Remains of last two Romanov children identified

The remains of Tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra, their daughters the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, were unearthed outside Yekaterinburg in 1991, but Tsarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria’s bones were missing.

Naturally this fueled rumors that the hemophiliac 13-year-old and his 19-year-old sister had somehow managed to escape a point-blank firing squad execution in a basement in the middle of the night, continuing the heated debate over the fate of the Romanov children well into the 21st century.

In August 2007, a search party unearthed bone fragments in a scorched location suggested by Yakov Yurovsky, the firing squad leader, in his memoirs as the place where Alexei and Maria were burned and buried.

Now both Russian and US laboratories have confirmed that the remains are those of the the final two children of Nicholas and Alexandra.

The test results were based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, the genetic material passed down only from mothers to children. That DNA is more stable than nuclear DNA — the material inherited from the father’s side — especially when remains are badly damaged.

In this case, the bone fragments were so shattered and burned that Rogaev’s team first had to determine whether enough uncontaminated genetic material still existed for testing.

The delicate work proved that, indeed, useful DNA could be extracted from a very small amount of the material — a critical fact, since they wanted to preserve as much of the bone fragments as possible out of respect for the victims.

The labs are currently working on testing the nuclear DNA of the bone fragments as well to confirm the results of the mitochondrial tests.

No comment so far from the Russian Orthodox Church or the descendants of the Russian royal family. Neither party was particularly keen on the 1991 finds, so I doubt they’ll embrace the results of this one with open arms.

Here are the Romanovs in happier times (1913), with Maria standing behind her father to the left of her mother, and Alexei between Anastasia (left) and Tatiana (right):

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16 Comments »

Comment by TomJoe
2008-05-03 22:11:46

The test results were based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, the genetic material passed down only from mothers to children. That DNA is more stable than nuclear DNA — the material inherited from the father’s side — especially when remains are badly damaged.

Slight clarification here. Nuclear DNA is inherited from the father and mother. 22 matching pairs of chromosomes are inherited by all offspring, half of each set from the mother, the other half donated by the father. The 23rd set determines your gender. Your mom can only donate an “X” chromosome, since she’s female. So, it’s really up to dad to determine your gender. You get the “Y” chromosome from dear old dad … and you’re his son. If he donates his “X”, you’re his daughter. For Genealogists, examining Y-DNA helps trace paternal relationships, but it would only be useful in the case of Nicholas.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-05-04 07:52:28

Excellent point. I suspect the geneticists are examining the nuclear DNA of both the male and female offspring to confirm that half of it matches Nicholas’. The reporter just described it sloppily.

I shoulda caught it, though. How can I scoff at crappy science reporting if I don’t catch those kinds of errors? :no:

 
 
Comment by TomJoe
2008-05-04 08:06:08

It’s ok, you’re forgiven this time. ;)

Comment by livius drusus
2008-05-04 08:07:33

You, sir, never stop giving.

 
 
Comment by susan owens
2009-06-01 03:56:26

I have been delving into my family history. I have been given a family tree drawn by my Aunty Maria from Poland.
The tree states that my Grandmother was Russian and she was left there by her parents. She named her children Maria and one Roman. My aunty has indicated under her name (House of Romanov) could she be the missing child? I wonder. She is named on my parents marriage certificate but the story goes that she was left by her family (diplomats) in a polish village for 15 years, when someone came looking for her, the villagers hid her so she never returned to Russia.I would love to find out more can someone help me to talk to someone who might be of help. Cheers Susan

Comment by livius drusus
2009-07-01 10:47:32

Sorry, Susan, but there’s no way your aunt is one of the grand duchesses. They were all shot dead in Yekaterinburg. There is no missing child.

There were survivors from the wider Romanov family, of course, but it doesn’t look like you have much to go on other than a family legend.

 
 
Comment by mnbv
2010-06-27 17:00:43

olga (or sameone in her famyl) has got a noble girl baby.she sent her rasputins relatives in the wine basket (under the botles) They were take her bulgaria and they were give her a turkish family(bektashi religions((she did not make,join rutiels all her lifelong).the turkish family grove her.one day she maried and her husband and their 6 sun,2 douther migration turkey and she died in turkey. she reaplayed again and again “I am gallers princess”all her lifelong
I bless you

 
Comment by Anonymous
2010-10-01 16:30:39

:cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: so sad

 
Comment by Anonymous
2010-11-13 13:36:14

romanovs has got a noble girl baby.they sent the baby to rasputins relatives in the wine basket (under the botles) They were take her bulgaria and they were give her a turkish family(bektashi religions((she did not make,join rutiels all her lifelong).the turkish family grove her.one day she maried and her husband and their 6 suns,2 douthers went in turkey 1953 and she died in turkey. she said again and again “I am gallers princess”all her lifelong may be feodravna may be one of the OTMA members was mother ofthe baby who can belive but god knows
I bless you

 
Comment by alexandra
2011-06-21 09:45:53

how many kids were there and how did all of them die :eek: :eek: :eek: :boogie:

 
Comment by livius drusus
2011-06-21 14:24:47

If you read the entry you’ll see there were 5 children and they died by firing squad.

 
Comment by Kace
2011-06-30 02:04:19

Why don’t you try reading about it… it”s what everyone else does.

 
Comment by siobhan eyers
2011-09-03 10:02:21

anastasia and her family never deserved to die at all they were a nice family it upsets me to think how they died and why

 
Comment by sasha
2012-06-11 08:42:02

i thought it was Anastasia’s body that had just been found? :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:
the Romanov’s didn’t deserve this, why kill the innocent children who in their write minds could kill a child? it disgusts me.

 
Comment by Mike M
2012-07-13 20:53:35

Wow, the Romanov’s sure as heck were a good looking bunch. Maria looks like she was going to become a beautiful woman. And her little brother was a cute kid. So sad…..

Comment by livius drusus
2012-07-13 21:13:53

I always thought they were the most beautiful of the Victoria-descended royal families. They also looked like a genuinely close, loving family.

 
 
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