L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, June 14, 2015

From my collection - Imperial/royal cousins, imperial/royal sailor suits

The iconic sailor suit was the uniform - both casual and dress - for little boys beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century and continuing well into the twentieth. (Girls often wore a version as well, but usually only for day wear.) From my own collection of antique postcards, this is a selection that demonstrates that even young princes were far from being exempt from the prevailing trend. Furthermore, all these little boys were cousins or otherwise related by way of the tangling dynastic threads of European royalty, mostly the imperial or royal families of Russia, Denmark, and Great Britain.

(The vertically oriented images are obviously reproduced much larger than in the original postcards, the two horizontally oriented images are only slightly larger than original.)

The image above and the two below are, of course, of Alexei Nikolaevich (1904-1918), the ill-fated last Tsarevich of Russia, son of Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra.

Three of Alexei's paternal first cousins - Princes Feodor (1898-1968), Nikita (1900-1974), and Dmitri Alexandrovich (1901-1980) - three of the six sons of Nicholas II's sister, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna. They were also related, though less closely, through the three brothers' father, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich; all of the above were descendants of Tsar Nicholas I.

Prince George of Greece (1890-1947) - later George II, King of the Hellenes - was a second cousin, through his father and paternal grandfather, of the four boys pictured above; their shared great-grandfather was King Christian IX of Denmark. He was also less closely related to them through his paternal grandmother, Olga, Queen of the Hellenes, born a grand duchess of Russia, so he was likewise a descendant of Tsar Nicholas I.

Prince Lennart of Sweden (1909-2004), only child of Prince Wilhelm and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, was a first cousin once removed of Prince George of Greece, through his maternal grandmother, the aforementioned Queen Olga. Also, he was a second cousin to Alexei, Feodor, Nikita, and Dmitri through his maternal grandfather; their shared great-grandfather was Tsar Alexander II.

Prince Lennart with his father, Prince Wilhelm... and a lion cub? Tiger cub?
Prince Lennart with his father's mother, Queen Victoria of Sweden, and her mother, Grand Duchess Luise of Baden.
Interestingly, these postcards were not only printed and sold in the subject's own country; this example is from Germany rather than Sweden.

Princes Gustaf Adolf (1906-1947) and Sigvard (1907-2002) of Sweden, sons of the future King Gustaf VI Adolf, were paternal first cousins of Prince Lennart. Also second cousins to Tsarevich Alexei through their mothers, both of whom were granddaughters of Queen Victoria.

Crown Prince Olav of Norway (1903-1991), son of King Haakon VII, was a maternal second cousin to Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard, and Alexei; his mother, Queen Maud of Norway, was also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He was also related to Princes George (second cousin) and Lennart (second cousin once removed) through both of his parents. (Who were, incidentally, first cousins themselves.)

The short-lived Prince John (1905-1919), youngest child of Great Britain's George V and Queen Mary, was a first cousin of Crown Prince Olav. He was a second cousin to Alexei, Gustaf Adolf, and Sigvard, again thanks to their shared great-grandmother Queen Victoria. He was also a second cousin to George of Greece and to the Russian Princes Feodor, Nikita, and Dmitri - and a second cousin, again, to Alexei - due to their shared great-grandfather, King Christian IX of Denmark. Finally, he was a second cousin once removed to Lennart because of their mutual descendance from King Christian.

Princes Georg Donatus (1906-1937) and Ludwig (1908-1968) of Hesse-Darmstadt - Don and Lu* - were second cousins with John, Olav, Gustav Adolf, and Sigvard, again all through their connection to their great-grandmother Queen Victoria. And they were first cousins with Tsarevich Alexei; indeed, this may have been one of the closest of the cousin connections as the Russian Empress and her brother, Grand Duke Ernst-Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt, were very close, and their families came to be as well.


* Don and Lucy - quite often shortened to Lu - just happen to be the names of my much-loved parents-in-law.


  1. To this day, in the kingdom of Spain :) the sailor suit is the traditional costume for boys who make their First Communion.
    In my own South American country we still use them too, but for a different occasion. I ordered one from El Corte Ingles for my own 6 year old, who was a page boy at my daughter's wedding...

    Beautiful photos of beautiful innocent children!
    Thank you, Stephen.

  2. You're welcome, Stephen!

    Remember the sailor suit of the boy Tadzio in "Death in Venice"?
    What a beautiful movie! And what about the music?

    Here's a piano version of the Adagietto:


    1. Yes, of course - to all of that! : ) Lovely....