Antique black and white photograph: Nicholas II of Russia and family, 1893 - stock illustration Antique black and white photograph: Nicholas II of Russia and family, 1893

Could the British Royal Family Have Saved the Romanovs?

The Crown season five takes a lot of strange turns in order to fill in the time between some of the bigger events. Despite taking place during some of the worst years in Elizabeth’s personal life, they still felt the need to tap every stone for some drama. And in episode six it is Russia and the Romanovs.

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The episode opens with the last of the Romanov imperial family being arrested and a letter being brought from the British Prime Minister to King George and Queen Mary. The Prime Minister has put together a boat for the royal family to flee, but Queen Mary decides it is not a good idea. We then watch the Romanovs being shot and put into a mass grave. In the current day, Elizabeth II meets with President Yeltsin and requests that the bodies of her royal cousins be dug up, confirmed, and given proper burial. To add extra drama, Phillip and Elizabeth are having marriage issues, naturally. Philip has become close friends with a much younger woman and his cousin, Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma. There is nothing inappropriate, but he does ask Elizabeth to be open to the friendship. While Penelope and the Queen are talking they discuss Queen Mary not wanting to bring her former “rival,” the Tsarina Alexandra. Elizabeth II then has to explain that Queen Mary wasn’t that petty.

Why did the British not rescue the Romanovs?

As someone who enjoys history, the multiple ways in which members of the Romanov family could have been saved is interesting to me. It is true that David Lloyd George, the PM, wanted the British government to offer political asylum to the Tsar and his family. And initially, King George wanted to as well. However, the war had caused horrible conditions for the British people. Plus, with empires falling all around them, there was a palpable fear that revolution might arrive in England. Especially if the Romanovs were involved. Let’s not forget that while it is possible on a human level to feel for the murdered family, they were horrible absolute monarchs who oversaw the Khodynka Tragedy, Bloody Sunday, anti-Jewish pogroms, and a massive mishandling of the country.

That is what made the British Royals decide not to approve the retrieval. In 1919 the Romanovs were murdered. And like in the show, because Prince Philip was Tsarina Alexandra’s grandnephew, he gave his DNA to help identify the bodies. The Romanovs’ remains were identified and buried in 1998 at Saint Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Turning this massive moment in history into a moment to have Elizabeth be jealous of a younger woman is annoying. But then again, this season of The Crown is messy with its facts and trying to lengthen the story.

(image: Stock Illustration/Getty)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.