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Diaries and Letters - Letters of Grand Duchess Tatiana

Extracts from the Letters of Tatiana

These extracts have been chosen to provide an idea of daily life for the Tsar and his family and specifically to give a picture of life in the Alexander Palace. They were translated by Jsenya Dyakova.


Extracts from Tatiana Nickolayevna's letters to OlgaVoronova

September 5, 1914. Tsarskoe Selo

"...Every day we go to the Palace's Hospital to do dressings but not in the main building. In the garden there is a small house for the officers. Every day they bring there 6 lower ranks and Olga and I dress their wounds... When we finish doing it we go to the officers' where Mother and Anya dress them in turn..."

November 30, 1914. p.17

"...Now we've got a charming French puppy Bille. She is so sweet. She is so charming when she plays with Aleksey's dog..."

December 31, 1914. Tsarskoe Selo. p.27

"There is a very good hospital for the officers in the GrandPalace. There is one poor officer in it of the Life-Guards Cossack Regiment who had his right leg amputated. He plays the guitar and sings wonderfully. He is not allowed to sing loudly and for a long time and he sings very sad songs in a low voice. I liked them so much..."

May 24, 1915. Tsarskoe Selo. p.56

"...Poor Anastasia is so sad because her little dog Shvybzik died of cerebral inflammation..."

June 2, 1915. Tsarskoe Selo

"...It's the first summer that we are not going to live in Peterhof. We cannot drop our work in the hospitals. It would be distressing to live there and to think that there will be no yacht and no skerries. It's a pity there is no sea here..."

Fund 651, file 153. pp.1,2

Extract from Petrov's letter which he wrote on May 13, 1916 to Tatiana. (He writes about the repairs going on in the rooms of the Alexander Palace).

"...Devastation that is called repairs is in full swing in your rooms! But it only looks like devastation as nothing is destroyed and all the things, especially yours, are in their right places..."

Fund 651. Tatiana Nickolaievna. Tatiana's Diaries. File 17, 1907

Feb.4 "...We had breakfast in the children's apartment..."

Feb.8 "...All the four of us had breakfast at Father's and Mother's."

File 18, 1908. Tatiana's Name Day, Jan.12
"...As a present Mother and Father gave me a broach, notebooks and a big table cloth with an embroidered story of the Little Red Riding Hood..."

Jan.17 "...Mother, Olga and I had breakfast in the sitting-room as Father had gone hunting..."

Jan. 22 "...We had breakfast at Father's. I ate 4 pancakes..."

File 19, 1909

Jan.1 "...There was a big family breakfast in the Alexander Palace."

Jan.11 "...In the morning I went to church. I had breakfast and tea with Father and Mother. After tea we had cinema..."

File 20, 1910

Feb.16 "...The Bulgarian tsar and tsarina had tea with Father and Mother today..."

File 21, 1912

Jan.1 "...Irene came at 3 p.m.. She had tea with us. Then we went upstairs to tell fortunes in all possible ways but with very little result. Then Irene had dinner upstairs with Father, Mother, Olga and me and at 9 p.m. she left and I went to bed..."

Nov.24 "...I spent some time with Aleksey and then went to have tea with Mother. Then I took Alexey in his wheel-chair for a drive about the halls and then he and I spent some time with Nickolai Pavlovich in the duty room..."

Fund 651, file 316, 1913-1914. Tsarskoe Selo

Jan.1 "...Aleksey and I went to the Slide Hall where he and Derevenko's children went down the slide..."

Jan.3 "...In the morning we tried on our Russian costumes..."

March 26 Tatiana is sick with typhus. "...I have been isolated from my sisters and I live here with Shura in the room situated between the playroom and Sonya Orbeliani's one. While I am ill Mother comes to see me every day between 2 and 5 p.m..."

Apr.18 "...We had tea downstairs, then we met Grigory Yefimovich at Mother's. I was very glad to see him. Then I spent some time upstairs and played the piano. The 4 of us had dinner together - Father, Mother, Aunt and me in the study. Mother was on the couch as usual..."

Fund 651, file 316, 1913. Tsarskoe Selo

Apr.19 "...We had breakfast - 5 of us with Father and Gabriel (son of Konstantin Romanov) in Mother's study. She was on the couch..."

Apr.30 "...We had breakfast with Father, Aunt Ducky and Uncles Boris, Kyrill and Dmitry. Mother and Alexey had breakfast in a different room..."

May 1 "...Before dinner Aunt Olga, Mother and I sat in Mother's room and worked..."

Feb.21 "...After dinner I made my confessions in Mother's bedroom..."

March 12 "...I had breakfast with Maria, Anastasia, Aleksey, M. Gilliard and Trina in the children's apartment..."

Fund 651, file 317, p.123, 1914

Oct.12 "...Anya brought me from Malama (probably she speaks about Dmitry Malama, officer of the Life-Guards Uhlan Regiment) a small French bulldog (Ortino). It's a very cute little thing. I am so happy..."

Oct.15 "...We had dinner with Father, Mother and N.P. (Sablin). The dog was sitting with me..."

Dec.14 "...We had tea at Mother's bedside..."

File 319, 1916.

Feb. 6 "...Mother and I had tea and dinner in Aleksey's room upstairs."


Fund 601,1359, Oct. 22, Ts.S. 1914, page 50
"... Aleksey has just come downstairs and is going to pray together with Mother. My doggy Ortino was running about the room and playing during the tea-time. It is so funny and sweet.I apologize for my handwriting but it's not very comfortable to write sitting on the floor in Mother's room."

Fund 601,1359, Ts.S. Oct. 26,1914, p.53
"... We have just returned home after the ceremony of sanctification of the Crypt Church in the Palace Hospital. It was awfully beautiful. A lot of people were present there. There were many wounded soldiers - some of them with crutches, some - with working-sticks, all wearing different uniforms. Some of them wore shirts, others - tunics and the rest - gowns."

601,1359,Ts.S., Oct. 27, 1914,p.55
"... We are sitting in Mother's room after dinner. Anastasia has gone to bed. Maria hasn't yet left. She is sitting on the floor and working. Olga is sitting in your armchair. Mother is talking to Sonya over the telephone."

601,1359,Ts.S, Nov. 30, 1914,p.63
"... Today all five of us were in our hospital and Alexey was present at all dressings, and once he even held a basin for the pus coming out of the wound... This morning we were taken pictures of with all the officers in the Grand Palace. Then we went to the Invalids' Home where Mother gave the lower ranks St.George medals..."

601,1359, Dec. 16, 1914, p.65

"... At last my turn has come to write you a letter. I'm sitting in Mother's room after dinner. In half an hour there will be a sitting of the Committee at Olga's. I don't yet know if I decide to go there or stay at Mother's."

601,1359,Ts.S., March 7, 1915.
"... Thanks a lot for your permission to bathe in your bathroom. It was awfully nice and funny. I swam a lot and enjoyed myself. We are sitting in Mother's room after dinner. Olga and Mother are playing "Colorito", Ortino is running about the room like a mad dog."

601,1359,Ts.S., Apr. 6, 1915,p.79
"... On Wednesday I am going to have a Commitee sitting which is so dull that it makes me sweat to think about it. I hate those sittings. Now we are sitting in Mother's bedroom after dinner. Mary and Mother are playing "Colorito" and Olga has gone to talk over the telephone with our hospital."

601,1359,Ts.S., Apr. 10, 1915,p.81
"... Anya (Vyrubova) is brought to Mother's every day and she usually lies in her arm chair..."

601,1359,Ts.S., Apr. 15, 1915,pp.84-85 "...Well, we've finished the lesson. I am writing to you again and am smoking the cigarette which you gave to me at the time of Lent and I did not have time to smoke it. I am enjoying it now."

601,1359,Ts.S., June 11 1915,p.91
"...I'm sitting in the garden opposite the Children's Island and enjoying myself. Ortino is lying at my feet and sleeping. We've just returned from the Grand Palace where we went to see the wounded... How silly I was not to take a cigarette with me. So, those damned mosquitoes are litrally eating me."

601,1359,Ts.S. June 16, 1915
"... Today after the dressings Mother and I were taken pictures of with the officers in the garden."

601,1359,Ts.S., June 19, 1915, pp.95-96

"...We are sitting in the balcony after dinner. And we've got a new thing here today - electricity. And there are two stand-lamps here now which is very comfortable...

June 20
The weather is fine again today. Today I've taken my bed from behind the screen and put it in the middle of the room to get more fresh air..."

601,1359, June 24, 1915, pp.97-98
"...Every evening we like to sit in the balcony as it is very cosy there now.I've taken up a summer mode of living and sleep in the middle of the bedroom as behind the screen there is no fresh air. It's not very comfortable but O.K."

601,1359, August 25, 1915, P.99
"...Yesterday night before going to bed Olya and I decided to find out if Aleksey was sleeping. It turned out that he was not. To amuse him we began to sing songs with him. We sang "From Manglisse to Tiflisse" and others that were taught to us by (erivantsi?). Then he fell asleep and we left.

601,1359, Sept. 17, 1915, p.114.

"... Nothing has changed here. We work inthe hospital every day, then we have classes. Sometimes we go to the hospital of the Grand Palace..."

601,1359, Oct. 2, 1915, p.116
"... It's very dull here without you two. There is no noise upstairs. Aleksey's rooms are dark and empty. Tell him that (his teacher) Pyotr Vasilyevich was going to and fro in his room in the moments when he missed him most of all. This morning we were at the hospital, Mother was there, too. After breakfast there was a reception of the ensigns from Nickolai Pavlovich's (Nickolas I) Military School of our regiments. Poor boys - they were so embarrassed. In the day time the four of us and Mother went for a drive. Then we were present at the church service in the Grand Palace's Hospital. They brought the icon of Virgin of the Sign from the Church. It was carried around the place for everyone to see."

601,1359, Oct. 10, 1915, p.12
"... I am writing to you before Vespers. Anastasia is sitting beside me in the room and playing the balalaika, Maria is playing the piano in the next room and Olga is lolling in bed resting before going to Church. We had to stay on feet for a long time today - first in the hospital then at the Church service in the Winter Palace, then we visited all the wards, then we walked about the store-rooms and tonight we are going to be present at Vespers.

Nov. 4, 1915, pp.125-126
(she is speaking about the Cinema in the General Headquarters in Mogilev).
"... Did you have good films? Aleksey had written to Mother that he had been looking forward to that entertainment. Where did you organize the cinema-house in the dining-room or in the hall?"

Nov. 8, 1915, p.127.
"... We usually dine with Mother in the evenings upstairs in the playroom."

Nov. 2, 1915, p.129.
"... Yesterday I was in town. I had a sitting in the Winter Palace which was extremely dull. Maria was there with me. As she was present at the sitting for the first time, Neidhardt decided to address to her with words of greeting. Everybody stood up and bowed to her. She was so terrified that nearly got down under the table."

Nov. 26, 1915, p.133
"... Yesterday we went for a walk to Pavlovsk with Isa (Buxhoeveden) and were surprised to meet very few people there. It turned out that at a great distance in front of us and behind us there walked "yellow people" and said to everyone they met:"Grand Princesses have come out for a walk, it's better not to be in the way." Such idiots always spoil things by trying to do something too hard. It's dull to walk in the garden without you and we thought it would be more fun to go to town."

Dec. 20, 1915, p.137
"... Yesterday we were in the Grand Palace. There was a cinema-house organized for the wounded in the hall. There was only one funny film shown."

Jan. 1, 1916, p.141
"... Mother is in bed, so we had breakfast alone in Mother's sitting room."

Jan. 10, 1916, p.145
"... Aleksey and Anastasia both come with their beds and lie in beds beside each other for the whole day there. We all have our afternoon tea there. The New Year Tree is still there which makes the room cosy. It will be very sad to undo it when the needles begin to fall down. It's awfully dull to be without Mother because she is still unwell but she goes upstairs in the daytime to see the little ones and lies on the sofa there."

601,1359, Feb. 1, 1916, p.149
"...Yesterday afternoon Anya arranged a small concert in her hospital. The 5 of us went there. The soldiers and we ourselves enjoyed it. Delazari sang and told a lot of funny stories. Then they played the guitar and sang songs. It was fun... I'm having a class now in the classroom. In front of me Pyotr Vasilievich Petrov is sitting and daydreaming. Sometimes he says something but I don't even hear and don't answer him as I'm writing to you..."

601,1359, March 12, 1916, p.159
"... Our tower is growing fast. Do you remember the place where Mordvinov made a trap? We have already flattened the top and are going to build another floor.11 sailors worked there yesterday. The weather was remarkably clear and sunny but in the shade it was 11 degrees below zero. But it was fine to work. Anastasia took a lot of pictures. Only think, Lubushkin's sister sent us wonderful, huge, sweet-smelling violets from Livadia"

601,1359, March 28, 1916, pp.164-165
"... We were working on the ice today. It was fine. Mother spent some time near us sitting in her arm-chair. We saw and heard a hundred of Escort pass by. They were singing very well. As soon as they noticed us they stopped singing, but I ordered them to go on. I played you, wasn't that fun?! Ortino is lying on the floor now and gnawing his foot-ball. We have just finished dinner. Mother is reading, Olga and Maria are writing verses making fun of the nurses from the Grand Palace hospital, but they don't have any rhyme, of course, because they will be sung but not recited... We smoked one cigarette with Olga. Thanks a lot for it..."

601,1359, Apr. 2, 1916,p.166
"... Yesterday there was a concert in our hospital. Your friend Lersky told a lot of funny stories, then Dolsky did the same thing, Dmitry knows him, Smirnov and Christianov's brother sang, Beling played the piano and his wife sang. He is conductor of the court music.

601,1359, Apr. 10, 1916, p.174
(She is speaking about Fyodorovsky Sobor)
"... It was wonderful yesterday at the morning service and the air was so still during the procession with the cross that we didn't need to cover the candles with our hands. There were a lot of unnecessary people, of course. Tomorrow there will be Easter festivities in the Grand Palace. Dear father it's so frightening to be present at such things without you. Thanks again for the wonderful appetizing egg which I like very much and for the sweet postcard."

601,1359, Apr. 27, 1916, pp.176,177
"... I was going to start horse-riding, but the horses are still in Gatchina. The trees are beginning to blossom here now, it's very beautiful. Nickolai Pavlovich and Rodionov came to see us on April 25 in the evening. We had dinner in the balcony and spent the whole evening there... Now I'm going to sit on the window-sill and sun-bathe. Terrific!"

May 1, 1916, p.179
"... Mother told us that you've already read "Rosary". It's wonderful, isn't it?"

May 19, 1916, pp.180- 181
"... Oh, how dull, empty and cold it is here. I'd like so much to go back to our warm and sunny Sevastopol. The sun is shining the whole day but it doesn't make us warm. We all went to the hospital church today for the liturgy. Then we spent some time with the wounded in the hospital. There were only two dressings, I even felt ashamed that there were so few of them. In the after noon Mother and all of us went to her Uhlan hospital where all the Regiment ladies were present. There was a church service, then we were treated to some tea and chocolates. It was very strange to see so many ladies when we had grown out of the habit of seeing them...! It's very strange to be upstairs without Aleksey."
"... Every time I pass through the dining-room at 6 p.m. I get surprised not to see the table laid for his dinner. And in general there's very little noise now. I think the foreigners are glad he is with you.

May 27, pp.182-183
... All our rooms have been cleaned and look so large after the cosy train. Pedigarov tells us a lot of interesting things about his war experiences, about the regiment and a lot of other things..."

601,1359, June 7, 1916, p.189 "... Today in the afternoon they'll show films in the Manege for the wounded soldiers and us. They'll show "Erserum" and "Trabezond.

601,1359, June 18, 1916, p.194
"... Yesterday there was cinema in the Manege. The French showed to us how our troops came to Marseille, then how their plants worked. It was very interesting. There were a lot of wounded soldiers there... We don't go boating now for the lack of time. We either go for drives with Mother and ride or go to some hospital - thus the time flies. After tea and before dinner we usually go for a walk but not to the garden because it's very dull without you there but we walk along the road through the town..."

June 22, 1916, p.196
"... After dressings in the hospital we usually sit in the balcony or in the garden and watch the wounded soldiers carried out. Yesterday evening when we were sitting there one of the wounded played the violin to us. He played wonderfully. To tell the truth I was never very fond of the violin, but I liked his playing very much. He is from the 10-th Intermanlandsky Regiment. Very handsome. Then Olga played the piano and three people sang Russian songs very well. It was fun!"

July 23, 1916, p.211
"... We were at the concert in Maria's and Anastasia's hospital. It was fine there. Only think, two Lilliputians, twin-brothers danced a Russian dance. One of them was dressed as a lady. They are 25 years old, poor things. We were full of pity when we watched them. We were sitting in the back seats. The wounded occupied the front rows. When they wanted to introduce them to us, it was impossible for them to make their way through the crowd of soldiers, poor little things. So the soldiers lifted them and handed them to each other untill they reached us. Tell Aleksey about them because he likes them."

August 18, 1916 p.223
"... Yesterday Lady Myril Padget who worked in the English hospital had tea with us. She had been all the time with the Guards during the battles. She saw them when they walked and said:"I never saw such splendid men." She was in delight. It couldn't have been otherwise! ... We are going to the hospital now. Today they are going to dress the badly-wounded; they usually cry and groan, poor things. It's terribly painful for them..."

601,1359, Sept. 15, 1916, pp.231-232
"... Today we have invited the Japanese for breakfast... Now the hairdresser is curling Maria's hair, then he'll curl mine, for a Japanese. There is a rumour in the town that I'm going to get married to him. They forget that he has got a wife and, besides, he is a pagan. It's so silly... We've just returned after breakfast. I was sitting near Uncle Andrei and Nikolai Mikhailovich. There were a lot of people there. The little envoy was a dear..."

Sept. 19, 1916, p.238
"... Has anybody read "The Millionaire Girl"?"

Sept. 23, 1916, p.238
"... I am sitting now in the morning waiting for the classes to begin and Maria and Anastasia are playing the gramophone and "raise the flag". They played "The March of Guards' Crew",then our anthem and some of the marches that we used to play on the yacht."

October 1, 1916, p.242
"... We have to go to the Grand Palace's Hospital to see the concert. Rather dull."

February 23, 1917, p.226
"... We are so sad now. Everyone burst into tears as soon as you left. We spend almost all our time upstairs. Olga is lying in bed in her bedroom. Aleksey is in the playing-room. We take turns to visit them.

One of Tatiana's letters to her father when she was a child. The year is not mentioned
"... Today we are going to have a salty bath and I like the idea very much. Today I was very googy-goody. Anastasia still sucks her fingers.

October 27, Tsarskoe Selo, p.262. no date
"Yesterday we were playing with the pillows. Mother was with us. She jumped into the pillows and fell through them."

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