Alexandra Fyodorovna, the daughter of Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, was born in Germany on 6th June, 1872.
Alexandra and Nicholas II disliked St. Petersburg. Considering it too modern, they moved the family residence in 1895 from Anichkov Palace to Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, where they lived in seclusion.
In 1905 Alexandra met Gregory Rasputin, a monk who claimed he had healing powers. Alexis suffered from hemophilia (a disease whereby the blood does not clot if a wound occurs). When Alexis was taken seriously ill in 1908, Rasputin was called to the royal palace. He managed to stop the bleeding and from then on he became a member of the royal entourage.
Alexandra was a strong believer in the autocratic power of Tsardom and urged him to resist demands for political reform. This resulted in her becoming an unpopular person in Russia and this intensified during the First World War.
In September, 1915, Nicholas II assumed supreme command of the Russian Army fighting on the Eastern Front. As he spent most of his time at GHQ, Alexandra now took responsibility for domestic policy. Gregory Rasputin served as her adviser and over the next few months she dismissed ministers and their deputies in rapid succession.
Rumours began to circulate that Alexandra and Gregory Rasputin were leaders of a pro-German court group and were seeking a separate peace with the Central Powers in order to help the survival of the autocracy in Russia. Ariadna Tyrkova commented: "Throughout Russia, both at the front and at home, rumour grew ever louder concerning the pernicious influence exercised by the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, at whose side rose the sinister figure of Gregory Rasputin. This charlatan and hypnotist had wormed himself into the Tsar’s palace and gradually acquired a limitless power over the hysterical Empress, and through her over the Sovereign. Rasputin’s proximity to the Tsar’s family proved fatal to the dynasty, for no political criticism can harm the prestige of Tsars so effectually as the personal weakness, vice, or debasement of the members of a royal house. Rumours were current, up to now unrepudiated, but likewise unconfirmed, that the Germans were influencing Alexandra Feodorovna through the medium of Rasputin and Stürmer. Haughty and unapproachable, she lacked popularity, and was all the more readily suspected of almost anything, even of pro-Germanism, since the crowd is always ready to believe anything that tends to augment their suspicions."
Gregory Rasputin was also suspected of financial corruption and right-wing politicians believed that he was undermining the popularity of the regime. Felix Yusupov, the husband of the Tsar's niece, and Vladimir Purishkevich, a member of the Duma, formed a conspiracy to murder Rasputin. On 29th December, 1916, Rasputin was invited to Yusupov's home where he was given poisoned wine and cakes. When this did not kill him he was shot by Yusupov and Purishkevich and then dropped through a hole in the frozen canal outside the house.
As supreme command of the Russian Army the Tsar was linked him to the country's military failures and during 1917 there was a strong decline in support for Nicholas II in Russia. On 13th July, 1917, the Russian Army High Command recommended that Nicholas abdicated. Two days later the Tsar renounced the throne.
The Tsar and his immediate family were arrested and negotiations began to find a place of overseas exile. P. N. Milyukov persuaded David Lloyd George, to offer the family political asylum in Britain. However, King George V, who feared that the presence of Nicholas would endanger his own throne, forced Lloyd George to withdraw the offer.
Nicholas and his family were moved to the remote Siberian city of Ekaterinburg where he was held captive by a group of Bolsheviks. Alexandra Fyodorovna, her husband and children, were executed on 16th July 1918.