A sweet-tempered child, nicknamed "the Amiable Baby," Maria grew up into a pretty, romantic, kindhearted, fun-loving girl, with light brown hair and large blue eyes her family called "Marie's saucers." She was artistically talented, and noted for her fine sketches, always drawn with her left hand. Surprisingly strong, she enjoyed lifting her tutors off the ground. From an early age, she felt a great interest in the lives of soldiers, and experienced a number of innocent crushes on officers she met at the palace and on family holidays. She loved children and hoped to have a large family ( so tragic this did not happen!)
Like all her sisters, Maria was a potential carrier of the hemophilia gene. During an operation to remove her tonsils, she began to hemorrhage, alarming the surgeon. He was so shaken that Empress Alexandra had to order him to continue the procedure. Maria's aunt, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, recalled that her four nieces all bled excessively, and believed they all, like their mother, carried the defective gene.
During World War I, Alexandra, Olga and Tatiana became Red Cross nurses, caring for wounded and dying soldiers in Tsarskoe Selo. Maria and Anastasia were too young to work in the hospitals, but tried to boost the suffering men's morale with cheerful visits and games of checkers and billiards. They also assisted in caring for the children at the nurses' school. Maria wrote her father that she thought of him while feeding the little ones and cleaning their faces. During this period, Maria, her sisters and mother sometimes visited Nicholas and Alexis at the military headquarters in Mogilev. Maria fell in love with Nikolai Dmitrievich Demenkov, an officer stationed there. After her return to Tsarskoe Selo, she often asked her father to give her regards to Demenkov, even jokingly signing letters to the Tsar "Mrs. Demenkov."
In the spring of 1917, revolution erupted in St. Petersburg. To add to all the distress, the Tsar's children fell ill with measles. Maria, however, was the last to succumb, and was able to join her mother in a poignant appeal to the soldiers to remain loyal to the Tsar. Shortly afterwards, she developed measles and pneumonia and nearly died. She finally began to recover, only to hear that her father had been forced to abdicate. The imperial family were arrested and imprisoned, first in Tsarskoe Selo and later in Tobolsk and at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.
The disasters had not quenched Maria's love of fun and, at first, she seemed blissfully ignorant of her danger, even remarking she would be happy to live forever at Tobolsk, if only she had more freedom. With her warm disposition, she attempted to befriend the guards at the Ipatiev House, many of whom were actually sympathetic to the imperial family (one smuggled in a cake for Maria's nineteenth birthday!). She talked with them about their families, showed them photos from her albums, and told of her hopes for a new life in England after her release. Sadly, however, it was not to be. On July 17, 1918, the imperial family was massacred, by forces of the Bolshevik secret police, in the cellar room of the Ipatiev House.
More information HERE.