Tsarevitch Alexei (1904-1918)
At 1.15 pm on August 12th 1904,(July 30th OS), the longed-for heir was born at Peterhof. Christened Alexei, after a previous much-loved Tsar of Russia's past, it was hoped that his birth would bring peace and stability to a nation that was increasingly restless and under extreme stress from the gulf between the ever-onward march of history towards democracy and Russia’s reactionary status as the last sizable autocracy in the civilised world.
That his birth was liable to cause the opposite to what was intended became rapidly clear when it was discovered that he possessed the then completely incurable and untreatable disease Haemophilia. Genetically, this is passed down through the female line. Indeed, Alexandra’s younger brother had died from complications due to this disease when he was a child.
For the rest of her life, Alexandra felt responsible for giving her son an illness which could cut short his life and place the dynasty in jeopardy. It was the emotional fallout from this that was to precipitate the inclusion of Rasputin in the family circle, and eventually led indirectly to the end of the reign of Nicholas II, 300 years of Romanov rule and the deaths of (most of?) the family in 1918.
According to close members of the Imperial circle, Alexei was possessed of a sunny, outgoing and winning personality, was physically handsome and elegant and had he reached maturity, would have been tall, like his sisters . He also, like his older sister and close playmate Anastasia, was stubborn and independent-minded, with a distinct dislike of taking orders, traits which made him somewhat undisciplined and difficult to tutor. He was beloved by all the family however and his physical protection was organised by Tatiana, sometimes in a way that any growing boy would find suffocating.
Due to Rasputin’s healings, Alexei’s haemophiliac attacks lessened in intensity over the years. The starets promised that eventually, he would be cured, and that then he, Rasputin, would retire to a contemplative life in a monastery. Sadly, the war, Rasputin’s murder and the subsequent Revolutions of 1917 put an end to what had seemed bright, redemptive hopes. We shall never know what sort of Tsar Alexei II would have been…
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