Olga Constantinovna of Russia - Member of the Romanov Family Dynasty
Olga Constantinovna of Russia was a member of the famous (or infamous) Romanov Family and a direct descendant of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Her father was the Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaievich, son of Tsar Nicholas I. Konstantin's elder brother was Alexander II who was assassinated in 1881. Tsar Alexander II was responsible for selling Alaska to the United States in 1867.
After the death of Tsar Alexander II, his son, Alexander IIII, became the new Russian Tsar. Grand Duke Konstantin, uncle of Tsar Alexander III, fell out of favour after his brother's murder as his liberal views were in direct opposition to the views of his nephew.
Tsar Alexander III's son, Nicholas II, would ultimately become the last ruling Tsar of the Romanov Dynasty, and the head of the family that most of us are most familiar with.
Olga Constantinovna was a cousin of Tsar Nicholas II. Olga spent her childhood in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Poland and the Crimea. At the age of 16 in 1867 Olga married King George I of Greece. According to historic records, Olga was at first uncomfortable in Greece, but soon became involved in many social and charitabe causes, including establishing hospitals and help centres. She also stirred up controversy attempting to have gospels translated into Greek. This caused riots within the conservative religious groups in Greece.
In 1913, Olga's husband, King George I, was assassinated and she returned to Russia. At the outbreak of World War I, Olga was in Russia where she established a military hospital in the Pavlovsk Palace, which belonged to her brother. As the War continued, Olga became aware of the growing crisis inside Russia. She attempted to warn Tsarina Alexandra in 1916 of the danger of revolution taking place in Russia, but the empress refused to listen. Olga greatly angered the Tsarina when she signed a petition asking for a pardon for her grandson, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, who had taken part in the assassination of Tsarina Alexandra's favourite mystic, Grigori Rasputin (another extended family member of mine was also indirectly involved in the plot against Rasputin).
When the Russian Revolution took place in 1917, and the Tsarist dynasty collapsed in February of that year Olga chose to stay in Russia although her sister in-law had fled. Olga was left alone in the palace with one loyal servant, . The two women survived on a diet of dried bread soaked in poor quality oil. A few days after the October Revolution, the palace was ransacked by Bolsheviks although they did not harm Olga or her servant. At this time Olga accepted that she had to leave Russia, but she was denied passage by the Bolsheviks. Only after months of appealing for help did help come from the Danish embassy who issued Olga and Anna Egorova, Olga's loyal servant, a passport which allowed them to escape Russia through Germany and then on to Switzerland to join Olga's family.
The Russian Revolution, as most of us know, resulted in the murders of the Romanov family, most notably Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their five children. All of the Royal Family were members of Olga's family. In addition, Olga also lost her brothers, the Grand Dukes Nicholas and Dmitri Constantinovich, her nephews Princes John, Constantine and Igor as well as the Tsarina's sister, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.
In October of 1920, Olga was finally able to return to Greece when her grandson, King Alexander, died. She became regent until the restoration of her son, Constantine I, in November, 1920. Olga's stay in Greece was not to last however, as in 1922, after the defeat of Greece by the Turks in the Greco-Turkish war, the Greek Royal Family was again exiled. Olga lived the remainder of her days in England, Italy and France.
So how do Olga and the Romanov family tie into my family? Well, it's quite simple: Olga was the Great-great Grandmother of the husband of my cousin's wife's cousin. See, Olga is HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York's 2 times Great Grandmother, and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is my cousin's wife's cousin.
July 18, 2020 Update: Since my initial discovery of a family tie to the Romanov dynasty, I have made even more familial discoveries. Please see my new entry on the Romanov's who, through the marriage of my 10th cousin 8x removed, Princess Frederike Luise Charlotte Wilhelmine of Prussia to Tsar Nickolai I Pavlovich Romanov, as well as additional marriages into the Romanov family, Olga and many other Romanov's are direct paternal cousins. This is one of the wonderful things about researching family history - with every new piece of the puzzle found, an new story emerges.