Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, the fourth and youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, was born on 5 June, 1901. Her name means “resurrection,” something that was often pointed out in conjunction with legends of her survival.
Her birth was a bit of a disappointment to her parents and relatives — everyone had hoped that the Tsar’s fourth child would (finally) be the longed-for son and heir. Because Russian laws differed from laws of other monarchies (such as England), the Tsar’s daughters would never be allowed to inherit the throne and producing a son was of paramount importance. Upon finding out that his wife had given birth to yet another daughter, Nicholas had to go for a walk to compose himself before seeing the Empress and newborn Grand Duchess Anastasia. But compose himself he did — Nicholas was a loving father who adored all of his daughters, despite the succession issue.
The prankster of the family, Anastasia was often called “shvibzik,” meaning “imp.” She would often refuse to come out of trees that she had climbed or play pranks on her tutors and family members. Anastasia is often credited as having taken the first “mirror selfie,” but the reality is that there is no way to know who came up with this idea first (and there are examples older than Anastasia’s). Even so, the picture — indicative of her personality and of the family’s love of photography — is shown here. It proves, if nothing else, that there is nothing new under the sun.
Like her sister Maria, Anastasia was too young to be a nurse during the war. However, she went with Marie to visit soldiers, play games, write letters, and otherwise cheer them up. She also had a cheering effect on her family during their captivity with her sunny personality. Even the guards described her cheerfulness.
Because of the well-known impostor who went by the name of Anna Anderson and the media surrounding that woman’s decades-long claim to be Anastasia, the youngest Grand Duchess is the most famous, especially in the West. In fact, I discovered the Romanov family via the (very inaccurate) 1997 animated film, Anastasia, as did many other Romanov followers I know. The real Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna was killed along side her family in 1918, but many people still believe in the myths of survival. Some people still believe Anna Anderson’s claims, despite DNA evidence to the contrary and despite the discovery of Anastasia’s remains.
Nota Bene: This is the fourth in a series about Tsar Nicholas II’s children.
All dates prior to February 1918 given in Old Style (OS) format unless otherwise noted.