Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna

Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, Princess Fredericke Luise Charlotte Wilhelmine of Prussia, wife of Tsar Nicholas I, mother of Alexander II
Born: 1798, Berlin
Died: 1860, Tsarskoe Selo

In 1817, the future Tsar Nicholas I married the nineteen-year-old daughter of King Frederick William III of Prussia, Princess Fredericke Luise Charlotte Wilhelmine, who converted to Orthodoxy as Alexandra Fyodorovna. The young couple fell in love at first sight and married for love.

As empress, it was said that Alexandra knew little of the true sufferings of the Russian people, preferring to throw money around in the fashionable shops and resorts of Europe. But she was also kind and pious, donating large sums of money from her own personal funds to charity.

Alexandra Fyodorovna did not lack real, profound feelings. She was shocked by the bloody aftermath of the Decembrist Revolt. When she heard of the intentions of the Decembrists’ wives – who led lives of comfort no less pampered than her own – to follow their husbands to Siberia, she exclaimed: “Oh, I would do the exact same in their place!”

Although such romantic ideas may have been inspired by the works of her favourite author, Friedrich Schiller, Alexandra was indeed loyal and ready to sacrifice herself for her husband. Seemingly spoilt and frivolous, she was a devoted wife and mother of seven children.

When their children were born, Nicholas and Alexandra seemed like an ideal couple. Their first child was a boy, who was born in 1818. Nicholas hoped that everything in his family would be just like his parents’ marriage, so he called his eldest son Alexander.

These plans faltered in 1819, when a girl was born. She was called Maria and succeeded by two more girls, Olga in 1822 and Alexandra in 1825. Only then did a series of boys appear, named in strict accordance with the family of Paul IKonstantin in 1827, Nikolai in 1831 and Mikhail in 1832.

The family’s happiness was overshadowed by the poor health of the empress, who had never grown accustomed to the Russian climate. Alexandra was often ill and forced to travel to European resorts to recover. She spent long periods of time in Sicily and other warm places.

Alexandra Fyodorovna outlived Nicholas I by five years. She died in her sleep at the Alexander Palace on 20 October 1860 and was buried alongside her husband in the St Peter and St Paul Cathedral on 5 November 1860.

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