Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the Death of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia, who died on this day in 1960! The second daughter and fourth child of Tsar Alexander III of Russia and Princess Dagmar of Denmark and a sister of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Grand Duchess Olga grew up at the Gatchina Palace, educated by private tutors with a special emphasis on history, geography, Russian, English, and French, as well as drawing, dancing, and horseback riding. The Imperial Family also spent long holidays with the extended Danish, British, and Greek Royal Families at Fredensborg Palace in Denmark. The Grand Duchess made her debut in Society in 1900, and the following year was made the honorary Commander-in-Chief of the 12th Akhtyrsky Hussar Regiment of the Imperial Russian Army. In 1901, she married a distant cousin, Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, and the couple resided in a large Palace in St. Petersburg as well as Estates across the Russian Empire, though the marriage remained unconsummated and was quite unhappy, though the Grand Duchess began a relationship with an officer Nikolai Kulikovsky in 1903, who became her aide-de-camp and resided at their Palace. Grand Duchess Olga was one of the few members of the Romanov family close to her brother, the Tsar, and his family, and she frequently took the four young Grand Duchesses to shopping, parties and engagements in Saint Petersburg.
During the First World War, Grand Duchess Olga served as a Red Cross nurse on the Eastern Front, receiving the Order of St. George, the highest military decoration of the Russian Empire. In 1916, the Tsar annulled her marriage to Duke Peter and she married Colonel Nikolai Kulikovsky in a small ceremony Kiev at the end of the year, just months before the Tsar’s Abdication, when the couple joined the Dowager Empress and fled to royal estates in the Crimea, where, under house arrest, she had her first child, Tikhon Nikolaevich, in 1917. Unlike most members of the Romanov Family, the couple did not evacuate on a British battleship in 1919, but instead travelled to the Caucasus, where she gave birth to their second son, Guri, in 1919. However, as the Red Army approached, the family took refuge in the Danish Consul in Novorossiysk, travelling through Turkey and Yugoslavia before reaching Denmark in 1920, where they lived with the Dowager Empress at Hvidøre until her death in 1928, where, using her inheritance from the sale of the House the Empress’ jewels, they bought a farm which became a center for the Russian monarchist community, and the Grand Duchess increased their modest income by selling her paintings.
After the Second World War, the Grand Duchess was accused of conspiracy against the Soviet authorities and fearful of an assassination or kidnap attempt, the family, with her faithful lady’s maid, Mimka, decided to emigrate to Canada. The family purchased a 200-acre farm in Ontario, where they lived until 1952, when a series of circumstances including ill-health and the theft of some of her jewels, led to the farm being sold and the couple and Mimka moved into a house in a Toronto suburb, where the Colonel passed away in 1958, and also where Grand Duchess Olga entertained royal relatives, including Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent and Lord and Lady Mountbatten. After being invited as the guest of honour for a luncheon on the Royal Yacht Britannia during the Queen’s visit to Canada in 1959, she gave an interview which formed the basis of her official biography ‘The Last Grand Duchess: Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, 1 June 1882-24 November 1960’. In April 1960, Grand Duchess Olga was hospitalised in Toronto and in a delicate condition, she was not even told of the death of her sister Grand Duchess Xenia, then going to stay with friends Konstantin and Sinaida Martemianoff, the former of whom had been a member of her Akhtyrsky Hussar Regiment, at their apartment in Toronto, and that’s where she passed away on this day in 1960, at the age of 78, being laid to rest at the York Cemetery in Toronto, leaving an estate valued at more than $200,000 (about $1.77 million today).