The bodies of Russia’s last tsar and his wife have been exhumed, almost a century after they were murdered in the country’s revolution.
The Orthodox Church wants further tests to be done to confirm links to other family remains, so that they can be buried together. The remains of two of the Romanovs - Tsarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchess Maria - were found elsewhere and are to be buried with the rest of the family at St Petersburg's Peter and Paul Cathedral.
According to the BBC, testing will be carried out on samples taken from Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra.
Bloodstains from the uniform of Nicholas’ grandfather, Emperor Alexander II, who was killed in 1881 in a bombing by radicals, will also be tested against the remains.
The Orthodox Church’s main concern is that the Romanov family has been canonised, meaning believers would pray to their bodies. For this reason, they believe that it must be guaranteed that any further remains buried alongside them are from the Romanov family.
The church’s hesitancy to bury Alexei and Maria alongside the rest of their family has caused a divide among surviving descendants, according to the Guardian.
Some have supported further tests on the remains, while others have become frustrated with the delay.
The family was lined up and shot by Bolshevik firing squad in 1918. Those who survived the shooting were bayonetted to death.
A mass grave discovered in the Urals in 1991 was found to contain the remains of the Romanovs (this was confirmed in 2008 by genetic testing) but the murder case surrounding the family was not closed until 1998 because the perpetrators were dead.
But it was the separate burial of Maria and Alexei that fuelled conspiracy theories about the identity of the bodies and even the potential survival of one or more of the family, particularly the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
In later years, more than 200 women claimed to be Anastasia, the best-known being Anna Anderson. Anderson claimed to have feigned death among the bodies of her family and servants, before being helped to safety by a compassionate guard.
Although she died and was cremated in 1984, a tissue sample retained in a hospital was later tested against surviving family members including Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
These tests showed that she could not have been the duchess.
It is now generally accepted that Anastasia died alongside her family in 1918.