Nowadays, more than a hundred years after the Russian Revolution, the Russian royal family is venerated all over the world. Their life and death must be the greatest mysteries of the twentieth century. Amazingly enough, Nicholas II kept diaries for almost forty years, which unveil a great deal of what seemed hidden. What an ineffable joy it is to read the entries and spend each day of the Tsar’s day-to-day life with him and his family: during his multitudinous receptions, work, and gentle strolls with friends in St. Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo, or in Moscow.
Tsar Nicholas tended not to express his emotions or impressions. An overwhelming majority of his early notes seem quite bland—similar to a daily chronicle, save for one subject. The emperor never concealed his pure veneration and love for his wife, his dear Alix.
An eminent Father of the Church, St. John Chrysostom said, “That is the power of love: it’s cannot be suppressed by a long distance, it neither weakens with time, nor is defeated by temptations. Triumphing over all, love is above everything; it rises to an unreachable height.” Indeed, nothing could defeat the love between Tsarevich Nicholas and Alix.
September 21, Wednesday
“<…> We had dinner with Papa and Mama in their apartment upstairs. I’m utterly sad that there are no letters from my Alix.”
September 23, Friday
“<…> Fortunately, the weather was warmer today, and the wind was not so strong. Again, we had breakfast alone at noon. Then we walked to the sea and sat there for a long time on the beach. I finally received three letters from my dear Alix!”
September 25, Sunday
“<…> I received three marvelous letters from my beloved, nice Alix!”
October 2, Sunday
“<…> Yanishev and Leiden have come from abroad. The former brought a pillow and book of extracted poems to me from my Alix. In the afternoon, two nice letters came from her.”
October 8, Saturday
“<…> I got a wonderful telegram from my dear, beloved Alix—she is already in Russia—saying that she would like to convert to the Orthodox faith through Chrismation as soon as she comes. The news both touched and astonished me, so that I remained bewildered for a long time.”
October 10, Monday
“<…> Ten minutes later my precious Alix came with Ella [Great Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna] from Simferopol. We had breakfast in the mansion of the retired General Golubev. After breakfast, Alix and I got into a carriage and headed for Livadia. O, Lord! What happiness it is that she is here in my homeland, close to me. Half of the troubles and misfortunes seem to have been lifted from my shoulders. <…>”
October 12, Wednesday
“<…> I stayed with my beloved fiance till dinner; I love her more and more deeply. What a pleasure it is to have such a treasure as a wife! I stayed at her place until 12 1/4 am.”
On October 20, Tsar Alexander III reposed after a continuous illness in Livadia Palace:
“O, Lord! O, Lord! What a day! God has taken Papa away from us. My head is spinning; I do not want to believe that—how incredible seems the reality!”
The following day, the Tsarevich wrote in his diary:
October 21, Friday
In moments of deep sorrow, the Lord consoles us with light, peaceful joy. At ten o’clock, with only our family present, my nice, dear Alix was chrismated and we all received Holy Communion after the Liturgy—both Alex and I, Mama and Ella.”
On November 14, what Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich and Alexandra Feodorovna had been longing for came true— they were finally married. Nicholas didn’t even try to hide his felicity:
November 14, Monday
It’s the day of my wedding! After coffee, we all went and got dressed—I put on my hussar uniform. At 11:30, Misha and I headed for the Winter Palace. The cavalry lined the route along Nevsky Prospect so that Mama and Alix could go. We all waited for her in the Malachite Room while she got dressed in the Arbatsky Room. At 12:10 we proceeded to the large church, which I left as a married man.
Christ did not institute marriage; it existed long before the incarnation of God the Word. But Christ transfigured the meaning and significance of marriage. Apostle Peter instructed us: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered“ (1 Peter 3:7). Following the commandment and guided by genuine attachment, Nicholai Alexandrovich cherished his precious Alexandra.
What is especially noteworthy is the fact that each word about Alexandra Feodorovna is imbued with admiration: “my Alix”, “my beloved Alix”, “my dear”, “my beloved”, “my precious”, “my darling”...
November 15, Tuesday
“I’m finally married! In the morning no one dared disturb us; we quietly responded to the telegrams...”
November 17, Thursday
“<…> I’m so delighted to be with Alix; I wish that work did not take so much of my time so that I could devote it only to her!”
November 24, Thursday
Each day that elapses I give glory to the Lord and praise Him with all my heart for the happiness He granted to me! A man dare not wish more or better welfare in this life. My love and reverence for my dear Alix is constantly deepening! We got down to our work after we had our coffee: She was writing while I was reading. Then we took a carriage ride and saw my Sri Lankan elephant, who seemed to have significantly grown up. It has started to freeze. We went to bed early—at eleven o’clock.
December 14, Wednesday
“We have been married for already a month, but, strangely enough, I’m just beginning to get used to a thought about it. My love for Alix is constantly growing!”
November 3, Friday
For me, it was an unforgettable day during which I suffered a great deal! My dear Alix felt intense pain at one o’clock and couldn’t fall asleep. She spent the whole day lying in bed in these throes—poor girl. I could not remain indifferent. Mama came from Gatchina at about two o’clock. We three, Mama, Ella and I, did not leave Alix for even a minute. At nine o’clock, we all heard a baby crying and sighed with relief! While praying, we named the daughter God granted us Olga! Fully realizing what has happened, we were embraced by a truly joyous state after we all calmed down and the tension eased! Glory be to God, Alix felt well in labor and was full of energy in the evening! I had supper with Mama late at night; I fell asleep once I closed my eyes!
November 4, Saturday
“Alix felt well, though she had scarcely slept. Obviously, I was present while they bathed our baby. She is a big baby—she weighs ten pounds and is fifty-five cm. I cannot believe this is our baby! Oh, God! What a joy!!! At noon the whole family came to serve the Moleben of thanksgiving <…>”
November 6, Monday
“In the morning I contemplated our lovely daughter; she does not seem to be a newborn baby at all—a large child, her head is covered with hair. <…>”
The father and Tsar, Nicholas II diligently took care of his daughters, commingling his royal duties with ordinary life, devoting every minute to any chance to be with the family.
January 4, Sunday
“<…> At eleven o’clock I went to attend the Divine Liturgy with Olga and Tatiana. Then we had breakfast altogether. <…>”
January 11, Wednesday
“Today we woke up early. I read a lot in the morning. I ran around the garden with the children twice.<…>”
July 30, 1904 (Friday)
“It was a great, unforgettable day for us—the day God clearly showed His mercy to us. At 1:25 in the afternoon Alix gave birth to a boy, whom we named Alexei after praying. Everything happened marvelously soon, at least for me. <…> No words can express my gratitude to the Lord for giving us such a consolation in the time of such serious troubles!
August 11, Wednesday
“It was an important day—the day our beloved son was baptized. <…> The service began at eleven o’clock. Then I learned that little Alexei behaved very well.
It was the first time Olga, Tatiana and Irina attended a social occasion; they managed to perfectly endure the long Church service. Mama and Uncle Alexei became the boy’s godparents. <…>”
Tsar’s love for his family was unconditional; it penetrates the whole diary. Birthdays, family traditions and everyday life are what merits our especial attention.
December 23, Thursday
“I finally came home, to Tsarskoye Selo, at ten o’clock. I was happy to see dear Alix and the children in good health. <…>”
May 29, Sunday
Tatiana’s birthday. She turned eight. We went to church to attend the Liturgy and then had breakfast alone. We took a walk, I was canoeing. It was warm outside. I read a lot, and killed a raven. We had dinner at 8:30.
June 14, Tuesday
“The day is wonderful. Today Maria turns six. I was busy before breakfast; Alix took the children to a Moleben. At 3 o’clock we went for a little picnic in Ropsha. <…> We walked in the park, looked around the palace and drank some tea on the terrace. The air was pure, and the grass was unusually thick. The children appeared to be fully satisfied. <…>”
This is the first in a series devoted to the Diaries of Tsar Nicholas II, the Royal Passion Bearer.