Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna Romanov was the first child born to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife Empress Alexandra. Olga was born on the 15h of November 1895 at the Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo St Petersberg.
Olga was a great grand daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Olga was the only one of The Tsar’s children to meet the famous British Monarch when the Russian royal family visiting just after Olga was born.
From her earliest years she was known for her compassionate heart and desire to help others. Olga loved to read and, unlike her four siblings, enjoyed school work. “The eldest, Olga, possessed a remarkably quick brain”, recalled her Swiss tutor, Pierre Gilliard “She had good reasoning powers as well as initiative, a very independent manner, and a gift for swift and entertaining repartee.
Olga enjoyed reading about politics and read newspapers. Olga also reportedly enjoyed choosing from her mother’s book selection. When she was caught taking a book before her mother read it, Olga would jokingly tell her mother that Alexandra must wait to read the novel until Olga had determined whether it was an appropriate book for her to read.
Olga in 1907
Olga like all of her family were of the Russian Orthodox faith her faith led her to many charitable acts. She took control of a portion of her sizable fortune when she was twenty and began to respond independently to requests for charity. One day when she was out for a drive she saw a young child using crutches. She asked about the child and learned that the youngster’s parents were too poor to afford treatment. Olga set aside an allowance to cover the child’s medical bills. A court official, Alexander Mossolov, recalled that Olga’s character was “even, good, with an almost angelic kindness” by the time she was a young woman.
Olga in her Red Cross uniform
During World War I, Olga along with her mother and her sister Tatiana trained and became Red Cross nurses. They all treated wounded soldiers at a hospital on the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo. Olga cared for and pitied the soldiers she helped to treat. However, the stress of caring for wounded, dying men eventually also took its toll on the sensitive, moody Olga’s nerves. In October 1915 Olga had to give up nursing and instead only supervised the hospital wards because she had “overtired herself” and became “nervous and anaemic.
Olga along with all her family were arrested as part of the Russian Revolution of 1917. She tried to draw comfort from her faith and her proximity to her family. To her “beloved mama”, with whom she had sometimes had a difficult relationship, she wrote a poem in April 1917, while the family was still imprisoned at Tsarskoye Selo:
“You are filled with anguish for the sufferings of others. And no one’s grief has ever passed you by. You are relentless, only towards yourself, forever cold and pitiless. But if only you could look upon your own sadness from a distance, just once with a loving soul — Oh, how you would pity yourself, how sadly you would weep.”
In another letter from Tobolsk, Olga wrote: “Father asks to … remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love …
A poem copied into one of her notebooks prays for patience and the ability to forgive her enemies:
“Send us, Lord, the patience, in this year of stormy, gloom-filled days, to suffer popular oppression, and the tortures of our hangmen. Give us strength, oh Lord of justice, Our neighbor’s evil to forgive, And the Cross so heavy and bloody, with Your humility to meet, In days when enemies rob us, To bear the shame and humiliation, Christ our Savior, help us. Ruler of the world, God of the universe, Bless us with prayer and give our humble soul rest in this unbearable, dreadful hour. At the threshold of the grave, breathe into the lips of Your slaves inhuman strength — to pray meekly for our enemies.”
The last know picture of Olga taken in May 1918 on the ship Rus
Olga’s life ended tragically before her 23rd birthday when she and her entire family were murdered on the morning of the 17th of July 1918 cellar of the Ipatiev house in Ekaterinburg