Was King George V Responsible for the Murder of the Romanovs?

Was George V indirectly to blame for the murder of his Romanov cousins?

Did he fear his own English crown would be jeopardized if he gave asylum to the Russian tsar and his family?

Tsar Nicholas II and George V
Tsar Nicholas II (L) and George V (R)


There is evidence that the English royals were worried. They had good reason to be. The costs of the Great War were already much greater than anyone had imagined. Scarcely a single family had been spared, and the end still was not in sight. In a show of loyalty to the Allies, the family renounced their German titles. Their surname was changed from the Germanic-sounding Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.

And now the dilemma came. The horizon upon which Russia lay was darkening, and the signs were ominous for George V’s lookalike cousin, Nicholas and his family.

George V and Nicholas II
George V and Nicholas II, with their families

The King of England and the Tsar of Russia were first cousins. They were the same age, they had grown up together. And now as the revolution raged in Russia, the Bolsheviks circled Nicholas and his family like buzzards, waiting.

Tsar and King
Tsar and King


It seemed an easy choice. But George had no foresight into how the war would end. The German victories in the early days of the war were shocking and many believed England would be defeated eventually. And, with revolution brewing on the Continent and increasingly in his own kingdom, the English King hesitated.

The Cousins (L to R): Tsar Nicholas, King George V, and Kaiser Wilhelm


Casualties from the German war were appalling and it was hardly a secret that the Empress Alexandra was a German.  Her presence in England would likely call additional attention to another problematic cousin of the King’s: Kaiser Wilhelm. Rumors of improper influence wielded by the mad monk Rasputin may have also been a factor. Would it aggravate matters to give the Romanovs asylum in his own kingdom?

Did George decide not to offer his cousin asylum, or did he just continue to hesitate? However it happened, no offer was made and the window of opportunity closed. The Romanovs were soon beyond George’s help.

Tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra and their children


Read about the end of the Romanovs.


Leave a Comment

  1. The British Foreign Office HAD offered sanctuary for the Romanoffs to the provisional Russian government but on the advice of George V’s secretary, George pressured the British government not to act on the offer.
    He feared republican backlash at home and ignored the real danger facing his cousins. Although the British hid the details until after George’s death. George suffered pangs of regret and responsibility for the rest of his life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so interesting. It’s easy for us to look backward and say he should’ve offered them asylum. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the King, but he may have thought the idea they would actually be murdered was outside the realm of possibility.


  2. george v was completely responsible for the Romanov deaths. his decision was contrary to that of his own government and was clearly and utterly made from self-interest. To say he didn’t think they would be murdered is absurd – his government saw the risk and must have told him. If he felt guilty after the event for the murder of those poor children I can only say so he should have!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder—I imagine he must have felt tortured with guilt. King George V lived until 1936, but the Romanovs’ bodies weren’t identified until 1991, so he never knew for sure what happened to them and that may have twisted the knife.


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