100th anniversary of the execution of the Romanovs

Just after midnight on July 17th 1918 the members of the Romanov family were executed in Yekaterinburg by Bolshevik troops led by Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky.  

Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky

The order for the executions was issued by the Soviet Central Executive Committee including Lenin.  The decision to execute rather than send the former royals to exile was taken because of the possibility that the Czar or any of his descendents could act as catalysts for counter-revolution for many years ahead.  It was a practical and pragmatic decision; it removed a potential obstruction to the development of communist Russia.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

The Romanovs had been captured during the Bolshevik revolution and imprisoned since.  The nine month delay before their executions was never explained satisfactorily, partly because the Bolsheviks tended to destroy evidence of communication and issue routine denials of instructions.  Hindsight suggests that the delay complicated the aftermath of the executions and, coupled with a poor choice of location, caused the executions to be conducted messily.  Ideally, a bold cold decision should have been made as soon as the Bolsheviks took control of power.  Such a swift decision would have reduced inspection from enemies and, crucially, would have demonstrated clear intent.

For a century, the execution of the Romanov family has been used as a tool in different ways to promote a variety of political perspectives including royalist, woolly liberal and communist, and the hundredth anniversary will be a competition between opposed viewpoints, each trying to direct the narrative.  Communists and socialists must utter no apologetic or regretful comments about the executions.  A tactical decision was made due to reasonable concerns.  The only error was the delay.

Royal cousins
In Britain, there is a curious additional facet to the anniversary: The Romanovs were directly related to the current British royals.  As the truncated family tree below shows, Queen Elizabeth’s grandfather was the cousin of the Czarina, Alexandra.  
(The names in red were executed.)


100th anniversary of the execution of the Romanovs

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