Swiss auction throws light on Russian Royalty

A rare window into life in imperial Russia is due to open on Monday, when hundreds of letters, postcards, photographs and even menus from the court of Tsar Alexander III are put up for auction in Geneva.

The documents were all sent by Alexander’s children, Nicholas (who later became Nicholas II), George, Michael, Olga and Xenia to their Swiss tutor Ferdinand Thormeyer.

Mr Thormeyer was born and brought up in Geneva, but emigrated to Russia as a young man where – in 1886 – he became a tutor of French language and literature to the imperial children.

Throughout his time with them the children wrote him letters, partly as a way of practising their French.

But when Mr Thormeyer left Russia in 1899, they continued to write to him and to his family; Olga’s letters only stopped when she died in exile in 1960.


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