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Alexei inherited hemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her maternal grandmother Queen Victoria. In 2009 genetic analysis determined specifically that he suffered from hemophilia B. He had to be careful not to injure himself because he lacked one of the clotting factors necessary to prevent him from bleeding to death. According to his French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, the nature of his illness was kept a state secret. His hemophilia was so severe that trivial injuries such as a bruise, a nosebleed or a cut were potentially life-threatening.

The question that puzzles me is: why was this such a secret? There was no shortage of male Romanovs for a succession so even if the Tsesarevich died of his illness the future of the dynasty would not be in jeopardy.

Was there a particular reason to keep this secret or was just the usual Russian preoccupation with secrecy?

Quoted from wikipedia.

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This is a more a psychological question than a historical one. Why are Russians hyper paranoid? Why do they keep secret the name of all their ships? Why are all government telephone numbers secret? You are delving into psychology here. –  Tyler Durden Jul 8 at 13:29
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Keep in mind that hemophilia makes it really easy to actually cause someone to die from it. If I were in his position I don't think I'd advertise the fact that the best way to kill me would be to get me bleeding... –  Comintern Jul 8 at 17:20
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Heck if I had the ability to classify my children's weaknesses as a state secret, I'd be tempted. The Romanov's had that temptation, plus autocratic rule, which makes temptation = policy. –  Mark C. Wallace Jul 8 at 18:30

2 Answers 2

This was kept a secret for the same reason that FDR "was careful never to be seen in [a wheelchair] in public. Great care was also taken to prevent his being portrayed by the press in a way which would highlight his disability" - the severely ill heir subverts trust in government. This is especially true of the Russian monarchy, which claimed divine right.

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I guess you're right and that's what it was. It's just that in retrospect, this was really the wrong decision..... –  Felix Goldberg Jul 9 at 5:48
    
why was it "the wrong decision"? –  sds Jul 9 at 13:38
    
Because, contemporary medicine not able to help, they turned to Rasputin for help. The royal family's relationship with him completely killed their reputation at a time when they needed most ot preserve it - because people did not know Rasputin's medical role they made all sorts of wild/lewd guesses. Had the truth about the prince's illness been known, I think the Russian people would not have minded R's access to the royal family that much. –  Felix Goldberg Jul 9 at 16:55
    
I find this argument unconvincing. Sorry. –  sds Jul 9 at 16:59
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Which part of it? –  Felix Goldberg Jul 9 at 19:19

There was no shortage of male Romanovs for a succession so even if the Tsesarevich died of his illness the future of the dynasty would not be in jeopardy.

It was a very dangerous time for the Russian Aristocracy - the threat of assassination loomed large. See The Romanovs and others. So it seems quite sensible that Alexei's vulnerability should be kept secret: Assassination is generally not an easy thing to accomplish, but Alexei's disease made him an easy mark - a small cut or bruise could prove fatal:

In 2009 genetic analysis determined specifically that he suffered from Hemophilia B. He had to be careful not to injure himself because he lacked one of the clotting factors necessary to prevent him from bleeding to death. According to his French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, the nature of his illness was kept a state secret. His hemophilia was so severe that trivial injuries such as a bruise, a nosebleed or a cut were potentially life-threatening. Two navy sailors were assigned to him to monitor and supervise him to prevent injuries, which were still unavoidable.

Hemophilia B... In some moderate and most severe cases, bleeding symptoms may occur after a minor injury or spontaneously with no known cause.

Although there were other heirs, Alexei was the heir apparent, which made him a prominent target. Besides, even with other heirs available, the assassination of a crown prince and heir apparent would have been a painful and damaging blow. Why paint a bull's eye on Alexei's back?

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