The Last Czars on Netflix explores the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia before the family mysteriously vanished in 1918. One aspect explored in the docudrama is the ‘royal disease’ haemophilia, which Alexei Nikolaevich suffers with. This is a blood disease, but did it come from Queen Victoria? Which royals had haemophilia?
What is haemophilia?
According to the NHS, haemophilia is a rare condition which affects the blood’s ability to clot.
Haemophilia is a condition which is usually inherited, and sufferers are more likely to be male.
When people are cut, their blood contains substances which are known as clotting factors.
These combine with blood cells called platelets to make the blood sticky and help stop wounds from bleeding.
The Last Czars: Alexei suffered from haemophilia
Those who suffer from haemophilia do not have as many clotting factors in their blood, which means they bleed for longer than usual.
People with haemophilia may have:
- nosebleeds that take a long time to stop
- bleeding from wounds that lasts a long time
- bleeding gums
- skin that bruises easily
- pain and stiffness around joints, such as elbows, because of bleeding inside the body (internal bleeding)
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Is it ‘royal disease’ from Queen Victoria?
Haemophilia has been dubbed the royal disease as it featured prominently in the history of European royalty in both the 19th and 20th centuries.
Britain’s Queen Victoria, passed the mutation, through two of her five daughters, Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice, to various royal houses across the continent, including the royal families of Spain, Germany and Russia.
Alexei, the character in Netflix’s The Last Czar based on the real-life Alexei Nikolaevich, suffers from haemophilia.
However, this is kept a secret from the Russian people due to the importance of his role in the future of the Romanov Dynasty.
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man, is secretly brought in to heal Alexei when he falls ill.
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The Last Czars: Queen Victoria passed on the condition to her descendants
What royals had haemophilia?
Princess Alice (1843 to 1878), Victoria’s third child, and wife of the future Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and by Rhine (1837 to 1892), passed it on to at least three of her children: Irene, Friedrich, and Alix.
– Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (1863 to 1950), later Marchioness of Milford Haven, wife of Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854 to 1921) and maternal grandmother to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, apparently was not a carrier.
– Princess Elizabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (1864 to 1918), later Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia through her marriage to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich (1857 to 1905), may or may not have been a carrier. Following her husband’s assassination, she became a nun and was childless when killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
– Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine (1866 to 1953), later Princess Heinrich of Prussia, through her marriage to Prince Heinrich of Prussia (1862 to 1929), passed it on to two of her three sons:
– Prince Waldemar of Prussia (1889 to 1945). Survived to age 56; had no children.
– Prince Heinrich of Prussia (1900 to 1904). Died at age 4.
The Last Czars: Alexei’s affliction was kept secret from the Russian public
– Prince Friedrich of Hesse and by Rhine (1870 to 1873). Died before his third birthday of bleeding on the brain resulting from a fall from a third-story window (which would almost certainly have been fatal even if he had not had haemophilia[contradictory]).
– Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine (1872 to 1918), later Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia through her marriage to Tsar Nicholas II (1868 to 1918). Alix had a marriage proposal from her first cousin, Prince Albert Victor (1864 to 1892), eldest son of the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII); had she accepted, haemophilia could have returned to the direct line of succession in Britain.
-Grand Duchess Maria (1899 to 1918), Nicholas and Alexandra’s third daughter, was thought by some to have been asymptomatic carrier because she haemorrhaged during a tonsillectomy.
DNA testing of the Romanov family remains in 2009 showed that one of the four daughters, thought to be Maria by American researchers and Anastasia by Russian researchers, was a carrier.
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– Tsarevitch Alexei (1904 to 1918) was murdered with his family by the Bolsheviks at the age of 13. Alexei’s haemophilia was one of the factors contributing to the collapse of Imperial Russia during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
– Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine (1874 to 1878), Alice’s seventh and last child, may or may not have been a carrier. She died of diphtheria at the age of four.
Prince Leopold (1843 to 1884) was Queen Victoria’s eighth child, and the first member to manifest haemophilia.
He died at age 30 from bleeding after a minor fall and passed the gene on to his only daughter Princess Alice of Albany.
Princess Alice, in turn, passed the condition to her oldest son Prince Rupert of Teck (1907 to 1928), who died at age 20, bleeding to death after a car accident.
The Last Czars: The illness stops blood from clotting
Princess Beatrice passed the illness on to at least two, if not three, of her four children,
– Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (1887 to 1969)
– Prince Leopold of Battenberg (1889 to 1922), later, Lord Leopold Mountbatten – Died at age 32 during a knee operation
– Prince Maurice of Battenberg (1891 to 1914). Killed in action in World War I at the age of 23. Maurice’s haemophilia is disputed by various sources: It seems unlikely that a known haemophiliac would be allowed to serve in combat
Later Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain through her marriage to King Alfonso XIII (1886 to 1940), who passed it on to:
Infante Alfonso of Spain, Prince of Asturias (1907 to 1938). Died at age 31, bleeding to death after a car accident.
Infante Gonzalo (1914 to 1934). Died at age 19, bleeding to death after a car accident.