The fate of the Romanovs - Russia's last imperial family - is
one of the most enduring historical episodes of the twentieth century.
Shrouded in myth and mystery, fuelled by subterfuge,
sustained by romance and beauty, and set against the turbulent backdrop
of revolution and world war, the story bears a potency that renders it
But despite overwhelming scientific evidence that proves
the royal family's ignominious fate at the hands of a firing squad,
The Orthodox Church
Chief among them is the Russian Orthodox Church - the
institution most closely aligned with the legacy of Russia's imperials.
Its stance is so assured that the patriarch of the church has refused to
officiate or even attend the elaborate funeral of Russia's last czar and
family in St Petersburg on Friday.
Like the assassination of Kennedy or the suicide of Hitler,
the murky facts that mask the Romanovs' fall have spawned their own breed
of conspiracy and conjecture.
It's not altogether surprising. Nicholas II, Russia's last
imperial ruler, and his family were executed on the orders of the Bolsheviks
in July 1918. But fearing the consequences of international reaction, the
Kremlin instigated a cover-up that took more than seventy years to unravel.
Although Moscow belatedly admitted to the execution, its culture
of secrecy left key questions, such as the location of the bodies,
unanswered. Rumour and speculation stepped in to fill the void.