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On 11th April 1919, less than a year after the assassination of the Romavs, the British battleship HMS Marlborough left Yalta carrying 17 members of the Russian Imperial Family into perpetual exile. They included the Tsar's mother, the Dowager Empress Marie, and his sister, the Grand Duchess Xenia; Prince Felix Youssupov, the murderer of Rasputin; and Grand Duke Nicholas, former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armies. The Russian Court at Sea vividly recreates this unlikely voyage, with its bizarre assortment of warring characters and its priceless cargo of treasures, including rolled-up Rembrandts and Faberge eggs. It is a story, by turns exotic, comic and doomed, of an extraordinary group of people caught up in a moment in history when their lives were in every way at sea.
Frances Welch is author of The Romanov & Mr Gibbes (Short Books, 2003) and A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson (Short Books, 2007) She is married to the writer Craig Brown, and has two children. She lives in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.