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June 17, 2011

Grand Duchess - Story

“The most beautiful woman in all of Europe: Grand Princess Elizabeth.”
Emma ignored the whispers about her. Standing in the door, she searched the crowded room. Snow glazed her white fur hat and trimmed bell sleeves. With rare nervousness, she smoothed her royal blue coat and straightened the gold embroidered frogs. Then, with a shake of her burgundy skirt, she swept across the room.

She stopped before one man who had never taken his eyes from her. “Sergei, my father asked my thoughts on your marriage proposal,” she announced.
He bowed his head. “Dare I hope when you have rejected half the princes in Europe?”
“I will tell you what I said. I remember visiting the orphanage with my mother when I was a girl-to give the children treats. A boy came with us-the Emperor's son. He was quiet…so quiet that I almost forget him. But then as we were leaving, I saw him with two little ones. Giving them the sweets his own mother had given him.”
Sergei smiled. “How they loved it!”

Emma leaned forward and clasped his hand. “And that was the day I first began loving you.”

Grand Duchess Outfit
Includes: Long brocade Skirt, Hussar Jacket, Fur Hat and Red leather Boots


This outfit is inspired by the Grand Princess Elizabeth

Grand Princess Elizaveta Fyodorovna was the second child in the family of Grand count Guessen of Darmshtadt, Louis IV and princess Alice, a daughter of England’s Queen Victoria. Another daughter of this couple — Alice — later became the Empress of Russia Alexandra Fyodorovna.

The children were brought up in the spirit of Old England — their life was scheduled strictly according to their mother’s timetable. Their food and clothes were very simple. The elder daughters performed household chores: tidying up rooms and beds, and making fires in the fireplace. Later Elizaveta Fyodorovna would say, "I learned everything I know at home." Their mother carefully supervised the development of each child’s talents and aptitudes. She tried to raise them on the basis of Christian commandments and to bring them up in the spirit of love of fellow man to people.

Elizaveta Fyodorovna’s parents spent a major part of their wealth on charity. The children often visited hospitals, orphanages and homes for the disabled. They would bring big bouquets of flowers and put them into vases in the wards. Since childhood, Elizaveta loved nature, especially flowers, which she liked to draw very much. She had an artistic talent and devoted a lot of time to drawing. She liked classical music too.

All those who knew Elizaveta from childhood noted her love for people. According to what Elizaveta herself said later, her life from the very young years was greatly influenced by the life and deeds of Elizabeth of Turing, one of her ancestors, after whom Elizaveta was named.

At the age of 20 princess Elizaveta was betrothed to grand prince Sergei Alexandrovich, the fifth son of the Emperor Alexander II, who was a brother of the Emperor Alexander III. She met her future husband while they were children, when he visited Germany with his mother — Empress Maria Alexandrovna, also a descendant of the Gessen lineage. Before that she had turned down the proposals of all other suitors.

The whole family was seeing Princess Elizaveta off to Russia to her wedding. Her 12-year-old sister Alice accompanied her, and there in Russia she met her would-be husband, young prince Nicholas Alexandrovich.

The wedding took place in the church of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The grand princess studied the Russian language with persistence, wishing to learn more about the culture and especially the faith of her new homeland. Grand princess Elizaveta was a dazzling beauty. In those times the Europeans would say, "There are only two beauties in Europe, both are called Elizaveta: Elizaveta of Austria, wife of the Emperor Franz-Joseph, and Elizaveta Feodorovna. In 1884 Grand Prince Constantine Constantinovich Romanov wrote a poem devoted to her:

I look at you and I enjoy it ever
You are so beautiful, no words can tell!
Oh! I am sure that such beauty hosts
A soul that is wonderful as well.

The depth of modesty and quiet sorrow
Is in your eyes of beauty so pure
You are as calm and quiet as an angel;
And as a lady, gentle and demure.

Amidst the many earthly sins and evils
Let nothing blur the pure soul of thine,
And let us all sing praises to Creator
Who gave such beauty to a soul divine!
C. R.

Most of the year the Grand Duchess lived with her spouse in their Iliynkoye estate sixty kilometers from Moscow, on the bank of Moscow River. She loved Moscow with its ancient temples, monasteries and partriachal way of life.
Muscovites quickly noticed and appreciated the charitable kindness of the Grand Princess. She visited hospitals for the poor, institutions and orphanages. Everywhere she tried to alleviate people’s sufferings: she brought food, clothing, money; she tried to better the life conditions of the destitute. After her father’s death she went on a voyage along the Volga, making stops at such towns as Yaroslavl, Rostov, and Uglich.

When the war between Russia and Japan started, Elizaveta Fyodorovna immediately began organizing help for the front. One of her wonderful initiatives was the organization of shops producing things needed by soldiers; all the big rooms and chambers of the Kremlin palace, except the Throne assembly room, were occupied by thousands of women sewing things and making other goods for the front. Large amounts of charity donations were delivered to the front from Moscow and provinces. Big containers with goods, livery, medicines, and presents for soldiers were being forwarded from Moscow to the frontlines.

On the (18th of February 1905, Sergei Alexandrovich was killed with a bomb set by terrorist Ivan Kaliaev. When Elizaveta Fyodorovna arrived at the site of the explosion, there was already a crowd of people there. Someone tried to prevent her from coming close to her husband’s remains, but with her own hands she picked up the parts of his body torn asunder by the explosion and put them onto the stretchers. After the first funeral services at the Chudov monastery, she returned to the palace, changed into black mourning dress.

On the 10th of February, 1909 the Grand Duchess took off her mourning dress, and put on the cloak of Christ’s nurse of love and mercy. Having gathered seventeen nuns of the monastery which she founded, she said, "I am leaving the glamourous world in which I had a glamorous position, but together with you I am ascending to a higher world — the world of the poor and the suffering."

An excerpt from the book "Holy Martyr of Russia, Grand Princess Elizaveta Fyodorovna" written by Liubov Miller in Australia.
Translated from Russian by Irina Nabatova-Barrett

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