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Six Years at the Russian Court - by Margaret Eager

CHAPTER 31

THE BIRTH OF AN HEIR

ON the 12th August, 1904, the little Grand Duke. Czarovitch was born. It happened to be my birthday, and when I went to see the new-born prince and congratulate the Empress she said to me, "You see what a nice birthday present I have given you."

He was baptised when he was twelve days old. I have described the baptismal ceremony for little Marie, and his was just slightly more ceremonious. His gilt carriage was drawn by eight horses instead of six, and he was dressed in blue and white instead of pink; also, the decoration which he received from the Emperor was of a higher order.

The little sisters were delighted with the new brother, and made many quaint and critical remarks about him. They were at the baptism dressed in Russian Court costume of blue satin, brocaded in silver and trimmed with silver braid and buttons, and they wore silver shoes. Their head-dresses were of blue velvet embroidered with pearls; they looked very sweet and quaint.

The child had for his godfathers the King of Denmark, the King of England, the Emperor of Germany, the Grand Duke Alexis, the Emperor's uncle, and many godmothers, including Princess Victoria of Wales. He received the name of Alexis; he was the third born Czarovitch in the Romanoff dynasty. Michael, the first Romanoff's eldest son, was called Alexis; Peter the Great's eldest son, born Czarovitch, received it also, and this one, of course, had to get it. The name means "Bringer of Peace." I hope it may prove true.

He is a very beautiful boy. In the middle of the baptismal ceremony, when he was being anointed for the first time, he raised his hand and extended his fingers as though pronouncing a blessing. Of course, everyone said that it was a very good omen, and that he would prove to be a father to his people. God grant it, but not for many years to come.

When we came out of church it was raining hard, which they said was a very good omen, but it was not so nice for my white satin dress.

The dress worn on this occasion by those present far exceeded in beauty and grandeur anything I had ever seen before.

It was the little girls' first great ceremony, and we can judge how delighted they were with it all.

Shortly after the birth of the Czarovitch I left Russia owing to private and personal reasons. I was very sorry and grieved to say good-bye to the dear children whom I love so well.

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