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Monday, 20 February 2017
Patriarch Kirill to Lead Ural Celebrations for Centenary of Romanov Family Martyrdom
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Sverdlosk governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev meets with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in Moscow 
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia is planning to head the commemorative events that will take place next year in the Sverdlovsk region in honor of the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Royal Martyrs, Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

On 17 February, a working meeting between Sverdlosk governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, took place at the Patriarchal Compound in Moscow. Also in attendance were the head of the Archdiocese of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Metropolitan Kirill, and Bishop Savva, the first deputy governor of the Moscow Patriarchate.
It was during the meeting that Kuyvashev discussed the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and their retainers, to be held next year in Ekaterinburg. He noted that the main event will be on the night of July 17, 2018, and invited the patriarch to attend and lead the services, saying, “We are preparing for this event with the Ekaterinburg Diocese and, of course, we want to invite you to participate in the celebrations which will be dedicated to this tragic date.”

In return, His Holiness stated, “As next year will be the centenary, we must do everything to go on this pilgrimage, if we will be alive and healthy.” He stressed that the date is a momentous one for the Urals, for the whole Russian Church, for the people, and for history.

“I have long wanted to visit Ekaterinburg during these days, to go on the cross procession and pray with the people,” Patriarch Kirill stated.
In the ensuing conversation, they discussed the development of church life in the Urals, and church-state cooperation. Every year in July, the Royal Days is held in Ekaterinburg - a series of commemorative events dedicated to the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family. More than 100,000 Orthodox faithful are expected to take part in the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs on the night 16/17 July 2018.

Kuvayshev assured the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, that the authorities in the Sverlovsk Oblast are actively preparing for this date together with the Ekaterinburg for large-scale events to be held during the Royal Days from 14 to 19 July, 2018. He noted that a joint working group is actively working to develop educational programs and museum exhibits, new pilgrimage routes, as well as conferences and other events.


The members of the Imperial Family, along with Dr. Eugene Botkin and three servants: Ivan Kharitonov, Alexei Trupp, and Anna Demidova accepted a martyr’s death on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the basement of engineer Ipatiev’s house in Ekaterinburg. Since September 2012 a Liturgy has been held on the night of the seventeenth of each month in the Church-on-the-Blood built on the site where the Romanovs were martyred. Every year, following the Liturgy on the night of 16/17 July a cross procession takes place from the church to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama (13 miles from Ekaterinburg), where their holy bodies were disposed of, in which tens of thousands come from across Russia and around the world to participate.

The Royal Martyrs—Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei—and their servants were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on November 1, 1981, and the family on August 20, 2000 by the Moscow Patriarchate, with Dr. Eugene Botkin’s canonization following on February 3, 2016. 

The proposed St. Catherine's Cathedral (left) and the Church on the Blood (right)
Governor Kuyvashev also spoke with His Holiness about cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the authorities of the Sverdlovsk Oblast. According to Kuyvashev Ekaterinburg currently has 88 functioning Orthodox churches, with a further 20 to be constructed by 2020. In addition, the construction of St. Catherine's Cathedral - also known as the Church on the Water - built on an artificial island in the waters of the city pond (formed by the Iset River) is expected to be completed by 2023, the year marking the 300th anniversary of Ekaterinburg. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:06 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2017 6:34 AM EST
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Sunday, 19 February 2017
Royal Russia No. 11 Winter 2017 Issue NOW IN STOCK!
Topic: Books

131 pages with 7 Full-length articles. 122 Black and White Photos & Illustrations.
ISBN 978-1-927604-22-9
I am pleased to announce that the Winter 2017 issue of Royal Russia No. 11 is now available from the Royal Russia Bookshop. 
The following is a list of the articles and their respective authors in the No. 11 Winter 2017 issue (Note: click on the button located at the bottom of this page to review a summary of the articles listed below):

Interview with the Head of the Russian Imperial House HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna 

- Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna speaks candidly with Paul Gilbert, Editor of the journal and website Royal Russia, on a wide range of topics on the past, present and future of the Russian Imperial House.

These include memories of her parents, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich and Grand Duchess Leonida; the alleged treason by her grandfather Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich in the wake of the 1917 Revolution; the rehabilitation of Emperor Nicholas II in 2008; her relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet Russia; the new investigation of the Ekaterinburg remains; the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation, the situation in Ukraine - and numerous other topics 

My Russia. The Rebirth of the Lower Dacha at Peterhof
by Paul Gilbert

'My Wonderful House on the Seashore'. A History of the Lower Dacha at Peterhof
by Valentina Tenikhina

‘Europe Can Wait While the Tsar Goes Fishing’. Alexander III and the Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge
by Coryne Hall

One Day at the Court of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich
by Irene W. Galaktionova 

The Tsarina’s and Olga’s Islands at Peterhof
by Tatiana Burkhova

Tsarist and Imperial Hunting in Russia
by Valery V. Pankratov
Royal Russia News
Compiled, Translated and Edited by Paul Gilbert
- this multi-page news supplement offers Romanov enthusiasts and lovers of Imperial Russian history with the top news stories and photographs from Russian media sources on the Romanovs, their legacy and Imperial Russian history, translated from Russian and presented in English for the first time. 

This issue also includes our popular collections of vintage photos:
Frozen in Time
- featuring photographic memories of the Russian Imperial family

The Lost World of Imperial Russia 
- featuring vintage photographs of Imperial Russia before the Revolution
Our official magazine was intended to be published only once a year as an annual, but due to its popularity, Royal Russia Annual is now published twice a year, while still retaining its original name. An annual Winter edition and an annual Summer edition are now be issued.

Watch for our advertisements in upcoming issues of Majesty and Russian Life magazines. Current and back issue of Royal Russia can be purchased at the Royal Russia Bookshop (Canada), (United States), Booksellers van Hoogstraten (Den Haag, Netherlands), and Librairie Galignani (Paris, France). 


© Gilbert's Books. 19 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2017 8:04 AM EST
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Saturday, 18 February 2017
Princess Olga Romanoff on George V's Betrayal of His Cousin Nicholas II
Topic: Nicholas II

Cousins Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and King George V of Great Britain
This article by Jenny Johnston was originally published in The Daily Mail,
it has been abridged and amended for Royal Russia News

Princess Olga Andreevna Romanoff, a granddaughter of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of Nicholas II, breaks down in tears as she recalls something that happened nearly 100 years ago, in a new six-part documentary series marking 100 years of the House of Windsor.

‘My father never said it was George’s fault,’ she says. ‘He always thought it was the prime minister – but apparently it was the king. I’m very glad my father died before the letter was found because he would have been really upset.’

The king she’s referring to is King George V, first cousin of her great-uncle, Tsar Nicholas II, the most famous of the Romanovs – Princess Olga, who now lives in the UK, uses the British spelling of the name. 
At the start of the century, the two royal cousins – both grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark – were very close. They holidayed together, counselled each other and let it be known (and the letters exist to prove this) that they were devoted to each other. 

When the imperial Russian family was threatened by the Bolsheviks in 1917 then, it was only natural that Nicholas should seek asylum in Britain and his first request for help from the Government was received with an immediate ‘of course’.
For reasons that have only recently come to light, however, the invitation was rescinded. Everyone knows what happened next: the tsar, his wife Alexandra and their five children – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei – were herded into a cellar and shot.
The full story of how they died would not be released for 75 years, but Princess Olga (whose grandmother, the tsar’s sister, was later welcomed to the UK with open arms) grew up believing that it was Lloyd George, the then prime minister, who had blocked her family’s flight. What a blow to discover it was the king himself – acting on advice from his adviser Lord Stamfordham – who was responsible. 

Letters revealed in a 1984 biography of George V claim that the mood in the country would not have supported the granting of asylum to the imperial family.

It’s damning proof, argue historians, that George put his own popularity, and the future of the British royals, before wider family ties. 

Royal biographer Coryne Hall is currently collaborating with Princess Olga Romanoff to write the Princess’s memoirs. Princess Olga’s father, Prince Andrew Romanoff, the eldest nephew of Tsar Nicholas II, passed down a fund of stories to his daughter. These stories, many of them unknown outside the family, will be incorporated in Princess Olga’s book and published by Shepheard-Walwyn in October 2017.
© Jenny Johnston / The Daily Mail. 18 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:33 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2017 5:16 AM EST
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Friday, 17 February 2017
Handover of St. Isaac Cathedral to Orthodox Church May Become 'Symbol of reconciliation'
Topic: Russian Church

Orthodox believers show their support of the transfer of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg
The handing over of St. Isaac Cathedral to the Orthodox Church may become a symbol of national reconciliation, head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill said addressing a meeting of the ROC Supreme Council, held at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

"The handover of St. Isaac Cathedral in St. Petersburg comes in a year that marks the centennial of the Russian Revolution so it may become a symbol of national reconciliation," the Patriarch said. "In the past, the destruction of churches and mass killings of believers carved out a horrible chapter in the book of our history and indicated a division in the nation. But now, the peaceful atmosphere surrounding the churches returned to the believers should become a symbol of accord and mutual forgiveness," Patriarch Kirill added.

He stressed that after the handover, the admission to the Cathedral would be free. According to Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church will be able to carry out all the restoration work in the Cathedral by selling tickets to the Colonnade and arranging paid tours.

© TASS News Agency. 17 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:29 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 February 2017 6:43 AM EST
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
A Russian Moment No. 73 - Russian Church in Darmstadt
Topic: A Russian Moment

Church of St. Mary Magdalene, former private chapel of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in Darmstadt
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is an historic Russian Orthodox church in Darmstadt, Germany, built for the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, nee Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt. She and Emperor Nicholas II wished to have the opportunity to pray in an Orthodox church while visiting Germany, which usually occurred about once every year-and-a-half or two years. 

The architect Leon Benois (1856-1928) created the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Russian revival style between 1897-1899; construction was carried out under the direct supervision of the architect Gustav Jacobi, and then his assistant - Friedrich Olleriha. The construction of the church was paid for by Emperor Nicholas II, who spent 310,000 rubles (the original estimate was 180,000 rubles) from his personal funds. 

It was decided that the church be built of Russian stone and upon Russian soil. Russian granite, shipped from the Urals, the Caucasus and Siberia, was used, and soil collected in several provinces of the Russian Empire, was brought to Darmstadt by train. The church is built of red brick. The facades are decorated with gilded friezes and bulb-shaped tiles with the Russian double-headed eagle. The exterior tiles and floor tiles were manufactured by the company «Villeroy & Boch» in Mettlach. 

The church was consecrated on 8 October (O.S. 26 September) 1899 in the name of St Mary Magdalene, patron saint of Nicholas II's mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. The ceremony was attended by Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. The interiors of the church, which included beautiful mosaic decoration, were not completed until October 1903. The interior is unusually decorated: there are few frescoes or icons, and a mosaic of the Mother of God soars above the altar. The iconostasis was imported from London. It consists of only one row, and was painted in oil, a popular method of the period, by Karl Neff. The walls are adorned by stylized lilies, flowers particularly loved by the Empress.

The iconostasis consists of only one row, a beautiful mosaic of the Mother of God soars above the altar
Liturgies were held in the church during visits by members of the Russian Imperial family to Darmstadt, and on the memorial days of their patron saints, and church holidays. The wedding of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg (the parents of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) took place here on 6 October 1903. The last service for the Imperial family took place in 1910.

In 1914, repairs were made on the building under the direction of F. Olleriha. 

From the beginning of the First World War, the church was closed. All the liturgical objects, bells, part of the roof and stained glass windows were confiscated as "enemy property". 

After the war liturgies in the church were rare. As a rule, they were devoted to ceremonial events. A Divine Liturgy has been served every July 17th, the anniversary of the murder of the Imperial family, since the 1930s to the present day.

In 1944, the church sustained significant damage by bombing. A number of items confiscated or stolen were returned to the church in 1946

The church underwent a major restoration between 2005 to 2008, at a cost of 1.1 million euros.
Since 1938, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene has been part of the German Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Liturgies have been held in the church every two weeks and on holidays, since 1987. The church serves the Orthodox community of Russians, Serbs, Greeks and Germans from Darmstadt and the surrounding area.

Sketches of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, by architect Leon Benois in 1897
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:10 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2017 8:36 AM EST
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
The Changing Colour of the Winter Palace During the 18th - 20th Centuries
Topic: Winter Palace

This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017

Throughout its history, the façade of the Winter Palace has undergone a range of colours. This was due to the need for periodic repairs, the tastes of various architects and changing tastes among its reigning emperors and empresses. 

When architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771), who conceived and carried out the construction of the palace in the 18th century, the original colour was a warm ochre colour. Prior to the fire, which occurred in 1837, there were no significant changes in the colour of the palace. The only change made was the colour of the roof, which went from white-grey to red. 

In the period between the 1850s - 1860s, during the era of Emperor Alexander II, the ochre colour of the palace facade became more dense. Shortly after Emperor Alexander III ascended the throne in 1881, the colour of the facade was changed to a rich red pigment.

Upon the accession of Emperor Nicholas II in 1894, the colour changed yet again: both the Winter Palace and the General Staff Building were repainted in a red brick colour, in which the palace was later depicted in Celebration on Uritsky Square, painted in 1921 by the famous Russian artist Boris Kustodiev (1878-1927). The terracotta reds, seemed to foretell a sign of a new era, when the palace met the revolution of 1917. The colour remained to the end of the 1920s, when a storm of experiments with colour began on the painting of its facades.
In 1927, the palace was painted grey, then in 1928-1930 it was repainted in a grey-brown hue. In 1934 an attempt to paint the façade in an orange oil based paint proved unsuccessful. The oil based paint proved to have a devastating effect on the walls and a decision on its removal was made in 1940. With the onset of World War II, the palace was painted in an adhesive reversible grey colour. 

After the war, a commission of architects and builders proposed to paint the grandiose palace in an emerald-blue colour, the standard Soviet colour scheme for Baroque buildings. The columns, cornices and window frames painted white, and the stucco decoration painted a golden ochre.

The former Winter Palace as it looks today, is part of the State Hermitage Museum 
Since then, the facades of the palace, though they have been regularly repainted, the colour has remain unchanged. Several generations of Russians and visitors to St Petersburg often perceive this colour as the historic original, and many are not even aware of how different the Winter Palace looked before the 1917 Revolution.
For years State Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky has talked of the need to re-paint the Winter Palace to the colour it was originally painted by Rastrelli in the middle of the 18th century. The idea was back on the agenda in 2009, however, nothing came of it due to overall cost of such a project. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:18 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2017 6:04 AM EST
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Monday, 13 February 2017
Centenary of Revolution in Russia: What Russia Lost, France Acquired
Topic: Russian History

Pierre Chérémetieff is the great grandson of Count Sergei Sheremetev – a member of the State Council of the Russian Empire
This article was originally published in Sputnik International 

2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution which plunged the country into a civil war and prompted hundreds of thousands from the Tsarist society's upper ranks to flee for their lives. 

1917 was a year of great turmoil upheaval and great losses for the Tsarist Russia. The 1917 Russian Revolution and the subsequent October Socialist Revolution, which turn 100 this year, are seen by many as turning points in the country's history.

Over a million people fled Russia in the wake of the October Socialist Revolution and ensuing civil war, including noblemen, skilled professionals, business owners, practicing Christians and others who'd seen their property confiscated by Bolsheviks.

This immigration process later became known as the first-wave émigré. If the immigrants participated in the White movement (also referred to as the White Army or the White Guard, a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces that fought the Bolsheviks ("Majority" in Russian), also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/3) or supported it, they were referred to as white émigré, although the term is often broadly applied to anyone who may have left the country due to the change in regimes.

Sputnik France met with Pyotr Sheremetev, Pierre Chérémetieff according to his French passport, chairman of the Russian Musical Society in Paris, rector of the Sergei Rachmaninoff Russian Conservatory of Paris (Conservatoire russe de Paris Serge Rachmaninoff) and honorary chairman of the International Council of Russian Compatriots, who told Sputnik about the contribution of Russian white émigrés to French culture.

Pierre Chérémetieff is the great grandson of Count Sergei Sheremetev – a member of the State Council of the Russian Empire, archeologist, historian and honorary member of the Academy of Sciences.Pierre Chérémetieff is the great grandson of Count Sergei Sheremetev – a member of the State Council of the Russian Empire, archeologist, historian and honorary member of the Academy of Sciences.

"The interrelation and mutual influences between Russia and France are huge: from the centuries-long affection of the Russian people towards the French language to the modern French-Russian bilateral years," he told Sputnik.

He further noted that his family had always wanted to leave the politics and devote itself to charity. Chérémetieff then commented on the history of the Russian Conservatory in France.

"It was set up by a group of musicians and composers who fled Russia back in 1917. All of them were from the St, Petersburg Conservatory (Conservatoire de musique de Saint Petersbourg.) Their names are well-known: Fyodor Shalyapin, who was more of a singer than composer, composer Cherepnin and composer Glazunov," he said.

The Russian nobleman then invited Sputnik into his study, decorated with photos from 1923, and signed by those who were pictured in them, of  the most well-known and famous composers of the beginning of the 20th century.

"Fyodor Shalyapin, Sergei Lifar, Alexander Glazunov – are only a few Russian names which reflect that brilliant epoch not only for France, which at that time hosted these talents, but also for Russia, the country which had brought them up for France," he says.

Among 30,000 Russians who came to France after the revolution, dozens of musicians and dancers contributed to the art and culture of France, he says.

"The people who opened the Conservatory had shared their talent, musical traditions and, what is more important, their memories of what they had left in Russia and what they had taken to France," Chérémetieff said.

He further showed Sputnik the room where they hold concerts, preserving the Russian pre-revolutionary culture.

It is the only Russian Conservatory in France, he said, but it is a very well-known for its traditions of the old Russian school.

"Those traditions have made France better and have glorified it. By hosting those talented Russians, France definitely acquired what Russia lost," he stated.
© Sputnik International. 13 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:46 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 13 February 2017 6:55 PM EST
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Saturday, 11 February 2017
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Topic: Royal Russia


11 February, 2017

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2017 4:23 AM EST
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Friday, 10 February 2017
Yusupov Palace in Moscow Recreates Imperial Desserts
Topic: Exhibitions

Photos © Tamara Antipina and Victor Peryakin 
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2017
An interesting exhibition opened in the Yusupov palace at Arkhangelskoye last year, however, I only just learned about it this week, when the museum announced that it would extend the exhibit until the end of March 2017.

The exhibition Desserts Princes Yusupov allows visitors a unique opportunity to see the works of pièce montée (the art of decorative confectionery centerpieces in an architectural or sculptural form used for formal banquets - from the era of Catherine the Great to the time of the Emperor Alexander II. 

the opportunity to get acquainted with a little known facet life noble estate: welcome and treat guests. Specially conceived and organized, so the reception was one of the most important aspects of the life of Russian country estate. 

The Russian monarchs and their families were regular visitors to Arkhangelskoye, where official receptions were often arranged by their Yusupov hosts.  The Emperor Alexander I visited here, and the estate was included in the program of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas I in 1826. Other August guests to Arkhangelskoye included the Emperors Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. In the 19th century, Prince N.B. Yusupov retained warm recollections of a visit by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I). At the beginning of the 20th century Princess Zinaida Yusupova welcomed members of the Russian Imperial family from the neighbouring estate Ilyinskoe: Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. Other prominent guests included prominent figures of Russian culture: musicians, artists, and writers.

Dining was one of the most important aspects of the life of a Russian country estate. Desserts were a spectacular, brilliant part of the feast. This tradition came to Russia from Europe in the 18th century. The serving and presentation of sweets and fruit dazzled and enchanted guests. 

The exhibition Desserts Prince Yusupov is on display in the dining room of the palace at Arkhangelskoye. The table is set with porcelain from the dessert set of the Yusupov family, preserved in the storerooms of the estate. The center of the table is elaborately decorated with cakes, desserts and fruit, in which the sweet composition recreates the tastes of the original owners of the estate and their guests.

The recreation of multi desserts of the 18th - 19th centuries, demonstrates the development of the unique art of fancy pastry.  For instance, a grand Imperial cake is reminiscent of the era of Emperor Nicholas I, which the artist recreated according to old engravings, using authentic recipes. The cake is a striking example of the confectionery art of the first half of the 19th century. Confectioners created these giant cakes - measuring 1.5 to 2.5 - 3 m in height - for special occasions: coronation celebrations, for important diplomatic receptions, receptions on the occasion of the celebration of name days, or for the wedding of a member of the Imperial family. 

The dessert table on display at Arkhangelskoye was recreated by Aldis Brichevsom, an expert on the history of the art of confectionery and pastry. He has been commissioned for some 30 projects by various museums and other cultural institutions in recent years. The uniqueness of his creations is that they are reproduced using old technology: manually, without the use of tools and moulds for casting without mechanical kneading and melting. His hand-made masterpieces, are produced from natural ingredients: sugar paste, nougat, marzipan, marshmallow and honey syrup. Aldis Brichevsom developed his own confectionery preservation system of natural products, ensuring a long display life.

Ten magnificent works of pastry art created by Aldis Brichevsom for the Arkhangelskoye Museum-Estate, evoke "sweet memories" of the era of the Russian manor house, which flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries, the owners and guests of the famous noble princes Yusupov family in their glorious estate of Arkhangelskoye in the Moscow region.

The exhibition Desserts Princes Yusupov runs until 31st March 2017 at the Arkhangelskoye Museum-Estate in Moscow.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:18 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 10 February 2017 2:34 PM EST
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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Empress of Russia's Faberge Gift to her Yorkshire Godchildren Comes to Auction
Topic: Faberge

The Faberge cutlery set sent by Alexandra Feodorovna, last empress of Russia, to Alix Allen of Harrogate as a first birthday gift. It is included in the lot estimated at £8000-10,000 at Bulstrodes on March 22. Photo © Bulstrodes
This article by Tom Derbyshire was originally published in the Antiques Trade Gazette
The tragic story of the last of the imperial Russian family does not have an immediately obvious connection with a Yorkshire spa town but it is nonetheless a strong one.

A lot coming up at Christchurch, Dorset, auction house Bulstrodes on March 22 reveals this intriguing link: a champlevé enamelled boxed set of Fabergé cutlery estimated at £8000-10,000, along with an archive of associated items.

In November 1894 Princess Alix of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was to marry Tsesarevich Nicholas, heir to the Russian throne. Earlier that year she had travelled to the sleepy but socially significant town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire to take ‘the cure’ in the famous baths as a treatment for her sciatica, travelling under the name of Baroness Startenburg with a lady in waiting.

She stayed at Cathcart House, a boarding house owned by a Mrs Allen. It was established shortly after 1860 as one of the town’s leading boarding houses - in 1911 a tea-party here was attended by Empress Marie of Russia; Queen Alexandra, former Empress of India; King Manuel of Spain; Prince Christopher of Greece; Princess Victoria and the Grand Duchess George of Russia.

Plaque from the Faberge cutlery set sent by Alexandra Feodorovna, last empress of Russia, to Alix Allen of Harrogate as a first birthday gift. It is included in the lot estimated at £8000-10,000 at Bulstrodes on March 22. Photo © Bulstrodes
Good omens

While the princess was staying at Cathcart House, Mrs Allen gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy.

The princess took this as a good omen for her forthcoming marriage to Nicholas and asked to be godmother to the twins and that they be named Alix and Nicholas. She attended the baptism in St Peter’s Church. The future Empress of Russia maintained a close relationship with her godchildren and regularly sent them gifts for years afterwards.

In 1910, on the occasion of his confirmation, Nicholas was given gold cufflinks inlaid with diamonds and sapphires, followed by a gold cross and chain for his 21st birthday in 1915.

In 1994 Nicholas’s son, Michael, gave many of the gifts from the Tsarina to the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate, including those cufflinks.

According to a Yorkshire Post newspaper report in 2006: “Nicholas Allen became an official with the Yorkshire Penny Bank and kept his gifts from the Tsarina in a security deposit box, but a week after he died, his son received a letter asking him to claim them. For a time Mr Allen kept them in his loft but eventually decided they were too much of a security risk. It is not known what has happened to the Tsarina’s gifts to her goddaughter.”

However, the cutlery which has emerged at Bulstrodes was sent to Alix Allen as her first birthday gift in 1895, says the auction house. Two identical boxed sets were sent for the boy and girl as indicated in the black and white photograph included in the lot (and pictured above). Also consigned is a scrapbook containing many letters and news clippings of the time documenting the Russian royal connection to the Allen family and Cathcart House.

The book includes two handwritten letters signed by Carl Fabergé, telegrams from Queen Alexandra to Princess Victoria - who also stayed at Cathcart House at the time - and many documents providing a fascinating provenance. The boxed set is consigned by “direct descendants of the recipient”, says Bulstrodes.

Original photo of the two Faberge cutlery sets sent by Alexandra Feodorovna, the last empress of Russia, to the twins Nicholas and Alix of Harrogate, as their godmother. It is included in the lot estimated at £8000-10,000 at Bulstrodes on March 22. Photo © Bulstrodes
Russian hospitals

The Russian imperial link to Harrogate continued long after Alix visited. Marie Georgievna, Grand Duchess George of Russia, ended up marooned there in August 1914 when her daughters were being treated at the town’s spas. She founded five hospitals in the town to treat injured soldiers returning from active service.
© Tom Derbyshire / Antiques Trade Gazette. 9 February, 2017 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:21 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2017 9:43 AM EST
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