They first met at the 1884 wedding of his uncle to her sister. She called him Nicky; he called her “Alix” or “Sunny.” Although Alix was only 12, she knew at that moment that Nicky was “The One.” It was on this occasion she carved their names on the window of the Peterhof Palace.
After the wedding, Alix bid her sister and Nicky goodbye, returning to the Darmstadt Palace in Germany which was her home. Alix was a royal princess.
Five more years would pass before Princess Alix would return to Russia and see Nicky again. During that visit, the two fell even more deeply in love. Nicky was determined to make Alix his bride.
But Nicky’s parents wouldn’t hear of Nicky marrying a German princess. They hated Germans as did almost every Russian. But Nicky’s parents weren’t just any Russians. Nicky’s parents were the Romanov rulers of Russia: Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Marie Feodorovna . They were the Royal Emperor and Empress. Nicky – Nicholas Alexandrovich- being their oldest son – was the Tsarevitch – the heir to the Russian throne.
Alix returned to Germany.
More years passed. Love letters written in English flew back and forth between the lovesick pair.
Meanwhile, Nicky carried on a torrid and scandalous three-year affair with the famous Russian ballerina, Mathilda Kschessinska.
Nevertheless, Nicky’s heart still belonged to Alix. He wrote in his diary:
It is my dream to one day marry Alix H. I have loved her for a long time, but more deeply and strongly since 1889 when she spent six weeks in Petersburg. For a long time, I have resisted my feeling that my dearest dream will come true.”
Nicky’s parents continued to wage a fierce campaign to find Nicky a suitable bride. The Tsar hoped to land a bigger catch for his son than Princess Alix (even though she was his godchild!), parading a series of royal princesses in front of his son. But Nicky stood firmly against each proposed match, declaring flat out to his folks that he’d become a monk rather than marry anyone ugly and boring when he could have the tall and lovely blue-eyed beauty Princess Alix as his wife and royal consort.
Meanwhile, alone in Germany, Alix was equally resolute to marry Nicky, doing her own bit in turning down royal suitors. She even stood up to her domineering grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, when the Queen tried to marry her off to her grandson, the Duke of Clarence. Alix declined to marry the Duke stating to “Granny” that she did not love him. Victoria – notorious for her royal matchmaking – surprisingly
“was proud of Alix for standing up to her, something many people, including her own son, the Prince of Wales did not do.”
For five years, Tsar Alexander III had stood firmly against his son’s wishes. But, in 1894, he became ill and relented, the couple announcing their engagement in April of 1894.
Alix, as a requirement for the engagement, converted from Lutheranism to the Russian Orthodox religion and took the Russian name “Alexandra Feodorovna” to strengthen her appeal to the Russian people. Nicholas and Alexandra planned a spring 1895 wedding.
But their plans were thrown in disarray by Alexander’s sudden death in November and Nicholas’s subsequent ascension to the throne as His Imperial Majesty, Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas insisted that the wedding date be moved forward, as he wanted Alix by his side to help him rule. They married a swift three weeks later. He was 26. Alix, now called Empress Alexandra,was 22.