Romanov conspiracy theories

Between 1918 and 1991 no one knew for sure what had happened to the Romanovs. The Russian government admitted that Tsar Nicholas had been executed but they were close-lipped about the fate of the others. It’s little wonder that conspiracy theories sprang up and imposters stepped forward. Apart from anything else, the Romanovs were worth what would be $300 billion in today’s terms, much of it rumoured to be deposited in foreign bank accounts.

Nicholas II had been a disastrous ruler, quite willing to order his troops to fire on his own people; Alexandra was suspected (unfairly) of sneaking state secrets to her native Germany during the First World War and there was that ill-considered relationship with Rasputin. But no one had any evidence of wrongdoing by the children, the youngest of whom were just seventeen (Anastasia) and thirteen (Alexei). Who could have been barbaric enough to massacre these innocents? It was hard to accept that any government would sanction such a thing. Thus the world’s readiness to believe some or all had survived.

The best-known Romanov imposter was Anna Anderson, who turned up in a Berlin asylum

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Anna Anderson

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Grand Duchess Anastasia

in 1920 and claimed to be Anastasia. Loads of people believed her, including the children of the family physician Dr Botkin, who had died with them in the Ekaterinburg house, their cousin Grand Duke Andrei, and even the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. Anna Anderson died in 1984, still maintaining that she was the Romanovs’ youngest daughter. DNA tests ten years later showed otherwise, but as recently as 2014, Russian historian Veniamin Alekseyev claimed that the tests had been flawed, the DNA contaminated. He thinks that Anastasia probably did escape and Anna Anderson could well have been her. French historian Marc Ferro goes further by suggesting that Alexandra and her daughters might all have survived, with only the tsar and his son Alexei murdered.

There were several claimants for each of the Romanov children, and the story that particularly fascinates me is that of Larissa Tudor. She made no claims herself but after her death in 1926 rumours began to circulate that she had in fact been Grand Duchess Tatiana. Where did the large sum of money she left her husband come from? Why did he take flowers to her grave every year on the date of Tatiana’s birthday? And why did he have ‘Feodorovna’ carved on her gravestone (Feodorovna was her Alexandra’s patronymic) when according to Larissa’s marriage certificate her maiden name was Haouk?

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Grand Duchess Tatiana

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Larissa and Owen Tudor

Larissa made several contradictory claims about her own background, most famously that she was a belly dancer living in Constantinople when Owen Tudor, an officer in the King’s Own Hussars, met her in 1921. They married in London in 1923 and lived a very quiet life near Lydd in Kent. Larissa died of tuberculosis three years later but after her death rumours began to spread. When neighbours who had known her were shown portraits of Tatiana by author Michael Occleshaw, they all exclaimed “That’s her!”

There are a number of theories about how Tatiana could have escaped from Russia but Occleshaw thinks she was flown out of Ekaterinburg in early July 1918 by British agents and made her way east through Canada and hence to Britain.

What do I think happened? You’ll have to read my new novel The Secret Wife to find out.

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4 thoughts on “Romanov conspiracy theories

  1. Have you ever heard of Catherine Romanov? We found documentation from a person claiming to be Edgar Hoovers Wife. She claims she was undercover. We have several grams that she sent to the president in 1968.

  2. Pingback: The Romanoffs teaser: Matthew Weiner’s dazzling series – News – Sport – Entertainment – Showbiz and Movies

  3. Hello. First of all, a great way to endorse a book, you could really attract reader’s mind. However, what refers to the Romanov girls- Anastasia and Tatiana being alive long after the execution of Romanovs in 1918. First, let me refer the theory that only male Romanovs were executed, females were left alive. There would have been no point in doing that. After the execution of his husband and son, Alexandra would have returned to her motherland Germany, where she would be accepted with grace, and there is no way of Soviet Russia prohibiting that. After the revolution Romanovs still had many supporters. The Tsarina wasn’t a lost person so she could have lived a happily ever after with her girls and not hide from anyone.
    Anna Anderson claimed to be Anastasia. Actually, there is the logic behind this. See- many relatives and trusted people by the Romanovs themselves said she was Anastasia. She was in Berlin, Germany, which would have been very predictable, because it was his mother’s motherland. And, eventually, she could have gone crazy because she proved she was Anastasia in many ways yet nobody believed her. On top of that, seeing your family murdered in front of you is one of the worst things that can happen. Oh, about the DNA results were flawed. In Soviet Russia (1984), when the empire was falling out no one would have liked to claim that yes, we actually shot your tsar and that is why we are your governors now, and after the fallout of Soviet Union, the real DNA results were published. These all seem real until you find out that family doctor and musician Rakhmaninov lied and were just trying to help young Anna Anderson to get her lifer together. Moreover, in 1991 the Romanov grave was found, including Anastasia’s.
    And now we got to the most interesting part- Tatiana Romanova- Larissa Tudor. Her background story is complicated and uncertain. It is mentioned that she was a belly dancer in Turkey in 1921, then suffered from tuberculosis, and died at age of 28. Her birth year is not mentioned, because she grew up in suburbs, and there is a way of her father’s name being Feodor so the name engraved on her tombstone can be real. And about neighbors, who claimed that Larissa was Tatiana. There are many lookalikes so it could have been just a coincidence. Theories are many, but they are denied.
    After all, all the bodies of Romanovs were found in a massive grave, so all of them died at the same time in the same place.

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