Have you ever wanted to spend a day as a princess? Roll around in the crown jewels and explore a maze of palace rooms that you have all to yourself? Critically acclaimed Pocket Star author Teri Wilson gives us an inside peek at what life may have been like as a royal in her wonderful modern day re-telling of Anastasia, ROYALLY ROMANOV, on sale today! Keep reading to find out facts you may not have known about everyone’s favorite almost-princess!

As you can probably tell by its title, ROYALLY ROMANOV, the newest book in my series, The Royals, was inspired by the story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of imperial Russia. Anastasia was executed, along with the rest of her family, during the Russian Revolution in 1918.

Rumors of her survival persisted, but were eventually debunked by DNA evidence. Even so, there have been two major movies based on the fairy tale story of her survival.  The first was in 1956, starring Ingrid Bergman. In 1997, the movie was remade as an animated classic, and it became an instant favorite. Raise your hand if you can still hum the songs from memory!

The animated Anastasia movie is so beloved that it has become the story most associated with the Grand Duchess. As delightful as it is (so, so delightful—that soundtrack! sigh!), it’s not 100 percent factually accurate.

To set the record straight, here are four things you might be surprised to learn about the real Anastasia:

1. Anastasia had connections to the British royal family.
Anastasia’s mother, the Tsarina Alexandra, was the granddaughter of England’s Queen Victoria. Her connection to the British royals lives on today, as well. Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Phillip, is a great nephew of the Tsarina (again, Anastasia’s mother). On two separate occasions, Prince Phillip’s DNA has been used to positively identify remains of the Romanovs, including Anastasia herself.

2. Like her animated character, the real Grand Duchess Anastasia had a pet dog.
The Romanovs were all big animal lovers. The family had many pets, including an elephant. Anastasia’s special pet was her very own pup named Jimmy. Jimmy is believed to have been killed along with the rest of Romanov family when they were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

3. For decades, rumors swirled that precious jewels saved Anastasia’s life.
Since the moment the Tsar’s family was executed, people speculated that Anastasia and her brother, Alexei, survived the Bolshevik firing squad. These rumors were based on the fact that the Romanovs had sewn family jewels into the lining of their clothes to hide them. The gemstones were thought to have protected Anastasia from bullets.

4. Rasputin never wanted to murder Anastasia.
Rasputin gets a bad wrap in the animated Anastasia movie. Really bad. He’s basically portrayed as a rotting corpse with magical powers who repeatedly tries to murder her. In reality, he was a mystic who claimed to be a prophet and served as a spiritual adviser to the Romanov family. He was particularly close to Anastasia’s mother, the Tsarina.

ROYALLY ROMANOV is available today as an ebook original from Pocket Star! In this modern day retelling of the classic Anastasia film, a museum curator falls for a mysterious man who may or may not be a long lost heir to Russia’s imperial Romanov dynasty. I hope you’ll check it out! I promise mystery and romance set against a romantic Paris setting. Bonus: there might even be another cute dog.