Britain's Royal Family Links with Russia

Members of Britain's royal family have spoken out this week against the advancing invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

The aggression shown towards the Ukrainian people has been called "truly terrible" by Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth II has made a private donation to provide humanitarian aid to those affected.

But what are the family connections between the royals and Russia? Newsweek has the answers.

The British royals have a series of familial links with Russia stretching as far back as Queen Victoria, but which were damaged in 1918 by the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family.

Many members of Elizabeth II's family have visited Russia in recent decades, including Princess Anne, Prince Charles and the Queen herself in 1994.

Both Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are related to the ex-imperial royal family through their Danish royal descent.

Queen Alexandra and Empress of Russia
Queen Alexandra, Elizabeth II's great-grandmother (right) and her sister the Empress Marie Dagmar of Russia (left). Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Queen Alexandra, Elizabeth II's great-grandmother, was born a Danish princess and married Queen Victoria's eldest son, the future Edward VII.

Alexandra's sister became the wife of Czar Alexander III and their son Nicholas became the last Czar, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

Nicholas II of Russia was a close friend of Queen Alexandra's son, his British first-cousin George V (Elizabeth II's grandfather). The pair looked strikingly similar with people often mistaking one for the other.

At the height of the Russian revolution a plan was hatched that would have seen Nicholas II and his family flee to England to be given refuge by George V and Queen Mary.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
Both Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are related to the ex-imperial Russian royal family through their descent from the royal house of Denmark. Indigo/Getty Images

At the last minute this invitation had to be rescinded for fear that revolution would spread to Britain. The Czar and his family were murdered on July, 17 1918.

Many members of the extended Russian royal family were granted exile in Britain following the revolution, one of which was Czar Nicholas II's sister Xenia.

George V granted her the grace-and-favor property, Frogmore Cottage which would later become the home of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

George V and Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia (left), with his cousin, George V (right) Grandfather to Elizabeth II. Both were strikingly similar in their youth, so much so that people would confuse them for one another. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George would often visit his cousin when at Windsor and they remained close friends for the rest of his life.

Other imperial refugees made their homes in Paris, Berlin and Canada. Elizabeth II's uncle George, Duke of Kent, married the daughter of one such refugee, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark whose mother was the Grand Duchess Vladimir, famed for her jewelry collection.

Prince Philip's Russian relations were no more distant than Elizabeth II's. Philip's grandmother was the sister of the last Czarina, the tragic death of whom she never fully recovered from.

In May 1994 Prince Charles became the most senior member of the British royal family to visit Russia since the revolution.

On his tour he paid tribute at the tombs of the Czars in the St Peter and Paul Fortress. The remains of the last Romanov Czar would not be interred at the fortress until 1998 which Charles would visit on a subsequent trip in 2003.

Given the hostilities that Russia continues to inflict upon Ukraine it is unlikely any member of the royal family will make a visit to the country any time soon.

Elizabeth II's first and only state visit to Russia in late 1994 is set to be included in an upcoming season of Netflix's The Crown.

Prince Charles Russia 2003
Prince Charles pays tribute to the Romanov tombs at the St Peter and Paul Fortress on a visit to St Petersburg, July 2003. Ian Jones/AFP via Getty Images