Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna
Subject of Documentary

Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna (Queen Olga of Greece)
Photo: Archives

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A documentary film dedicated to the life of the Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia made its Russian debut recently at the Russo-Greek Civil Society Forum. The forum was held at the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg in June 2009.

Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna married King George I of Greece on 27 October 1867. She was only 16 at the time and served as his consort until the king’s death in 1913.

Attracted by a wealth of material in the Greek archives, which included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Benaki Museum Archives, and the National Historical Museum of National History, the creators of the film wanted to present Queen Olga at various stages of her life as a Russian grand duchess, and as queen of Greece.

The documentary presents the Queen as a touching and caring mother who gave birth to eight children, as a friend and colleague of her husband, King George I, with whom she had shared many difficult trials and tribulations during his reign.


Monument to Queen Olga in Athens

Most importantly, the documentary presents the tremendous charitable work in which the queen immersed herself with from the first days of her arrival in Greece.

She left an impressive legacy in Greece including the Evangelizmos Hospital, the largest public hospital in Athens, a series of almshouses for the elderly, orphaned children, widows and the poor throughout Greece, a Russian naval hospital, and she established the Red Cross in Greece.

Further, and with the aid of the Russian Imperial family, she helped build and restore a number of churches, including the Church of St. Olga, the Church of St. Constantine, the Church of St. George at Likavitose, the Church of St. Savior in N. Kosmos, and St. Mary Magdalene in Chania.

All of these hospitals and churches exist today, and the film provides an opportunity to see them firsthand.

The Queen sought to take under her patronage, any undertaking which contributed to the prosperity of Greece. With the support of the Greek royal family in Hellas she helped to organize the building of the historic Olympic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. Rare photos of the first Olympic Games are included in the film.

During the 19th century, the Russian navy maintained bases at Pireyskoy Bay and the island of Poros, whose presence helped to safeguard the independence of Greece. Every week the Queen visited the crews of the Russian ships. Given her passion for photography, a many photographs were taken during these visits. Some of them are represented in the film.

Under her tireless care were several naval memorials: on the island Sfaktiriya – where Russians were killed in the Battle of Navarino, in Piraeus, where they buried the officers and sailors who died in the performance of allied debt to Greece.

The film uses rare archival film footage, most of it never before seen. The film footage depicts the joyful moments in the life of the Greek royal family, as well as historic and dramatic moments in the life of Queen Olga including the funeral of George I, who died at the hands of an assassin.


Grave of Queen Olga at Tatoi

Queen Olga died at the age of 74 on 18 June 1926 at Pau, Bearn in France. She was first interred in Italy, where the Greek Royal Family lived in exile. After the restoration of the monarchy in Greece, she was re-interred on 17 November 1936 in the Royal Cemetary, Tatoi Palace in Greece. She is the grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Compiled by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
Source: Russo-Greek Civil Society Forum and RIA Novosti
15 March, 2010