City History Museum

The images have been released in a year which marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov's coming to power in Russia. 

'The emperor was very fond of photography and passed his passion for it to his wife Alexandra and children,' said Milena Bratukhina, an historian at the Zlatoust Museum where the album was hidden in Soviet times.

It remains unclear how it got to Zlatoust.  One theory is that the album - which has 200-plus pictures, many never seen before - was taken from the royals by a revolutionary called Dmitry Chudinov, nicknamed Kassian, who was an escort when the exiled royals were brought westward from Tobolsk in Siberia to Yekaterinburg on their final move before they were shot. 

He was from Zlatoust and it is known that he appropriated some royal possessions. The album could have been among them.

Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Remarkable private pictures of the Russian royal family


Private pictures from Russian Royal family album, Tsar Nikolai II

Comments (72)

There is a wonderful image of Olga sitting on the balcony of the Alexander Palace looking at an album.
Bob Atchison, Austin Texas
25/09/2017 02:45
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While I do not believe that our family was at all part of the royal family. My grandmother's family came from Germany several generations prior and her maiden name was Fuhrer. It sounded like a rich family of attorneys and judges. I would like to know more of her background and my family.
Jeff Granowsky, Fort Collins, Colorado
20/07/2017 06:18
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The story from my grandmother is, my grandfather was a captain of the Czars guard and 63 of them escaped the palace when it was overrun. For 2 years they walked to Romania, bought false papers and boarded a boat to Canada. Spent two years there where my grandfather was a professional trapper and then went to New York, where her family was. The stories of the two year walk were incredible, and remarkable. Only three survived. My grandparents and a young man. The young man later became a rich furrier in Canada.
Jeff Granowsky, Fort Collins, Colorado
20/07/2017 06:13
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All the bodies were NOT accounted for. My grandmother always told us that her father was brother to Czar that was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. All she knew was that he escaped from Siberia,came thru the Bering Straight in a rowboat and on horseback thru Canada and met her mother who was very pregnant with her in New York. He changed his name to Bolshevik. That was all she knew. This man had been shot in the leg and limped. He burned all his papers and committed suicide in 1946. I don't know how true it is,I mean the body of Mikhail was NEVER found. It does make for a fun family story to pass down. Who he met in New York I don't know. "Dina" perhaps? I would love to have a DNA test done,but how?
Michelle B., Clarks Hill,SC,USA
22/03/2017 05:11
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These comments are addressed to Cathy didkowsky and her question What are the mystery markings of the Czar. The markings are not a mystery but posted at RBD ( Royal Bloodline Descent on Facebook). Young Prince Alexei and one of his sister (Anastasia shared the same. All can be seen on RBD Facebook page
Frederic von Ebert, Canada
02/03/2017 21:00
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The imposters always come when doubt of death exists. Crazy people who desire the way of fame that belongs to others. Anna from Poland impersonated the Grand Duchess younger daughter of the fated Romanov Royal family butchered by common trash. All bodies found to proof the case against Trotsky and his mob. Even Lenin too knew what happened before it did. Cowards all of them now sure enough in the bowels of Hells torments now. The stain of sin will never wash away from Communistic Russia. When DNA proved that all the Tzars family , plus many of their servants had been shot to bits in that cellar how can any one with a brain say one survived.If so the murders had an eye witness. Do you seriously think cruel killers walked away one all fell. No they stood over every one of then to shoot last bullet in the head.Hundreds of bullets found in walls and floors show it to have been a blood bath.
Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet, Wndermere UK and salacsgrivas novads Latia
26/02/2017 13:57
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Why did they exhume graves in Russia? Is that decedent who lives in squalor still living in Alaska? Have they kept up the domestic terrorism tactics? You know too much of that ol USA non-sense crap will backfire on you right?

See you in court seems to E C H O doesn't it?
Benedict, USA
11/02/2017 09:39
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My DNA exhumed graves...what's up with that?
Reason they exhumed graves, AK
11/02/2017 03:00
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I s it possible that Anna Anderson was Anastasia? I have read much about her in books - she seemed to have known things only the original girl would know.
Jane Franchell, USA
02/02/2017 10:41
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One of my aunt's worked for an old lady named Anya Shields. I live in Stafford, Virginia. I truely Anastasia Romanov was the old lady my aunt worked for years ago when I was a little girl. She had resemblances of the Russian royal family that were strong and according to my aunt she was a very private person. She grew up in a orphanage in Russia. I solely believe my aunt is telling the truth. Anastasia Romanov definitely escaped the murder massacre. If she was the real Anastasia, she would've had to keep her true identity a hidden secret because she would've been murdered or assassinated. I truly believe my aunt is truthful, and not very many people know of the lady. Of course we no that Anna Anderson isn't Anastasia Romanov but the lady my aunt worked is highly positive it was her and indeed by a fact. The old woman is dead by now.
Ashley Rebecca Nave, USA
12/12/2016 05:33
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I hope someone can answer a perplexing and elusive question for me.
I have been a lifelong ardent studier of Russian history, particularly Imperial Russia and pre 1917 revolution. Also have a ;large book collection and genealogies. I have.studied opinions etc and the paternity issue with Catherine II and Paul and whether Peter III or another was father. Leaning in hope as much as anything else I follow Peter III as father of Paul. That said I am MOST curious to look up, study, follow and trace the lineage I have heard and seen MANY times about- Catherine II being of Rurik Dynastic descent.
@@ I have NEVER 9so far) been able to find a listing or family tree even partial of the actual blood line connection to Catherine from whichever Rurik line ruler is listed as being a known ancestor and also gives me reassurance I must admit that IF the line breaks between Peter III and Paul I that if so- the RURIK dynasty blood line connection to Catherine the Great would be of great importance. Please if anyone out there has any ideas or info as to where I might look I would be greatly appreciative. It has perplexed me for years. @@ Also feel free to drop and direct email response to me at kensnowelk@hotmail.com with any bites or info you might have. Thank you
Ken Hodges, Los Gatos, CA. United States
01/12/2016 05:38
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Some of the comments are I'll thought out .this "visible DNA marker...well,seeing as DNA was only unraveled about 50 yes after the killings there was no way anyone could even know what DNA was let along pinpoint some " visible marking"....
peter, england
03/09/2016 04:35
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All bodies have been accounted for now and Dna checked with other royals living and deceased.
Tatiana, Perth
28/08/2016 11:49
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The Tsar is now a saint by the Russian Orthodox church and venerated in Russia. However the last comment is inaccurate. Life under communism in the Soviet Union in the 60s, 70s and 80s was far better, if not just the same as living standards in Britain. We were subjected to endless propaganda here.
Ian, Hereford
17/08/2016 22:09
2
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My mother Anastasia Tarashuck has been working on the family genealogy. Her father John Tarashuck resided in Peabody Massachusetts. He was born 1917 and died 1950. Now this may be absolutely nothing but my mom's photo and the photos of Anastasia are very much alike. I know I am being extremely vague with the info but I just wanted to share.
Shannon Francis, West Paris, Maine USA
21/05/2016 00:58
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3

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