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Monday, 2 May 2016
Topic: Nicholas II

I am pleased to announce that the next issue of SOVEREIGN, our popular new periodical dedicated to the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II is now available from the Royal Russia Bookshop - Paul Gilbert

Our second issue features 145 pages with 130 black-and-white photographs, and 7 full-length articles, including 4 first English translations of articles written by Russian experts. This issue is dedicated to the 120th anniversary of Emperor Nicholas II at Moscow in 1896 + 48 photographs from this historic event.
This issue includes 3 NEW previously unpublished works by the following Western experts:

Nikolai II and the Supreme Commander: Fighting on Two Fronts
by Margarita Nelipa
Despite its magnitude, historians rarely evaluated the one imperial decision that shaped the course of World War One. When Russia entered the War in 1914, it fought: For Faith, Tsar and the Fatherland. On that day there appeared to be national harmony. The ordinary soldier went to battle as a patriot, loyal to the sovereign. By mid-August 1915, fatalities were immense, soldiers had either retreated en masse or gave themselves up as prisoners in large numbers, disillusioned with a war that made no sense for them. Owing to those catastrophic events, the sovereign felt duty-bound to defend his homeland and reign. To do so, he decided to firstly dismiss Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich as the Supreme Commander of the military forces and secondly, to accept direct responsibility to bring Russia back into a favorable military footing by stepping into that role himself.  However, many members of the Council of Ministers, as shown by never-before-revealed Council transcripts, acted against the emperor’s decision, dismayed by his lack of consultation. The decision polarized members of the imperial family who also supported the Grand Duke’s wartime role. Nikolai II’s new role also caused the first shift against the sovereign among several Generals. Why that common dissension came about among the elite of the nation, is explained with the use of seldom accessed Russian language material. Notwithstanding the grievances, Nikolai II remained steadfast in his decision to take command of the armed forces.  In the end, despite achieving some success on the battlefield, the Emperor lost the war on the home front.

"Dearest Grandmama" The Relationship Between Nicholas II and Queen Victoria
by Coryne Hall
Royal historian and author Coryne Hall offers the first of a 4 part series on Emperor Nicholas II's relationship with British monarchs.
Between 1894 and 1901 Emperor Nicholas II and Queen Victoria ruled two of the world's mightiest empires. They were also related, as Nicholas had married the Queen's granddaughter, Princess Alix of Hesse. So how did their personal relationship develope? Part I examines this interesting relationship between the two monarchs.

The Cult of Nicholas II
by Matthew Dal Santo
Russians' attitudes towards "Bloody Nicholas" have come a long way in the past one hundred years. The author explores the growing and more sympathetic modern-day "cult" of Nicholas II in contemporary Russian and Western society.

This issue also includes 4 first English translation articles by the following Russian experts:

Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky. Witness to the Coronation of Russia's Last Emperor
by Zenaida I. Peregudova and I.M. Pushkareva
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky is remembered as a prominent statesman and military leader of the Russian Empire. He was a very remarkable person in that he was so unlike other members of Nicholas II's governmental pantheon. The authors have written a biography of the man who served as adjutant of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and held posts of the Governor of Moscow Guberniya, the Governor-General of Moscow, the Assistant Minister of the Interior and Commander Special Corps of the Gendarmes. The first English translation of this article appears in this issue of Sovereign.
The 1896 Coronation Celebrations in Moscow 
by Vladimir Fyodorovich Dzhunkovsky
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
This excerpt from Vladimir Dzhunkovsky's memoirs tells about one of the most picturesque and memorable events in the history of Moscow: his personal eyewitness account of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II May 1896. He goes on to describe the events of the Khodynka tragedy, offering one of the most accurate accounts to date. The first English translation of excerpts from Dzunkovsky's memoirs appear in this issue of Sovereign. 
The Unknown Emperor. An Interview with Archpriest Valentin Asmus
by Semyon Sokolov and Ludmila Bonyushkina
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova and Neil P. Mayhew
The day after the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000, two Russian journalists managed to gain access to one of the most recognized experts in the history of the Russian monarchy: the Moscow Spiritual Academy lecturer Archpriest Valentin Asmus. Father Valentin speaks in length about the character of St. Tsar Nicholas II, and believes that the conventional views of the life and personality of Nicholas II often couldn't be further from the truth. The first English translation of this interview appears in this issue of Sovereign.
The Investigation into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage 
by Archpriest Oleg Mitrov
Translated from Russian by Irene W. Galaktionova
The questions raised by the murders of the Russian Royal family, including the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Yekaterinburg, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling our society for the last 25 years. Recently, many people have been looking to the Russian Orthodox Church for its verdict on the matter. But expressing an objective view requires the Church to conduct a thorough examination of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific enquiries.
In this first English language translation, Mitrov addresses the ROC's questions and concerns regarding the Ekaterinburg remains. Among them are the previous forensic studies of the remains carried out in the 1990s, Sergeev and later Sokolov's investigation in the 1920s, disturbing issues regarding the excavations conducted in 1979, 1991 and 2007, and much more.
Archpriest Oleg Mitrov is a member of the Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints, and is also currently engaged in the study of the issues surrounding the murders of Russia’s last royal family.
Note: This article was originally published in Royal Russia No. 9. An illustrated edition of this articles is presented in this issue of Sovereign for the benefit of those readers who do not subscribe to both periodicals.
This issue also includes 2 collections of historic photographs on the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II: 

Sovereign Photo Collection No. 3 - Coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, May 1896
Sovereign Photo Collection No. 4 - Private World of Emperor Nicholas II, Livadia and Crimea 

For further information, or to place an order, please refer to the following link:

Sovereign No. 2, Spring 2016 


© GILBERT'S BOOKS (the Publishing Division of Royal Russia). 2 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:00 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 May 2016 3:32 PM EDT
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Sunday, 1 May 2016
Topic: Easter

© Royal Russia. 01 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 29 April 2016 12:55 PM EDT
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Saturday, 30 April 2016
Ekaterinburg Ponders Renaming of Districts in Honour of Holy Royal Martyrs
Topic: Ekaterinburg

A map of Ekaterinburg shows the proposed renaming of the city's seven districts in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs 
This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The Ekaterinburg City Senate has sent a proposal (pictured below) to Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, for the renaming of the city’s districts in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, who were all murdered in the Ipatiev House on 17 July, 1918. The Ekaterinburg Senate is an independent civil body was created in 2013 to provide social control for official Ekaterinburg authorities such as City Duma (Council). A copy of the proposal was also sent to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus.

The Senate proposed to rename the seven city districts as follows: the Upper Iset district would be renamed Alexandrovskii in honour of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna; the Railway district would be renamed Alekseevskii in honour of Tsesarevich Alexei; the Ordzhonikidze district would be renamed Olginskii in honour of Grand Duchess Olga; the Kirov district would be renamed Anastasievskii in honour of Grand Duchess Anastasia; the October district would be renamed Nikolaevskii in honour of Emperor Nicholas II; the Chkalovsky district would be renamed Tatyaninskii in honour of Grand Duchess Tatiana; and the Lenin district would be renamed Mariinskii in honour of Grand Duchess Maria. Also, a proposal was made to build seven churches, one in each district in honour of the Holy Royal Martyr for which it was renamed.

For many years the citizens of Ekaterinburg have tried to come to terms with the murder of Russia’s last emperor and his family in 1918. Earlier this year, a proposal was made to rename the city’s main street from Tolmacheva Ulitsa (Street) to Tsar Ulitsa. This new proposal to rename the city districts is the latest effort to rid Ekaterinburg of crimes crimes committed during Soviet times against the Russian Imperial family and the Church.

Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church have reacted positively to the initiative, now it is up to the authorities to review the proposal and come to a decision, one with great historic significance.


 © Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:23 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 April 2016 2:09 PM EDT
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Friday, 29 April 2016
On This Day: Emperor Alexander II was Born in Moscow
Topic: Alexander II

Portrait of Emperor Alexander II, wearing the greatcoat and cap of the Imperial Horse-Guards Regiment
Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 29 April (O.S. 17 April), 1818 the family of Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich (future Emperor Nicholas I) and the Grand Duchess Alexandra Feodorovna (born Princess Charlotte of Prussia) welcomed a new son into the world. Alexander Nicholaevich was born in the Small Nicholas Palace, located inside the Moscow Kremlin. The older brothers of his father, Emperor Alexander I and Tsesarevich Konstantin, did not have any heirs in the male line, thus Alexander Nicholaevich was a long-awaited successor of the Romanov dynasty.

The future Emperor Alexander II was well educated. The famed Russian poet V. A. Zhukovsky was his mentor; among the tutors: public figure and statesman M. M. Speransky (legislation), geographer and ethnographer K. I. Arseniev (statistics and history), Archpriest Gerasimus Pavsky (religion and holy history), Finance Minister E. F. Kankrin (economy), diplomat F. I. Brunov (foreign policy), German botanist K. B. Trinius (natural history). Military instructor of Alexander was Captain K. K. Merder, the main educator – General P. P. Ushakov. The heir’s personality was formed under the influence of his father who wished his son to be a military man and also of his tutor who wanted to make the future monarch an educated man. Both influences left a deep mark on the heir’s character, inclinations, world outlook and impacted his reign. By nature Alexander had an excellent memory, a sober mind, was responsive and sympathetic, cheerful and benevolent.

From 1834 to 1842 Alexander Nicholaevich was sequentially made a member of the Senate, Holy Synod, State Council and Ministers Committee. In 1837 he travelled over the European part of Russia, visited Transcaucasia, and Western Siberia. In 1838-1839 he travelled over Europe. At the same time he was promoted in his military career. In 1836 he was given the rank of major general, in 1844 – of general, and in 1849 Alexander became the Head of military and education institutions. During the Crimea campaign of 1853-1856 when Petersburg province was declared in martial law, the heir to the throne commanded all the capital’s troops. In 1841 Alexander married Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine, known in Russia as Maria Alexandrovna.

In 1855 Alexander II mounted the throne and reigned until 1881. On 13 March (O.S. 1 March), the Emperor was mortally wounded by an explosive thrown at him on the Catherine Canal embankment in St. Petersburg.

Two years later, in October 1883, Emperor Alexander III issued a decree for the construction of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood” (Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ) on the place where Alexander II had been mortally wounded in St. Petersburg. The cathedral was built as a memorial to the emperor-reformer and a symbol of repentance of the Russian people of his murder.
© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 29 April 2016 6:58 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 27 April 2016
Russian Royal Classics
Topic: Books

© Royal Russia. 27 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:02 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 27 April 2016 10:13 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 April 2016
Tsaritsyno to Host Alexander Palace Exhibit
Topic: Alexander Palace

Watercolour of the Alexander Palace by Alexei Maksimovich Gornostaev 1847
This article has been written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016
The Tsaritsyno State Historical, Architectural, Art and Landscape Museum-Reserve in Moscow will host a new two-part exhibit this summer dedicated to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

Tsarskoye Selo: the History of the Alexander Palace and the Romanovs will be devoted to the history of the Alexander Palace and the Romanov dynasty, from Empress Catherine II - who built the palace for her grandson the future Emperor Alexander I - to Emperor Nicholas II. It was in the Alexander Palace that the last Russian emperor was born in 1868, and where he spent much of his 22 year reign. After abdicating the throne in 1917, Nicholas II lived here under house arrest with his family until they were later sent into exile to Siberia.

The exhibition, which opens in the halls of the Grand Palace at Tsaritsyno in June 2016, will consist of two parts. In the first part, visitors will learn about the Alexander Palace and its inhabitants - members of the Russian Imperial family. The exhibit will focus on the personal history of each family member, highlighted with portraits, furniture, porcelain items, toys, costumes (gowns, dresses, uniforms, children's clothes), among other items from the Alexander Palace collection.

The second part, Alexander Palace. Year 1917 will open on the eve of 2017. This part of the exhibit focuses specifically on the 22 year reign of Emperor Nicholas II, and the years in which he and his family lived in the Alexander Palace up to his abdication, and the months in which they were under house arrest in the palace. The exhibit will feature a series of amazing vintage photos of the interiors of the Alexander Palace, which were taken immediately after the departure of the Imperial family on 1 August, 1917. These photographs have provided history with a rare look into the the private world of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. 

The permanent exhibition Reminiscences in the Alexander Palace, which included the former private apartments of Emperor Nicholas II and his family located in the East Wing of the palace closed on 2 August, 2015 while the Suite of State Rooms closed on 31 August, 2015. The Alexander Palace is scheduled to reopen on July 17, 2018, marking the 100th anniversary of the murders of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
The exhibition will run from June 2016 to December 2017 in the Grand Palace at Tsaritsyno. 

For more information on the history and restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the following link:

More Articles and Videos on the Alexander Palace 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 April, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:25 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 April 2016 1:10 PM EDT
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Monday, 25 April 2016
Lost Iron Gate to His Majesty's Own Dacha Found
Topic: Palaces

A unique item offered for sale this month in a Russian classifieds ad not only caught historians by surprise, but also attracted the attention of the authorities as well. The ad read: "wrought-iron gates with traces of gilding, about 19th century, found in the Peterhof reserve. Height 152 cm, width 84 cm . . .” 

Staff of the St. Petersburg Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments identified the item as the former gate of His Majesty’s Own Dacha, the summer residence of Emperor Alexander II near Peterhof. The "gilded, wrought-iron gates" stood at the entrance of the former Imperial residence for more than 100 years, but disappeared after the Second World War and considered irretrievably lost.
Click on the link below to read the full article and more photos:



© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:34 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 April 2016 12:18 PM EDT
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Sunday, 24 April 2016
Follow Royal Russia on Facebook
Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 April 2016 8:48 AM EDT
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Saturday, 23 April 2016
On This Day: Russian Empire State Emblem and State Seal Approved
Topic: Imperial Russia

Note: this article has been edited and updated from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 23 April (O.S. 11 April), 1857 Emperor Alexander II approved the detailed description of the State emblem and seal.

The double-headed eagle became the Russian state symbol at the end of the 15th century. The emblem’s composition and design continued to change repeatedly over the centuries.

The images of the double-headed eagle in the first half of the 19th century were quite varied. It could bear one or three crowns, hold a sceptre and orb, a wreath or Peroun, a torch in its claws; with raised or spread wings.

During the reign of Emperor Nikolai I two designs of the state eagle were officially established. One had spread wings, bore one crown over two heads, a sacred image of St. George on his chest and sceptre and orb in his claws. The second type had raised wings bearing the titular emblems: of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia on the right; of Poland, Taurida and Finland – on the left.

In 1856 in the course of heraldic reform conducted under the guidance of Baron Bernhard Kohne the design of the state eagle was changed under the influence of German models. At the same time the direction of the image of St. George depicted on the eagle’s chest was turned to the right in accordance with the West-European rules of heraldry. The design of the Lesser Emblem of Russia was made by artist Alexander Fadeyev and approved by the Emperor on 20 December (O.S. 8 December), 1856. This variant of the emblem differed from the previous ones not only by the eagle’s design but also by the number of titular emblems on its wings. The right wing bore the shields with emblems of Kazan, Poland, Chersonesos Taurica and the united emblem of Kiev, Vladimir and Novgorod; the left wing contained the shields with the emblems of Astrakhan, Siberia, Georgia and Finland.

On 23 April (O.S. 11 April), 1857 the Emperor approved the whole set of emblems: the Great one, the Middle one and the Lesser State Emblem; titular coats of arms of the Emperor’s family members and the patrimonial coat of arms of the Emperor. Also approved were the designs of the Great, Middle and Lesser State Seals, seals boxes and the seals of higher and lower offices and persons. The Minor State Emblem – the double-headed eagle with all the attributes –was the one for general use. The Great and Middle Emblems represented complicated compositions with the Lesser Emblem at the center of it and the emblems of all the lands under the Emperor’s title around it including other supplementary elements (holders for shields, pedestal, etc.). These two Emblems were used in particular cases of especial importance.

On 12 June (O.S. 31 May), 1857 the Senate issued the Decree with the description of the new Emblems and norms for their use. In total the document approved of 110 designs lithographed by the artist A. K. Beggrov. The act was followed by a series of other acts establishing new models of the State Emblem. At that time the first stamp appeared with the double-headed eagle on it.

The State Emblem of Russia adopted in 1857 remained practically unchanged up to 1917.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:05 AM EDT
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Thursday, 21 April 2016
State Hermitage to Open Fashion Museum in 2018
Topic: State Hermitage Museum

Ceremonial court dress of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. From the collection of the State Hermitage Museum
This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016
The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg have announced plans to open a fashion museum in 2018. The new museum will present costumes of the Russian Imperial family dating from the 18th to early 20th centuries, which include dresses and gowns, uniforms, children’s clothes, and accessories from the vast collections of the Hermitage, as well as from private collections.

The creation of a fashion museum to be created in St. Petersburg is based on the success of two splendid exhibitions held at the State Hermitage Museum in the spring of 2014. At the Russian Imperial Court featured more than 250 costumes of members of the Russian Imperial family displayed in five halls. This exquisite exhibit was further enhanced by Servants of the Imperial Court, which showcased for the first time some 250 pieces of attire and accessories from the unique Hermitage collection of the livery wear of the Russian Court in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

The permanent exhibition at the new fashion museum will be further supplemented with temporary exhibits showcasing the work of contemporary Russian designers, such as Tatiana Parfenov Lilies Kisselenko, Stas Lopatkin, among many others.

The creation of the Fashion Museum is Nina Tarasova, Head of the Sector of Applied Arts Department of the Russian Culture of the State Hermitage Museum. The location of the new museum has yet to be announced.
The former Imperial palace-museums at Tsarskoye Selo, Peterhof and Pavlovsk each retain magnificent examples of gowns, uniforms and other personal items of the Romanov emperors and empresses, beautifully preserved in their respective collections. Pavlovsk opened a Costume Museum several years back. It is located in the north wing of the palace, and features a rich collection of gowns, fans and purses belonging to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.
For more information on the costume exhibits held in 2014 at the State Hermitage Museum, please refer to the following links:

At the Russian Imperial Court + VIDEO & 20 Colour Photos

Servants of the Imperial Court + VIDEO & 12 Colour Photos

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 April, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:12 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 30 April 2016 1:08 PM EDT
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