We find out more about royal biographer and Romanov expert Coryne Hall’s new book which marks the centenary of the murder of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family.
In March 1917 there were 53 members of the Romanov family living in Russia. Less than three years later 17 of them had been murdered by the Bolsheviks, one had died from natural causes and the other 35 had fled for their lives, some with little more than the clothes they stood up in and a few trinkets.
To Free the Romanovs, Royal Kinship and Betrayal 1917-1919 deals with the efforts of the Tsar’s cousin King George V, the Kaiser and other European relations to rescue Nicholas, his mother, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins after the revolution. Many of these relatives were the grandchildren of Queen Victoria and had played together at Osborne and Balmoral.
After Nicholas abdicated in March 1917 he and his family were held prisoner by the new Russian Provisional Government, and later by the militant Bolshevik regime. George V had refused to give the family asylum in Britain.
In the spring of 1918 they were moved to Ekaterinburg in the Urals and imprisoned in the Ipatiev House, ominously renamed ‘The House of Special Purpose’. On the night of 16/17 July they were taken down to the basement and shot.
At the insistence of his mother Queen Alexandra, George V sent a warship to the Crimea to evacuate her sister the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (Nicholas’s mother) and her family, as the Bolsheviks closed in. Other Romanov relatives were rescued with assistance from relations in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Romania.
“George V’s failure to save the Tsar has always been controversial,” says Coryne, whose great-grandmother was born in Imperial St Petersburg. The book includes explosive unpublished diary entries by the Tsar’s cousin Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, which show the Romanov family’s feelings about King George’s lack of action.
Coryne, who lives in Whitehill, is the author of many books, including biographies of the Tsar’s mother (Little Mother of Russia, Shepheard-Walwyn), his sister Xenia (Once a Grand Duchess, with John Van der Kiste, Sutton Publishing) and the memoirs of Xenia’s granddaughter Princess Olga Romanoff on which she collaborated with the Princess. Coryne is a regular contributor to Majesty magazine, has appeared on radio and television and lectured at conferences in England (including the Victoria & Albert Museum), America, Denmark, The Netherlands and Russia. She was also the last person to have a private audience with Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
To Free the Romanovs, Royal Kinship and Betrayal 1917-1919 is out now, published by Amberley Publishing. Find out more and contact Coryne at www.corynehall.com