The Most Haunting Photos of the Romanovs

Rare albums reveal secrets of the doomed royal family.

It’s been almost 100 years since Russia’s last royal family was brutally executed, bringing an end to the three-century-old Romanov dynasty, and the lives and deaths of the Romanov family still fascinate the world.

Thanks to the quick thinking of a friend, intimate family pictures were rescued after the family met their tragic end.

Many of the images, shot between 1915 and 1916, were taken by Tsar Nicholas II himself and coloured in by his third daughter, Maria.

Within a year of the most recent photos, the family were dead, murdered on Lenin’s orders as the Russian revolution swept across the country.

Prince Alexei, seen here with his father Tsar Nicholas II

Prince Alexei, seen here with his father Tsar Nicholas II, was the only male child and heir to the throne.

After 300 years of rule, the Romanov reign ended in 1917 following the Bolshevik revolution, when Tsar Nicholas II gave up his crown.

The family was exiled to the city of Yekaterinburg and held captive by the Ural Soviets.

Fearing a rescue from the family's supporters, Bolshevik executioners killed the tsar, his family, and four of his staff via firing squad on 17 July 1918.

Day at the beach

The Romanov family, including Maria, Olga, Tatiana and Alexei, during a day at the beach

Though DNA testing confirmed the identities of the rest of the Romanov family in the mass grave, the mysterious second burial fuelled speculation that the two bodies did not belong to the missing children.

The public had a "romantic idea that someone perhaps survived and made their way out of Russia."

Empress Alexandra, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, and Tatiana, her second-eldest child.

Empress Alexandra, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, and Tatiana, her second-eldest child.

In 2009, DNA evidence showed that the remains of a boy and girl, found in 2007 in a grave in Yekaterinburg, Russia, belong to Crown Prince Alexei and one of his sisters.

The children were buried together a few kilometres from a mass grave where the bones of their three sisters and parents, Tsar Nicholas II Romanov and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra, were found in 1991.

Visiting soldiers

Tsar Nicholas II and his youngest daughter, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, visit troops injured in World War I.

All images are from the Beinecke Library. More images from the photo albums can be viewed on Flickr.

Family outing

Tsar Nicholas II and his four daughters (Maria, Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana)

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