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Remains of Mother of Last Czar Arrive in Russia for Burial


The remains of Maria Fyodorovna, the mother of Russia's last tsar, Nicholas the Second, have arrived in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg, from Denmark. Two days of ceremony will culminate in her interment next to the rest of her family in the Peter and Paul Fortress.

The coffin containing the remains of Empress Maria Fyodorovna arrived in the Baltic sea port of Kronstadt on a Danish naval vessel 87 years after she fled Russia in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution.

The flag-draped coffin was then taken to the tsars' summer residence of Peterhof, where it will lie in state in the empress's favorite church.

Russian and Danish dignitaries, as well as descendants of the imperial Romanov family, accompanied the casket of a woman who, historians say, was much beloved by the Russian public.

Born in Denmark in 1847, Maria Fyodorvna spent most of her life in Russia after she married Tsar Alexander III. She was the mother of their son Nicholas II, who ruled Russia from 1895 until he was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in 1917.

Nicholas was killed along with his wife, children and servants in 1918. His mother escaped that fate after she was rescued from the Crimean peninsula by a British cruiser.

One of her descendants, Prince Dmitry Romanov, says she lived unhappily in Denmark until her death in 1928, and that she always wanted to be buried next to her husband.

Mr. Romanov says her return to Russia is the most important moment in his life; it was the most important thing she wanted and he is thankful she has now come back.

Romanov relatives had long worked to convince Danish and Russian authorities that the empress remains should be brought back to Russia, the country where she lived for 52 years. Many of them thanked both Danish Queen Margrethe and Russian President Vladimir Putin for making this possible.

The return began with an emotional church service Saturday in Denmark. Two more days of ceremonies at places associated with her life will culminate in her interment Thursday in the church at the Peter and Paul Fortress, where every tsar since Peter the Great is buried.

The remains of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their family were buried there in 1998, 80 years to the day after they were shot and killed in a city in the Ural Mountain region of Russia.

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