She is first of all my mother—our mother. Queen Victoria of England is her grandmother, and she was brought up there. You'd think she was comfortable in splendid palaces and at grand state occasions, but she's really very shy. She would much rather stay at home and goes to events only when she absolutely must.
I think she's very beautiful, but she almost never smiles. I think that's partly because of all the worry she has about Alexei. Here she is in court dress:
In official pictures she always looks as if she is being tortured a little, I think. I try to catch her at lighter moments with my Kodak camera, but it's very difficult. Here's another formal one, with Alexei when he was two. Her face looks softer, but she's still sad.
She loves her mauve boudoir at the Alexander Palace, and we often spend time with her there. You can see why in this picture, that shows me and Mama in front of the tall windows: