In the Spring of 1839, the heir to throne of Russia, Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich Romanov, visited England and met its new young queen, Victoria. Future Tsar Alexander II was a year older than the unmarried Queen of England, who was only 20 years old.
The Tsarevich stayed in Great Britain for a month as Queen Victoria’s special guest, and was consistently received with truly royal splendor. Receptions, balls, parades of troops and visits to notable places – everything was organized with the esteemed Russian guest in mind.
The young Queen Victoria expressed special hospitality to the young handsome Tsarevich. They often dined together at Buckingham palace, he was her constant dance partner at court balls, accompanied her to the opera, and always sat next to her in the royal box.
According to witness reports, the future Russian Tsar made a very strong impression on the young British Queen. At the balls she danced almost exclusively with him (which she had never done before with other partners), and during the intervals she sat next to him and chatted animatedly, giggling often. Victoria admitted to those close to her that she really liked the Tsarevich and that they have become good friends. Alexander even stayed in her rustic Windsor Castle for three days, which caused lively gossip in high society. The English aristocracy found this behavior “outrageous” for any respectable girl, and for the unmarried Queen in particular!
However, it seemed that the Russian guest was not as impressed with his British hostess. “She’s very short, bad waist, uncomely face, but speaks charmingly,” – wrote the Tsarevich in his diary. Meanwhile, in the court circles of London and St. Petersburg, rumors arose about the possibility of a dynastic union, talks which had no real foundation.
Interestingly the rest of her long life and reign (she sat on the British throne for 64 years), Queen Victoria adhered to anti-Russian sentiments, her antipathy sometimes even taking on characteristics of Russophobia.
Ironically, the royal matrimonial ties of Great Britain’s royal family and Russia’s Romanov family crossed a few times since 1839: Tsar Alexander II’s only daughter, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna married one of Queen Victoria’s sons – Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, later Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Even more notably, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Aix of Hesse, became Russia’s Empress Alexandra Feodorovna as the wife of Alexander’s grandson Tsar Nicholas II.
Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Tsar Alexander II of Russia’s mutual five Russian great-grandchildren were Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei.