Tsar Nicholas II in Björkö, 1905 (L) / Queen Elizabeth II visits HMS Ocean on March 20, 2015 in Plymouth, England (R)Getty Images
In 1917, the British king George V (1865-1936) decided to break relations with his two cousins, German Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) and Russian Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918). After Nicholas II, George V’s first cousin, was overthrown from the Russian throne during the Revolution of 1917, the British Government offered Nicholas II and his family political asylum – but George V opposed this decision, seeing the Romanovs’ presence in his country inappropriate.
George V (1865 - 1936), King of the United Kingdom (1910 - 1936), circa 1910Getty Images
After Nicholas and his family were killed by the Bolsheviks, George V wrote in his diary: “It was a foul murder. I was devoted to Nicky, who was the kindest of men and thorough gentleman: loved his country and people.”
However, only two years later, a British battleship was sent to Crimea to rescue the 72-year-old Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), Nicholas II’s mother and, at the same time, George V’s aunt.
George V belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which ascended the British throne in 1901 with his father Edward VII (1841-1910), the son of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1819-1861).
But on July 17, 1917, during the days of World War I, George V changed the name of the British royal house from the German-sounding House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor. This was inspired by the whole anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. Accordingly, the German titles of all king’s relatives were relinquished – instead, George V created his male relatives British equivalents.
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and the last Romanovs are related through 2 people.
An 1883 painting of Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901), taken from an 1882 photograph by Alexander Bassano. Behind the queen is a portrait of her deceased consort, Prince Albert, by German artist Franz Xaver WinterhalterGetty Images
The first is Queen Victoria, “Grandmother of Europe”: Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918), Nicholas’s wife, was Victoria’s granddaughter.
Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, 1911. The younger sister of Alexandra, Queen Consort of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Dagmar of Denmark (1847-1928) married the future Tsar Alexander III on 9 November 1866.Getty Images
The second, the aforementioned Maria Fedorovna, Nicholas’s mother and the wife of Alexander III of Russia, was the sister of Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925), mother of George V. Their father was Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906) – grandfather of both Nicholas II and George V.
The House of Saxe-Coburg and the Romanovs’ bloodlines had met even earlier. Princess Juliane of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (1781-1860) was the wife of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich of Russia (1779-1831), brother of Emperor Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825). In Russia, Princess Juliane became Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna.
The marriage of Anna Feodorovna and Konstantin Pavlovich was short-lived and bore no children. Through this marriage, however, Leopold (1790-1865), Anna Feodorovna’s brother and the future King of Belgium, had the chance to serve in the Russian army.
Grand Duchess Anna Fyodorovna of Russia (1781–1860), née Princess Julianne of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. by Franz Xaver WinterhalterThe Royal Collection of the United Kingdom
It is also remarkable that Anna Feodorovna’s sister, Princess Antoinette (1779-1824), was the aunt of the Russian Emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I (1796-1855), because she married Duke Alexander of Württemberg (1771–1833), brother of Maria Feodorovna (Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg) (1759-1828), who became wife of Paul I of Russia (1754-1801) and the mother of Nicholas I and Alexander I.
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