January 1. Sunday.
It’s been a grey day, warm and quiet. At 10:30 the girls and I went to mass. After breakfast I took a walk along the park’s edge. Alexei got up and also spent some time in the fresh air. Around 3 o’clock Misha arrived, and we went to the Grand Palace to receive ministers, retinues, unit commanders, and diplomats. By 5:10, we were done. After tea I did some work and answered telegrams. In the evening I read out loud.
It is hard to believe that this diary entry was made by the ruler of a country at war that within two months would be convulsed by revolution, or that everyone mentioned – Nicholas himself, his daughters, his son Alexei, and his younger brother Misha (Grand Duke Michael) – would perish in a year and a half, caught up in a whirlwind beyond their control. Nicholas was, of course, already receiving reports of restlessness among the troops, of their reluctance to fight. He knew perfectly well that strikes, which had largely subsided when the war first started, were once again breaking out all across Russia. Furthermore, he was surely still grieving over the murder of his close confidant, Grigory Rasputin, just a few weeks earlier. But in his diary, written almost as if he were a schoolboy instructed to compose a simple record of each day’s events (without a lot of opinionating or soul searching), life appears calm and orderly. Even in February, by which time store windows were being smashed in Petrograd, he wrote:
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