When Prince Philip, a grandson and grandnephew of Romanov Grand Duchesses, was asked if he would care to visit the Soviet Union in 1967, he sneered, “I would like to go to Russia very much—although the bastards murdered half my family.” Anglo-Russian relations have rarely been easy, despite their royal connections, which are explored in “Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs,” an exhibition of art and artifacts owned by the Royal Collection Trust, now on display at The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

The eminent British geographer Sir Halford Mackinder summarized the Anglo-Russian antagonism succinctly at the turn of the twentieth century, calling Russia the quintessential “heartland” power—a frosty, isolated fortress whose remote geography impelled it to seek hegemony by lashing out to dominate...


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