I am Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Aleksandrovna Romanova of Russia. Technically my surname would be Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov but the family just uses Romanov, thankfully because if not I would be Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Aleksandrovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanova of Russia instead! Never mind all this name and title nonsense. Please call me Olga A., make sure to add on that A to avoid confusion – there are many Olgas in Russia. I was born on 1/13 June, 1882 to Tsar Alexander III and his wife, the Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna, formerly the Princess Dagmar of Denmark. I was the youngest child in my family. I have three elder brothers, including George who died at the age of 28, and one sister: Nicholas (Nicky), George, Ksenia, and Michael (Misha, or Flopsy), and the fifth was me, the only one in the “purple”. That is, I was the only one born while Papa was the ruling Autocrat.
I had a wonderful childhood, brief as it was; Papa doted on Misha and me, and as the youngest, Flopsy and I were particularly close! Papa used to take us two on hikes, and enjoyed our pranks and visits. When I was twelve, our most beloved Papa died, and my brother Nicky became Tsar of All-Russias. Being so young, I suffered greatly at the loss of dear Papa. Mama, now Dowager Empress at only 47, had hoped Nicky could serve was a father figure for Misha and I, but our older brother could never take the place of our beloved father, be he the head of the family or not. I stayed mainly with my poor widowed mother -- who loved me dearly -- but tended to treat me more and more like a servant; Mama was used to getting her way, and while she loved us all, I think sometimes she didn't quite know how to show it. As a teenager, I found this rather irritating.
At nineteen I married Prince Peter of Oldenburg. He was handsome, sophisticated, and "not interested in ladies," to put it delicately. At the time, I was completely naive about this. I spent our wedding night alone and crying, while my husband was off gambling! We were married on 9 August, 1901 at Gatchina, but our "marriage" was never consummated. However, Peter was stationed at Tsarskoe Selo for most the marriage, so I was able to develop a closer relationship with Nicky and his wife, Alexandra (Alicky!), since their main residence was the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.
In 1903, I met the true love my life, Nicholas Kulikovsky. He was a friend of Misha, and I fell in love with him at first sight. Dear Flopsy arranged a luncheon the next day. I was now twenty-two and hopelessly in love for the first time. I marched right back home and asked Peter for a divorce. We had never lived as husband and wife as it was. Peter was calm, and told me that, because of family dignity, an immediate divorce was unthinkable. However, he said, we might be able to discuss it in seven years! Peter was not completely heartless however: he appointed my Kukushkin as a personal aide-de-camp, and he lived in my house on Sergievskaya Street. Our romance was a kept a secret and we did not act on it, but at least we were able to see each other.
I was also close to the younger generation of Grand Duchesses; my nieces Olga, Tatiana, Maria (Mashka!), and Anastasia. Since Alicky hated parties and the like, I took it upon myself to escort my excited nieces to St. Petersburg and to parties I organized for those delightful girls. I must admit, I did have a favorite in my youngest niece and god-daughter, Anastasia, whom we called "Shvibzik" (Imp).
With the onset of WWI, the parties stopped, as I became a nurse, like Alicky and her two eldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana Nikolaievna. My Kukushkin and I had to be separated in 1914 when I went about my nursing and he followed his regiment. Happily, my marriage to Prince Peter was annulled with Nicky's permission, and Kukushkin and I were married on 14 November, 1916, in Kiev. Mama was there, and she said she understood my reasons, but she never thought of my husband as family. During the Revolution, we lived in Kiev and then the Crimea before running practically all over Europe, until we settled first in Denmark and then Canada. Our time in the Crimea was terrifying, (Mama and Ksenia were also there, as well as several other family members) and our hearts were all broken when we heard the news, in the fall of 1918, that Nicky and his family had been murdered in July! All of them: Nicky, Alicky, and those poor children! My poor brother Flopsy and Aunt Ella were also killed, along with many others. We didn't believe it at first, and I don't think my mother ever did accept the news.
I spent my days raising my boys, Tikhon (born 12 August, 1917) and Gury Kulikovsky-Romanov (1919), and painting. I don't wish to brag, but I was quite the talented artist, and I enjoyed my artistic pursuits. My dear Anastasia had as well. During my later years I was often plagued by the slew of Romanov pretenders that seemed to pop up everywhere, every one of them wishing to speak with "dear Aunt Olga." No, I believe they all died together, these were all imposters. One had to pity that Anna Anderson woman, however. Poor wretched thing.
My neighbors in Canada would sometimes ask me if I was a princess. I would tell them that I certainly was not a princess; I was a Russian Grand Duchess! Royalty visiting the area would always pay me a visit, but I very much appreciated and accepted the kindness of those around me in Canada. I died on 24 November, 1960. I only outlived my sister Ksenia by a few months. My Canadian descendants through my two sons have revived the Romanov surname and are now addressed Kulikovsky-Romanoff.
According to Russian laws of morganatic marriage and succession concerning the Imperial Family, upon my marriage to my dearest Kukushkin, a commoner, I would simply be known as Olga Aleksandrovna Kulikovskaya. Fine by me! Titles were always a bother to me. However, due to Nicky's kindness, I am addressed as Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Aleksandrovna, Countess Kulikovskaya-Romanova. After we survived WWI and reunitied as a family, my beloved brother made Kukushkin Nicholas Nikolaievich, Count Kulikovsky-Romanov and our descendants granted the title of count/countess.
My family lives in Tsarskoe Selo in our own little house, away from the Imperial Family, again. My family small family hasn’t changed much although we grow with age. However, I can’t say the same about my relatives, especially my nieces. Olga is now Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, having married David, Prince of Wales, and has a daughter, Catherine. Tatiana is the Princess Christopher of Greece and Denmark, having married Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, and has two children, Alexandra and Michael. Marie is the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna, Countess Tarkhan-Romanovskaya, having married Ivashko Tarkhan, following in my footsteps by marrying a commoner, and has three children, Natalia, Nicholas, and Grigory. Anastasia hasn’t married, although there is a certain suitor, the Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium. As for Alexei, he is currently in love with, and will most likely marry, the Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark, a cousin to our family and a descendant of Aunt Miechen in fact.
Time flew by once more and the day soon came that my dear Anastasia was engaged in 1922! She was then married to Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium and will soon be a mother too. The next to be married is little Alexei and his sweetheart Elizabeth, who are still so very much in love. But that isn’t all that has happened this year, Kukushkin and I now have a new member to our family, a daughter, our only daughter, named Nadezhda (Nadya), born on 13/26 July 1922.