In the 1950s, the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexander III, Olga, lived in a Canadian village near Toronto, engaged in gardening and drawing postcards for sale. She died in 1960 - as the last great princess from the house of the Romanovs. Shortly before her death, she told a reporter Ian Vorres about her biography in detail: about difficult relations with her mother, marriage with a “commoner”, the revolution and living abroad.
Grand Duchess Olga was born in 1882 as the youngest daughter and the only daughter of Alexander III who was born when her father was a ruling emperor already. According to the memoirs of Olga Alexandrovna, recorded by Ian Vorres, she always had a very caring relationship with her father. No matter how busy he was, the emperor always devoted half an hour a day to be with his youngest daughter. Nevertheless, her relationship with her mother was strained and formal. Maria Feodorovna, according to Olga, remained the Queen, even entering the nursery.
"Essentially, the nanny made me go into Mom's rooms. When I came to her, I always felt uncomfortable. I tried my best to behave properly. I could not bring myself to talk to Mom naturally. She was terribly afraid that someone could cross the boundaries of etiquette and decency. "
Alexander III died when Olga was 12 years old. In 19 years, she married the 33-year-old Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg. The genus of the Dukes of Oldenburg was of German origin. It settled in Russia long ago, and many of its representatives even had the title of Imperial Highness due to their close relationship with the Romanov dynasty. Olga Alexandrovna did not feel any sympathy for Peter Aleksandrovich. Moreover, in St. Petersburg, there were rumors about his inclinations for men. The only thing that made her reconcile with the marriage imposed on her was that thanks to it, she, unlike many girls from the royal family, could stay in Russia.
According to Olga Alexandrovna, they lived under together for 15 years with the Duke of Oldenburg, but they never entered into intimate relations. They respected external decencies and from time to time appeared together in public. However, the rest of the time, everyone lived his life without interfering in the affairs of the other.
At 22, Olga Alexandrovna (after her marriage she received the title of Grand Duchess) fell in love with Officer Nikolai Kulikovsky, and she immediately informed her husband. He did not agree to a divorce, but soon appointed Kulikovsky as his adjutant and let him live in their house so that Olga and her lover could see each other without hindrance.
This strange marriage lasted until 1916. In the end, Olga Alexandrovna decided that she would no longer tolerate such a state of affairs: she wanted to have a family, children, and the opportunity not to hide a relationship with her lover. In 1916, she won the right to leave her husband (since she and the Duke of Oldenburg were not in fully fledged marital relations, the Holy Synod declared the marriage null and void).
In going to inform the mother about the upcoming wedding with a common colonel, Olga Alexandrovna was preparing for a scandal - but the widowed empress did not object:"She met this news quite calmly and said that she understood me. For me, this was a kind of shock."
Perhaps Maria Feodorovna was able to understand the position of her daughter, because at that moment she was in love with a person below her status: for some time she had a relationship with Prince George Shervashidze, who, although he belonged to the Georgian nobility, was still an unconventional partner for the emperor's widow.
Anyway, in 1916, Olga Aleksandrovna married Colonel Nikolai Kulikovsky. A marriage with a "commoner" subsequently played into the hands of the last emperor's sister: after the October Revolution, the "citizen Kulikovskaya", unlike other members of the royal family, was not taken into custody. "I had never imagined before that being married to a common man is so beneficial," the grand duchess was amazed.
In the period between the two revolutions, in the summer of 1917, the first child of Olga and Nikolai Kulikovsky, named Tikhon, was born. In 1919, their second son, Gury, was born. During the Civil War, the spouses with two young children in their arms had to slip around in search of a safe place. Finally, in 1920, they decided to leave Russia: following Maria Fedorovna and Xenia, Olga Alexandrovna’s elder sister, they left for Denmark.
At first, all of them lived in the royal residence Amalienborg in Copenhagen as relatives. However, the Danish king Christian X, a nephew of Maria Fedorovna’s, was hostile to his aunt, so that the situation in the palace became increasingly tense. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the widow of Alexander III habitually lived luxuriously, held a large staff of courtiers and provided generous material assistance to almost everyone who addressed her - which was a problem for the modest budget of the royal family of Denmark. Christian hinted to Maria Fedorovna that she could pay her expenses herself if she had sold the jewels that she was able to take out from Russia. She, however, categorically refused to sell the things which reminded her of past times. Her jewels cost a fortune, she kept them in a bo
Eventually, another of her nephews the English king George V gave a helping hand to Maria Fedorovna and appointed her an annual rent of ten thousand pounds sterling. After that, the former empress, together with her daughters and their families, moved to the palace of Wiedor, near Copenhagen. Initially, the palace belonged to Maria Fedorovna and her two sisters, but they ceded their shares in the property to the former Russian empress.
In 1928, Maria Feodorovna died. Olga and Ksenia sold the inherited palace Wiedor, as well as the contents of the jewel box. Olga Aleksandrovna spent her share to buy a farm called Knudsminde near Copenhagen.
In the 1930s, the Kulikovsky family lived the lives of peaceful farmers: they bred horses, cows, pigs, and poultry. Olga Alexandrovna remembered her youthful passion for painting and began to draw pictures and postcards for sale.
Everything changed in the 1940s, after the occupation of Denmark by Hitler's troops and their subsequent invasion of the USSR. Some Russian émigrés living in Europe considered Hitler less evil than the Bolsheviks and decided to join the Nazi army. They perceived the daughter of the Russian emperor as a symbol of hope for the rebirth of "former Russia" - therefore, Knudsminde farm became a place of pilgrimage for the Russians who stood under Hitler's banners. Olga Alexandrovna accepted them - in her words, she could not refuse her compatriots in hospitality. Thus, she turned against herself the Danes, who hated the German occupiers, as well as the Soviet government. After the end of the war, the USSR demanded the extradition of "accomplices of the enemies of the people" from Denmark, so in 1948, the 66-year-old Olga Kulikovskaya, together with her children and grandchildren, moved to Canada.
At the other end of the world, the Kulikovskys took up animal husbandry again, but not for long. In Canada, things did not go as well as in Denmark, it turned out to be difficult to find good workers in a new place, the children decided to build a career in the city, and Olga and her spouse did not have enough health to do the heavy farming work themselves. In 1952, they sold the farm and settled in a small house near Toronto.
Olga Aleksandrovna spent her last years as a simple village resident - although meetings with relatives of royal blood sometimes interrupted her modest and ascetic life. Therefore, in 1959, the English Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, who arrived in Canada on a visit, visited Olga Alexandrovna.
In 1958, Nikolai Kulikovsky died. Olga Alexandrovna outlasted him for two years, passed away at the age of 78, and was buried at the York Cemetery in Toronto.