Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova was the youngest daughter of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra. When the family was killed, Anastasia's body was never found creating one of most controversial and well-known mysteries to ever exist.
Inevitably, the myth of the lost princess led to dramatization. A play by Marcelle Baurette, loosely based on Anna Anderson's claim, became the basis for the 20th Century-Fox movie Anastasia, starring Ingrid Bergman , Yul Brynner and Helen Hayes . The story of the impostor-duchess proved auspicious in drawing the legendary Bergman back to American screens after a long absence and won her an Academy Award...
In March 1917, the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II became one of the precipitating events of the Russian Revolution and made the deposed ruler, his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna , and their five children pawns in the tumult that overtook their country until their deaths the following year. When Civil War broke out, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter in the family, was moved in the spring of 1918—along with her parents, sisters Tatiana (b. 1897), Olga (b...
Although the great mystery of whether the Russian Princess Anastasia survived the 1918 firing squad that took the lives of the rest of Russia's pre-Revolution royal family was solved two years ago by forensics sleuths who located her remains, the movie Anastasia, which tells the true story of Anna Anderson, a German woman who claimed to be the Princess, is a wonderful treasure, chock full of intrigue, secrets and rebirths, both on- and off-screen. A new DVD of the film, featuring a lovely restored print, an A&E Biography of Anastasia Romanov and a passel of other goodies will delight fans of Bergman and Brynner as well as devotees of pre-Revolutionary Russia and those who simply relish public scandals and mysteries.
Vigorous and energetic, Anastasia was well loved as a child. She and her siblings were close-knit and spent all their time together. Despite their royal status, the children were not overly pampered or spoiled. In fact, they adhered to strict royal protocols and faced a rigid daily schedule for their schooling and meals. They spent their evenings together with Nicholas reading to them. Sometimes their aunt organized small balls to help the children prepare them for their future responsibilities.
Anastasia was born into great wealth and privilege in the late spring of 1901. She came into the world amid the opulence of a vast palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. She was the youngest of four daughters born to Nicholas II and his wife Aleksandra.
June 18th, 2012 would have been the 111th birthday of one of the most fascinating women of recent history – Anastasia Romanov.
But because Anastasia's remains were never found, rumors persisted. In 1954 a French playwright immortalized the tale with a play that later became a Hollywood film starring Ingrid Bergman. She won the 1956 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the youngest daughter of Russia's last emperor.
While most historians believe Bolshevik revolutionaries killed the grand duchess of Russia in 1917 following the October Revolution, several women claimed her identity, along with the vast Romanov fortune held in Swiss banks. The most well known of these impostors called herself Anna Anderson, though critics allege she was actually a Polish woman named Franziska Schanzkowska. In the 1990s, officials conducted DNA tests on Anderson's remains (she had passed away in 1984) and finally established, once and for all, that she was not related to the royal family.
One of the greatest mysteries for most of the twentieth century was the fate of the Romanov family, the last Russian monarchy. Following the abdication of Tsar NicholasII, he and his wife, Alexandra, and their five children were eventually exiled to the city of Yekaterinburg. The family, along with four loyal members of their staff, was held captive by members of the Ural Soviet. According to historical reports, in the early morning hours of July 17, 1918 the entire family along with four loyal members of their staff was executed by a firing squad. After a failed attempt to dispose of the remains in an abandoned mine shaft, the bodies were transported to an open field only a few kilometers from the mine shaft. Nine members of the group were buried in one mass grave while two of the children were buried in a separate grave. With the official discovery of the larger mass grave in 1991, and subsequent DNA testing to confirm the identities of the Tsar, the Tsarina, and three of their daughters – doubt persisted that these remains were in fact those of the Romanov family. In the summer of 2007, a group of amateur archeologists discovered a collection of remains from the second grave approximately 70 meters from the larger grave. We report forensic DNA testing on the remains discovered in 2007 using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), autosomal STR, and Y- STR testing. Combined with additional DNA testing of material from the 1991 grave, we have virtually irrefutable evidence that the two individuals recovered from the 2007 grave are the two missing children of the Romanov family: the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.
"There is absolutely no doubt that these are the remains of the Romanov family," said Peter Sarandinaki, founder of the Scientific Expedition to Account for the Romanov Children Foundation, which has been seeking the remains of the family.
"The scientific results are, without a doubt, conclusive," said Sarandinaki, the great-grandson of the White Army general who tried to rescue the Romanovs before their deaths.
Those hopes were bolstered with the 1991 disclosure that nine bodies of Romanov family members and servants had been found in a Yekaterinburg grave but that a son and daughter still were missing.
Now, newly analyzed DNA evidence from a second, nearby grave discovered in 2007 proves that the bones are from the final two children. A report on the analysis was published online Tuesday in the journal PLoS One.
"I think it is very compelling evidence that this family has been reunited finally," said geneticist Terry Melton of Mitotyping Technologies in State College, Pa., an expert in forensic DNA.
Melton, who was not involved in the new research, played a major role in disproving the claims of the late Anna Anderson that she was Anastasia, a claim that received a great deal of attention. Melton says she still receives several calls each year from people claiming to be direct descendants of the Romanovs.
The most enduring and romantic legend of the Russian Revolution -- that two children of Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, survived the slaughter that killed the rest of their family -- may finally be put to rest with the positive identification of bone fragments from a lonely Russian grave.
The czar and his family were gunned down and stabbed by members of the Red Guard early on the morning of July 17, 1918, but persistent rumors have maintained that two of the children, the Grand Duchess Anastasia and her brother Alexei, survived, perhaps because the diamonds sewn into their clothes blocked attempts to kill them.