Forensic Anthropology, Romanov Family and Fake Princess Anastasia

“Nikolai Alexandrovich, in view of the fact that your relatives are continuing their attack on Soviet Russia, the Ural Executive Committee has decided to execute you.”

-Yakov Yurovsky, man who killed members of Romanov family

Post Russian revolution, a secret police organisation called Cheka was created, whose job was to eliminate all the enemies of Bolshevik revolution. Yakov Yurovsky was local head of Cheka.


City of Yekaterinburg, in Urals had place called Ipatiev House, in which some enemies of Bolshevik revolution were kept. Prisoners consisted for Nikolai Alexandrovich, his wife Alexandra, their four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, their son Alexei, their physician Dr. Yevgeny Botkin and three servants.

On 17th of July 1917, Yurovsky called all prisoners and told them to sit for a photograph. Instead of photograph he read out death sentence and within seconds he and his firing squad started firing  bullets at them. Some members died but their young daughters and one servant survived. Bullets could not penetrate their bodies. Firing squad decided to stab them and smashed their skulls.

Later Yurovsky found that dress of daughters had diamonds stitched in it, these diamonds were protecting them from bullets, while servant had pillow full of diamond jewellery which protected her from bullets.

Sulphuric acid was poured on bodies and then burned and buried in some unknown place. Communists who ruled Russia post revolution did not want world to know about this murder. But it did not remain secret for long.

Nikolai Alexandrovich was not an ordinary person. He was son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia who belonged to Romanov dynasty. He was related to several royal families of Europe. After his father’s death he became Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. Nicholas was married to German princess Alexandra, who was granddaughter of British monarch Queen Victoria.


They had five children, four daughters and one son.  Nicholas was incompetent monarch; he lost war with Japan and later suffered huge losses during First World War. He was overthrown by revolutionaries and kept prisoner and later killed.

Later when communist regime was overthrown in Russia, American forensic anthropologist William Maples and human geneticist Mary Claire King were allowed to examine remains that were dug out from a pit beneath a road.  It was believed that remains were of royal family. In 1997 after studying bones and doing DNA analysis it was confirmed that bodies were of King, his wife, 3 daughters and four servants.  For DNA analysis the samples were taken from members of British royal family and from body of King’s brother. But bodies of one daughter and son were missing. There was dispute between investigators over which daughter was missing- Maria or Anastasia.


Long before DNA analysis there were rumours that some members of Romanov family has escaped execution and were hiding somewhere in Europe. There were claims by some ladies that they were Anastasia. Strongest claim was by lady called Anna Anderson; lot of people supported her claim. Anna died in 1984 in US.


Once forensic evidence proved bodies were of royal family, it become possible to analyse claims of Anna Anderson. When Anna had undergone a surgery a part of her intestine was preserved in hospital. It was used for DNA analysis; it did not match with DNA sample of royal family.  Her DNA matched with members of Polish family called Schanzkowska. It was found that Anna Anderson was Franziska Schanzkowska a worker in Polish factory.

In 2007 two burned skeletons were found, DNA analysis proved that they belonged to son and daughter of Queen Alexandra.

With this remains of all members of royal family were traced and it was proved no one survived the assassination.





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