The Princess Pretenders

Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, was executed in 1918 along with his wife, five children, and a few servants after the Russian revolution. It was not a public execution, and the remains were buried at an undisclosed location. Rumors grew that at least one princess has survived being shot due to the royal jewels sewn into her bodice. At least ten women later claimed to be the youngest of the Tsar's daughters, Anastasia, but the most famous was Anna Anderson, whose story was fictionalized in movies in 1956 and 1997. Anderson's story began when she was confined to a German mental hospital in the early 1920s.

A fellow patient first claimed that Anderson, who had been rescued following a suicide attempt, was Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia, the second eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. A former Russian captain came to visit the unknown woman and intrigued, he began persuading other Russian émigrés to visit the mystery patient, who spoke German with an accent described as “Russian”. Eventually, Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, a former lady-in-waiting to the Tsar’s wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, visited the asylum.

Upon seeing Anderson, she declared, “She’s too short for Tatiana,” and left convinced the woman was not a Russian grand duchess. A few days later, the nameless woman noted, “I did not say I was Tatiana.” She began opening up to the nurses of the asylum, confessing that she was in fact another daughter of the Tsar– Anastasia. She explained how she had hidden among the bodies of her family and servants, and was able to make her escape with the help of a compassionate communist guard who noticed she was still breathing and took sympathy upon her.     

The late Tsar had plenty of relatives and associates in Europe, and they were split between those who believed Anderson was the Grand Duchess Anastasia and those who did not. Read her story at Messy Nessy Chic, where you can also learn about the fake Princess Cariboo and the fake Princess Susanna.

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I wonder if there is any way to investigate these stories using modern DNA analysis. Certainly would be a challenge for some enterprising scientist.
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