Grand Duchess Victoria Melita (Ducky), Alexandra Feodorovna, and Grand Duchess Ella, c. 1900. 

I imagine this is one of the last formal portraits taken of these three women together. Ducky divorced Alix and Ella’s brother Ernie in 1901 shortly after the death of Queen Victoria, who had pushed the match. Alix never forgave Ducky for the scandal she caused, and the two women rarely spoke after the divorce, especially when Ducky became a Grand Duchess of Russia through her marriage to Nicholas’ cousin Kyril Vladimirovich.

The Vladimirs, as they were known, were the family of Alexander III’s eldest remaining brother Vladimir Alexandrovich and consequently were next in line for the throne if Nicholas and Alexandra failed to produce a healthy heir. I think Alix very much resented that the woman who had divorced her beloved brother could one day become Empress of Russia (with her as Dowager Empress, no less). I believe she saw Ducky’s marriage to Kyril as a mad grab for power, rather than for what it was. Ducky had apparently loved Kyril since childhood (he was her first cousin- ick) and had wanted to marry him instead of Ernie in the first place. However, I do believe that Ducky was an ambitious woman, based on her behavior during the Revolution and in exile. She and Kyril considered themselves the Emperor and Empress of Russia in Exile, and Ducky most certainly expected to be treated with all pomp and circumstance she felt that her position deserved. Whether she anticipated that she could potentially be in a position of power one day at the time of her marriage, we will never know for sure. 

Sources: A Lifelong Passion by Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko and the Alexander Palace Time Machine Forum

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    Ella was my favourite after reading ‘Romanov Bride' by Robert Alexander. I highly recommend it.
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