December 3, 2008

Divine beings

You are mistaken, my dear grandmama; Russia is not England. Here we do not need to earn the love of the people. The Russian people revere their Tsars as divine beings, from whom all charity and fortune derive. As far as St. Petersburg society is concerned, that is something which one may wholly disregard. The opinions of those who make up this society and their mocking have no significance whatsoever.

--The Empress Alexandra, in a letter to Queen Victoria, quoted in Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924.

... Grandmama had written to sympathize with Alexandra's difficulties regarding her "first duty to win [the Russians'] love and respect." Figes also notes that Alexandra kept a portrait of Marie-Antoinette above her writing desk; God only knows what she thought of when she looked at it.