Tsarevich Alexei with his friend Kolya Derevenko and his brother
Tsarevich Alexei with his friend Kolya Derevenko and Kolya’s brother

Kolya Derevenko was the son of Romanov family physician, Dr Derevenko. Because the boy was close in age to Tsarevich Alexei, the two were introduced as potential playmates and hit it off immediately.

Alexei often mentioned his friend Kolya in his diaries and letters, Kolya even accompanied the heir to Stavka to keep him company. Kolya and his family also followed Alexei and his family to Tobolsk, and after they were no longer allowed to see each other, Alexei always remembered his friend and regularly wrote letters and notes to him.

From 1916 diary of Alexei Romanov:

1 January. Got up late today. Had tea at 10 o’clock, then went to [see] Mama… Sat at home, because I have a cold. Had breakfast with Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. In the afternoon went to Kolya’s and played there. It was really fun…

6 January. Got up late. At 11 o’clock in the morning went to the Palace infirmary. Had breakfast with O., T., M. Mama and Anastasia stayed in bed all day… During the day took a walk outside then went to Kolya’s.

Tsarevich Alexei with his friend Kolya Derevenko, Tsar Nicholas II, and Alexei's two sailor nannies Nagorny and Derevenko in Tsarskoe Selo.
Tsarevich Alexei with his friend Kolya Derevenko, Tsar Nicholas II, and Alexei’s two sailor nannies Nagorny and Derevenko in Tsarskoe Selo.

From 1918 letters of Alexei Romanov to Romanov family friends:

Tobolsk, 7 January, 1918. Dear Pyotr Vasilevich. I am writing You a third letter already. I hope that You are receiving them…  While I am writing You, Zhylik is reading a newspaper, and Kolya is sketching a portrait of him. Kolya is being rowdy and therefore distracting me from writing to You. Dinner is soon. Nagorny is sending You warm regards… May the Lord God keep You!
Your loving. Alexei

12 January. My darling Anya. We are so glad to have news from you, and to hear that you got all our things… We have a few good soldiers with whom I play games in their rooms. Kolya Derevenko comes to visit me on holidays. Nagorny the sailor sleeps with me… I kiss and embrace you. God bless you. ALEXEI

From 1918 letters of Alexei Romanov to Kolya Derevenko:

Dear Yalok, Bring your bullet, the one you found in Ts.[arskoe] S.[elo]. I will also bring two of mine. Goodbye. Ieskela. [On the reverse side of the letter]: “For Kolya. Open immediately (Tobolsk, March 1918)”

To Kolya (Tobolsk, April, 1918). Dear Niki, I am very grateful for the cannon. I hope that we will see each other soon. Regards to Mama, Grandma and Fefer. My handwriting is bad because I am lying in bed. My leg hurts, but I think it will soon be better. Yours, Ieskela [On the reverse side, on top of the page Alexei wrote]: “I am sending you a prosfora “


From the book Russia’s Last Romanovs: In Their Own Words


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