Anna Vyrubova, the Empress's closest friend

Anna Taneyeva was the great-great-granddaughter of the great Russian commander Kutuzov. Her father, Alexander Sergeevich, for 20 years held an important state post of State Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of His Imperial Majesty's Chancellery, a position that was practically transferred to the Taneyev family by inheritance. In January 1904, young Anna Taneyeva was “granted by a cipher”, that is, she received a court appointment to the post of maid of honor of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The fraylin cipher with a monogram was a brooch in the form of a monogram of the empress or of two intertwined initials of the empress acting and widowed. The picturesque composition was crowned with a stylized imperial crown. Getting the maid of honor for many young aristocrats was the embodiment of their dream of court service. It should be noted that the tradition of handing the Freilin cipher to the ruling and widowed empresses with their own hands was strictly observed until the beginning of the 20th century - Alexandra Feodorovna refused this right, which deeply insulted the Russian aristocracy and finally undermined its reputation at court. By the way, the Empress Dowager Maria Feodorovna until the beginning of 1917 conscientiously carried out this duty, which her daughter-in-law so flippantly refused.

On April 30, 1907, the 22-year-old maid of honor of Empress Taneyev marries. As a spouse, the choice fell on the naval officer Alexander Vyrubova. A week before the wedding, the empress asks her friend, Montenegrin Princess Militsa, the wife of Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich (grandson of Nicholas I), to introduce her maid of honor to the then-gaining physician and visionary Gregory Rasputin. Together with her sister Anastasia, with whom the Montenegrin girlfriend was inseparable, Militsa wanted to use the “old man” as a tool to influence Nicholas II to fulfill her personal desires and help her native country. The first acquaintance with Rasputin makes a very strong impression on the girl, which later develops into real worship: “Thin, with a pale, emaciated face; his eyes, unusually penetrating, immediately struck me. "

The Empress called Vyrubova "big baby"

The wedding of the maid of honor of Taneyeva is played in Tsarskoye Selo, and the entire royal family comes to the wedding. The family life of the young couple is not immediately specified: perhaps because the rumor has it that on the first wedding night the groom got very drunk and the bride was so frightened that she tried to avoid intimacy by any means. According to Vyrubova's memoirs, her husband's experiences after the Tsushima disaster have left their mark on the unfortunate marriage. Soon (probably not without the help of Alexandra Feodorovna), her husband leaves for treatment in Switzerland, and a year later Vyrubova asks for a divorce from him. Thus, the 23-year-old maid of honor becomes the closest friend of the 36-year-old empress, her faithful adviser. Now it is she who will become the source of Alexandra Feodorovna’s acquaintance with all the city rumors and gossip: the empress was afraid to go out and preferred to lead a secluded life in Tsarskoye Selo, where Vyrubova alone would live.

With the beginning of World War I, Vyrubova, together with the imperial family, began working as a sister of mercy in an infirmary arranged in Tsarskoe Selo. The wounded in this hospital are operated by Vera Gedroits, the most famous woman doctor in Russia. Being in voluntary isolation, Alexandra Fedorovna receives almost all the news from the capital from her faithful friend, who often gives her not very good advice. The officers, the patients of the hospital, are accustomed to the Empress's constant visits, and therefore allegedly no longer show proper attitude towards her - Vyrubova advises visiting the hospital less often to teach the disrespectful subjects lesson.

At age 18, Vyrubova had typhus but was saved.

On January 2, 1915, Vyrubova was sent by train from Tsarskoye Selo to Petrograd, however, not having reached just 6 miles to the capital, the train had an accident. The Empress Councilor is found under the rubble with almost no chance of survival. In his memoirs Vyrubova carefully describes all the details of the terrible catastrophe that happened to her: for 4 hours she was alone without help. The arriving doctor says: "She is dying, you should not touch her." Then Vera Gedroits arrives and confirms the fatal diagnosis. However, after the identity and status of the victim becomes generally known, she is immediately taken to Tsarskoye Selo, where the empress and her daughters are already waiting on the platform. Despite all the doctors' assurances that nothing would help the unfortunate, an urgent arrival at the request of the Empress Rasputin prophetically announces that Vyrubova “will live, but will remain crippled.”

After the abdication, the imperial family lives under arrest in Tsarskoye Selo, Vyrubova stays with them. However, on March 21, they are visited by the Minister of Justice of the Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky, who arrests the empress's girlfriend on suspicion of an anti-government conspiracy, despite all persuasion and complaints. The soldiers of the guard are very surprised that the famous Vyrubova is not a depraved social diva at all, but a disabled person on crutches who looks much older than her 32 years.

The investigation denied rumors about her connection with Rasputin.

After spending several days in the preliminary detention cell, Vyrubova finds herself in the most terrible prison for political criminals - in the Trubetskoy bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress, where, in addition to the Empress's girlfriend, there are other enemies of the new government, whose names associated all the worst crimes of the previous regime: the leader of the right party " Union of the Russian People ”Alexander Dubrovin, former War Minister Vladimir Sukhomlinov, Prime Ministers Boris Stürmer and Ivan Goremykin, Interior Minister Alexander Protopopov. Tsarist officials are kept in appalling conditions. When Vyrubova is brought into the cell, the soldiers take a straw bag and a pillow from the bed, tear off the gold chain, on which the cross hangs, take the scapulars and decorations: “The cross and several scapes fell on my knees. I cried out in pain; then one of the soldiers hit me with his fist, and spitting in my face, they left, slamming the iron door behind them. ” From Vrubova’s memories it becomes clear how inhuman was the attitude towards prisoners: pleurisy begins from dampness and constant cold, the temperature rises, she turns out to be practically exhausted. On the floor in the middle of her cell there is a huge puddle, sometimes she deliriously falls there from the bed and wakes up through wet. The prison doctor, according to Vyrubova’s memories, mocks prisoners: “I literally starved. Twice a day they brought half-boots of some kind of Burda, like soup, in which soldiers often spat, put glass in. Often he smelled of rotten fish, so I muffled my nose, swallowing a little so as not to die of starvation; the rest poured out. ” However, after a few months, a thorough investigative check was finally carried out, and on July 24 Vyrubova was released due to the absence of corpus delicti.

The month Vyrubova lives quietly in Petrograd until she is declared extremely dangerous counterrevolutionary on August 25 and is sent to the Finnish fortress of Sveaborg. The convoy is sent to the destination on the yacht Polaris, which used to be the property of the royal family, - Vyrubova often visited her: “It was impossible to recognize in the spattered, crap and smoky cabin the wonderful dining room of Their Majesties. At the same tables sat a man of a hundred "rulers" - dirty, brutal sailors. " By the way, their hatred for each other was mutual - the majority of Vyrubova’s figure was associated with the most sinister crimes of the royal power. She suddenly comes to the aid of Leon Trotsky, who orders to immediately release the “prisoner of Kerensky” (not without the patronage of Vyrubova’s mother, Nadezhda Taneyeva). On October 3, Vyrubova was brought to the reception in Smolny, where she was met by Lev Kamenev and his wife Olga, Trotsky's sister. Here they even feed her dinner, after which they let her go.

Fearing re-arrest, Vyrubova hid with her acquaintances for another year, finding refuge in the “cellars and closets of the poor, who had once been saved from poverty”. At the end of 1920, a loyal friend of the former empress managed to illegally enter Finland, where she would live another 40 years, taking the veil under the name of Maria Taneyev in the Smolensk skete of the Valaam Monastery.