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Sunday 21 December 2008

Grand Duchess Elizabeth's Childhood Christmas

From the letters of Princess Alice to Queen Victoria:

Christmas Day 1868:

"Louis [Ella's father] thanks you a thousand times for the charming presents for the children. They showed them to everyone, shouting, "This is from my dear English Grandmama;" and Ella, who is always sentimental, added, "She is so very good, my Grandmama." Irene could not be parted from the doll you gave her, nor Victoria from hers....We spent a very happy Christmas Eve, surrounded by our dear children and our kind relations."

December 23rd 1870 [in the midst of the Franco-Prussian War]

"This morning I have been at the Alice Hospital, which is prospering. I have been taking my gifts for Christmas to one hospital after another. Your two capes have delighted the poor sufferers, and the one wounded for the second time is very bad, alas! My wounded officer in the house is recovering, next to a miracle. For the two wounded in the house, the children, our household, and the children of our servants at the war, I arranged Christmas trees. We grown-up ones of the family have given up Christmas for ourselves. We have too much to do for others, and my parents-in-law, like me, feel the absence of the dear ones who are always here for Christmas."

Christmas Day 1872

"We gave all our servants presents - the whole household and stable - under the Christmas tree, which we made for the children; and when the tree is divided, the children of all our servants come and share it with ours. It keeps the household as a family and is so important. We have fifty people to give to!
...I am so glad Vicky gave such a flattering account of Baby [the future Empress Alexandra of Russia]. She is quite the personification of her nickname 'Sunny' - much like Ella but a smaller head and livelier, with Ernie's dimple and expression."

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