King George V
Part Four, Chapter Four: Russia's Hope
The Anichkov Palace stands at the intersection of the Nevsky Prospect and the Fontanka River, a splendid baroque residence commissioned by the Empress Elizabeth for her favourite, Count Aleksey Razumovsky. After his death in 1771, Catherine the Great took back ownership of the palace – but only so that she might gift it to her own favourite, Prince Potemkin. By the reign of Alexander I, the Anichkov had been “requisitioned” to Crown ownership once more and was handed over to the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna but when she left Russia to marry the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the building stood empty until Tsar Nicholas I offered it to his son and heir the Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich upon his marriage to Princess Charlotte Louise of the United Kingdom in 1840. It was this lavish mansion with its picturesque views of the river and it’s sprawling English-style gardens which Charlotte Louise, now known by her Russian name of Maria Georgievna, had transformed over five years to become not just an imperial residence but a family home. The Tsarevich was content to give his wife free reign not only in how the house was furnished but also how it operated and because of this, Anichkov earned the nickname “the English House” – not entirely a moniker applied with any real affection in more conservative circles.
Maria Georgievna had experienced an unconventional childhood in that she never really knew her father and was subjected to cruel indifference by her mother. She lived with her Uncle and Aunt (the Clarences) for a time but mostly she was her brother’s “guest” in his many palaces, the rooms never really her own. Anichkov offered her the chance to make her own mark which she did without any input from her relatives or in-laws. The first floor of the Anichkov hosted the State Rooms where most visitors could expect to be received and entertained by the Imperial couple. On the second floor were the Private Apartments where the Tsarevich and Tsarevna slept, dressed and worked in their respective studies. But on the third floor, always known as the Nursery floor, the rooms had been turned over to create a kind of penthouse which was really where the Tsarevich and his family lived when they had time together. Though the nursery itself was separated by a corridor from the main rooms of the third floor, the others underwent structural renovation with doorways removed and wide archways put in which meant it was possible to look from one end of the palace to the other, one’s view only broken by furniture which could be quickly stowed to the window sides creating a kind of bowling alley arrangement across five rooms. This was where the Tsarevich and his wife really enjoyed themselves, dancing, playing skittles and even hosting duck races.
For their children, the Nursery Floor was truly where they felt at their most relaxed and happy. The Grand Duchess Alexandra  recalled in her unpublished memoir Recollections of a Grand Duchess
; “Mama was really two people. The first was the formal, elegant Empress who appeared to the people with a great sense of duty and an awareness of her important position in our country. But the second person was a playful, impish, sparkling creature whom I only ever saw in those years when we lived at the Anichkov. She would tear around the Nursery Floor with gay abandon, laughing and hollering and whooping with we children and whatever game we might wish to play, Mama would say ‘Now who shall I be then?’. And then she would stomp about being an old Colonel or she’d be a beautiful princess shut away in a tower and her full attention was always ours”
She continues: “This brought out the best in Papa too for he was just as raucous at times. Indeed, I recall an occasion on which my aunt, the Grand Duchess Maria came to visit us from Weimar with her daughters. Mama received her in the private apartments and Papa and his adjutant were playing horse races with us children in the rooms above. The game was quite simple you see, Papa and his adjutant were horses and we children could take turns being the jockeys. It was a very loud game but very enjoyable. Aunt Maria said ‘Oh I should never have let my
children make such a terrible noise in the afternoons’ and was most disapproving. Mama shook her head and said, ‘No no, that isn’t the children – that’s Sasha’. Poor Aunt Maria was really most shocked! But that is who they were as parents, until that is they succeeded and then they were required to be far more serious people which was quite sad for them because they no longer had so many opportunities to enjoy themselves”.
Grand Duke George  (born in 1853, two years before Tsar Nicholas I died and the Tsarevich succeeded him as Tsar Alexander II) confirms this in his own memoir published in 1926 (My Story)
: “My elder siblings spoke of them as being very playful and not at all serious but I have no recollection of this for when I was just two years old, my father became Emperor. He was a loving and kindly father but we saw so little of him and that is why I perhaps favoured Mama most for she always ensured she gave of herself, perhaps not in the same way she had as when she had been Tsarevna for the dignity of an Empress constrains a woman so, but nonetheless we had many times together, most often at Yelaginsky
in the summer months because it was so very private”
The Yelagin Palace was a Palladian villa on Yelagin Island in the Imperial Capital which Tsar Alexander I purchased from the family which gave the palace (and the island) it’s name for use as a summer home for his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. She complained that she was too old to keep making the long journey from her palaces at Gatchina and Pavlovsk to see her son and though she furnished it beautifully, when she died in 1828, nobody among the Romanov clan much fancied taking on the property which remained almost entirely vacant but for a few old retainers who quickly followed the example of their mistress in going on to their eternal reward by the time the Tsarevich married in 1840. In 1843 however, Maria Georgievna visited Yelagin and was immediately enchanted by it. Cut off from the rest of the capital by the Neva and nestled in acres of private parkland hidden from those on the opposite bank of the river by thick rows of trees, there was a small private dock for boating, a stable for pony rides and even a pavilion for afternoon tea. It was love at first site and it is in the acquisition of Yelagin that we perhaps gain some insight into Maria Georgievna’s relationship with her parents-in-law.
In 1948, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer brought the Tsarevna’s story to the silver screen. Portrayed by Deborah Kerr, this Maria Georgievna is despised by her autocratic, domineering father-in-law the Tsar (Basil Rathbone) because of her enormous popularity with the Russian peasantry. She is locked away in a tower and forbidden to see her visiting English relations until she is married and thereafter the Tsar treats her appallingly, evening arranging a plot on her life. Eventually the Tsar’s life dwindles to a forlorn conclusion and on his death bed, a victorious Maria whispers in his ear “And now I shall rule Russia…”. Of course, this is entirely fabricated and bears absolutely no resemblance to the true relationship between Maria Georgievna and her father-in-law. For a start, the Tsar thought his daughter-in-law to be beautiful and charming and he was delighted to see the cheering crowds who turned out to congratulate the Tsarevich and his new bride on their wedding day in 1840. Nicholas called Lotya (as she was known in the Romanov family) “the special one” and throughout their 15-year association, it was noted by others that though Nicholas often lost his temper and could easily become aggressive, he never did so in the presence of Maria Georgievna. It is possible that he restrained himself in case word of his outbursts (which were frequent) made it back to the Tsarevna’s homeland but certainly he seemed to have an affection for her which allowed her only to see the best of him.
In this way, the Tsarevna, who had never really known her own father, acquired a paternal figure who respected her, cared for her and even cherished her. It should come as no surprise therefore that when Maria Georgievna asked if the Tsarevich and his family might use Yelagin in the summer months from 1843 onwards, word came back from the Tsar that he could do much better than that; in a sign of just how highly he held his daughter-in-law in his affections, Nicholas I gave Maria Georgievna the Yelagin as her own private residence with an increase in her annuity to pay for any renovations she might wish to undertake. The Tsarevna was so moved by the Tsar’s generosity that her first action as the new mistress of the Yelagin was to commission a bust of her father-in-law which always stood in the entrance hall before a vast portrait of Nicholas I. His generosity was not confined to a summer villa however. The Tsar frequently sent gifts of jewellery, furs or porcelain to the Anichkov for Maria to enjoy, always choosing things he knew would appeal to her tastes. Of course, it is entirely possible that this relationship was cemented by a tragedy which occurred fairly early on in Maria Georgievna’s life in Russia.
We have seen the close bonds of friendship which were forged between Maria Georgievna and her sister-in-law Adini (the Grand Duchess Alexandra) and how it ended with Adini’s tragic death in 1844. The Tsar was devastated by the loss of his daughter and in a letter to the Tsarevna sent in the aftermath of Adini’s death, he writes “And you, my special one, will always share with me this terrible grief for I know our love of her was entirely the same. How it cheers me to see you in these difficult times, with your beloved husband my son, and with my wonderful grandchildren. You are Russia's hope and my joy, your ever loving and devoted Papa”. Until now, Nicholas had always addressed his daughter-in-law in letters as “Dearest Lotya” or “My dear girl” but hereafter, his letters are addressed to “My darling daughter” or “Dearest daughter of mine”. Perhaps in many ways, the Tsar had found someone to transfer his affections for Adini onto and whilst Maria Georgievna never actively sought this out, the lack of a father figure in her own life perhaps left her more willing to accept the situation as she reflected on the losses in her own life and the absences that these had left behind.
It is also possible that the Tsar was finding it difficult to adjust to the change in relationship he was experiencing with his eldest, and favourite, daughter. The Grand Duchess Maria married the Duke of Leuchtenberg in 1839, a marriage the Tsar only agreed to if the couple agreed to remain in St Petersburg. But even when they moved into the Mariinsky Palace in 1844, a stone’s throw from the Tsar’s Winter Palace which allowed him to make daily visits, Maria seemed distracted and often cut their time together short. This is perfectly understandable given that she was now a mother and a wife but the Tsar resented it nonetheless and so it was not uncommon for him to unexpectedly descend on the Anichkov to spend the time he had reserved to share with his daughter with his daughter-in-law instead. But if the Tsarevna hoped to acquire a surrogate mother in the same way as she had a loving father, she was to be left disappointed.
Born Princess Charlotte of Prussia in 1798, Alexandra Feodorovna had married the Russian Tsarevich in 1817 and in 1826, was crowned beside her husband at the Grand Church in the Winter Palace as Empress a year after Nicholas’ succession to the Imperial throne. Alexandra was devoted to her husband and to her children but she was quite a cold and remote figure to most, pale and withdrawn, frequently unwell and by the standards of the day considered to be almost a permanent invalid. Whilst Alexandra adored her children and grandchildren, she was less welcoming to her in-law children whom she never really regarded as truly being a part of the family. When the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich married Duchess Alexandra of Oldenburg in 1856, the then Dowager Empress did not attend her son’s wedding even though she herself had arranged the match. “It was important to see him married”, Alexandra mused, “But not with my own eyes”. The marriage was a disaster and ended with Nicholas taking a mistress and practically abandoning his first wife who developed religious mania and became a nun as Sister Anastasia, the founder of the Pokrov of Our Lady Monastery in Kyiv.
Empress Alexandra had been fairly lukewarm to the prospect of Charlotte Louise as a daughter-in-law and when this was made a reality and she found herself obliged to receive the newly created Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna on a regular basis, the Tsar’s wife struggled to warm to her. Whether it was her English background or her husband’s apparent delight with their son’s bride, Alexandra was never cruel to Maria but neither did she make her feel very welcome. Alexandra preferred to speak in German but she spoke very rapidly (“with decision”) and so Maria, for whom German was a second language, often struggled to keep up. Rather than slow down or repeat herself, the Empress would simply sigh and wave a hand to indicate that the audience was at an end, leaving the Tsarevna feeling somewhat ostracised. Alexandra did praise Maria for being a good mother and she warned her son that he should not “disrupt” his marriage, a clear indication that the Empress would take a very dim view of her son if he took a mistress. Alexandra had dealt with this herself for though she always insisted the Tsar had been entirely faithful to her, this was not altogether true. Though he adored “Mouffy” (Alexandra’s nickname), he had produced three illegitimate children by one of her ladies-in-waiting, Barbara Nelidova, by 1842. Around the same time, the Empress heard of this and called in her doctors to ask if their advice that she refrain from sexual activity on account of her poor health still stood. When they said that it did, she told them to go to the Tsar and inform him that she had given her blessing to him taking a mistress to satisfy his needs. Nelidova was appointed the Empress’ personal reader and after Alexandra had fallen asleep to her dulcet tones, Barbara would leave the Empress’ bedroom and go through the connecting door to that of the Tsar…
It is fair to say that at the start, Alexandra Feodorovna was more wary of Maria Georgievna than she was unimpressed. This was not an open dislike and perhaps had it’s roots in a kind of jealousy. After all, the Tsarevna was young, pretty and boisterous whilst the Empress was sallow, weak and constantly forced to rest. But it is also possible that she did not take kindly to the obvious interest the men in her family had taken in Maria – most notably, her son Grand Duke Konstantin. Konstantin was just 13 years old when his brother married and he was immediately smitten with the Tsarevna when she arrived in St Petersburg. Indeed, he even asked then if she had a sister he might marry one day. This was regarded as a harmless infatuation and neither Sasha nor Lotya paid it much mind. However, by 1845 the Grand Duke still seemed to pine for his sister-in-law and this came to a head in July that year when the Tsarevich and his wife left St Petersburg to attend the wedding of King George V and Queen Agnes in London.
The Grand Duke complained bitterly that he was not permitted to go with them and one evening, the young man (for he was 18 by now) became so intoxicated that he began weeping loudly and saying that he could not bear to be without “my dear sister at the Anichkov”. His mother, the Empress, learned of this incident and though she had been dissuaded before, she finally put her foot down. Konstantin was forbidden from going to the Anichkov unless she was with him – a very rare occurrence indeed. For Konstantin, this was a terrible blow. Whilst it was true that he had romantic feelings for his sister-in-law, he knew they could never be requited for it was obvious to everybody that Sasha and Lotya were a devoted pair. But it is unlikely even in the strongest throes of his passion for the Tsarevna, Konstantin would never have acted upon his feelings because he loved his brother so much. Happily within a year this unfortunate situation was resolved. Prompted by her son’s behaviour, the Empress quickly arranged for Konstantin to head to Germany. With a list of prospective brides in his pocket, the young Grand Duke headed first to Altenburg on the recommendation of the Grand Duchess Elena, the wife of Konstantine’s uncle the Grand Duke Michael. Elena had proposed her niece, Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Altenburg, as a suitable candidate for Konstantin’s bride and from their very first meeting, the Grand Duke was just as smitten with Alexandra as he had been with Maria Georgievna. “He was very much a romantic”, his daughter Olga recalled in her later years, “His eye was easily taken but his heart was true to my Mama from the moment they met”. Indeed, Konstantin wrote to his brother the Tsarevich in August 1845, “I don't know what is happening to me. It is as if I am a completely new person. Just one thought moves me, just one image fills my eyes: forever and only she, my angel, my universe. I really do think I’m in love. However, what can it mean? I've only know her just a few hours and I'm already up to my ears in Passion” . Konstantin and Alexandra were engaged when she was just 16 but they were forced to wait a further two years before her father would allow her to marry.
There was a greater sense of urgency to this pairing than there might otherwise have been in 1845, not because the Empress seriously believed Konstantin would make any advances towards his brother’s wife but because she was to be sent away by her doctors to Palermo for the better climate. The Tsar begged the doctors “not to take my Mouffy away for I cannot bear to be parted from her” but even an autocrat could not command them to retract their best medical advice. Leaving her husband in the care of his mistress, Alexandra went to Italy, demanding that the Grand Duke Konstantin come with her so to keep a close eye on him as he was now engaged and left to his own devices, he may seek to undo her good work by returning frequently to the Anichkov Palace. Konstantin did not wish to go and sent a letter to his brother, the Tsarevich, begging him to intervene. Sasha had acknowledged and tolerated Konstantin’s interest in his wife as a teenage infatuation but now that his brother was engaged, the Tsarevich agreed that it was time for a serious line in the sand to be drawn.
We have explored Maria Georgievna’s relationships with her children, her parents-in-law and her siblings but we have not yet looked at the true nature of her marriage to the Tsarevich, Alexander Nikolaevich. Their meeting was an unconventional one and their engagement a controversial one but their marriage was undoubtedly a happy one. Alexander was an intellectual and a liberal, close to his father they were separated only by their some of their political views which as autocrats they were freely permitted to act upon in a way George V and his family could not. In 1837, Alexander had taken on a six-month tour of Russia visiting 20 provinces and even Siberia. On this tour he met the poet Alexander Herzen who had been exiled in 1834 for attending a festival where anti-Tsarist songs had been sung. To everybody’s surprise, Alexander met with Herzen and pardoned him, allowing the poet to return to Moscow and become a state councillor until 1842. This made Herzen somewhat respectable and he could now be invited to the Anichkov Palace which was fast becoming a safe haven for a growing liberal faction. In this, Maria Georgievna proved perfectly suited for Alexander for, being English, she shared his political views and on one issue in particular, they found themselves not only in alignment but equally resolved to see reform; serfdom.
Serfdom was a form of semi-slavery in Russia adopted in the 17th century. Serfs were tied to the land on which they worked (but did not and could not own) and when estates were sold or exchanged, the bill of sale always referred to the number of “souls” (that is, serfs) who came with it. The Russian state saw serfdom as a necessary evil because it kept state expenditure low and the Russian Army well supplied. But the life of a serf was so appalling that even those on the other end of the social scale in great luxury could no longer justify it by the 1840s. Serfdom was hereditary and if one was born a serf, there was no way out. Even the marriages of serfs was highly regulated by the state. A serf who intended to leave their home estate to marry a fellow serf had to obtain an emancipation certificate from their previous owner sanctioning their marriage but many nobles refused to give permission because their vested interest was to keep their serfs, not lose them to other estates. By 1816, even the Tsars themselves had come to see that serfdom could not continue. Alexander I liberated the serfs in Estonia and Livonia in 1816 and in Courland in 1817. Yet whilst even the conservative Nicholas I wished to continue this gradual process of liberation (he viewed serfdom as “the gunpowder keg beneath us all”), he was continually persuaded not to attempt any similar reforms in Russia proper. He wrote to his son begging him to “finish what I could not” in abolishing serfdom when his reign came, something Maria Georgievna considered “absolutely essential to allow Russia to shed her barbaric image abroad”.
Alexander II as Tsarevich in 1845.
But whilst politically they were in perfect harmony, there were other aspects of their marriage which Maria Georgievna struggled with. Russia was an incredibly religious country and the Imperial Family were expected to live their lives according to the strictures of the Orthodox Church. But Maria could never really adopt her new faith with any real enthusiasm and she felt it was highly hypocritical of certain Romanovs to present themselves as saintly zealots when behind closed doors “they see more of ballerinas than their confessors”. Sasha could turn a blind eye to this, aware that the role of the church and the outward piety of the Romanov dynasty was integral to it’s survival but on this point, the couple would forever clash. Maria Georgievna eventually found Orthodox worship a comfort but on many occasions she claimed, not so quietly, to miss “the plain and honest simplicity of an English country church”. Aside from differences on religion and the role it played in their daily lives, the couple also differed on their approach to the lifestyle which Alexander had grown up in but which seemed excessive to the point of greed in Maria Georgievna’s eyes.
Russian court etiquette was incredibly complex, so much so that a small book had to be printed for newcomers to acquaint themselves with. The Tsarevna was frustrated by the endless formality and rather ridiculous regulations the Romanovs observed for the most simple of daily tasks. For example, one court guide made clear how members of the Imperial Family should dine. If it was a formal dinner taken in a state room, no fewer than 14 courses would be served and it was expected that full court dress would be worn. But if it was an informal dinner, perhaps taken in a private dining room or a pavilion, then only 6 courses were served and then only serving officers should wear military uniform. Ladies were expected to change for both but only to wear tiaras for formal dinners unless the occasion marked a birthday or anniversary when tiaras might then be worn. Menus were printed in French but the dinner table conversation was conducted in German, never Russian, and if it was a day on which fasting was to be observed, the meal could only take place at certain times of the day with a special dispensation from a Bishop. On these occasions, no more than 13 could sit down to dine (the 12 Apostles plus Judas) but only certain foods could be served and only three varieties of wine. That was unless the feast day was Easter or Christmas when a whole new set of guidelines came in which even listed who was to receive a gift and who was not dependent on their rank.
Maria Georgievna thought this nonsensical and from the beginning, she intended to rid the Anichkov of such practises but Sasha was uneasy. He feared that it may be taken badly outside by those who did observe the establish customs and the Tsarevich would be seen to be challenging the conventions observed by his father. Sasha was keen never to allow trouble-makers to suggest there was a rift between him and the Tsar and he urged his wife to tone down her reforming zeal in their household; “You should know well what anxiety and trouble this can cause”, Sasha wrote to his wife on the matter, “For did your grandfather not despise his eldest son and did the people not know it, speak of it and rejoice in it?”. Though Maria would not give in, she offered the first of many compromises that made her marriage a success. She agreed that when they entertained their close friends, she could do things her way. But when they entertained family members, elderly relatives or more conservative politicians, she would see to it that the old ways were followed to the letter. It was a happy medium which the Tsarevich could accept.
Maria Georgievna quickly learned that when it came to reform, politics or even a change to a custom, convention or imperial habit, it very much depended on the faction she found herself with - liberal or conservative - that often meant going against her own wishes to please. And yet she adapted to this because, though it may sound trite, she had fallen deeply in love with her husband and wanted only to see him reach his full potential. In return, Sasha gave her greater autonomy in her own household and even allowed her to dismiss those she did not like whom his mother had recommended. This gave the Tsarevna great pleasure when she was finally able to break free of the clutches of the Dowager Princess Baryatinskya who had been appointed her mentor before she married and was Hofdame of the Tsarevna’s Household thereafter. The Empress was not pleased and threatened to reinstate the Princess but the Tsarevich objected; “It is most important to me that Lotya surrounds herself with people she knows well and likes, and as she has not insisted on any English ladies joining her household I do not see that we can really complain when you know as well as I dear Mama that Baryatinskya is not always fair or pleasant in her demeanour”. The Tsarevich won.
But as content as Maria Georgievna was in her marriage and as well received as she had been by the Romanov family, it was her popularity with the people which aroused curiosity and in the early years of her marriage, threatened the success she had enjoyed thus far. In 1845, the vast majority of the Russian population were peasants (half of these were serfs) and the disparity between rich and poor was so stark that most had decided there could only be one explanation for it; God wanted it that way. Even though the poorest would have been aware of how the richest lived, they seemed to consider this the way it had been ordained in Heaven and were quite dismissive, even violently so, of those who dared to suggest that there may be another way to live. Whilst the Romanovs themselves were rarely seen in public, there was one among their number who began to break out of this clandestine life in 1844/1845 in a way which intrigued the public as if they were seeing a new species for the first time. The Tsarevna was not the first to carry out a visit to a school or a church by any means but she was the first to approach the public when she did so. Whereas before they were kept away from the proceedings at a discrete distance, their view hindered by rows of tightly packed Cossacks, Maria Georgievna was happy to move toward them, smile at them, even talk to them.
This came as quite a shock to her when she did so for the first time whilst visiting a church in Vyborgsky. A crowd had gathered outside and when she emerged, the Tsarevna moved towards the rows of guards and asked them to move aside so that she could say good afternoon to the people behind them. As the men slowly (and rather unhappily) parted, the crowds caught a glimpse of real, living, breathing Romanov, many of them experiencing this for the first time, and whilst Londoners may have extended a hand or made a cheeky remark, those gathered in Vyborgsky that day broke into loud wailing, falling to their knees and surging forward to kiss the Tsarevna’s hand. Stories began to circulate in St Petersburg and beyond that Maria Georgievna had actually approached the peasantry and again, though she was not the first to do so by any means, for some reason urban legend dictated that she was - perhaps because it was still so novel a concept. The Empress had been absent for so many years in public that now the people quickly turned their affections to this bright, beautiful and friendly princess from across the seas who not only had a kind word for the peasantry but who actually wanted to speak to them. But when these stories reached the Tsar, he became concerned.
“There are many who wish us evil”, he wrote to his son the Tsarevich, “And though I am pleased to see dear Lotya has the affection of our people, we must not forget that there are those who would make her a target for a terrible fate. I know that the guards were very nervous that she should approach without care and whilst I know she did so for the correct reasons, and whilst I believe our people love and adore her as much as we, I must ask that she refrain from repeating this experience for I could not bear to see her come to any harm”. The Tsarevich quite agreed with his father and passed on his caution and his ruling. The Tsarevna was dumbfounded.
“I simply do not understand what hurt I caused”, she sighed sadly, “They were so very sweet and dear, they would never harm us, never!”
“You believe that now”, Sasha warned her seriously, “But we must be vigilant my darling. We must not see only want we want to see, for in that crowd who knows what anarchist may have planted his feet among them with a desire to hurt you. You must respect my wishes on this. Our people want to see us from afar, it is best for them and best for us”.
Maria fell silent for a moment.
“Oh come now, do not sulk on it”, Sasha sighed.
“I am not sulking”, Maria protested, “I simply do not see that the people wish us any harm. Anarchists in the crowds indeed. The people love you Sasha. You should let them show you that. But we shall not argue on it, I must bathe the children before we go to the theatre and I shan't have our evening there spoiled for something we shan't agree on anyway"
The Tsarevich cleared his throat and stopped his wife in her tracks gently by taking her elbow.
“I’m afraid…I’m afraid we aren’t going to the theatre this evening my darling”, he said tentatively, “The performance has been cancelled”
The Tsarevna wailed a little.
“Cancelled?! Oh but Sasha I was so looking forward to it, It is really too bad, why on earth would they do such a thing?”
Alexander moved over to his wife and took her in his arms.
”, he said softly, “One of the actors or something…” 
Maria shook her head sadly.
“Well that’s just fine then isn’t it”, she snapped, “What am I do for the evening now?”
Sasha grinned and held his wife close.
“Well...”, she said with a flirtatious smile, “If that’s how it’s to be…I say damn the theatre…”
Alexander leaned in and kissed his wife.
“Damn the theatre”, he repeated.
 Lottie’s eldest child and daughter, born in 1842, Alexandra Alexandrovna, known as Sashenka
 Yet to arrive in our TL
 A real quote from GD Konstantin here.
 "The Third Section" otherwise known as the Third Section of His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancellery. The secret-police forefather of the Okhrana which in 1828 was given the authority to form a new Fifth Branch which was solely concerned with the censorship of theatre plays. This had previously been handled by the 1st Branch but had become such a problem that a new force was needed to investigate and prosecute.
So here we have it, our update on how things have been going for Lottie since her marriage. But fear not, in our next chapter King George and Queen Agnes will be arriving and we'll be spending a week in Russia. Lottie will then hang around in our story as she accompanies her brother to Denmark for a holiday. So she won't be disappearing again just yet. As ever, many thanks for reading and a special shout out to @FalconHonour
who inspired this particular update as I know Lottie was a character they liked very much and wanted to revisit.
P.S - Just to add as well that we will be getting a similar update to this for Victoria too but because of how the storyline has panned out thus far, I didn't feel that George would want to stop over at Het Loo again as he has in the past. Instead, we'll catch up with the Oranges in Denmark...