Nicholas II talks about drinking, tattoos, and his wife-mistress quagmire

Natalya Nosova
Not to mention Rasputin, his wife’s hysterics, and what he dislikes most of all.

Disclaimer: All Nicholas II’s “answers” ​​are actual excerpts from his diaries and notes made by contemporaries, taken from different years.

Before we begin, could I clarify how you would like to be addressed, Your Majesty or plain Mr Romanov?

Lord of the Russian lands.

Hmm... Okey-doke. I see you have an unusual tattoo on your arm. What does it depict? Was it painful to have done?

After dinner during a stopover in the Japanese city of Nagasaki, I decided to get a tattoo of a dragon on my right arm. It took precisely seven hours from 9pm to 4am! The dragon turned out splendid, and it didn’t hurt at all.

Will you get some more tattoos?

Partaking once in this kind of pleasure is sufficient to repel the urge to begin anew.

I see. Moving on, there’s talk that as a young man you were not averse to letting your hair down. It’s rumored that in the company of other officers you sometimes painted the town red (no communist pun intended, your lordship).

Once we drank 125 bottles of champagne (laughs).

Holy moley! How did you feel the next day?

I awoke on the couch near the bathroom. Felt a bit off all day long, as if a marching band had used my head as a drum... Regaining my composure somewhat after breakfast, I had to face the regrettable consequences of the revelry.

Tell us how you got engaged to your future wife, Alix of Hesse.

I’d been in love with her for ages, but had resisted my feelings for a long time, trying to delude myself with the impossibility of realizing my most cherished dream! The only obstacle or chasm between this dream and me was the question of religion! I [was] almost sure that the feeling [was] mutual!

How much did religion hamper your union?

One day I received a letter from Alix informing me that it was all over between us—changing religion was out of the question for her. All my fondest hopes and desires for the future appeared to have been dashed against this insurmountable obstacle. Only recently this future had felt so close and achievable, and now it had turned its back on me!!! It is terribly hard to remain outwardly calm and cheerful when your entire future existence is decided so suddenly in such a manner.

Did you have feelings for the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, with whom it’s rumored you had an affair when you were already acquainted with your future wife?

I never thought that two loves were simultaneously compatible in the soul. I’ve been in love with Alix for four years now, and since 1890 I have passionately loved (platonically) little K. The heart is an amazing thing! Am I thus susceptible to falling in love? To a certain degree, yes. But I must add that internally I am a strict judge and fastidious in the last degree!

What do you think about Rasputin?

Better ten Rasputins than one of the empress’s hysterical fits.

What do you dislike most of all?

The sickening feeling of being so far away and receiving fragmentary bad news!

Click here to read an interview with Leo Tolstoy.

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