A grey country stretched before my eyes as we neared Tsuruga. The whole picture looked like an etching in soft half-shades of grey and sepia. The same impression was continued in the view of the landscape that I saw from the train, one of those small Japanese trains that make Europeans feel like grown-up people playing in a child's toy. The grey tones merged into grey-green as we passed the tree plantations, and into grey-blue when the line wound round the sacred Fujiyama. I could not keep my eyes from the window then -the picture I saw had so great a charm and was so totally unlike anything I had ever imagined.

At Tokio station was a crowd of pressmen armed with cameras and awful flash-lights, and in front of them, dodging them carefully, stood Lady Lily Greene, the British Ambassador's wife, a great friend of my mother's. Sir Conyngham and Lady Lily's warm welcome marked the beginning of a new era for me and the return to normal life. In the haven of rest which the British Embassy proved to me, I found myself surrounded by the understanding kindness of true friends, and under Lady Lily's motherly care gradually regained my mental equilibrium. My days there were only too short. I managed to evade the Japanese reporters, for I could not as yet bring myself to speak of the experiences of the last two years. This did not prevent numerous articles from appearing in the many papers of Japan in which my arrival was described and in one of which I received the highest possible compliment, being credited with "the true, fine Japanese type of face." It must have been the flash-light photograph that led to this delusion!!

I was so eager to return to Europe that I was able to see very little of the fascinating Land of the Rising Sun. Nor was I able to get more than a glimpse of Honolulu, San Francisco, and other towns of the United States through which I hurried. Everything in America seemed to me on such a monumental scale that it dwarfed every bit of European scenery I had ever seen before, or have ever seen since. What were the Norwegian fjords, or even the Alps, after the Rocky Mountains? What are the largest buildings of other towns after those in San Francisco and New York? While after the leisured trend of everything in Siberia everyone in America seemed to be continually hurrying at the topmost speed and to be putting into twenty-four hours the work of forty-eight!!

The journey seemed interminable to my impatient mind, but when I at last reached England I had in fact travelled as fast as the mail. I found echoes of the World War in the Atlantic, the War which I had nearly forgotten, ever present though it had been to my mind in the Tsarskoe Selo Palace. The events in my own country had driven it into the background. Here, however, was lifeboat practice, and careful manoeuvring to avoid possible floating mines near the English coast. In London I was told that the Dowager Empress Marie of Russia, whom I hoped to join in the Crimea, had had to leave precipitately on a British man-of-war, as the Bolsheviks were about to recapture the peninsula. She was, in fact, on her way to England, but as Her Majesty was going later to her villa in Denmark I went straight to Copenhagen to see my father, whom I had not seen since 1917, and to await the arrival of the Empress.

Once again in my life I was to see the state arrival of a Russian Empress, when Marie Feodorovna, mother of the Emperor Nicholas II, was welcomed home to Denmark by her countrymen. In the summer of 1919 she returned, an exile, to her native land, having by a wonderful series of circumstances escaped the fate that overtook her dear ones, and undergone trials and borne sorrows almost too great for any mortal to endure.

As the Danish ship Fionia, with the Empress on board, steamed slowly into Copenhagen Harbour between the surrounding ships, the solemn strains of the old Russian National Anthem, "God Preserve the Tsar," suddenly broke the stillness of the air. It was played by the band of a French battleship that thus greeted the aged mother of their ally. As the majestic chords died away an acute, almost unbearable pain gripped the hearts of all the Russians who had gathered on the landing-stage to meet their last crowned Empress. Was this to be the last time that they would hear that hymn? The Empire had been wiped out, the Emperor was no more, our great country had lost even its name. In the notes of our anthem was the echo of one of the world's greatest tragedies. It seemed to set a seal on a past that for us was gone... gone for ever.

A special thank you to for scanning the text for this online edition.

Contact Bob Atchison for comments on this site.

Other books on Russian History from the Alexander Palace Association:

The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna by Sophie Buxhoeveden | Memories of the Russian Court by Anna Vyrubova | Thirteen Years at the Russian Court by Pierre Gilliard | Last Days at Tsarskoe Selo by Paul Beckendorff | St. Petersburg - Imperial City | Charles Cameron - Imperial Architect by Georges Loukomski | Tsarskoe Selo in 1910

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