Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, the eldest child of Tsar Nicholas II, was born on 3 November 1895.
Olga was sensitive and studious, often having an understanding of events that defied her years. The imperial tutor, Pierre Gilliard, praised her “quick brain” and spoke of her natural abilities as a student.
However, like many eldest children, she could be bossy or pushy with her siblings, and her mother often reminded her to be kind and patient.
She was indeed kind, giving her own allowance to help others, including crutches and other medical expenses for a sick boy once she reached the age of twenty and had control over some of her own money.
Almost from the moment of her birth, speculation as to Olga’s marriage prospects was rampant. When she was just an infant, newspapers suggested that she might marry her distant cousin, Prince Edward of York, who would eventually become Britain’s King Edward VIII. However, this was not seriously considered. Olga came closer to marrying Prince Carol of Romania, but the negotiations came to nothing because Olga was not interested in pursuing the match. War, and, eventually, revolution, put an end to the possibility of Olga marrying.
During the Great War, she served her country as a trained nurse. However, this was very difficult for her — nothing could prepare her for the sights, sounds, and smells she would encounter in the hospital. Despite the difficulty, Olga continued to carry out her duties with her mother and her sister, Tatiana.
Similarly, captivity was difficult for the sensitive Olga. The stress weighed on her, and she grew thin and drawn, her face aged rapidly during her imprisonment. Some believe that the young grand duchess had more of a sense of what was coming than even her parents, and, truthfully, that wouldn’t surprise me.
Olga was shot alongside her parents and siblings in July, 1918. She was later canonized in the Russian Orthodox Church as a passion bearer.
Nota Bene: This is the first in a series about Tsar Nicholas II’s children.
All dates prior to February 1918 given in Old Style (OS) format unless otherwise noted.
When this post was originally published, it featured a Photoshopped version of the photograph of Grand Duchess Olga in her nurse’s uniform, in which her face was replaced with that of her sister, Maria. My apologies for this mistake, which is discussed in more detail here.