EMPEROR NICHOLAS I
Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (1819-1876)
Thence by descent
Property of a European Royal Family
Much more likely is that the Grand Duke gave it to his future wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia. Although they were not married until 1 July 1817, when he was 21 years old and she nearly 19, arrangements for the marriage commenced in 1814, the intention being to fortify the alliance between Russia and Prussia. The couple first met when Nicholas and his brother Michael visited Berlin in February 1814. The following year he visited again, and by then the young couple were in love, with the Princess writing that ‘in our hearts we have a world of our own’. The engagement was made official in October 1816. The jewel may have been given by him personally or sent to Berlin during these years. Much later, Emperor Nicholas I maintained a great affection for both his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their earliest years as a couple. When much of the Winter Palace was destroyed by fire in 1837, he told an aide ‘Let everything else burn up, only just save for me the small case of letters in my study which my wife wrote to me when she was my betrothed’ (B. Lincoln, The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias, New York, 1981, p. 417).
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