The Imperial Tea Party by Frances Welch – Book Review

Title: The Imperial Tea Party: Family, Politics and Betrayal: The Ill-Fated British and Russian Royal Alliance.

Author: Frances Welch

Genre: Russian History, World History, Politics

Rating: 4/5

As readers of this blog will be well aware of, Russian history is a passion of mine. So with July 2018 being the centenary the assassination of the last Tsar, there have been a few books published within the last 30 days focussing on Nicholas II and his reign.

Of course, I had to pick them all up. And one book I found particularly riveting was the new non-fiction story from Frances Welch; The Imperial Tea Party: Family, politics and betrayal – the ill-fated British and Russian royal alliance.

For Romanov-buffs, it’s pretty well known that the last Tsar had close ties to the British Royal Family. His wife, Alexandra, was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, and through his mother, Nicholas II was first cousins with George V. So naturally, these families would holiday together.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Welch’s book deals with the fact that despite being family, they were monarchs of vast nations and countries. Politics would naturally play into any time the extended families spent with each other, along with allegiances, marriages and talks about war.

The book goes through 3 separate occasions that the British-Russian royal families spent together, and from hunting in the wilds of Scotland to banquets onboard royal yachts on the Isle of Wight, you get to peek at the work/pleasure ratio that these individuals had.

This book shows hows between these three monumental meetings, history was irrevocably changed as discussions were made had between the first cousins. And you can’t help but wonder why, in 1909, when the Romanovs said goodbye to their British family, did this relationship shift.

It was less than 10 years later that the Romanovs were deposed from their thrones and begging their British family to allow them sanctuary to England. And when George V refused them, it’s strange to see how this family had limitations put on them, just thanks to their position in politics.

Welch has authored a fair few books on the Russian history, and I’ve always enjoyed her style of writing. She blends historical fact with some amusing anecdotes to lighten up the reading (I mean, I love history but sometimes reading dates and events can get dry) and it was interesting to see how the family dynamic plays against the political climate at the time.

Despite having nearly 100 books in my Romanov collection (a post is coming about that) – this is the first book that really deals with these three meetings in depth. Which makes for a refreshing read for me.

All in all, I’d thoroughly recommend this to any fans of Russian and British royal history. It makes you see the human sides of the Tsar’s, King’s and Queen’s of the time.

You can buy this book here!


Portrait of Nicholas II with his wife Alexandra and their first child Olga. Alongside Queen Victoria and the future King of England, Edward VII. Image source: The Times Newspaper Online

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