‘The Crown’: Did British royals abandon Russia’s Romanovs in 1917?



Note: This article contains spoilers about “The Crown.”

In the new season of “The Crown,” the sixth episode opens with a different set of British royals than the ones the Netflix show has followed for five seasons.

It’s 1917, and King George V is at the breakfast table with his wife, Queen Mary, and eldest son, the future King Edward VIII. A letter arrives from the prime minister, informing the king that the government plans to send a ship to rescue Russia’s Czar Nicholas II and his family, but since the czar is the king’s cousin, they don’t want to do so without his permission.

The king, with a parrot on his shoulder, seems more interested in collecting stamps than dealing with affairs of state, and he defers to the queen. The scene ends before we learn her decision.

Next we’re transported to Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where the czar, his wife, four daughters and son are being held. Tricked into thinking they are about to be rescued — by “cousin George,” they presume — the family is led to a cellar where they are gruesomely murdered by Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Fast-forward to 1991: Queen Elizabeth II, played by Imelda Staunton, watches news coverage as the communist Soviet Union collapses and Boris Yeltsin, promising democracy, takes control. Soon the queen learns that years earlier, when Yeltsin was a lower government official, he ordered the destruction of Ipatiev House.

The remainder of the episode deals…

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