Portrait of Alexandra Iosifovna (1830-1911), Grand Duchess of Russia (1848), wife of Grand Duke Nicholas Constantinovich
Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna (Russian: Великая княгиня Алекса́ндра Ио́сифовна, урождённая Александра Саксен-Альтенбургская; 8 July 1830 – 6 July 1911), born Princess Alexandra Friederike Henriette of Saxe-Altenburg, was the fifth daughter of Joseph, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and Amelie Theresa Luise, Duchess of Württemberg. She is an ancestor of the British, Greek, Romanian, Yugoslavian and Spanish Royal Families through her elder daughter Olga. In the summer of 1846, she met Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich of Russia when he visited Altenburg. He was the second son of Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, née Princess Charlotte of Prussia. Konstantin was intellectual and liberal, whereas Alexandra was conservative and rather high spirited. Although their temperaments differed, they both shared an interest in music, and enjoyed playing duets at the piano. Konstantin was captivated by Alexandra's youthful beauty: she being tall, slender and attractive. Alexandra arrived in Russia on 12 October 1847, and was greeted by much fanfare and popular celebration, with jubilant crowds lining the streets and balconies. In February 1848, Alexandra converted to Russian Orthodoxy, taking the name of Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna, which reflected her father's name Joseph (unlike many princesses she took a patronymic, choosing to reflect her parentage rather than the usual religious or dynastic associations which was also possible because Iosif was a common name in Russia). Alexandra and Konstantin were married in The Winter Palace in St Petersburg, on 11 September 1848. Konstantin received the Marble Palace in St Petersburg as a wedding gift from his parents. Strelna on the Gulf of Finland, which Konstantin inherited when aged four, was the wedded couple's country retreat. The lively Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna took a particular interest in the grounds at Strelna, establishing a free school of gardening, where she taught classes herself. A year after their marriage Konstantin inherited the palace of Pavlovsk, situated 19 miles to the south of St Petersburg, from his uncle Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich. The public was admitted to the fine park in its grounds. The Grand-Ducal family supported an impressive concert hall situated at Pavlovsk station, which proved popular with the middle classes, and attracted names such as Johann Strauss II, Franz Liszt, and Hector Berlioz.
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