Olga (1895-1918), Tatiana (1897-1918), Maria (1899-1918) and Anastasia (1901-1918) Romanov were the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, and the older sisters of the Tsarevich, Alexei.
Born at two-year intervals and raised in the same household by parents who were affectionate with them and each other, the four sisters became very close. They often paired off (Olga with Tatiana, Maria with Anastasia) and all doted on their younger brother, Alexei.
Despite their royal bloodline, the Romanov daughters had an austere and disciplined upbringing. At their mother’s insistence, the girls slept on hard camp beds, bathed in cold water each morning and were required to dress without the assistance of maids.
The oldest daughter, Olga Nikolaevna, was born a year after her parents’ marriage and two weeks after her father’s ascension to the throne. In 1901, six-year-old Olga survived a bout of typhoid fever. She became an intelligent, studious and reflective child – but was also prone to moodiness. Accounts suggest she was the closest of the four daughters to Nicholas.
The second daughter, Tatiana, was born in June 1897. Tall, slightly built and thin-faced, she bore the strongest resemblance to Alexandra. Tatiana was also the most serious, thoughtful and perhaps the most intelligent of the Romanov children. When World War I erupted, she became a Red Cross nurse alongside her mother and older sister. It was a task she took very seriously.
The third daughter, Maria, was born in June 1899. From a young age, she was known to close family members as Marie or Mashka. Maria was known for her attractive looks (many considered her the most beautiful of the Romanov daughters) and happy disposition. She was reportedly flirtatious with young men, particularly soldiers, and expressed a wish to marry and have a large family.
Anastasia was born in June 1901. She was shorter and chubbier than her sisters and also more inclined to ill health. From a young age, Anastasia acquired a reputation as the most mischievous of the Romanov children. Some accounts attribute this to playfulness while others suggest Anastasia was “nasty to the point of being evil”.
Like their mother, the Romanov daughters were fond of Rasputin. Anti-tsarist propaganda suggested the Siberian faith-healer had not only seduced Alexandra but also her four daughters, though there is no evidence of this.
After the February Revolution, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia were kept under house arrest with their parents and brother. In August 1917, as the power of the Provisional Government weakened, the family was transported to the Siberian town of Tobolsk. They remained there for several months after the Bolshevik revolution.
In April 1918, the Romanovs were transported to the Ural location of Ekaterinburg. It was there that a detachment of the local Soviet executed them in the basement of the Ipatiev House in July 1918. Later rumours suggested that Tatiana or Anastasia had escaped the slaughter, possibly with the collusion of their Bolshevik guards, but this was not the case.