What exactly is “Giant Steps” the game that is so often mentioned in the Romanov diaries and letters? A number of swings with harnesses are secured to a pole by long ropes, and everyone swings around, taking giant strides.
Anastasia to Nicholas II: “31 May, 1916. Tsarskoe Selo… These days Maria and I swing on giant steps a lot. We are almost never nauseous, [although] we fell a bunch of times already, but so far have not hurt ourselves…”
Nicholas II to Maria: “Imperial Headquarters, 13 June, 1916… Alexei, Nagorny and Muravnukin are on the giant steps or we play a sort of hide-and-seek…”
The Romanov family even built a make-shift Giant Steps swing for Alexei in the backyard of Governor’s mansion in Tobolsk, obviously it was one of their favourite activities.
Apparently, “Giant Steps” is still relatively popular in modern Russia:
In Grigori Rasputin‘s native village of Pokrovskoe, in Tyumen region, lives a scruffy looking man with long white hair and beard, who practices the old Siberian tradition of healing by laying on of hands. His hometown and skills are not the only things Viktor Prolubschikov claims to have in common with the infamous starets, who was once referred to as “Our Friend” by the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna. Rasputin, he claims, is none other than his grandfather, by a woman who once worked as the former’s housekeeper, possibly Akilina Loptinskaya.
It is known that Rasputin was not a model husband to Praskovia Dubrovina, his legal spouse, and was not beyond various dalliances on the side, any of which may have resulted in illegitimate offspring. Hence this claim is not completely unreasonable. Nevertheless, the final word belongs to science.
Which is why the popular Russian talk show, “Let Them Talk” decided to do just that. The show’s producers organised an in-person meeting between Laurance Solofioff, Rasputin’s acknowledged great-granddaughter through his daughter Matriona (Maria), and her alleged half-uncle, in their studio.
DNA samples were obtained from the two alleged relatives in advance, and the result was to be announced on the show.
But of course the result was not going to announced until the end of the show, so meanwhile, each participant is asked about their backgrounda.
Laurance shares her family tree and history. Her grandmother Matriona was one of Rasputin’s two daughters, who settled in France after the revolution, and had two daughters of her own: Tatiana and Maria. Laurance is one of Tatiana’s three children.
Laurance even demonstrated her gold locket with the image of a double headed eagle – the symbol of imperial Russia.
Viktor told stories of his life in Pokrovskoe and of Raspintin-esque healing abilities – he even demonstrated how he uses his hands to perform these rituals.
Later in the show, another acknowledged Rasputin descendant came into the studio. Her name is Valerie Eo-Theron, and she is a great-great-granddaughter of Rasputin, through her father, who is Laurance’s brother.
The DNA result was finally announced, but we still do not have our answer because it was… inclusive. It showed a 22% chance that Solofioff and Prolubschikov are related, and may share a common ancestor. According to the DNA expert, this result does not prove or refute the relation, and needs additional,, more thorough investigation. So stay tuned!
IN THE STEPS OF THE ROMANOV FAMILY: ROSTOV VELIKY (22 MAY, 1913)
From the 1913 diary of Nicholas II:
22 May. Wednesday. All night we stood [in a train] at a small station Kozmodemyansk. At 10 o’cl arrived in Rostov. Alix was very tired and besides that she came down with angina, hence she was lying down all day. After the welcome drove in an automobile with the children to the ancient city of Rostov-Veliky. Visited Uspensky cathedral, heard the famous ringing of bells, walked to the White chambers and the princely towers through the Kremlin walls, looking at the inner churches on the way.
Hear the bells of Uspensky Cathedral below – the same bells Nicholas and his children would have heard that day!
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna was the third daughter and middle child of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and 1913 was the tercentennial year of her family’s dynastic rule—the last full year before the outbreak of World War I. In her journal, Maria documents the ceremony and celebrations of this important date in Imperial Russian history, while at the same time showing herself to have been a remarkably ordinary young girl who happened to be the daughter of the most powerful man in the world. Maria’s journal records the daily routines of the Imperial family, from the mundane to the magnificent, allowing the reader a peek into the lost and distant world of the last Romanovs.
The year 2018 marks a century since the murders of the last imperial family of Russia: Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, four daughters: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and son Alexei. This family of seven was brutally killed in July of 1918, but continues to fascinate even a hundred years later. Helen Azar, author of several books based on her original translations of their diaries and letters, brings you “THE ROMANOV FAMILY YEARBOOK” – a unique edition which commemorates them through a collection of personal documents that recount their daily lives, ranging over a decade. This book contains 365 diary entries, letters, and photographs–one for each day of the year—including some previously unpublished material. It is essential reading for Russian imperial history enthusiasts and excellent introduction for those new to the letters and diaries of Russia’s last Romanovs.
TATIANA ROMANOV, DAUGHTER OF THE LAST TSAR: Diaries and Letters, 1913–1918
Translated for the First Time in English with Annotations by a Leading Expert, the Romanov Family’s Final Years Through the Writings of the Second Oldest Daughter.
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia was the second of the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Long recognized by historians as the undisputed “beauty” of the family, Tatiana was acknowledged for her poise, her elegance, and her innate dignity within her own family. Helen Azar, translator of the diaries of Olga Romanov, and Nicholas B. A. Nicholson, Russian Imperial historian, have joined together to present a truly comprehensive picture of this extraordinarily gifted, complex, and intelligent woman in her own words.