The Ambassador, the Grand Duke, his Wife and her Lover

Tony Brenton tells of the clandestine correspondence between the future Catherine the Great and the British Ambassador to St Petersburg over eleven months from July 1756.

As British Ambassador to Russia I am naturally interested in the doings of my predecessors. From the presentation of credentials to Ivan the Terrible by the first ever English Ambassador, Anthony Jenkinson, in 1566, diplomatic relations between our two nations have passed through the hands of a remarkable series of men (my successor will be the first woman). For the most part, as with all proper diplomacy, their doings are now discreetly interred in the official archives. But an occasional incident casts a vivid light on that relationship.

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