Russia’s Lost Princesses – BBC 2

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Russia, July 2012 391
This sounded like it could be interesting (despite incorrectly using the term “Princesses” rather than “Grand Duchesses”), but unfortunately it was all same old, same old. Anyone with the remotest interest in Russian history has heard all about Nicky and Alix’s respective backgrounds, Alix’s health problems, the Rasputin saga, etc etc, a zillion times before, and all that this programme did was repeat it. I suppose we should at least be grateful that it didn’t start harping on about Anna Anderson.

What a missed opportunity. There are other issues which are often neglected but which could have been raised instead of all the same old stuff. Did anyone consider the possibility that a healthy son might still be born to Nicky and Alix, after Alexei’s birth.

Queen Victoria had four sons, of whom only one had haemophilia. Of Alix’s three brothers, one had haemophilia and two did not. Or was it just assumed that, after the long gap between Anastasia and Alexei and with Alix’s health declining, another pregnancy was unlikely. The issue never seems to be considered.

Then there are the visits to Russia by the Grand Duchesses’ cousins on their mother’s side, which are particularly interesting to the British viewer because of the Battenberg/Mountbatten connection. There’s this romantic story that Louis, the future Earl Mountbatten of Burma, had a teenage crush on his cousin Maria and that he always kept his picture by her bedside. The impression given by the programme was that the girls were very much isolated. Why not talk about their meetings with their cousins?

Finally, there’s the question of how the haemophilia gene might have affected their futures. It had to’ve come out at some point that the Tsarevich had haemophilia. When Alfonso of Spain wanted to marry Ena of Battenberg, Alix’s cousin, there was opposition precisely because of concerns about bringing “bad blood” into the Spanish royal family. It sounds so horrible to be talking in these terms, but there were understandable concerns about the need for a healthy heir, especially given what had happened in Russia. How would it have affected the Grand Duchesses’ chances of making “good” marriages.

OK, this is mostly speculation, but at least it’s not all the same old stuff everyone’s heard time and again. Come on, BBC, give us something a bit more original!

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