Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich with his retinue in Japan, 1891. The tsarevich has a bandaged head after the assassination attempt in Otsu.
Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (bottom right) and his cousin Prince George of Greece (standing with his arms outstretched) posing with members of their entourage and a leopard they have just killed on their Grand Tour: 1891.
I don’t know about anyone else, but the late Victorian hobby of killing everything in one’s path has always really bothered me.
I totally forgot that I found this photo. Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich and his cousin George of Greece riding elephants in India: 1891. (Sorry for the watermark)
The shirt and hat worn by Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich on the day he was attacked by a Japanese extremist in Otsu, 1891.
Scientists used DNA found in the blood stains on the shirt to help confirm the identity of the Imperial remains.
In 1890, Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich set out on a tour of Asia with his younger brother George, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (later Xenia’s husband), Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, and Prince George of Greece. When the party reached Bombay in December 1890, Grand Duke George fell ill with tuberculosis and had to return home. His brother and cousins continued on the trip without him.
In April 1891, the party reached Japan. The young men had a blast, especially in Kyoto, where Prince George of Greece danced with the geishas. On April 29, they took a side trip to the small town of Otsu. They visited the house of the governor and Georgie bought a bamboo cane at a bazaar that had been set up. After lunch they decided to return to Kyoto…
Prince George of Greece and Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich in their jinrikishas, 1891
“We rode out in our jinrikishas and turned left down a narrow street crowded to either side. At that point received a strong blow to the right side of my head, above my ear. Turned and saw the loathsome scowl of a policeman, who was waving his saber over me in both hands a second time. Could only cry out: ‘What, what do you want?!’ He jumped out over the jinrikisha onto the pavement. Seeing that the monster was headed toward me and that no one was attempting to restrain him, I ran off down the street, stopping the blood spurting from the wound with my hand. Wanted to hide in the crowd but couldn’t, because the Japanese themselves were terrified and had scattered in all directions…Turning around once more as I ran, noticed Georgie chasing the policeman pursuing me…Finally, having run an entire 60 paces, I ducked a round the corner of a side street and looked back. By then, thank God, it was all over. Georgie, my savior, had felled the loathsome creature with one blow of his cane, and as I approached our jinrikishas, several policemen were dragging him off by the legs. One of them was holding a saber to his neck. What I couldn’t understand was how Georgie, that fanatic, and I had ended up alone, in the middle of the street, why no one from the crowd rushed to my aid.”
Prince George of Greece and Tsarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, 1891.
It seems that in a fit of xenophobia, the Japanese police may have planned to assassinate the Tsarevich, and when the attempt failed, apprehended the assailant to save face.
Here is the doctor’s description of the wounds Nicholas sustained:
“The blow was struck across the felt hat worn by the Tsarevich. The lesions sustained are as follows:
1. The first, or occipital-parietal, wound is linear in form, measuring nine centimeters, with torn edges, and has penetrated the whole thickness of the skin down to the bone; it is situated in the area of the right-parietal bone six centimeters from the upper edge of the ear, extending slightly downwards. Furthermore, vessels of the nape and temporal arteries have been cut. At the rear edge of the wound, the parietal bone has lost about a centimeter of periosteum, consisten with a blow from a sharp sabre.
2. The second, or front parietal, wound is situated some six centimeters higher than the first and runs almost parallel, being ten centimeters in length; it has penetrated right through the skin down to the bone, and occupies the area of the parietal and part of the frontal bone…While cleaning the second wound, I removed a wedge shaped splinter, about two and a half centimeters long, which was in the clots of blood.”
The shirt Nicholas wore the day of the attack is still preserved today. A few years ago during the quest to prove the identities of the remains of the Imperial Family through DNA analysis, DNA was extracted from the blood on the shirt. It matched the DNA found in the remains.
Sources: Nicholas and Alexandra: The Last Imperial Family of Tsarist Russia by the State Hermitage Museum and the State Archives of the Russian Federation and The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II by Edvard Radzinsky.