Answer: The Wanamakers
The connection between the Wanamakers and Romanovs begins with John Wanamaker’s daughter, Mary Brown “Minnie” Wanamaker, and her husband, Major Barclay Warburton (1866-1954), who married in 1895. Warburton was the publisher of the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, and he developed a successful military career, having ridden with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War and served as an aide de camp to General Pershing during World War I.
Undated photograph of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich at Biarritz. European royalty began visiting Biarritz, a seaside town in southwestern France, in the 19century.
During the 1910s, a member of the Romanov family, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, Czar Nicholas II’s brother-in-law and second cousin, served as head of Russian Naval Intelligence. As such, he frequently traveled in order to gather information and make acquaintances. While the exact date of their first meeting is unknown, at some point during one of Mikhailovich’s trips to the United States, he got to know Warburton, who happened to also be involved in U. S. military intelligence. Warburton became one of Mikhailovich’s regular traveling companions, and as such, their families occasionally met. Additionally, the Romanovs and Wanamaker owned property in Biarritz, France.
Images such as the ones shown here were found by one of our archivists in a scrapbook in the John Wanamaker collection (Collection 2188). Previous to this, they were unknown. It is unusual to find such informal photographs of a royal family, let alone the Romanovs, whose reign ended with the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in 1917. Nicholas and his family were executed in 1918.