The Last Czars is available to stream and download on Netflix now. Episode six, titled The House of Special Purpose, dramatises and explains how the Russian Royal Family were executed. The remains of five Romanov family were not excavated until 1998 and two more bodies were not uncovered until 2007.
Who murdered the Romanovs?
On July 17, 1918, the Russian Royal Family were executed at Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg.
The site of their execution was the safe house they had been staying in for several months, also known as The House of Special Purpose.
Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra and their five children were shot dead in the basement at the House of Special Purpose.
Also executed was the Tsar’s personal physician Eugene Botkin, his wife’s maid Anna Demidova, and the family’s chef, Ivan Kharitonov, and footman, Alexei Trupp.
They were tricked into believing they were being relocated for their safety and they hoped to be granted asylum in another country.
The people responsible for murdering the Romanovs were members of the Ural Regional Soviet.
Revolutionaries in the Urals were considered to be more radical than the main Bolshevik party back in Petrograd.
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However, historians believe Lenin alongside Bolshevik officials Yakov Sverdlov and Felix Dzerzhinsky ultimately gave the order to execute the Romanov family.
There are several varying accounts of what happened at the House of Special Purpose.
The chief executioner was Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky and he gave a detailed account of what happened in the early hours of July 17, 1918.
Seven communist soldiers from Central Europe and three local Bolsheviks from Yekatinburg opened fire under the command of Yurovsk.
The executioners were: Grigory P. Nikulin, Mikhail A. Medvedev (Kudrin), Peter Ermakov, Stepan Vaganov, Alexey G. Kabanov, Pavel Medvedev, V. N. Netrebin, and Y. M. Tselms.
According to Yurovsky, Nicholas was the first member of the royal family to die.
The Tsar’s daughters, Anastasia, Tatiana, Olga, and Maria survived the first round of bullets as they were wearing over 1.3kg of diamonds and gems under their clothes.
The girls were wearing their jewellery as Nicholas and Alexandra genuinely believed they were being moved across Europe and they needed their wealth to secure their safe passage and safety.
In the end, the children were stabbed with bayonets and then shot at close range.
An announcement at the time made by Presidium of the Ural Regional Soviet of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government justified the Romanovs’ execution based on conspiracies that the family were going to be freed by the White Army.
At the time of their execution, Russia was deep in civil war between the Red Army (supporters of Bolshevism and communism) and the White Army (those who favoured political monarchism).
However, they did not reveal until years later that Alexandra and the children had also been executed. This was because they did not want to upset Germany following the signing of the Brest-Livtovsk peace treaty which ended Russian’s involvement in World War One.
The Tsarina was German-born and a telegram from the German government demanded the safety of the princess and her offspring.
The announcement read: ”In light of the approach of counterrevolutionary bands toward the Red capital of the Urals and the possibility of the crowned executioner escaping trial by the people (a plot among the White Guards to try to abduct him and his family was exposed and the compromising documents will be published), the Presidium of the Ural Regional Soviet, fulfilling the will of the Revolution, resolved to shoot the former Tsar, Nikolai Romanov, who is guilty of countless, bloody, violent acts against the Russian people.”
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Are there any Romanovs alive today?
There are no immediate family members of the former Russian Royal Family alive today.
However, there are still living descendants of the Romanov family.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II is the grandnephew of Tsarina Alexandra.
Prince Philip is also the great-great-grandson of Nicholas I.
His link to the Romanovs means that his son Prince Charles and his grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry are also long-extended Romanov relatives.
When Nicholas II and his family remains were uncovered in the 1990s, Philip’s DNA and blood were used to help confirm their identity.
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Prince Michael of Kent, whose grandmother was Tsar Nicholas II’s cousin, is also a descendant of the Romanovs.
Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the great-great-grandaughter of Alexander II of Russia who was the Emperor of Russia until 1881 is still alive today and living in Spain.
Prince Andrew Romanov is the great-great-grandson of Nicholas I, who was emperor of Russia until his death in 1885.
Princess Olga Andreevna Romanov is the daughter of Prince Andrei Alexandrovich, the eldest nephew to Nicholas II.
The Last Czars is streaming on Netflix now
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