Memories of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich about his childhood. Discipline, military drill, no entertainment and soft — quite a Spartan upbringing, and it was the norm for virtually monarchs of Europe at that time.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Emperor Nicholas I, a person of exceptional straightness and hardness of the views, my father thought it necessary that his children were brought up in a military spirit, strict discipline and duty consciousness. Inspector-General of the Russian artillery and the Governor rich Caucasus, uniting to twenty different ethnic groups and warring tribes, did not share the modern principles of gentle parenting. My mother before marriage, the Princess Cecilia of Baden, grew up in the days when Bismarck was Germany bound by blood and iron.
So it is no wonder that the joys of carefree childhood suddenly ended for me that day when I was seven years old. Among the many gifts, podnebesnykh me on this occasion, I found the uniform of a Colonel 73 the Crimean infantry regiment and the sword. I was tickled pink as imagined that now will remove his own clothes, which consisted of short, pink, silk shirts, wide trousers and high boots of red Morocco, and put on a military uniform.
My father smiled and shook his head. Of course, sometimes I will if I will be obedient to put on this excellent form. But first I must earn the honor to wear her diligence and years of work.
My face fell, but the worst was yet to come.
— Tomorrow, — has declared me the father you go from the nursery. You will live with brothers Michael and George. Learn and obey your teachers.
Farewell, my nannies, my fairy tales! Goodbye carefree dreams! All night I cried into my pillow, not listening to the encouraging words of my good old Cossack Shevchenko. In the end, seeing that his promise to visit me every Sunday does not make me a proper impression, he began to whisper anxiously:
That would be a shame if his Imperial Majesty will see this and give order to the army that his nephew, Prince Alexander, foregoes command 73 Crimean regiment, because crying like a little girl.
Hearing this, I jumped out of bed and rushed to wash. I was horrified that almost ruined our whole family in the eyes of the Emperor and Russia.
From this day until the age of fifteen my upbringing was like the passage of military service in the regiment. My brothers Nicholas, Michael, Joe, and George and I lived in the barracks. We slept on narrow iron beds with thin mattresses laid on a wooden Board. I remember that many years later, after my marriage, I could not get used to luxury large beds with double mattress and linen linen and demanded back my old folding bed.
We were woken up at six in the morning. We had to jump in as one who would "sleep for five more minutes," punished most strictly.
We read prayers, standing in a row on her knees before the icons, and then took a cold bath. Our morning Breakfast consisted of tea, bread and butter. Everything else was strictly prohibited, so as not to accustom us to a luxury.
Then came the lesson of gymnastics and fencing. Special attention was paid to practical classes in artillery, for which our garden was a small cannon. Very often the father without warning came to us for classes, critically observing a lesson in artillery. At the age of ten I could take part in the bombing of a big city.
From 8 a.m. to 11 and from 2 to 6 we had to learn. In the tradition of the Grand Dukes could not learn neither in state nor in private schools, but because we were surrounded by a whole team of mentors. Our curriculum is divided into eight-year period, consisted of lessons on the Law of God, the history of the Orthodox Church, comparative history of other confessions, the Russian grammar and literature, history of foreign literature, history of Russia, Europe, America and Asia, geography, mathematics (embodying arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry), languages French, English and German, and music. Moreover we were taught the use of firearms, riding, fencing, and bayonet attack. My older brothers Nicholas and Michael also studied Latin and Greek, us, Junior, freed from this torture.
The exercise was not difficult either for me or for my brothers, but excessive strictness of mentors has left all the residue of bitterness. It's safe to say that the loving parents would oppose if their children were raised, as was the custom in the Russian Imperial Family of the era of my childhood.
Small mistakes in German word we were denied the sweet. Error in the calculation of the velocities of two colliding trains — a task that is for mathematics teachers special drawing power attracted, behind him standing on his knees nose to the wall for a whole hour.
Once, when we were brought to tears by some injustice of the teachers and tried to protest, followed by a report to the father with the names of the instigators, and we were severely punished.
For me will forever remain incomprehensible how such an oppressive system of education dulled our minds and not caused hatred of all those subjects that we were taught in childhood.
Should, however, add that all the monarchs of Europe, seemed to come to a tacit agreement that their sons should be brought up in the fear of God for a proper understanding of the future responsibility to the country. Many years later, sharing their memories with the German Emperor Wilhelm, I appreciated the comparative softness of our Tiflis teachers. His heir, the German crown Prince, married to one of my nieces, dryly added that the number of punishments received in childhood father-monarch mitigates the trial trail, which is his son.
Breakfast and lunch, so sweet in the life of every family, did not make diversity in the strict routine of our upbringing.
The Viceroy of the Caucasus was supposed to be a representative of the Emperor in dealing with the millions of the loyal subjects living in the South of Russia, and at our table sat daily at least 30 or 40 people... officials who came to the Caucasus from St. Petersburg, the Eastern rulers is going to be presented to the King, the military commanders subordinate to the Viceroy of the provinces and areas, public figures and their wives, persons of the retinue and the ladies of the court, officers of the personal security and our mentors all enjoyed the opportunity to Express their political views and to apply various favors in Tiflis Palace.
We children had during Breakfast and lunch, really look after themselves and not to start talking until we were asked. How often, burning with desire to tell my father about what a wonderful fortress built at the top of the mountain or what Japanese flowers planted by our gardener, were we to hold back, be silent and listen to the important General who ranted about the absurdity of the latest political plans Disraeli.
If we were asked any question, which, of course, was done out of a sense of subservience before the Governor of His Majesty, we had to answer in the framework that we ordered strict etiquette. When some lady, with a sickly sweet smile on her lips asked me about what I wanted to be, she knew that the Grand Duke Alexander cannot wish to be neither a fireman nor an engineer, so as not to incur the displeasure of the Grand Duke — the-father. The choice of my career story is very limited: it lay between the cavalry, which was commanded by my uncle, Great Prince Nikolay Nikolaevich the Elder, artillery, which was run by my father, and Navy, the head of which was my other uncle — the Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich.
For a boy like you ' he said smiling lady is the best to follow in the footsteps of your Royal father.
What else could fuck off for a similar question, if we take into consideration that at this time twelve pairs of eyes of my mentors looking at me, trying to make me a decent answer?
Brother George timidly expressed the desire to become a portrait painter. His words were met with ominous silence of all present, and George realized his mistake only when the chamber-lackey, abrasivi guests dessert was raspberry ice cream by his device.
The allocation of seats at the table ruled out for us kids, any opportunity to laugh at those or other weird guests, or to whisper among themselves. We were never allowed to sit together, and placed between adults. We were explained that we should behave towards our neighbours, as would have behaved our father. We had to smile at the bad jokes of our guests and take special interest in political news.
In addition, we had to always remember that one day you will ride to Russia, which is outside the range of the Caucasian mountains. There, away from our Royal uncle, told us, we with gratitude remember our mentors, to whom we owe all our good manners. Otherwise, our cousins will point their fingers at us and call "wild Caucasians"!
Getting up from the table, we were able to play in father's room within an hour after Breakfast and twenty minutes after lunch. At exactly nine we had to go to our bedroom, put on long white night shirts (pajamas was not yet known in Russia), immediately lie down and fall asleep. But in bed we were under strict supervision. At least five times a night duty the coach entered the room and cast a suspicious look of the bed, which under the covers was curled five boys.
Around midnight we woke to the clanking of spurs, sounding the arrival of the father. At the request of my mother to Wake us, my father replied that future soldiers need to learn to sleep despite any noise.
— What will they do then, he said, when they have to snatch a few hours of rest, under the sounds of cannon fire?
In the eyes of our parents and caregivers, we were healthy, normal children, but the modern teacher would find us unsatisfied thirst for more affection and to affection. We suffered soul from loneliness. Our special situation of distance between us and the children of our age. We don't have anyone to talk to, and each of us was too proud to share their thoughts with the others.
One idea to come to the father and bother his vague conversations with no special purpose, just seemed crazy. Our mother, for its part, made every effort to destroy us in the slightest outward manifestation of feelings of tenderness. In her younger years she was a school of Spartan education, in the spirit of that time in Germany, and blamed her.
... Remembering his childhood and the rigor of education and treatment of us, I must say that all this had a most beneficial influence on all subsequent life. I must add that all the monarchs Everly seemed to have come to a tacit agreement that the children should be brought up in trasvase the fear of God for a proper understanding of the future responsibility to the country.