Newly Discovered Photos of Nicholas II
and His Family Found in Ural Museum

Newly-discovered pictures show Nicholas II with his 15-year-old daughter Anastasia in Mogilyov, apparently teaching her to smoke

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||| Rare Nicholas II Photo Album Found in Ural Museum |||

A remarkable set of family pictures showing the doomed Russian royal family's private moments has been has been found in the vaults of a remote Urals museum.

The photographs show the royals in the months and years before Nicholas II was forced to abdicate as the toll of the First World War and the storm clouds of revolution overwhelmed the House of Romanov which had ruled as autocrats for more than 300 years.

Two years before the emperor and his family were shot dead by the Bolsheviks on the orders of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin, he is showing apparently teaching his youngest daughter Grand Duchess Anastasia how to smoke.

The princess is seen puffing at the cigarette with every encouragement from the Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias.

'At the time there was not the same stigma attached to smoking,' reports the Siberian Times, which revealed the pictures found in a museum in Zlatoust.

'In fact a year earlier Anastasia had written to her father: "I am sitting here with your old cigarette that you once gave me, and it is very tasty".'

Another photograph taken by the tsar the same year - 1916 - shows Tsarevich Alexei, heir to an autocratic throne that would be abolished only months later, posing on a tree in winter with his beloved pet spaniel Joy.

The boy is also shown playing on a beach with his father.

These young royals Anastasia and Alexei would soon be key figures in the mystery of what became of the Romanov family.

For decades there were claims, widely believed in the West, that one or both had survived the 1918 shooting.

The execution in Yekaterinburg wiped out Russia's last royal ruler, his former empress Alexandra, and their other three children, Olga, Tatiana and Maria.

In the event, the scientific analysis of bones found in a forest in the late Soviet era and subsequently has shown that all were indeed killed in 1918 when the Reds were concerned that White forces could reach and free the abdicated tsar and his family.

The remains of Anastasia and her brother who perished aged 17 and 13 respectively were, however, buried separately from the rest of the family after their slaying.

'The images of Alexei show a surprisingly strong boy given that his haemophilia saw him portrayed as sickly.

'Indeed it was his serious illness that led his mother to rely on debauched holy man Grigory Rasputin, a relationship that did much to undermine royal credibility as the country became embroiled in an ugly war and revolutionary fervour,' said the Siberian Times.

In one of the earlier pictures - snapped by the tsar and his children - the four carefree Romanov princesses are seen in 1914 aboard the royal yacht Standart on the Black Sea.

The same year at Peterhof, the tsar is shown relaxing on rocks in a picture almost certainly taken by one of his children using a camera he had imported from Britain or the US.

And in another picture, the Tsar, Alexei and the boy's tutor are seen walking an elephant near their palace in Tsarskoye Selo.

A zoo on the estate would be closed after the 1917 revolution, but on this day the ruler wrote in his diary: 'Took the elephant to our pond with Alexei today and had fun watching him bath.'

With war breaking out in 1914, the unfortunate heir is shown in a military game with his tutor's two smaller children.

Some of the pictures - including the one of Anastasia smoking - were taken near Mogilyov from where Nicholas II commanded Russian forces during the war. The tsar wanted his family around him.

Other pictures show the older princesses visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals.

The images have been released 400 years after the Romanov dynasty came to power in Russia.

'The Emperor was very fond of photography and passed his passion for it to his wife Alexandra and children,' said Milena Bratukhina, an historian at Zlatoust Museum where the album was hidden in Soviet times.

It remains unclear how the several hundred pictures came to be in this remote city.

One theory is that the album was taken from the royals by a revolutionary called Dmitry Chudinov, nicknamed Kassian, who was an escort when the exiled royals were brought westward from Tobolsk in Siberia to Yekaterinburg on their final journey before they were shot.

He was from Zlatoust and it is known that he appropriated some royal possessions. The album could have been among them.

Source & Copyright: The Daily Mail (Author: Will Stewart)
9 May, 2013

In this 1914 picture, four years before their execution, Nicholas's heir Alexei is seen with two of his sisters

Grand Duchess Olga is seen looking through a family album - a neat twist to the newly-discovered photographs of the Romanovs

The pictures, including this one of Tsarevitch Alexei on the beach in front of the Lower Dacha at Peterhof are thought to date from the time of the First World War

The grand duchesses Olga and Tatiana are seen posing in the outdoors in this private family photo taken in 1916

Tatiana is seen again surrounded by flowers as she reads

Tsarina Alexandra is seen on a hospital visit to injured servicemen

Grand Duchess Tatiana is seen with an unidentified soldier in another photo from the collection

Another picture shows Nicholas II and Alexei on a boat in Finland

The pictures, including this of Nicholas II, and his uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich are held at the Zlatoust City Museum

||| Rare Nicholas II Photo Album Found in Ural Museum |||