Although it is sad, it isn’t really surprising that at the height of the First World War with so much suffering and slaughter, people sought someone to blame for the horrors they endured. A ‘foreign’ Queen proved an easy target, particularly when that Queen happened to be born on enemy’ soil. Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary was accused of being an ‘Italian Queen’; Queen Sophie of the Hellenes was accused to passing information to her brother, the Kaiser, and of course Empress Alexandra of Russia was accused of being a German spy. All this nonsense was horrific for the victims of these slanders, but I suppose it is almost understandable when people seek someone to blame.
In researching my Shattered Crowns trilogy (the second book of which will be available this summer) I have come across other information which is far more disconcerting. These damaging rumours, it appears, were not simply the product of the anger and despair of ordinary people, but were actively encouraged and stirred up by far murkier figures who had a great deal to gain from the overthrow of monarchies – particularly the monarchies of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. I recently came across an article from 1918, which reported a speech given by a respected, religious leader (obviously giving him some moral authority) who stated quite openly that the Tsarina Alexandra was responsible for the death of Lord Kitchener!
Kitchener was, at the time of his death, en route to Russia where, at the Tsar’s invitation, he was to assist in the reorganisation of the Russian Army. It might be remembered that during the arms crisis of 1916, Kitchener was something of a lone voice in the British War office, urging his government to provide Russia with the arms that had been promised. He alone seemed to understand the importance of adhering to that promise and he personally arranged a deal with an American arms manufacturer to send supplies to Russia....Interestingly, those supplies did not arrive until a month or so before the Russian Revolution (which was, in fact, funded by certain banking families based in America!) and Kitchener’s ship was sunk – ostensibly by a German mine (though the Germans insisted they were not active in that region) – before he reached Russia.
Anyone with even the tiniest knowledge of the Russian Imperial Family must be aware that Alexandra was utterly devoted to her husband, felt a great deal of antipathy towards Kaiser Wilhelm, and was totally committed to the Russian war effort. The article that claimed she was responsible for Kitchener’s death is one of the most ludicrous and outrageous pieces of propaganda I have ever read....Yet it didn’t appear in a Russian revolutionary paper but....in the New York Times! Of course, it is only reporting a speech but the headline is glaring and no attempt is made to refute the lies. How convenient was it that this article – which, incidentally is filled with praise for President Woodrow Wilson! –appeared at a time when plans were being made for the dismantling of the whole ‘old order’ of European monarchies! What better way to persuade the people of the evils of those old regimes (in Germany and Austria-Hungary as well as Russia) than to portray an innocent woman as so vile a traitor? And how cleverly this article was written to manipulate minds into believing that the old world order was entirely corrupt and only a ‘new world order’ could save the day....
And this, alas, is but the tip of an extremely murky iceberg which had more devastating effects on the world and on the lives of ordinary people than the one which sank Titanic!