A lesson in humility
The royal couple was taking a walk in a park when a box fell off a carriage carrying mail. Immediately, the Tsar ran to the box, lifted it and handed it to the postal officer. He thanked him from the heart. Then he asked the Tsar why he had taken the trouble to help. To this, the Tsar replied, “The higher in the hierarchy one is, the more effort one should make to help others and the less he should remind them of his high position. I set the example, and I want my children to do the same!”
The water jug
Despite the high position, all members of the Royal Family treated others with dignity and respect. Here is another example.
Every evening, Empress Alexandra visited Dr Botkin to have her heart checked.
Before each visit, the doctor always asked his children to help him with hand-washing. They filled a water jug and poured water from it onto his hands. The Great Princess jokingly called it the milk jug.
One evening, when his children had already left, the Great Princess Anastacia came to him for an appointment. He asked her to go out into the corridor and call his servant.
“Why?” she asked.
“To help me wash my hands,” replied the doctor.
“I can help you,” she offered. The doctor was hesitant, but she insisted,
— If your children can do it, why can’t I?”
So she took the jug and poured the water from him abundantly onto his hands as his children did.
Salvaging an umbrella
On a walk along the Dnieper, the successor to the throne was in a playful mood. He took a maid’s umbrella and threw it into the river. The maid tried to fish it out with a stick, assisted by the Great Princess Olga. But the umbrella was unfolded, and the wind and the currents were quickly carrying it away.
The Emperor happened to pass by. “What is happening?” — he asked. “Alexei threw the maid’s umbrella into the river, and we are trying to get it back, it was her best!” — the Great Princess replied while trying to catch the umbrella’s handle with a crooked branch. The smile disappeared from the Emperor’s face. He looked sternly at his son. “You cannot treat a lady like that. I am ashamed of you, Alexei.” “I apologise on his behalf. But let me try to salvage your umbrella,” he said to the maid. He went into the water, caught the umbrella and gave it back to its owner. “I did not have to swim to get it,” he added with a smile. “Now I will sit down and dry in the sun. The little heir to the throne was ashamed of himself. He went to the maid and apologised like an adult.
Perhaps the Tsar talked to him about the incident later on. After that episode, he would often copy his father’s old-fashioned manners of a gentleman, especially around women.
A conversation with a soldier
When the war began in 1914, the Grand Duchesses volunteered with their mother as nurses in a military hospital.
A new group of wounded soldiers arrived. The grand duchesses met them at the station.
They followed all the doctors’ instructions and even washed the soldiers’ feet to clean the wounds. Finally, they brought the wounded to the hospital and put them in the wards. Tired, Princess Olga sat down to rest on the bed of one of the wounded soldiers. Immediately, he began a conversation. He did not know who the nurse was, and Olga did not tell him.
“Tired?” — asked the soldier.
“Yes, a little. But it is good to be tired.”
“What’s so good about it?”
“It means that I have done some good work.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that you should not be here, but go to the front instead?”
“Yes, I wish I were at the front.”
“Why are you waiting? Just pick up and go.”
The princess laughed.
“No, I can’t ignore him. We love each other very much.”
A soldier for life
In a meeting at the War Ministry that considered the adoption of new equipment for the foot soldiers, Tsar Nicholas asked to try it on himself on a forty-kilometre march. He did the test without disclosing his identity to anyone but the minister of the royal court and the palace commandant. In the morning, he asked for a set of the equipment prepared for a regiment stationed in Livadia. He fixed it on himself and left his palace with a rifle on his soldier and a soldier’s reserve of bread and water. He returned to the palas at sunset after covering the distance of forty kilometres in eight hours or so. He did not feel any soreness in his shoulders or back, so gave the equipment his approval.
The regiment commander whose uniform the emperor was wearing, asked if he could enlist him in his first company and call him out as a private at the roll-call. The Tsar agreed and asked to fill out the service record with his hand.
He gave his name, Nicholas Romanov. In the question box about the length of service, he wrote, “to the grave.”
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds