Tragic Facts About Alexei Romanov, The Last Heir Of The Russian Empire

The fall of the Romanovs is a story of arrogance, incompetence, and strife—but you can’t lay any of that at young Alexei Romanov’s feet. The golden son of the Russian royal family, Alexei’s tainted royal blood doomed him to a life of caution and pain, but that was only the beginning. From his faltering father to his dark healer Rasputin, the world revolved around little Alexei Romanov, right up until his disturbing end.


1. He Had The Bluest Blood

Alexei Nikolaevich of House Romanov was born on August 12, 1904, behind the shining walls of the extravagant Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg. He was the fifth child born to his parents, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. But his royal parents were only the tip of the iceberg—Alexei’s family tree had more kings and queens than a deck of cards.

Unfortunately for the newborn prince, his royal blood came with a chilling dark side.

2. He Had Dangerous Genes

Alexei Romanov’s relatives ran the world. Not only was he heir to the House of Romanov, the dynasty that had ruled Russia for nearly 300 years, but he had ancestors in the German and Danish royal families as well. But his most powerful connection came from his great-grandmother: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. However, anyone who knows much about Queen Victoria’s family knows that her genes had one fatal flaw. She carried the gene that caused hemophilia.

Alexei’s parents knew that any child of theirs might fall prey to those genes, but for now, they simply rejoiced—and prayed their new Tsarevich was healthy.

3. He Was The Golden Boy

The birth of any child is a time for celebration, but the Romanovs were particularly overjoyed when Alexei was born. Although he was Nicholas and Alexandra’s fifth child, Alexei was their first boy. The parents adored their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, but a boy meant that the Romanov bloodline could continue.

So when little Alexei came screaming into the world, the crowded room of doctors, attendants, and family members exploded with joy. If only they’d know what fate had in store.

4. His Mother Got Knocked Out

Even in a royal palace, childbirth was rather…indelicate in 1904. Empress Alexandra didn’t get the luxury of an epidural—she had to settle for good old-fashioned chloroform. When she finally emerged from her haze, she looked out across the room and saw a sea of joyous faces. She knew exactly what that meant, crying out: “Oh, it cannot be true. It cannot be true. Is it really a boy?”

It really was. The only person who was more excited than the Tsarina? The Tsar himself.

5. His Family Needed Good News

Later that day, Tsar Nicholas II retired to his office to write in his diary, as he often did. He wrote that the day was “a great and unforgettable day for us…there are no words to thank God enough for sending us this comfort in a time of sore trials.” Oh, that’s right. We forgot to mention. Affairs in Russia were a complete disaster at the time of Alexei’s birth.

Russia and Japan were at war, and it was going badly, thanks in large part to the Tsar’s incompetence. He saw Alexei as a good omen. Perhaps Russia’s troubles were finally at an end? (Spoiler Alert: They were not).

6. His Uncle Didn’t Want The Job

Just how bad were things in Russia? When he learned that Alexei was a boy, the Tsar’s brother, Grand Duke Michael, “was radiant with happiness at no longer being heir.” He wouldn’t touch the role of Tsar with a 10-foot pole, if given the choice. As St. Petersburg rejoiced at the birth of the heir, with bells ringing and flags waving all over the city, no one celebrated as hard as Michael.

Avoiding the throne didn’t save the Grand Duke from the same dark fate as the rest of the Romanovs, though.

7. Something Went Wrong

It took only mere moments for the celebration over Tsarevich Alexei’s birth to be marred by worry. At first, he seemed a perfectly healthy child. His aunt noted that he was “an amazingly hefty baby with a chest like a barrel” and “the air of a warrior knight.” However, when the time came to cut the umbilical cord, they realized something was seriously wrong.

8. He Wouldn’t Stop Bleeding

Doctors cut Alexei’s umbilical cord and the boy’s navel started to bleed. OK, that’s normal. The problem was, it kept bleeding. Hours passed and still, the blood wouldn’t stop flowing. For two days, the child’s blood simply refused to clot properly. By the time the bleeding stopped, Alexei’s terrified father guessed that he’d lost 1/8th to 1/9th of his blood.

Even worse, the Tsar and Tsarina knew the precise cause of the bleeding—their worst nightmare had come true.

9. He Had The Royal Disease

“The Royal Disease.” That’s what people called hemophilia in those days. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom carried the gene for the disease, and that meant any of her descendants, especially any males, had a very good chance of inheriting the condition. Nicholas and Alexandra had known that any son of theirs was at risk. Mere moments after Alexei’s birth, they realized their fears had become reality.

Alexei Romanov suffered from hemophilia, and it would come to define the poor child’s all-too-brief life.

10. His Parents Kept It A Secret

Alexei’s condition forced his parents to make an incredibly difficult decision: They kept it a secret. Only those who absolutely needed to know were privy to the information. That left many close family members, and the Russian public at large, completely in the dark. Nicholas made his son’s illness a state secret, to be kept at all costs. It took no time at all before the secret began taking its toll on the family.

11. They Suffered In Silence

Fear over her son’s condition crippled the Tsarina, yet there were very few people she could look to for comfort, lest their secret come out. She wrote, “Oh, what anguish it was…not to let others see the knife digging in one.” However, as Alexei grew older, the world couldn’t help but notice that something was wrong with the boy, so they started to speculate—and that’s never a good thing.

12. People Feared The Worst

It wasn’t long before people all over the world were making their guesses as to what ailed the young Russian prince. Some simply assumed it was tuberculosis—others thought the outer layer of his skin was completely missing. One American magazine blamed the mysterious illness on “the misfortune that so many residences of the Tzars leave much to be desired from the point of view of sanitary science.” Shots fired.

Meanwhile, the royal family could do nothing to stop the rumor mill churning—and the scandalous claims were only going to get worse.

13. Their Silence Fueled Rumors

After one particularly life-threatening hemorrhage, the press speculated that a crazed nihilist had attacked the Tsarevich with a knife. In most cases, the royal family would have immediately put such scandalous rumors to bed—but their secret tied their hands. As the “incomprehensible silence” from the Tsar continued, people couldn’t help but assume the worst.

All they could do was keep quiet and pray that Alexei’s condition improved with time. But how much time did they have?

14. He Was Their Baby

The family named their firstborn son Alexei, but for the most part, they just called him “Baby.” Even as he grew older, Alexei would always be the baby of the family, beloved and doted upon. But the family’s joy at his birth came with equal parts anxiety. Now, the future of the entire Russian Empire lay on that little boy’s shoulders, and even those who didn’t know the exact nature of his illness knew there was a certain…fragility to the young heir.

However, behind closed doors, it was somehow even worse than any of the gossip hounds could have imagined.

15. He Was In Constant Danger

Hemophilia may sound like a simple disease, but it can be a nightmare—and Alexei Romanov had it worse than most. His condition was so severe that even the slightest bruise or nosebleed could prove life-threatening. His parents, aware of the stakes, agonized over the boy constantly. They did absolutely everything in their power to ensure that Alexei stayed safe, but there was only so much they could do.

Alexei’s episodes weren’t always as obvious as a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop—but they could be utterly devastating nonetheless.

16. He Lived Through Horrible Pain

Cuts that won’t stop bleeding aren’t the only problems that come with hemophilia. There were countless other symptoms and concerns that became an everyday part of Alexei Romanov’s life—but the worst by far was when internal lesions caused blood to seep into his joints. As his doctor put it, “Blood destroyed bones and tendons; he couldn’t bend or unbend his arms or legs.”

In those moments, Alexei could scarcely move without feeling excruciating pain. The entire royal household did everything in their power to keep these episodes from happening—but Alexei Romanov was a rambunctious young boy. They were only delaying the inevitable.

17. He Had A Minor Fall…

In 1907, a three-year-old Alexei Romanov stumbled and hurt his leg. Totally normal for a boy his age—but Alexei Romanov wasn’t like other boys. The minor fall caused internal hemorrhaging. Within mere hours, the little Tsarevich appeared to be on death’s door. He lay in bed, contorted in pain, with dark patches under his eyes and a frighteningly swollen leg.

Doctors frantically did everything they could to save the boy, but nothing they did had any effect. The family grew desperate—and so they looked for help in a sinister place.

18. A Chilling Figure Entered His Life

The Romanovs were running out of options, but they would do anything to save Alexei. Alexandra called for a strange mystic from Siberia, who claimed to be able to heal the boy. His name was Grigori Rasputin, and the Tsarina invited him straight into the royal palace. He prayed over Alexei’s withering frame, and said: “Your pain is going away. You will soon be well. You must thank God for healing you. And now, go to sleep.”

Then Rasputin left, and the Romanovs prayed for a miracle—and they got one.

19. He Made A Miraculous Recovery

By the next morning, Alexei Romanov was a whole new kid. While he’d lay in agony before, scarcely able to move, now he sat up in bed, his fever gone, eyes shining bright and with the swelling in his leg totally gone. It truly did seem like a miracle. From that day, the Tsar and Tsarina trusted Rasputin above all else when it came to Alexei’s health. He seemingly cured the boy when all hope was lost—but inviting this mystic into their lives came with terrible consequences.

20. It Looked Really Bad

In hindsight, the Romanovs’ decision to keep Alexei’s illness a mystery was ruinous. The entire world could see that there was something wrong with the boy, but without knowing the truth, people’s minds were free to assume the worst. Then, when a strange, bearded shaman appeared, claimed to have mystical healing powers, and gained incredible influence over the Tsar and Tsarina, people understandably had a few issues with that too.

But while the will of the people was quickly turning against the Romanovs and Rasputin, none of that meant anything to Alexei. For him, life was still a constant battle—and it was only going to grow worse.

21. A Carriage Ride Almost Killed Him

Perhaps those who didn’t know the exact nature of Alexei Romanov’s illness thought his family coddled him too much, but they didn’t realize just how bad it was. When Alexei was eight, he took a carriage ride with his mother in the woods. Seems pretty normal, right? Well, for Alexei, nothing was normal. The jostling carriage caused a hematoma in his leg to burst.

Within minutes, he was barely conscious. He’d suffered many such attacks before—but this one was particularly horrifying.

22. He Wanted His Mother To Save Him

As a boy, Alexei’s parents had to endure his screaming and crying when he suffered a hemorrhage. It was unbearable, but now that he was eight and could talk, it was even more painful. For 11 long days, Alexei suffered from his internal bleeding, screaming, “O Lord have mercy on me!” and begging for his mother to help release him from his pain.

Alexandra sat by Alexei’s bedside the whole time, unable to offer anything but her company and her prayers for comfort. Then Alexei said something that hurt more than any of his screams ever could.

23. He Broke His Mother’s Heart

As Alexei grew weaker, even he realized that he may not have much time left. Eight-year-olds should spend their days playing and learning about life—but Alexei had to come face to face with his own mortality. He leaned over to his mother and weakly asked her, “When I’m dead, it won’t hurt anymore, will it?” Then he told her to build him a monument of stones out in the woods when he was gone.

The Tsarina remained dutifully at his side through all of this. Tsar Nicholas sat with her as long as he could bear, but he would always eventually have to leave the room in tears, unable to watch his son suffer. Soon enough, the end appeared to be near.

24. The End Seemed To Have Come

Alexei’s condition remained mostly stable for the first few days, but it eventually took a nosedive. He began hemorrhaging into his stomach, and his fever skyrocketed. Doctors still fought to save him, but nothing they did had any effect. His condition got so bad that, one week after that fateful carriage ride, newspapers were forced to announce that Russia’s beloved Tsarevich was on death’s door.

Alexandra only had one option left: She sent a telegram to Rasputin.

25. Rasputin Reassured Her

This time, Rasputin wasn’t around to pray by Alexei’s bedside, but his words still filled the Tsarina with hope. He simply wrote: “The little one will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much.” And that’s just what she did. Despite their protests, Alexandra limited the doctors’ contact with her son, and prayed Rasputin’s words would come true.

I think you know by now that they did.

26. He Came Back To Life

The doctors simply could not believe it when Alexei made his sudden recovery within mere hours of Rasputin’s telegram. They could find no medical explanation for the turnaround, but they couldn’t deny that the boy was getting better. The days kept passing, and Alexei’s strength kept building. Within a little over a week, the hematoma had completely disappeared. Crisis averted.

Unfortunately, this “miracle” sent the Romanovs down a dark path.

27. Rasputin Won Them Over

At first, it was mostly the Tsarina who relied on Rasputin. The Tsar, meanwhile, viewed the mystic with a healthy amount of skepticism. I mean, come on, just look at him! But after this latest recovery, Nicholas was a believer. Rasputin was here to stay—though his insidious presence only increased the building mistrust that the people of Russia had for their rulers.

For now, all they cared about was that Alexei Romanov was on the mend. He was free to grow up—though as he did, he became a little terror.

28. He Was A Pretty Prince

Hemophilia aside, Alexei Romanov was every parent’s dream. Tall for his age, his chiseled face, auburn hair, and bright, grey-blue eyes stood out to anyone who met him. Described as a “pretty child,” Alexei looked every bit the part of the young heir to the Russian Empire. But, as the Tsarevich, Alexei knew from the moment he was old enough that he and he alone was Russia’s future.

Is it any surprise, then, that the weight of his station started going to his head?

29. He Bossed Everyone Around

Alexei Romanov adored his sisters, but he made sure they knew who was in charge. While with his sisters, he would force officers to kiss him on the hand—then quickly brag about it. It was cute at first—then it was just plain conceited. But that was just the beginning when it came to young Alexei’s inflated ego.

30. He Demanded Respect

Even at just six years old, Alexei Romanov had enough arrogance to last him a lifetime. He took to ordering his sisters about—and even worse, they listened, indulging in the boy’s demands. Pretty soon, “golden boy” became “spoiled brat.” Once, still just six, he walked into his father’s study to find Russia’s foreign minister sitting there. When the man didn’t stand up, Alexei’s reaction was chilling.

Little Alexei shrieked, “When the heir to the Russian Throne enters a room, people must get up!”

31. He Loved To Mess With People

He was just a boy, but Alexei knew that he had power over the people in the palace. He learned that soldiers had to salute him whenever he walked past, so he made a game of it. The Tsarevich would hide, then jump out in front of them, delighted as the startled men suddenly fell into a perfect salute. He did this so much that Nicholas eventually had to tell the men to only salute his son if another member of the family was with him.

But if you were hoping Nicholas would do more to rein in his spoiled little heir, I’ve got bad news for you…

32. His Father Indulged Him

Nicholas II believed that God himself had chosen him to be Tsar, and thus he was utterly infallible and unquestionable. It also meant he loved it when his son ordered people around. Nicholas taught Alexei that God had chosen him as well, and Alexei believed it. While on a cruise, Alexei once demanded attendants to wake the entire band in the middle of the night to play for him.

Rather than admonishing his son, Nicholas just laughed and joked, “That’s the way to bring up an autocrat!” Unfortunately, it was that same belief in their own infallibility that led the Romanovs to the dank basement from which they would never leave…

33. He Had Everything And Nothing

There was one great incongruency in Alexei Romanov’s life. On the one hand, everyone in the palace bowed to his every whim, and he grew spoiled. On the other, he was incredibly frail and his parents forbade him from nearly all physical activities. He once grew furious and demanded, “Why can other boys have everything and I nothing?” Ironic, of course, knowing he lived in a palace full of servants and soldiers who would do everything he asked, but you get the idea.

As much as everyone coddled the boy, Alexei’s illness—and the restrictions that came with it—were wearing on him.

34. He Felt Alone

Though a “normal” childhood was always out of the question for the Tsarevich, Alexei’s illness meant he had it worse than most. His mother worried about him constantly and stopped him from doing anything that might cause him to fall and begin bleeding. Since he couldn’t really play, he had very few friends his own age. Though he was spoiled, deep down Alexei was also painfully lonely.

It should be no surprise, then, that the boy started to act out.

35. He Terrified His Parents

We’ve all known kids with helicopter parents—they usually tend to rebel and act out. Alexei Romanov was no different. A rambunctious and fidgety boy, he was always prowling the palace, seeking to evade his attendants and get into trouble. When he was seven years old, he snuck off and hijacked a bicycle. When the Tsar heard that his son was tearing around the grounds on a bike, he panicked.

Nicholas ordered every guard in the entire palace to track down Alexei and stop him. Once the guards finally caught him, Nicholas admonished the boy—but there was nothing he could really do to stop him.

36. Only One Man Could Control Him

Since Alexei almost never heard the word “No,” it should come as no surprise that few people could control him. His sisters came to fear his wild temper, and there was little they could do to bring their younger brother to heel. The only person who could was their father—and the Tsar generally found Alexei’s arrogance delightful, so he wasn’t much help.

But, while he could be a nightmare to deal with, there was still a deep sadness within Alexei that only came out in quiet moments.

37. He Won Everyone Over

Despite his frustrating tendencies, those who knew Alexei all knew there was an undeniable charm and charisma to him. Though disobedient, most in the palace put up with his antics happily. You might think they’d resent this little monster who ordered them around and broke their rules, but Alexei Romanov was more complicated than that.

He could be bright and thoughtful and kind—and, tragically, he possessed a knowledge of his own mortality that no child should.

38. He Contemplated The End

One day, when Alexei was 10, his eldest sister Olga found him lying on his back, staring up at the clouds. She asked him what he was doing; his response was heartbreaking. He said, “I enjoy the sun and the beauty of summer as long as I can. Who knows whether one of these days I shall not be prevented from doing it?”

This boy had nearly died several times before he was five, and he knew that our time on Earth was not a given. He knew his sickness might claim him at any time—though he couldn’t have known his end would be so much more tragic than that.

39. He Loved War

In a bizarre way, the outbreak of WWI was great…for Alexei Romanov. Tired of being locked in the palace with little to do, the Tsarevich got the chance to join his father at the Russian Army’s headquarters. Though one might think the pampered prince would hate roughing it with the soldiers, Alexei was in heaven. He looked up to the men around him, and even started refusing his lavish meals, instead eating only the black bread of soldiers’ rations.

It was also during his time at headquarters that Alexei showed the first signs that he might make a good leader after all…

40. He Provided Comfort

Though Alexei’s station gave him an inflated ego, he did generally take his responsibilities quite seriously. When one officer learned that his son had perished at the front, Nicholas sent Alexei to sit with the grieving father. Alexei stoically approached the man and said, “Papa told me to come sit with you as he thought you might feel lonely tonight.”

While still just a boy, Alexei showed maturity beyond his age when comforting the man. Nearing his teenage years, this little terror was finally coming into his own. Unfortunately for Alexei and the rest of the Imperial Romanovs, WWI was the beginning of the end.

41. His Father Gave Up The Throne

As Alexei had been growing up, his father had been making a bigger and bigger mess of things in Russia. Finally, his horrific decision-making during WWI pushed the people too far. During the February Revolution of 1917, revolutionaries apprehended the entire royal family, Alexei included, and forced Nicholas to abdicate his throne.

With his parents’ restrictions, Alexei had always believed that his life was a nightmare—well, he was about to learn what a real nightmare was.

42. He Begged For Mercy

Of course, a spoiled boy like Alexei didn’t take well to captivity. While imprisoned in Tobolsk, he wrote of his unbearable boredom and begged for God to have mercy on him. Now, let’s not get it twisted: The Soviets kept the royal family in an extravagant mansion, and they still had some of their servants with them. This wasn’t the Gulags—but, as far as Alexei believed, it might as well have been.

So, he did what he always did: He acted out.

43. He Took A Risk

The way Alexei saw it, life couldn’t get any worse (FYI: It definitely could, and would), so he started tempting fate. He played rambunctiously with a kitchen boy named Leonid Sednev, and took risks that he never would have before. At one point, he rode a sled down the stairs—dangerous for any boy, but potentially fatal for Alexei.

I don’t know what Alexei felt at the top of those stairs as he prepared to careen down them, but I can guess what he felt after: Pain and regret.

44. He Paid For His Stunt

Alexei knew the risk, but he went down those stairs anyway—still, I doubt he realized just how bad that trip would be. He injured his groin, causing an internal hemorrhage that quickly took a turn for the worse. Within hours, he could barely keep his head up, let alone walk under his own power. He needed a wheelchair just to get around. He couldn’t have known, but he’d never walk under his own power again.

But as if his pain wasn’t bad enough, the Soviets were about to tear his family apart.

45. Guards Split His Family Up

The Bolsheviks kept moving the Imperial family for fear that royalists might track them down and free them. The time came for them to move again, but with his injury, Alexei was in no condition to travel. The (ex) Tsar begged their captors for more time, but the Bolsheviks weren’t exactly the most understanding bunch. They forced Nicholas and Alexandra to begin the journey to Yekaterinburg, while leaving Alexei behind with his sisters.

As they left, I imagine the nervous parents feared they would never see their children again. They were spared that pain, at least—though the end was rapidly drawing near.

46. He Rejoined His Parents

Eventually, Alexei recovered just enough to make the journey to Yekaterinburg with his sisters. They enjoyed a warm reunion with their parents—but that would be the last journey they’d ever take. On July 16, 1918, one of their guards announced that Alexei’s playmate, Leonid Sednev, was leaving the manor to visit his uncle. The family was furious: Sednev was Alexei’s only friend, how could he leave so unceremoniously?

Of course, none of them knew the dark truth. Sednev didn’t leave to visit his uncle: He left because the guards didn’t want him to witness what was about to happen.

47. He Asked For A Chair

Later that night, Alexei Romanov lay asleep in bed when the family doctor, Eugene Botkin, shook him awake. Botkin went one by one to each of the Romanovs and told them to put their clothes on. He claimed that chaos had engulfed the city, and they had to go to the basement for their safety. For all Botkin knew, he was telling the truth. Guards hustled the Romanovs into a bare cellar.

Nicholas demanded they at least bring in some chairs for his wife and ailing son. The guard relented, but Nicholas didn’t hear what he told his comrade outside the door: “The heir wants to die in a chair. Very well then, let him have one.”

48. The End Had Arrived

After bringing the chairs, a guard told the Romanovs to wait until a truck arrived to transport them to a secure location. However, just a few minutes later, the door reopened. This time, several guards filed inside, and one of them was holding a piece of paper. He faced the Romanovs and read it aloud: “Nikolai Alexandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.”

After that, there was no time to react.

49. The Execution Went Wrong

Upon hearing the order, Nicholas spun around and cried, “What? What, did you say?” The guard quickly repeated what he said, and Nicholas replied, “Stop! You know not what you do!” But it was too late. The guards had already opened fire. Within moments, smoke and the acrid smell of gunpowder filled the room. The guards, whether untrained, nervous, intoxicated, or a combination of all three, failed to give any of the Romanovs a swift end.

Their arms finally fell silent—but as the smoke began to clear, they quickly realized that the execution had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

50. He Survived

The first thing that pierced the silence were the moans of Romanov children. The parents lay still, but Alexei and his sisters all still breathed. Each of them had jewelry sewed into their clothing, smuggled from the palace. The diamonds had managed to deflect the gunfire enough that none of them had landed a fatal blow on any of the children.

As if that night hadn’t already been chilling enough, it was about to take an even more disturbing turn.

51. It Got Even Worse

After the first round of bullets, officers rushed down from upstairs. The sound of their weapons had awoken many in the neighborhood, defeating the purpose of the whole “secret execution” plan. An officer ordered the guards to use their bayonets on the children instead—but their nerves failed them once again. Though they set upon the children, none of them knew what they were doing. Instead of putting Alexei Romanov and his sisters out of their misery, the guards only succeeded in making it worse.

52. His Fate Was Painful And Messy

The guard in charge of taking Alexei’s life fumbled with his bayonet, then decided to end the boy more quickly with his weapon. He unloaded an entire magazine, and yet still Alexei clung to life. Finally, the leader of the guards, Yakov Yurovsky, pushed his incompetent men aside and fired one shot into Alexei’s head.

One by one, the remaining Romanov children stopped moving. It was a horrifying fate for children whose only crime was sharing their father’s blood—but this was not yet the end of their story.

53. His Beloved Pet Survived

Though he would never know it, Alexei Romanov could have taken solace in the fact that his beloved spaniel Joy, who went with him everywhere, survived the massacre and lived until a British officer rescued him. Joy was the only member of the Romanovs’ retinue to survive, however. Their doctors and servants all entered that basement with them, and none of them left it alive.

With Alexei and his family out of the picture, the Bolsheviks now had to erase all trace of the messy execution.

54. He Didn’t End Up Next To His Family

Guards stripped the Romanovs of all their clothes, drove them out to an abandoned mineshaft, doused them in sulphuric acid so no one could recognize them, then tossed them into the darkness below. That was the final resting place of the Romanov family—except for Alexei and one of his sisters. The guards had a plan for them that they hoped would throw anyone searching for the lost royals off their scent.

55. Guards Had A Different Plan For Him

Alexei Romanov didn’t get to rest with his parents. Guards took his remains, along with the remains of one of his sisters, and burned them in a bonfire. Next, they smashed the bones with a spade, then tossed them into a smaller pit about 50 feet away from the mass grave. They figured anyone who found the remains at the bottom of the mineshaft wouldn’t guess it was the royal family, as the Tsarevich and one of the girls wouldn’t be there.

In case you couldn’t tell yet, the guards were mostly incompetent, but their plan actually worked…for a while.

56. His Remains Were The Key

Amateur archaeologists discovered the site of the Romanovs’ grave in 1979, but they soon realized something was wrong. Two bodies were missing: One of the girls, and Alexei. Rumors persisted for decades that perhaps the boy had somehow escaped—until 2007, nearly a century after his death, researchers found the remains of a preteen boy and a young woman in a firepit nearby.

DNA testing confirmed that the bones had belonged to Alexei and his sister Maria. Finally, after nearly a century, the mystery of the Romanovs’ end was settled, once and for all.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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