The Last Czars is available to stream and download on Netflix now. Each episode features experts and dramatised scenes which depict how the Romanov dynasty came to an end. The Tsar was married to German Empress, Alix of Hesse and by Rhine and they had five children together. As the granddaughter of Queen Victoria in the UK, Alexandra was a carrier of the haemophilia disease, which Alexandra’s son, Alexei, the heir to the Russian throne inherited. Susanna Herbet who plays Tsarina Alexandra spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about the German Empress.
Alexandra Feodorovna, born Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, was the daughter of Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and his first wife Princess Alice of the United Kingdom.
She married Tsar Nicholas II on November 26, 1894, after meeting him in 1884.
The Royal couple stayed together until their execution on July 17, 1918.
Susanna Herbert who plays the Tsarina in The Last Czars spoke candidly about the Empress.
She said: “She goes on an insane journey over the course of this series. She starts as a shy, outsider to the Russian court – a German Princess out of her depth when she converts to [the] Russian Orthodox faith and marries into the opulent Russian Royal family – having fallen in love with Prince Nicholas.
“After having four daughters and finally a son – who turns out to have a life-threatening illness that had killed numerous members of Alix’s family before – she ends up pretty much running the country with Rasputin.
“She faces so many obstacles along the way – her own failing physical health, a dying son whom she fights to protect on an almost daily basis, xenophobia against her as a German, she’s maligned in the press for being the lover of Rasputin and then her husband declares war against her home country.
“Finally she becomes a prisoner and is stripped of all power, wealth and freedom. You have all that against the backdrop of a country in revolt, pleading for change and reform. Alexandra is a believer in autocracy and she’s more steadfast than her husband in sticking to the principle of divine rule.
“I think she’s been unfairly treated by history as a crazy and bewitched individual. I don’t think that of her. Despite her physical and emotional vulnerabilities, she was a fighter, she was determined, she was intelligent and she fiercely protected those she loved.”
WHO KILLED THE ROMANOVS?
The Tsarina was a controversial figure in Russia, mainly due to her German heritage and her close relations with the spiritual healer Rasputin.
Her reputation amongst the political elite of Russia was also tarnished after she repeatedly encouraged her husband not to make concessions to the Russian assembly, the DUMA or surrender any autocratic authority over Russia.
Alexandra and Nicholas’ relationship was controversial from the beginning and faced opposition.
Even Nicholas II’s father, Tsar Alexander III, refused the prospect of a marriage between Nicholas and Alexandra as he was strongly anti-German.
Despite Alexandra renouncing her Lutheran faith to convert Russian Orthodoxy, this was still not enough for the Romanov family.
Even Queen Victoria was opposed to the marriage as she was suspicious of Russia and feared for her granddaughter’s safety.
DID PRINCESS ANATASIA TURN UP IN BERLIN?
The ailing Tsar Nicholas III approved their marriage days before his death on November 1, 1894.
They later married at the Grand Church of the Winter place of St Petersburg on November 26, 1894.
According to academic Pierre Gilliard, who was the French language tutor to the Tsar and Tsarina’s children, in his book Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, he recalled how the arrival of the new Empress so soon after the death of the much-loved Tsar Alexander III, was seen as a “bad omen”.
He recalled: “She has come to us behind a coffin. She brings misfortune with her.”
Alexandra’s German heritage would be used against her 10 years later following the outbreak of World War One.
The Russian people complained of her German birth, her poor ideals and her relationship with Rasputin.
Many people suspected she was collaborating with the Germans to sabotage the Russian war effort.
For example, propaganda circulated of cartons depicting telephone cables stretching from Alexandra’s room at the Winter Palace to Kaiser Willhelm of Germany’s palace.
In August 1915, Nicholas II appointed himself as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, leaving his wife Alexandra in charge of his political affairs.
Alexandra arrived heavily on the support of the monk Rasputin.
WHO KILLED RASPUTIN?
Rasputin and Tsarina Alexandra had a very close relationship, with the Russian empress viewing him as being the only healer capable of saving her son Alexei.
Together, they appointed and dismissed ministers of their choice, which led to a very unstable government at home.
As a result of unstable government, the war effort on the Eastern Front was never properly equipped and social and economic frustrations in Russia were never adequately addressed.
The Tsar failed to listen to advice from his political advisors, who would encourage him to return home and to send Rasputin back to Siberia.
Instead, the Tsar listened to his wife who believed in the divine rule of Kings.
In the meant time, rumours began to circulate amongst the political elite and the people that Rasputin and Alexandra were having an affair.
Revolutionary propaganda in the streets depicted sexually explicit images of the Tsarina and Rasputin, tarnishing the Tsar and the Tsarina’s reputation.
Everything came to a head in February 1917 when the workers, soldiers and women of Petrograd took to the streets to protest against the monarchy and the Russian government.
Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on March 15, 1917, and his family were executed on July 17, 1918.
The Last Czars is streaming on Netflix now
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