Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich

Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (Nixa) painted by Alexander Litovchenko 1856
Born: 1843, Tsarskoe Selo
Died: 1865, Nice

Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich was the second child and first son of Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna. He was born in Tsarskoe Selo on 8 September 1843 and known in the family as “Nixa.”

Nicholas became the heir to the Russian throne in 1855, when his father succeeded Nicholas I. The tsarevich was educated by Count Sergei Stroganov, who accompanied him on his travels across Russia in 1861 and 1863.

In the summer of 1864, Nicholas visited Copenhagen. He had fallen in love with photographs of Princess Dagmar and went to Denmark to see if the images corresponded to reality.

In a letter to Empress Maria Alexandrovna on 24 August 1864, Nicholas wrote that Dagmar was more beautiful than he had imagined. Two weeks later, on his twenty-first birthday, he proposed to her in the Bernstorff Palace Gardens.

Like his mother, Nicholas suffered from weak lungs. After visiting Denmark, he travelled to the south of France to spend the winter in Nice. While touring Venice in October 1864, he caught a fever. Unknown to the doctors, this aggravated the cerebrospinal meningitis he had contracted after falling from his horse in 1860.

In April 1865, Nicholas’s health suddenly deteriorated. Dagmar hurried to France, accompanied by her mother and brother Frederick. They arrived in Dijon on 22 April, where they met Alexander II, who had also come from St Petersburg to see his son.

Nicholas died at the Villa Bermont in Nice on 24 April 1865. The coffin with his body was taken to Villefranche-sur-Mer and escorted back to Russia on board the St Alexander Nevsky for burial in the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg on 9 June 1865.

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