ROMANOV FAMILY: THEIR BRITISH COUSINS’ OFFER OF ASYLUM

ROMANOV FAMILY: THEIR BRITISH COUSINS’ OFFER OF ASYLUM

The Romanov family with their first cousins: King George V and his family.
The Romanov family with their British cousins: King Edward VII and future King George V and family.

Most of us heard the story of King George V of England rescinding on his offer of asylum to the Romanov family in 1917, but here is the first hand account of the Head of the Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky.

From the memoirs of Alexander Kerensky:

 To demonstrate this awful tragedy of the imperial family in the truest light, we must remember this:  when the Provisional Government announced the decision to arrest the tsar and he chose Tsarskoe Selo as the place of his captivity, it was thought that this situation would be in place for a short duration.

Transfer to England seemed so close that on 7 (23) March the British consulate, George Buchanan had sent a verbal message to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Provisional Government, P.N. Milyukov that His Majesty the King and His Majesty’s government are happy to offer refuge in England to the former Russian Emperor.

There were no exterior obstacles to the Tsar’s departure. Interior difficulties arose.

In the general chaos which reigned in the early days of the revolution, the government was not yet fully in control of the administrative machine. For example, the railroads were freely ruled by various unions and advisories.

There was no opportunity to bring the Tsar to Murmansk without exposing him to unavoidable and very serious dangers. On the way, he could end up in the hands of the “revolutionary masses” and wind up not in England but in St Peter and Paul Fortress, or even worse, in Kronschtadt…

But in specific English circles, especially among the liberals and laborites, the intention of the British government to offer hospitality to the former Russian Tsar was met very coldly… 

On 10th April (new style) the newspapers released a semi-official statement of the British Ministry of the Foreign Affairs which could be viewed as a retraction. …. “The British government does not insist on the offer made earlier to provide a refuge to the imperial family”. What does “does not insist on the offer made earlier” mean?

One would think that the British government persistently negotiated with the Russian Provisional Government about the transfer of the imperial family to England, and not being able to get an agreement were forced to retreat from their noble intention to save the cousin of their own king and the favorite granddaughter of Queen Victoria from the horrible revolutionaries.  

In reality, it was the complete opposite. 6 (19) March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs P.N. Milyukov notified Sir George Buchanan of the Provisional Government’s intention to send the former Tsar and his family to England.

After three days the British government, in response to three telegrams, had agreed to accept the imperial family. What happened next? [Author’s note: I believe here Kerensky meant that the offer of asylum just died a “natural death”]  

Soon after a legend emerged in which the English government “never refused to offer an invitation”. 

Alexander Kerensky, Head of the Provisional Government after the Russian Revolution/
Alexander Kerensky, Head of the Provisional Government after the Russian Revolution.

From the book  The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution

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