Topic: Royal Russia
(left) This photograph reflects a quiet corner of my office and study, and includes some of my favourite books, a bust of Nicholas II that I purchased in St. Petersburg earlier this year, and a reproduction of Valentin Serov's famous portrait of the last emperor painted in 1900 - a treasured gift from a dear American friend - PG
Today - September 28th - marks the 20th anniversary of Royal Russia!
When I launched Royal Russia back in 1994, I was following a dream. I wanted to share my my lifelong passion and interest in the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia with others.
My publishing endeavours began with a simple 4-page newsletter, entitled Imperial Russian Quarterly and a reprint of Memories in the Russian Court by Anna Vyrubova, originally published in 1923.
Over the next two decades, that simple 4-page newsletter evolved and grew in both name and design until in 2011, I launched the 100+ page Royal Russia Annual. To date, I have published 25 books on the Romanovs and Imperial Russia in both hard and soft cover editions, many of which are still in print and available through the Royal Russia Bookshop.
It was in the late 1990s that I launched exclusive Romanov tours to Russia. These custom designed tours featured visits to places only read about in books, and dreamed about by Romanovphiles. These included exclusive tours of the palaces and residences of the Russian Imperial family, with little "extras" such as lunch at the Palace of Grand Duke Vladimir, tea on the verandah at the Cottage Palace at Peterhof, lectures by Romanov historians and palace curators, and much more. Royal Russia was the first group from the West to visit the Alexander Palace in 1997. Other places of interest included the Grand Kremlin Museum and the Russian State Archives (GARF) in Moscow, Livadia in the Crimea, the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House) and Ganina Yama at Ekaterinburg, amony many others. The last Royal Russia tour was in 2006. While I no longer organize and host Romanov tours, I continue to travel to Russia independently on working visits, sharing my discoveries through the Royal Russia web site and magazine.
The Royal Russia web site has expanded greatly over the last few years and now includes a news blog and Facebook page - both updated daily with news on the Romanovs and Imperial Russian history. Royal Russia web site and blog currently offer more than 600 news articles, more than 500 videos, over 2,000 photographs, plus a blog with nearly 1,500 news clips, videos and photographs.
Today, Royal Russia ranks among the most popular Romanov-themed web sites in the world, welcoming more than 2 million visitors from every corner of the globe. Plus, the number of people who follow Royal Russia has now surpassed the 20,000 mark! This includes more than 3,000 people who receive our FREE bi-weekly news updates, plus nearly 18,000 followers on Facebook. Our colour advertisements are regularly feautured in Majesty Magazine in the United Kingdom, and Russian Life Magazine in the United States.
Each year since 2009, Royal Russia has issued a wall calendar. The annual calendar issued in the past three years has become a very special project for me personally, as most of the net sales from the calendar sales are donated to the Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof Palace Museums. Between 2013-2014, Royal Russia donated 40,000 Rubles to the two palace museum reserves. The funds help them with restoration programs and the acquisition of items for their respective collections. Another donation will be made to these palaces in early 2015, based on the sale of our latest calendar. Russia has been very good to me these past 20 years, I am so pleased that I can now give something back, by making a contribution to an ideal which I hold near to my heart - the preservation and conservation of the Romanov legacy and Russia's Imperial past.
The past 20 years have been a remarkable journey, one which I have shared with some of you from the very beginning. As I mark this memorable day, I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a very big thank you to each and every person who has supported Royal Russia over the years! This includes those who visit my web site and blog, who receive my bi-weekly news updates, those who buy books, magazines and calendars from my online shop, those who make donations each year to help offset the increasing costs of maintaining the every growing web site, to those who purchase my calendars and helping my Giving Back to Russia program, and for all of you who continually send kind words of support for my work by e-mail, letter, and telephone - without you, there would be no Royal Russia!
Today is indeed a day to celebrate, and here's to the next 20 years of Royal Russia!
(right) Dr. Russell E. Martin, International Communications Advisor to the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House, presents me with the Imperial and Royal Order of St. Stanislas, III Class. The Order was presented during a private investiture ceremony at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York on May 18th, 2014. The Order was presented in recognition of a lifetime of service to the Russian Imperial House, my support of the Russian monarchy, and my personal dedication to distributing accurate information about the House of Romanov and to highlight the importance of the Russian Imperial House in today's Russia. Truly, it remains the proudest day of my life! - PG
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 September, 2014