European Royalty Drops on Queen Victoria in Middle of the Night. June 1, 1844

Before the advent of modern transportation, it was rare for a monarch to cross his country’s borders, even to other friendly nations. Before steamships and railways, it was impractical and hazardous for a king to leave the safety of his palace. Most royalties had their travels around the world, well before their ascension to the throne, to enrich their education, broaden their perspective, and cultivate basic manners and skills for their future job as sovereigns of their own countries.

Russian Tsar Nicholas I

Nicholas I, the Russian Tsar (1825 – 1855) was no different. He embarked on worldly trips before ascending to the throne, one of the dearests to his heart was his visit in 1816, when he was 20 years old, to Britain. Not only did he love the company of the British aristocracy and enjoy their social life, but he was also popular with the ladies.

However, it wasn’t his admiration of the British aristocracy and the British tradition that made him decide on another trip in 1844, when he was a veteran monarch, with almost twenty years of rule. Nothing short of a significant diplomatic endeavor could have justified his arduous, dangerous journey. Moving out of Russia was dangerous, even moving freely in the motherland was risky, considering the Tsar’s oppressive rule, and most importantly, his brutal suppression of the Polish revolt in 1831. Owing to its occupation of a large swath of Poland, Imperial Russia had the greatest share of Polish rebels, but they were under check by the Tsarist machinations. It was the Polish expats that the Tsar had to fear the most. Sprawled across all over Europe, the Polish revolutionaries vied for Russian noble blood. News of the Tsar traveling across Europe would entice more than a few rebels to assassinate the brutal monarch who was enslaving their people.

Nicholas I of Russia, however, felt that his diplomatic journey was justified; he was willing to take the risk.

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