Left: Queen Victoria’s daughters in mourning for their father, Prince Albert probably in early 1862. From left: Alice, Louise, Beatrice, Victoria, and Helena. 

Right: Princess Alice’s daughters in mourning for their mother, 1878. From left: Victoria, Irene, Alix, and Ella. 

Although Queen Victoria was especially protective of her Hesse grandchildren after their mother’s death, I have always felt that she did an especial disservice to Alix and her siblings by her morbid focus on death and the dead. Being the youngest child, Alix was especially affected by her mother’s death. She rarely smiled after the terrible events of 1878. However, I believe that her grandmother encouraged her in her excessive grief and helped to cause the nervous disorders that ultimately brought about the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. Queen Victoria herself never recovered from the loss of Prince Albert and wallowed in her grief for such an extended period that the monarchy became extremely unpopular. Luckily for her, the charm and popularity of the Prince of Wales saved the day. In the same way, Alix alienated the Russian people, especially the nobility, by her refusal to appear in public and at social functions. Her daughters often took her place, but not having the political significance of the Prince of Wales, this was a largely empty gesture. 

Many people dislike Alix because they blame her for the fall of the Romanovs. She was responsible for much of the chaos in the government during the first world war. However, I believe that most of her erratic behavior and stubbornness stemmed from her upbringing. If Alix had been taught to deal with her grief properly and eventually to move on after the death of her mother and sister in 1878, perhaps history would have turned out differently.