Body of Tsar's mother to return

The mother of Russia's last Tsar, Empress-Dowager Maria Fedorovna, is to be laid to rest in St Petersburg alongside her husband Tsar Alexander III, almost 80 years after she died in exile in Denmark.

The Danish-born Tsarina fled Russia in 1919 two years after the Bolsheviks came to power and died in Copenhagen of natural causes in 1928.

Her son Tsar Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs to rule Russia, was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 along with his wife and children.

Maria Fedorovna, née Princess Dagmar, never acknowledge that the massacre took place but expressed a wish to be buried alongside her husband when the time was right.

Talks between Moscow and Copenhagen on the subject have been going on since 1998; yesterday it was reported that "a final and definitive agreement" had been reached.

Maria Fedorovna will be buried on 26 September 2006, in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg. The date marks the 140th anniversary of her arrival in Russia where she converted to Orthodoxy and married Alexander in the church of St Petersburg's Winter Palace.

Maria Fedorovna will be buried alongside her husband and close to her murdered son and his family whose purported remains were placed in the cathedral amid much pomp and ceremonyin 1998.

Members of the Romanov dynasty are keen that her burial should not be turned into "a political show", which is how many perceived the burial of her son.

Maria Fedorovna was famed for her devotion to charitable causes and her general kindness.

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