This is very interesting from The life and tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna. Description of the four daughters of the tsar. By: Sophie Buxhoeveden
The Empress and her Family
After her departure, the Grand Duchesses had no one especially attached to them. Mlle. Schneider took the charge of the two youngest, Marie and Anastasia, while the elder ones went about with one or other of the Empress's ladies-in-waiting.
The Empress really brought up her daughters herself, and her work was well done. It is not possible to imagine more charming, pure and high-minded girls. She could exercise her authority when necessary, but not in such a way as to interfere with the perfect confidence that existed between mother and daughters. She understood the high spirits of youth, and never put a check on laughter or wild pranks. She liked, too, to be present at their lessons, and to discuss with their teachers the line their studies should follow.
The girls were all very good-looking. The eldest, the Grand Duchess Olga Nicolaevna, was fair and tall, with smiling blue eyes, a somewhat short nose, which she called CC my humble snub," and lovely teeth. She had a remarkably graceful figure and was a beautiful rider and dancer. She was the cleverest of the sisters, and was very musical, having, her teachers said, an " absolutely correct ear." She could play by ear anything she had heard, and could transpose' complicated pieces of music, play the most difficult accompaniments at sight, and her touch on the piano was delightful. She sang prettily in a mezzosoprano. She was lazy at practising, but when the spirit moved her she would play by the hour.
Olga Nicolaevna was very straightforward, sometimes too outspoken, but always sincere. She had great charm, and could be the merriest of the merry. When she was a schoolgirl, her unfortunate teachers had every possible practical joke played on them by her. When she grew up, she was always ready for any amusement. She was generous, and an appeal to her met with immediate response. "Oh, one must help poor so-and-so. I must do it somehow," she would say. Her more careful sister, Tatiana, would suggest practical measures, would note names and details, and come back to the subject later out of a sense of duty.Olga Nicolaevna was devoted to her father. The horror of the Revolution told on her more keenly than on any of the others. She changed completely, and all her bright spirits disappeared.
Tatiana Nicolaevna was to my mind prettier than her sisters. She was taller even than the Empress, but she was so slight and well-proportioned that her great height was not remarkable. She had fine, regular features, recalling pictures of ancestresses who had been famous beauties. She had dark hair, a rather pale complexion, and wide-apart, light-brown eyes, that gave her a poetic far-away look, not quite in keeping -with her character. This was a mixture of exactness, thoroughness and perseverance, with leanings towards poetic and abstract ideas. She was closest in sympathy to her mother, and was the definite favorite of both her parents. She was completely unselfish, always ready to give up her own plans to go for a walk with her father, to read to her mother, to do anything that was wanted. It was Tatiana Nicolaevna who took care of the little ones, and who -was a constant help to the Household, always willing to help them in arranging that their official duties should not clash with their private engagements. She had the Empress's practical mind and love of detail. She planned and arranged everything in the " Children's quarters " as it was called. She had a less strong character than Olga Nicolaevna, whose lead she would always follow, but she could make up her mind in an emergency quicker than her elder sister, and never lost her head.
When her brother was ill, Tatiana Nicolaevna could take her mother's place, following the doctor's directions and playing with the sick boy for hours. Out of a sense of duty, she undertook more thin her share of public appearances. She was shy, Eke all her sisters, but her natural friendliness made her want to say pleasant things to people. She became much better known than her cleverer elder sister, as she took more trouble about the people she met.Tatiana Nicolaevna loved dress. Any frock, no matter how old, looked well on her. She knew how to put on her clothes, was admired and liked admiration. She was sociable, and friends would have been welcome, but no young girls were ever asked to the Palace. The Empress thought that the four sisters should be able to entertain one another. They were close friends when they outgrew the squabbles of childhood. The two elder shared one bedroom, the two younger another, while their schoolrooms and dining-room were in common. The little Tsarevich had his own rooms, in which M. Gilliard ruled.
Marie Nicolaevna was like Olga Nicolaevna in colouring and features, but all on a more vivid scale. She had the same charming smile, the same shape of face, but her eyes, "Marie's saucers," as they were called by her cousins, were magnificent, and of a deep dark blue. Her hair had golden lights in it, and when it was cut after her illness in 1917, it curled naturally over her head. Marie Nicolaevna, alone of the sisters, had a decided talent for drawing, and sketched quite -well, always with her left hand. "Mashka," as her sisters called her, was ruled entirely by her youngest sister, Anastasia Nicolaevna, nicknamed by her mother "the imp."
Perhaps Anastasia Nicolaevna would have grown up the prettiest of the sisters. Her features were regular and finely cut. She had fair hair, fine eyes, with impish laughter in their depths, and dark eyebrows that nearly met. These combined to make the youngest Grand Duchess quite unlike any of her sisters. She had a type of her own and was more like her mother's than her father's family. She was rather short even at seventeen, and was, then decidedly fat, but it was the fatness of youth. She would have outgrown it, as had her sister Marie.
Anastasia Nicolaevna was the originator of all mischief, and was as witty and amusing as she was lazy at her lessons. She was quick and observant, with a keen sense of humour, and was the only one of the sisters who never knew the meaning of shyness. Even as a baby she had entertained grave old men, who were her neighbors at table, with her astonishing remarks.
Alexei Nicolaevitch was not impressed by his own importance, and his simple courteous manner was like his father's. He knew and felt that he was the Tsarevich, and from babyhood mechanically took his place in front of his elder sisters. But he took no pride in the position that he knew was his due, and, after the Revolution, gave it up quite quietly, without a word. His chief friend was the son of Dr. Derevenko, and as a small child he played with the sons of his sailor servant, whose name also, curiously enough, was Derevenko.
All the children adored their mother, but her constant care of him made a particular bond of love between mother and son. When the Emperor left for General Headquarters in 1915, Alexei Nicolaevitch felt he was, as he once said to me, " the man in the house," and it was delightful to see the grown-up way in which he would look after the Empress when they went to church or to some function together. He would help her to rise, or would unobtrusively push a chair towards her, as the Emperor might have done.
From the very first, the Empress looked after her children's education herself, She gave them their first spelling lessons, and taught them their prayers, going up each evening to pray with them - a custom which she kept up to the end with Alexei Nicolaevitch. As the children grew older, they had of course their own teachers. The Tsarevich had an excellent tutor in M. P. Gilliard, a Swiss, who was helped after 1915 by an English colleague, Mr. Sydney C. Gibbes.