A Sad Story about a young Romanov Prince…

When the majority of people hear the words “Russian Tsars” or name “Romanov” they usually think of Ivan the Terrible (who was not a Romanov but of Rurik dynasty), Peter the Great and the last tsar Nicholas II who was brutally murdered with his whole family.

ivan terr

Ivan the Terrible


Peter the Great


Nicholas II, the last Tsar


But Romanovs were huge family, at the end of the day they were ruling for 300 years. Some of the tsars had 9-12 children. Imagine, how many Princes and Princesses, Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses were there! I read about one of them recently and would like to share it with you.

Romanovs, like all royal families, loved uniforms, parades and maneuvers. Almost all Romanov men were in the army or in the navy. But very few of them actually took part in combat and only two were killed on the battlefield. One of them was Prince Oleg Romanov, who died aged just 21…


Prince Oleg Romanov

Oleg Romanov was born in 1892, in St Petersburg, in the Marble Palace

Marble Palace

His father was the Grand Duke Konstantine (quite decent poet for a “highness” and the president of the Science Academy), the Tsar’s cousin  and his mum – Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg.

Konstantin Konstantinovich

Father, Grand Duke Konstantine


Mother, Princess Alexandra

(Almost all the Romanovs married various German Princesses – in fact, there was not a lot of authentic Romanov genes in the last Tsar, I think)

Oleg was one of 9 (!) children and was the brightest of them all. He was his fathers’ favourite. As was customary, he was educated at home (palace, I mean) at first and when he was 9 he started a diary, where his first entry was:

“I am a grown up now and therefore must have courage. I am going to write down all my daily sins here… I mark days when I lie with dots and when I don’t – with crosses”. How sweet!


Oleg as a child


Oleg’s family

Grand Duke Konstantine, a poet himself, arranged for his children to receive lessons from experts in various subjects. Well-known archaeologists told the children about their latest expeditions, architects showed the children slides and explained their works, choirs  from all corners of the empire were brought to sing church music or folk songs to the children (imagine that!). Of course, this doesn’t look like a traditional aristocratic upbringing, but the family was not very traditional anyway.  Oleg was so intelligent that his father decided to send him to a prestigious school, the Alexander Lyceum, rather than to give him the standard military education that the other men in the family received. 


Oleg was very clever, talented and enthusiastic and the Lyceum teachers were very proud of him. He especially loved literature and poetry and, aged 20, published a book of Pushkin’s autographs. He wrote poetry himself – admittedly quite weak and sentimental, but still…
But, of course, after graduating from the Lyceum he was made a Cornet (abolished rank nowadays, the equivalent  to today’s Second Lieutanant) of Hussars Regiment. All men of the Royal Family had to be in the military. He was very romantic though and, unlike most contemporary officers took his military service seriously and not as a sinecure allowing leading a fast life. Poor boy, he sincerely wanted to “serve his country and his king”…

he and brothers at ww1

With his two brothers

At one point he  hoped to marry a cousin,  Princess Nadejda.


She was only 16 then and Oleg said he was prepared to wait as long as was needed. Nadejda was his first and only love – understandably, considering he was only 20 then and died at 21…

They got engaged but all their hopes were destroyed by the advent of World War I.


When the war started, Oleg refused to stay in the General Headquarters and went to front with his battalion. In one of the first battles of that horrible bloodbath he was mortally wounded and died in the hospital several days later. Like I said, he was only 21…

But  if he had survived, who knows what fate was awaiting him? He could’ve been shot by Bolsheviks like his three brothers, Ioann, Konstantin and Igor…

The rest of his family were more lucky. His mother (his father died a year after him), his other two brothers and two sisters managed to emigrate from the revolutionary Russia. The last of his sisters, Vera, died in 2001, in the USA, in the ripe old age of 94. His former fiancee, Nadejda, also emigrated and died in Paris in 1984.

I can’t imagine a son of a modern day senior official or a politician going to a battlefield and dying there for his honor and his motherland…



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