Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (June 18/5 1901-July 17 1918)
When Anastasia was born, her parents and extended family were disappointed that she was a girl. They hoped for a son who would be heir apparent to the throne. Tsar Nicholas II went for a long walk to compose himself before going to visit Tsarina Alexandra and the newborn Anastasia for the first time.
The fourth grand duchess was named for the fourth-century martyr St. Anastasia, known as "the breaker of chains"because, in honor of her birth, her father pardoned and reinstated students who had been imprisoned for participating in riots in St. Petersburg and Moscow the previous winter.
While often described as gifted and bright, she was never interested in the restrictions of the school room, according to her tutors Pierre Gilliard and Sydney Gibbes. Gibbes, Gilliard, and ladies-in-waiting Lili Dehn and Anna Vyrubova described Anastasia as lively, mischievous, and a gifted actress. ————————————————
Anastasia and her older sister Maria were known within the family as "The Little Pair". The two girls shared a room, often wore variations of the same dress, and spent much of their time together. Their older sisters Olga and Tatiana also shared a room and were known as "The Big Pair". The four girls sometimes signed letters using the nickname OTMA, which was derived from the first letters of their first names.
During World War I, Anastasia, along with her sister Maria, visited wounded soldiers at a private hospital in the grounds at Tsarskoye Selo. The two teenagers, too young to become Red Cross nurses like their mother and elder sisters, played games of checkers and billiards with the soldiers and tried to lift their spirits. ————————————————
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