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A biography of the sister of the last Tsar of Russia, who escaped during the Revolution to spend the rest of her life in exile in Britain
Born in 1875 into the wealth and splendour of the Russian imperial family as the fourth child of the Tsarevich, Xenia might have expected to play only a minor role in the Romanov story. Yet when she was only five years old, the assassination of her grandfather, Alexander II, moved her father and his family into the centre. She became a key witness to the events of the years that followed, seeing the coronation of her brother Nicholas in 1894; the murder of Rasputin, in which her son-in-law Felix Youssoupov was implicated; the Revolution; and the 'terrible horror' as the first rumours of the imperial family's capture and death began to circulate.
Having married her cousin, Grand Duke Alexander Michaelovich (Sandro) in 1894, she lived close to the rest of the family in St Petersburg. With her husband in the Navy, she saw Russia suffer disastrous losses in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05. During the First World War she worked with the wounded, and equipped a hospital train for use at the Front. After Nicholas's abdication and murder, only the repeated pleas of relatives abroad finally persuaded her to go to safety. Penniless when she arrived in England, she was granted a grace and favour cottage by the British royal family - King George V was her cousin - and lived there peacefully until her death in 1960.
The authors have drawn on important previously unpublished correspondence and photographs to reveal the intimate private life of the Grand Duchess, including her sometimes stormy relationship with her husband and her sister-in-law Alexandra, the Tsarina, whom she blamed for many of the family's troubles. New insights are provided into the Anna Anderson/'Anastasia' affair, the sale of the family jewels, and the MGM film libel case.