Painting of Olga with a backdrop of Prince Max’s Hohenschwangau Castle.

The Most Awkward Royal Blind Date Ever

Jenni Wiltz
7 min readOct 20, 2020


It helps when everyone involved actually knows it’s a date.

In 1838, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna Romanov found herself on a blind date with a boy she later described as “the nightmare of my life.” At the time, she was just sixteen years old, the middle daughter of Tsar Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Although she was smart and pretty, Olga felt invisible next to her seductive older sister and angelic younger sister.

But she wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

In fact, she had no idea just how visible she was to a few members of her extended family.

Painting of Olga in her late teens, wearing a blue silk dress. Her brown hair is curled in bunches of ringlets at her ears.
Olga painted by Christina Robertson in 1841. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

A Dance with Destiny

The disastrous set-up happened in Prussia, during a visit to her mother’s father, King Friedrich Wilhelm III.

One day, there was a lunch dance for younger members of the family, where Olga danced with Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria. One of Olga’s Prussian aunts, Elise, became fixated on the idea that Max should marry one of Alexandra’s daughters.

Max did his part by developing an instant obsession with Olga.

He took one look at her, realized she was the spitting image of a woman in a painting on the castle wall at home, and figured it was a sign. They were clearly meant to be together.

Prince Max painted as a young man. He has long sideburns and a small mustache. He’s wearing a blue cape over a green uniform.
Max painted in the style of Joseph Karl Stieler, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

As they danced the cotillion, Max told Olga about his castle of Hohenschwangau, his favorite poets, and what he expected from his future wife. Olga was confused — why would someone she just met start talking about what he wanted from a wife?

She didn’t understand that Max was trying to fill her in on everything she’d need to know as the future Queen of Bavaria.

Bored out of her skull, Olga looked around for someone to rescue her, but none of the other boys wanted to cut in. Everyone…



Jenni Wiltz

I write about fascinating royal women, their jewels, and quirky aspects of royal history no one else talks about. Find me at