OLGA ROMANOV AND PAVEL VORONOV – 1913 ROMANCE.

OLGA ROMANOV AND PAVEL VORONOV – THEIR 1913 ROMANCE

Grand Duchess Tatiana and Grand Duchess Maria with Officer Pavel Voronov, who later became the romantic interest of Grand Duchess Olga. This photo was taken on the Standart in 1911.
Grand Duchess Tatiana and Grand Duchess Maria with Officer Pavel Voronov, who later became the romantic interest of Grand Duchess Olga. This photo was taken on the Standart in 1911, which means Olga Romanov knew him for several years before developing any feelings.

1913 was the Tercentennial of the Romanov family’s dynastic rule, and the eldest Grand Duchess Olga Romanov was coming of age (she turned 18 in early November). The Grand Duchess’s life was full of romance, pageantry and fun. One of her two love interests during that year was a young handsome officer from the imperial yacht: Pavel Alekseyevich Voronov.

In her diary entries Olga seemed incredibly happy to spend time with him, but by the end of the year she faced heartbreak: Pavel got engaged to another Olga – a Romanov family friend Olga Kleinmichel. The Grand Duchess only dares write about it in her diary in a special code she had devised.  Below are Olga’s numerous diary entries about Pavel, whom she later called “S.” [for “Sunshine”?],  along with their photographs together.

 

“Monday. 10 June…  Did not do anything special, walked around the deck, sat in the cabin with Pavl. Al.  …  After tea played with Pavl. Al. and [other] friends….. Balalaikas were playing during dinner. After that [I] held watch with Pavl. Al. on deck… ”  

 

Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov, with Nicholas II and another officer in background.
Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov, with Nicholas II and another officer in background.

“Thursday. 20 June…  There were boating exercises. Papa kayaked. Cutter-gig escort (Pavl. Al.)….   After dinner T and I went to the control room. Dear Pavl. Al. was writing in the log journal. We sat together until 10 o’cl. … ” 

 

 

“Friday. 21 June…   [I] read and then sat on the afterdeck with Pavl. Al. for a long while. It was so nice…  After tea I read on deck with T.  Pavl. Al. came at 7 o’cl, and we sat together until 7 1/2. ..  It was very funny to watch A talk to Pavl. Al. through the half port on afterdeck. Until 11 ½ [we] sat there with him… ”  

Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov, with Grand Duchess Tatiana and others on the deck of The Standart.
Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov, with Grand Duchess Tatiana and others on the deck of The Standart.

 

 

“Saturday. 29 June…  [We] went ashore at 2 o’cl. 15 min. as usual. Played 7 sets with Pavl. Al.  Won only 1 set, because T and Rodionov played well, but I stank…  Vsenoshnaya was held on afterdeck… Dear Pavl. Al. is on watch duty, it was so nice. Papa played kosti. I stared at Pavl. Al. from the half-port. Beautiful evening.”

 

 

“Friday. 12 July. Peterhof…   Pavl. Al. was on watch duty from 8 o’clock…   [I] sat in the control room with Pavl. Al., the sisters, Ippolit and Rodionov until our arrival in Kronshtadt at 3 o’cl. It was awfully sad. I stood with him the entire time the gangway was extended.  [We] left the yacht at about 4 o’clock. [It] was so awfully hard to part with the beloved Standart, the officers and the beloved [Pavel? – last word is crossed out, probably by Olga]. May the Lord keep him… So sad to be without them…  ”

Grand Duchess Anastasia with Pavel Voronov

Grand Duchess Anastasia with Pavel Voronov (?)

 

 

“Thursday. 12 December…  We played dobchinsky-bobchinsky and ‘suitcase’ with T., Zborovsky and S. [Voronov was now “S.”. Written in code : “I love him terribly much, and it was so hard, I was angry and almost did not speak to him”]…  ”

 

 

“Wednesday. 18 December…  Lonesome without all the friends, the yacht, and of course S. … “

Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov on deck of The Standart.

Grand Duchess Olga with Pavel Voronov on deck of The Standart.

 

 

“Tsarskoe Selo. Thursday. 19 December…   I am not as lonesome but still want to see S. at times.”

 

 

“Friday. 20 December…  My S. arrived today. May the Lord save him and help him.” 

 

 

“Saturday. 21 December…  I found out that S. [Written in code: “My S. is marrying Olga Kleinmichel. May the Lord send him happiness, to my beloved S. So hard. So sad. May he be happy”].”

 

When she wanted to write something private, Olga used a special code she devised - this is an example of this code in her diary. She used this code most often at the end of 1913, when she learned that Pavel Voronov (her “beloved S.”) got engaged to be married to Olga Kleinmichel.
When she wanted to write something private, Olga used a special code she devised – this is an example of this code in her diary. She used this code most often at the end of 1913, when she learned that Pavel Voronov (her “beloved S.”) got engaged to be married to Olga Kleinmichel.

 

 

Many years later, in immigration, Voronov’s wife, whose name was also Olga, wrote her memoirs of the Russian court.  For those who are interested in Pavel’s more detailed life, the book Memories of a Shipwrecked World; Being the Memoirs of Countess Kleinmichel is available here online for free.

 

 

You can also read about  Grand Duchess Olga’s last love: Dmitri Shakh-Bagov here.

 

Grand Duchess Olga’s 1913 diary excerpts are from the book:

 Journal of a Russian Grand Duchess: Complete Annotated 1913 Diary of Olga Romanov, Eldest Daughter of the Last Tsar

 

 

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