th Century. She swept her own floors, wore homemade clothes and so on. Because of her mother, her first language was English and also because of her mother she was exposed, at a very early age, to caring for others. During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 her mother took the little Princess with her to military hospitals to care for the wounded soldiers and she was impressed early on with the understanding that, as a royal and simply as a Christian, she had a duty to care for those around her.
As she grew older Princess Elizabeth became known as one of the most famous beauties of the royal world. In no time at all royal bachelors from all across Europe were practically standing in line to call on her. The future German Kaiser Wilhelm II was positively crushed with grief when she did not return his affections. She was a very religious, serious young lady, kind and not taken at all with splendor, grandiosity or big talk. The man she finally did fall for was Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, who was a good match, being rather shy, humble and a devotedly pious son of the Orthodox faith. The two had known each other for years as they would often accompany their mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna, on her visits to Germany to see her Hessian relatives, including Princess Elizabeth who was the Empress’ great-niece. In their youth, the Princess had not been greatly impressed by Grand Duke Sergei who seemed aloof to the charming girl, but when the Princess matured she certainly caught the attention of the young Romanov and the boy who had once seemed cold and distant became a handsome young man whose sincerity and deep faith impressed Elizabeth.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Grand Duke Sergei were very happy together, all the more after being fully united in the Orthodox faith. However, the couple were unable to ever have any children but they made up for the lack of children of their own by caring for those of others. They served as foster parents for their niece and nephew Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (who later married into the Swedish Royal Family) and Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich (who was later involved in the death of Rasputin). The couple also frequently hosted parties at their estate for local children. This was, likely, not only due to their lack of children of their own but also because they refused to associate with much of the fashionable high society because of their disapproval of the immoral way in which so many of these people behaved. Still, they were very popular with Tsar Alexander III and Tsarina Maria, the represented the Romanov dynasty at the Golden Jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and undertook other official travels for the imperial court.
The Grand Duchess was a tireless angel of mercy, taking in and caring for local orphans, visiting the most destitute districts of Moscow and giving aid to the least of society wherever there was need. In quick succession in the following years her growing order built a hospital, orphanage and pharmacy on the convent grounds. All who came in contact with her were touched by her charity and selfless compassion. During World War I the Grand Duchess and her sisters worked tirelessly nursing wounded Russian soldiers, earning the affection of all, but doing so for the glory of God. They carried on their work of mercy as revolution swept away the Russian Empire and as the Bolsheviks swept away the provisional government that replaced it. Finally, the end came in 1918 when the new Soviet dictatorship determined to wipe out every Romanov they could get their hands on. Lenin ordered her arrest and she was taken away along with other prisoners by the Soviet secret police. A short time later, on July 18, 1918 the group was thrown down a pit near a mine some 20 meters deep. A grenade was tossed down after them to ensure no one survived. However, guards reported hearing the Grand Duchess leading the others in singing an Orthodox hymn after which another grenade was tossed into the pit but the singing still continued. Finally brush was piled over the top of the pit and set on fire.