The Crown: what happened to Princess Anastasia Romanov?

Emmy Griffiths

The crown often deals with moments in the story that surprise us – and season five was no different as it showed us – in a flashback – the death of the Russian royal family, the Romanovs, at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1917 – and how King George V might have helped save her life.

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The show links the incident to Prince Philip. He provides DNA to identify the Romanov bodies as relatives of Tsarina Alexandra – his fascination with the project deepens his relationship with Penelope Knatchbull. At one point we even see him writing the name “Princess Anastasia” in pencil. So what happened to the Tsar’s 17-year-old daughter? Find out more…

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In the show’s flashback, the Romanov family – Nicholas, Alexandra and their five children – were ushered into the basement under the pretense of taking a picture. However, she – and four members of her household – were brutally executed with rifles and bayonets and buried in a mass grave. The grave site was officially excavated in 1991 and the bodies were given a state burial – as shown in the series.

The family gravesite was excavated in 1991

What happened to Princess Anastasia?

Rumors that Anastasia had managed to escape her family’s execution were rampant in the 20th century after what was left of the Romanov family concluded that Nicholas, Alexandra and three of their daughters – Olga, Tatiana, and either Anastasia or Maria were buried together, but the bodies of a daughter and her son Alexei were not included.

The remains of Anastasia (or Maria) and Alexei were found in 2007

While several women proclaimed themselves lost princesses after the revolution – with Anna Anderson convincing thousands she was the Grand Duchess – this has now been disproved by DNA testing.

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In 2007, along with the remains of sulfuric acid, nails and bullets, archaeologists discovered two burned skeletons matching the ages of Alexei and Anastasia. DNA testing conducted by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory and the Medical University of Innsbruck confirmed that the remains belonged to the Romanovs and that the entire family was killed on the same day. However, there is some dispute as to which remains belong to Maria or Anastasia, as they were very similar ages at 17 and 19.

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