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The imperial family spend the summer of 1917 in comfort in their palace at Tsarskoe Selo, but in August Kerensky decides that for their own safety they should be moved further from Petrograd, the centre of revolutionary fervour. They are sent to a house near Tobolsk in Siberia. Even here they suffer little discomfort other than lack of liberty. They have numerous courtiers in attendance, and their servants number two valets, six chambermaids, ten footmen, three cooks, four assistant cooks, a butler, a wine steward, a nurse, a clerk and a barber.

After the October Revolution, there is disagreement among the Bolsheviks about how to deal with the emperor.


Trotsky is in favour of a show trial in Moscow, with himself as the grand prosecutor, and to this end arrangements are made to bring the royal family back to Moscow. But local party leaders in Siberia want to take charge of the emperor themselves. Lenin grants them their wish, certainly understanding what they have in mind. He may have begun to doubt the wisdom of Trotsky's proposed trial. The Bolshevik revolution may be safer with the emperor out of sight and out of mind. And if the deed is to be done, all the better far away in the Urals.

The royal family, now in the charge of local Bolsheviks, are held in a house in Ekaterinburg. Here their treatment is very different. There is a high fence round tbe building. The windows are painted over. Hostile guards scrawl obscenities on the walls.


Two months after their arrival in Ekaterinburg a telegram arrives from Moscow confirming that they are to be killed. At 2 a.m. on July 17 Nicholas and Alexandra, with the 14-year-old tsarevich, their daughters and close retinue (eleven people in all), are taken to a room in the basement. They are followed by eleven armed men, one for each victim. A chaotic burst of gunfire, in a room far too small for this grisly ritual, brings the Romanov dynasty to an abrupt end.

Sulphuric acid is used to make the faces unrecognizable before the bodies are buried in an unmarked patch of ground. They are not discovered until the early 1990s. DNA evidence establishes that the remains are indeed of Nicholas and his family.


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