Diaries and Letters - Countess Sophie Buxhoeveden
Shown above on the right, Lady-in-Waiting to Aleksandra, nicknamed 'Isa', was very close to the family from 1913 onwards. Tall, rather full figured, she wasn't an attractive woman, but had an friendly manner and managed to be deferential to the Imperial family without it seeming forced or artificial. She had dark hair, was a chain smoker in private and quite intelligent. She was one of Aleksandra's favorites and was often in her company. The Empress enjoyed talking with Isa and brought her into her confidence to a degree she shared with few others. This was contrary to her general practice, Aleksandra kept a distance between her and her Ladies-in-Waiting while they were on duty. She feared being drawn into personal relationships with her ladies that were based on formal service rather than choice.
The Empress also had her accompany the Grand Duchesses when they went on daily excursions and she was often seen in their company. She had no time for Rasputin, but witnessed his miracles first-hand and was baffled by his powers. Aleksandra would have liked her to have accepted Rasputin as a holy man, but knew Isa's opinion was not likely to be changed. The fact she kept her negative opinion to herself was appreciated by the Empress, who knew Isa would say nothing to discredit her.
Isa followed the family to Siberia. For some unknown reason she was released by the Bolsheviks, maybe they thought she was Swedish becuase of her name. She was penniless and borrowed money from Sidney Gibbs to escaped Russia. Passing through China she finally arrived in England, which became a new home for her. During the 1920's she wrote two books about her life with the Imperial Family and the harrowing days in Siberia preceeding her escape. After long research into family files in Darmstadt and England and interviews with Aleksandra's friends and family, Isa wrote the best, first hand account of those times, "The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna - Empress of Russia". She wrote this book, in part, to refute the gutter press, which insisted on depicting Aleksandra as Rasputin's mistress and the hysterical woman who distroyed the Romanov Dynasty. Isa had an excellent memory of events she had seen and an objective view of them. Although she was devoted to the memory of the Empress and is careful to avoid direct criticism, she gives an honest and detailed profile of Aleksandra, which shows her as the complex woman she really was. Isa died in England in grace and favor rooms granted to her by the Queen, the drawers chests were crammed with mementos of the family, photo albums and pieces of Faberge.
In the picture above, sitting next to Isa, behind the Alexander Palace in the park, is Anastasia Vasilyevna Hendrikova.
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