10 Mysterious Facts About Duchess Anastasia Of Russia

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Russian Royal family in 1914. L-R Seated: Marie, Queen Alexandra, Czar Nicholas II, Anastasia, Alexei. Standing: Olga and Tatiana.
  • Anastasia lived a very secluded life.
  • Anastasia momentarily survived a raid of bullets during the Romanov family's execution.
  • Many women claimed to be Anastasia in hopes of claiming the royal family fortune.

The youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova was widely rumored to have escaped her family's devastating massacre. Aside from this tragedy, a sense of mystery surrounds the girl since her life story was far from a conventional one. In this article we discuss some of the little known facts about this fairy-tale princess. Her story will make you love her and shed tears for her at the same time. 

10. Roots of Anastasia's Name

Grand Duchess Anastasia in 1904.

Deriving from the Greek word meaning "resurrection," the name Anastasia seemed fitting when paired with the rumors circulating about her possible survival. In actuality, her father Nicholas II named her after Saint Anastasia, the 4th century martyr and so-called "breaker of chains."

9. Anastasia Owned A Pet Dog

Since all of the Romanovs had pets, Anastasia owned a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which she named Jimmy. Unfortunately, it was believed that her dog was also killed during Anastasia's exexcution. Even more disturbing, the dog was said to have been held closely in Anastasia's arms.

8. Anastasia's Yellow Dress

The children's animated film, Anastasia features the namesake protagonist wearing a yellow dress while singing the hauntingly beautiful tune, "Once Upon A December." The film's dress was modeled after the one worn by the real Anastasia captured in one of the last photographs of her before she met her untimely fate.

7. Anastasia's Secluded Life

Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia and the dog Ortino in captivity at Tsarskoe Selo in the spring of 1917.

The Romanovs often stayed out of the public eye so as to try avoiding scandals that may surface and jeopardize the royal family. As a result, Anastasia's Russian speaking skills were 'childish' since she hardly had contact with the outside world. Moreover, in 1917, the provisional government sent the Romanovs to Tobolsk, Siberia since the revolutionaries were venturing towards the royal palace. In Siberia they tried to live normal lives despite being prisoners trapped indoors. The girls were also not allowed to be alone, the guards must accompany them even into the washroom. While under house arrest, the Romanov daughters started losing their hair because each of them contracted measles, which led their mother, Alexandra to shave their heads.

Anastasia, at one point, became so frustrated with staying inside that she opened and peered out an upstairs window, reportedly stuck her tongue out at one of the sentries before they shot at her. Luckily, the sentry's round of bullets missed Anastasia.

6. Anastasia Shared A Close Relationship With Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin, a holy man, was a close friend and confidant of the Romanov children. The girls had no peers to play with (other than themselves) due to their secluded lifestyle, but they always fondly counted on Rasputin in being there for them. Over time, a scandal revolving around Rasputin having an affair with the Tsar's wife and daughters began to surface despite that there was no substantial evidence supporting inappropriate conduct by Rasputin. Even after their deaths, it was discovered that the girls all wore amulets encasing Rasputin's picture.

5. Anastasia's Strict Upbringing

Grand Duchess Anastasia with her mother, Tsarina Alexandra, in about 1908.

Although Anastasia was indeed a princess, her mother and grandmother Queen Victoria did not believe in pampering the Romanov girls with luxury. Instead, the girls were forced to take cold baths daily, sleep on iron beds, wear hand-me-down clothing, and taught to keep busy. They learned how to knit, sew, and make tiny dresses for their dolls to reinforce responsibility and productivity and not waste away time on meaningless leisurely activities.

4. Anastasia's Poor Health

Grand Duchess Anastasia with her brother Alexei.

Anastasia's mobility was sometimes heavily affected by painful bunions on both of her big toes, and a weak muscle in her back. Her health concern, however, did not compare to her brother, Alexei who suffered from Hemophilia B, a blood-clotting condition which causes a person to easily bleed and bruise.

3. Anastasia: The Imp

Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia making faces for the camera in Tsarskoye Selo, around 1917. 

Anastasia was said to be a naughty and rambunctious child. Her troublemaking involved kicking and scratching her playmates, pulling pranks on the staff, and climbing trees to escape school lessons. To further avoid putting effort into her schoolwork, Anastasia resorted to bribery and other methods to boost her mediocre grades. Notably, she once offered flowers to her English teacher in exchange for a higher grade. Upon his refusal of them, Anastasia gave the flowers to her Russian teacher instead. Overall, she was given the nickname, "Imp" as a reflection of her mischievous deeds.

2. Anastasia's Makeshift Armor Of Hidden Jewels

In 1918, between the night of July 16th and the early morning of July 17th, the Romanov family was coaxed out of their beds and ordered by their Bolshevik captors to travel down into the basement and line up as if they are having their portrait taken. They were informed to ready themselves to flee, only to face a guard entering the cellar and sentencing them to death. A firing squad then came into the room and shot them down. The Romanov girls, however, did momentarily survive the bullets because their mother had sewn jewels into their clothes to ricochet the bullets and potentially save their lives. Anyone left breathing though would be stabbed, therefore prolonging the violent ordeal which lasted approximately twenty minutes.

Some accounts say Anastasia was last seen with her arms over her head, crouching against the wall and cowering in fear before being finished off by eight-inch bayonets.

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia

1. The Supposed Resurrection of Anastasia

The burial site of the Romanov family appeared to be missing Alexei and Anastasia's bodies. In turn, many women claimed to be the lost princess and offered varying stories of how they survived in hopes of possessing the royal family fortune. The most famous case among them was Anna Anderson. Anderson was practically the spitting image of the real Anastasia, leading some of the Romanov extended family and former servants to believe she shared the same mannerisms and eyes as the princess herself.

Ten years after Anderson's death in 1984, her DNA was sampled and confirmed that she was not a Romanov, but a missing Polish factory worker. Later in 2007, bones assumed to belong to Alexei and Anastasia were found, by a group of amateur archaeologists, under a mound nearby where the bodies were buried. This discovery finally allowed the mysterious case of Anastasia Romanov to come to rest.

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