By January of 1897 the young Empress felt movement in her belly again. The Imperial Household prepared itself for another addition to the happy little family. This pregnancy was giving Alix some trouble, she was kept to bed for seven weeks and used a wheelchair for mobility. Near the end of May the Palace was bustling with excitement as Alix prepared to give birth to her second child.

Tatiana NicolaievnaThe second bright happy day in our family: at 10:40 in the morning the Lord blessed us with a daughter - Tatiana. Poor Alix suffered all night without shutting her eyes for a moment, and at 8 o'clock went downstairs to Amama's bedroom. Thank God this time it all went quickly and safely, and I did not feel nervously exhausted. Towards one o'clock the little one was bathed and Yanyshev read some prayers. Mama arrived with Xenia; we lunched together. At 4 o'clock there was a Te Deum. Tatiana weighs 8¾ pounds and is 54 centimetres long. Our eldest is very funny with her.
Read and wrote telegrams.
~Nicky's Diary, Peterhof, 29 May~

There was a certain level of disappointment that Tatiana was not a boy, but the parents were still engulfed in their happy family life. The disappointment was more in the relatives and subjects.

Just before the officers' luncheon, I was informed by telephone from town that their Majesties had been blessed that morning with a daughter. The news soon spread, everyone was disappointed as they had been hoping for a son.
~KR's (Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich) Diary, 29 May~

Tatiana in 1901 

The birth of Tatiana Nic!

At about 11 o'clock Mama received a telegram from Nicky to say that labour had begun during the night! Mama immediately started getting ready to leave, when another telegram announced the birth of a daughter. Mama's emotion was intense. Thank God everything went safely, and both are well.

From the station we went straight to the farm. Nicky and Alix are both delighted and happy that it all went well! The dear little thing weighs 8¾ pounds, Alix looks very well.
~Xenia's Diary, Gatchina, 29 May~

 


2 June, 1897, Abas Tuman

My dear Nicky

I congratulate you and Alix with all my heart on the birth of your daughter. Of course I was overjoyed when I received your telegram announcing the event, but forgive me if I was a little disappointed to learn that it was a daughter, not a son. I was already preparing to go into retirement, but it was not to be.
~A letter from Nicky's brother Georgy~

At about 5 o'clock Sandroshka (Sandro) and I went to the Alexander Palace. Nicky wasn't back from his walk, so I went in to Alix, who was feeding the baby. She looks wonderful. The little one is such a darling, and looks just like her mother! Her mouth is tiny and very beautiful.
~Xenia's Diary, 3 June~

From the very start of their relationship, Olga and Tatiana were inseparable sisters. They played together, went for walks together, and posed for pictures together. Both were beautiful, bright children, tenderly devoted to one another.

When they were young Tatiana's sister fell ill with typhoid fever. The family was supposed to be moving along to Peterhof as was scheduled. Olga had not been well for a few days and the weather was unusually hot for that time of year. Everyone felt that the cool air of the seaside would benefit her, so they left for Peterhof. When they arrived Olya was very ill and had to be put right to bed. There she laid for the next five weeks. Her Governess, Miss Eager, nursed her day and night, and at one time she was so ill it was feared she would not recover.

Olga longed to see Tatiana, as Tanya longed to see her Olishka. Both girls were very pleased when the doctor told them Tatiana might spend five minutes with Olga. Miss Eager fetched Tatia from the nursery at once to see her sister. Tatia stood by the sick bed and spoke softly to the poor one laying in it. Soon the five minutes were up, and Miss Eager had to lead her small charge back to the nursery. With the door closed behind them Tatiana looked up at her Governess.

You told me you were bringing me to see Olga and I have not seen her.

 
The Governess explained that was indeed Olga, and Tatiana broke down and started to weep bitterly.

That little pale thin child is my dear sister Olga! Oh no, no! I cannot believe it!

Tatiana couldn't believe how bad her sister looked, how much she changed. Miss Eager had the difficult task of convincing Tatiana that her sister would soon be normal again.

The Grand Duchesses were brought up to live their lives as normal as possible. They met their French Tutor together in the late fall of 1905. Olga was almost 10, and Tatiana had turned 8 that summer. The Swiss Pierre Gilliard waited to meet his future pupils in the Farm Palace at Peterhof.

Tatiana, 1904I was taken up to a small room, soberly furnished in the English style, on the second storey. The door opened and the Tsarina came in, holding her daughters Olga and Tatiana by the hand. After a few pleasant remarks she sat down at the table and invited me to take a place opposite her. The children sat at each end.
~Pierre Gilliard's Memoirs, 1905~

The meeting went nothing like Gilliard (whose pupils called him Zhillie or Zhilik) expected. He was supposed to carry on as if this were their first French lesson. Alix followed every word he spoke, and Zhillie soon knew it was not a lesson so much as it was his own audition. He was surprised that Olya and Tanya were not very advanced in their studies yet. The exercises he had chosen for them were far too difficult. Relying on impulse and spontaneity Zhillie stumbled through the first lesson. Finally the clock struck the top of the hour and the first lesson was over. Zhilik was to get used to Alix's presence. She oversaw her daughters' education personally, conferring with their tutors about the best lesson plan, and methods of teaching. She might have seemed overprotective of her girls, but her instincts served her well. The tutors were impressed with her good sense. After a few months of faithfully overseeing her daughters' lessons Alix's presence was replaced by one of her ladies-in-waiting, Princess Obolensky.

 

Tanya soon gained an independent manner that set her ahead of her sister in public. She was more confident of herself and how she looked to others. Tatiana didn't argue, though she was sure of her own opinions and expressed herself fluidly. Olga gladly stepped into the shadows of her little sister.

Tatiana was rather reserved, essentially well balanced, and had a will of her own, though she was less frank and spontaneous than her elder sister. She was not so gifted, either, but this inferiority was compensated by more perseverance and balance. She was pretty, though she had not quite Olga Nicolaievna's charm. If the Tsarina made any difference between her children, Tatiana Nicolaievna was her favourite. It was not that her sisters loved their mother any less, but Tatiana knew how to surround her with unwearing attentions and she never gave way to her own capricious impulses. Through her good looks and her art of self-assertion she put her sister Olga in the shade in public, as the latter, thoughtless about herself, seemed to take a back seat. Yet the two sisters were passionately devoted to each other. There was only eighteen months between them, and that in itself was a bond of union.
~Gilliard's Memoirs~

 
So different in looks and personality, Olga and Tatiana were perfect compliments of each other. They each basked in their own exotic beauty. Olga was the star in the classroom and easily grasped mathematical and scientific concepts. Tatiana would counter balance with her love of household responsibilities and her practicality. Olga was stubborn and yelled for what she wanted. Tatiana found arguing a waste of her time, and knew how to be much more persuasive with an old fashioned charm. Both girls loved reading, and while Olga was attached to her poetry and literature books, Tatiana loved her fashion magazines.

Tanya had a great interest in stories and acting. She once told Olga a story, the end of which was as follows:

So my little girl and my niece went into the wood and a big wolf ate my little girl, so she went to heaven.

  The elder sister was horrified. "Oh no!" Olga cried, and insisted that version was not correct. The eldest explained:

God does not allow wolves to go to Heaven.
She is walking about the wood inside the wolf.

Tatiana, of course, accepted this reasoning calmly.

She was reserved, restrained and independent, with good powers of concentration. She liked needlework, house-keeping, everyday domestic affairs. Thanks to this straight character, she was regarded as the eldest daughter rather than Olga. She was the most like her mother of all the sisters and was her closest friend and advisor.
~Tutor Gibbes' Memoirs~

Alix taught her girls sewing and needlework herself, never liking to see their hands idle. Her best student was Tatiana, who had the great patience and skill for sewing. She made beautiful blouses, skirts, and dresses, as well as embroidered and crocheted.

Tatiana was highly religious, and had a special spiritual connection with her mother. She believed faithfully in Rasputin's prophetic gift and miracles, keeping two notebooks which she copied his letters and telegrams and recorded his maxims into. She took an interest in theology and from an early age pondered the Eternal Struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, also Man's Destiny on Earth, Life.

Her abstract thinking was very developed from an early age, and by her morals she always appeared older than she actually was. Yet her seriousness couldn't cover up her overall inexperience of life. In many ways Tatia remained young and naive. At 17 she could still be found pulling the pranks of children. In 1911 she found out her cousin Ioann Konstantinovich was engaged to Helene of Serbia. Ioann was highly spiritual, the girls thought he might enter holy orders for the rest of his life, and the thought of him having a wife was one that sent them into a fit of the giggles. Tatiana wrote to her Aunt Olga:

How funny if they might have children, can they be kissing him? What foul, fie!

 

Tatiana c1913Tatiana was almost a perfect reincarnation of her mother. Taller and slenderer than her sisters, she had the soft, refined features and the gentle, reserved manners of her English ancestry. Kindly and sympathetic of disposition, she displayed towards her younger sisters and her brother such a protecting spirit that they, in fun, nicknamed her "the governess." Of all the Grand Duchesses Tatiana was with the people the most popular, and I suspect in their hearts she was the most dearly loved of her parents. Certainly she was a different type from the others even in appearance, her hair being a rich brown and her eyes so darkly gray that in the evening they seemed quite black. Of all the girls Tatiana was most social in her tastes. She liked society and she longed pathetically for friends. But friends for these high born but unfortunate girls were very difficult to find. The Empress dreaded for her daughters the companionship of oversophisticated young women of the aristocracy, whose minds, even in the schoolroom, were fed with the foolish and often vicious gossip of a decadent society. The Empress even discouraged association with cousins and near relatives, many of whom were unwholesomely precocious in their outlook on life.
~Anya Vyrubova's Memoirs~