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Sunday, 21 September 2014
Legendary Imperial Russian Cruiser Aurora Headed for Repairs
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds
Topic: Russian History
Aerial filming shows tug boats towing the cruiser Aurora along the Neva River in central St. Petersburg, September 21, 2014. The former cruiser, which was used during the Russian-Japanese War in 1904-05 and the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, was towed to Kronstadt for planned repair works.
Three bascule bridges across the Neva River in central St. Petersburg were raised to deliver the legendary cruiser Aurora to Kronstadt dockyard for overhaul, ITAR-TASS reports.

For the first time since 1987, when the museum-ship was repaired last time, residents and guests of the Russian northern capital watched a unique event, as Aurora was towed by four tugboats under the overhanging arms of Troitsky, Dvortsovy and Blagoveshchensky bascule bridges.

Tugboats towed the cruiser to a dockyard at Kronstadt maritime plant, situated about 40 kilometres from its original berth on the Neva. The towing operation took around four hours to complete. The bascule bridges were raised on the Neva River starting from 9.45 am Moscow time (5.45 am GMT) and towing began exactly at 10 am Moscow time (6 am GMT) on Sunday.

The Defence Ministry hopes that the cruiser will return to its ‘eternal mooring’ berth at the Petrograd embankment after its overhaul in 2016. Deadlines for repair will be announced after the ship is docked and the underwater part of its hull is examined, chief of the culture department of Defence Ministry Anton Gubankov said.

The Imperial Russian cruiser Aurora, being towed along the Neva towards Kronstadt
After the overhaul an exposition on board the museum-ship will open, meanwhile, the 1917 events, including the October Revolution, will cease to be its main topic, Ruslan Nekhai, director of the Central Naval Museum at which Aurora is its branch, said this week. 
© Russkiy Mir and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:21 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 September 2014 7:12 AM EDT
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Saturday, 20 September 2014
The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs
Topic: Books

This notice is for information purposes only.

The Forgotten Tutor will be available December 2014. Please NOTE that we are NOT accepting any pre-orders at this time. Additional updates, including price and availability will be posted on our blog and Facebook pages, as well as the Royal Russia Bookshop.

Gilberts Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of a new title to be released in December 2014. The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs is the first book written about the virtually unknown tutor to the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, between the years 1905-1914.

In December 1914 the eldest daughter of the last Tsar sent her former tutor a photographic portrait of herself. The soulful picture, signed ‘Olga 1914’, was the last communication the devoted tutor received from any of his former pupils. In July 1918 the family of Nicholas II were brutally murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

After his return to England in 1914, John Epps took particular pains to preserve his Imperial mementoes. Over nine years — between 1905 and 1904 — he collected every letter, card and drawing he received from the ill-fated children. About 30 of his papers were discovered more than a decade ago at an antiquarian book dealer in London, England. They had lain untouched at the bottom of a tin document drawer for nearly 70 years.

The lives of the four daughters of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have been carefully preserved through the post-Revolution memoirs of Pierre Gilliard, Sydney Gibbs, Margaretta Eagar and Anna Vyrubova. These names recorded for posterity tell the story of their lives and their influence on the Imperial children. Of John Epps, however, there was no mention. He had been totally lost to history. Until now. 

Janet Epps - an Australian descendant of the tutor - and Dr. Gabriella Lang tell the story of John Epps, who arrived in Russia in 1880 to take up a post in an English school. From 1900, he was employed as a teacher at the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo.

It was not until 1905, however, that he was offered the position of tutor to the four daughters of Russia's last tsar. On Monday April 25th, 1905, John Epps arrived at the Alexander Palace where he was met by Princess Sonia Orbeliani - the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting who took him to schoolroom, where he encountered “a tall, slender woman.” He describes this meeting: “Have I the honour of speaking to the Tsarina?” he asked hesitantly. “Yes, you do,” she replied. His new August employer smiled and did her best to make him at ease.

Many of John Epps’ observations of the grand duchesses are now preserved in the pages of this charming book. To John Epps, they had not been historical figures but real people with whom he had a relationship and these historical documents were tangible proof of that.

The highlight of the book are the reproductions of the letters, cards and drawings created by the grand duchesses for their beloved tutor, and published for the first time in The Forgotten Tutor. These childish drawings and sketches - so lovingly prepared and just as lovingly collected and carefully preserved - coupled with Epps' impressions of life in the Alexander Palace, tell of a different age, a magical world that ended so brutally. The stage is now set for John Epps' story to be told, for acknowledgement of his contribution to the rich tapestry of the Romanov saga and - most importantly - to finally bring these poignant personal mementoes of the last tsar and his family into the public arena.
The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs will be the 25th title published by Gilbert's Books - the publishing division of Royal Russia - since 1994.

For more information on the discovery of John Epps papers, please refer to the following news articles published in the Australian press in 2004:

Romanov Children's Ephemera Found in Trunk in London (ABC - The World Today, 14 October, 2004)

A Rare Glimpse into History (The Sunday Age, 14 October, 2004)

© Gilbert's Books. 20 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:12 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 20 September 2014 12:20 PM EDT
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Friday, 19 September 2014
The Imperial Porcelain Factory: Three Centuries of Russian Fine China
Topic: Russian History

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the September 18th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Nina Freiman, owns the copyright of the work presented below.

The Imperial Porcelain Factory, Russia’s oldest producer of fine china, turns 270 years on Sept.18. The creations of its masters are exhibited in the world’s best museums, sold at high-profile auctions, and set on the tables of international summits. RBTH finds out how the company began and how it acquired the secret of porcelain production from China.

This month marks the 270th anniversary of one of Russia’s most cherished institutions, the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg. Yet although the name of the factory has become synonymous in Russia with fine china and tableware, the story of the company’s origins and how it acquired the secret of porcelain production from the Chinese are not so well known. 

The Imperial Porcelain Factory was founded in 1744 at the order of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, the daughter of Peter I. Elizaveta invited Saxon specialist Christopher Hunger to start the factory. His assistant was Dmitry Vinogradov, one of the first Russian chemists and associate of renowned Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. 

Hunger turned out to be a charlatan – not only did he not invent Russian porcelain, but he even failed to replicate German fine china. He only managed to manufacture six cups, and low quality ones at that. Hunger was driven out in the fall of 1746, and Vinogradov took his place. From formula to production Vinogradov deduced the treasured porcelain formula soon after, in January 1747. How did he uncover the secret so thoroughly protected in Europe and China in just a few months?

From formula to production 

Vinogradov deduced the treasured porcelain formula soon after, in January 1747. How did he uncover the secret so thoroughly protected in Europe and China in just a few months?

According to modern historian Konstantin Pisarenko, the secret was spirited from China by ensign Alexei Vladykin, who spoke Chinese perfectly, was involved in trade (and, of course, intelligence), and spent time in the company of Chinese ministers. 

Vladykin learned the secret behind porcelain production from a Chinese document back in 1741, but he was only able to bring it to Russia in 1746. 

Vinogradov’s factory started manufacturing fine china according to the recipe provided by Vladykin, and the teacups turned out to be on a par with their Chinese counterparts. 

Although Vinogradov was glorified as the inventor, he did not forget Vladykin, whom he promoted and placed at the head of the next trade caravan to China.  

Porcelain cemetery and the subway 

In the nearly 300 years of its existence, the factory has expanded to five-and-a-half hectares and influenced the local toponymy: It is neighbored by the Farforovskaya Railway Station (farfor is the Russian word for porcelain), the Farforovskoye Cemetery, and the Farforovsky Overpass. The St. Petersburg subway station closest to the factory was also named in its honor: Lomonosovskaya (the factory was called Lomonosov during Soviet times). 

According to Tatyana Tylevich, general director of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the enterprise currently employs around 1,200 people. There are three workshops: one for soft-paste porcelain (animalistic sculpture), one for hard-paste porcelain, and one for bone china (items made of bone china are so thin that they literally shine in the light).

The factory’s main European competitors are British producer Wedgwood and German manufacturer Meissen. However, these companies transferred production to South-East Asia long ago, leaving just the brand and design in Europe. 

“The Imperial Factory is one of the few in Europe that has not moved its production facilities to other regions,” Tylevich said. “Our products can’t be torn away from the place where they have been manufactured for 270 years,” she added. 

But while the factory’s management, equipment, and manpower are Russian, its raw materials are imported from abroad – from Ukraine, to be exact. When the Ukrainian crisis began, the factory was forced to procure a year ahead. “We’re looking forward to a rapid conclusion to this conflict. We had several stores in Ukraine,” Tylevich said. “Now they’ve suspended their operations, but their owners are focused on future cooperation,” she added.

A jack of all trades Even though she has been working with porcelain for as long as she can remember and has been with the factory for 40 years, Nelya Petrova, the Imperial Factory’s chief artist, admits that porcelain is a capricious material. One has to take into account 13-14 percent shrinkage, possible deformation during firing, and of course, the fact that paints require various firing temperatures.

“You can do a lot of things with porcelain; for example, a table or chandelier. We have an artist who can improvise a whole dress from pieces of porcelain,” Petrova said. “The material isn’t good except for jewelry. It’s too fragile,” she added. 

Porcelain masters have their own professional language. For example, they refer to white glazed unpainted porcelain as “white ware.” Unglazed porcelain is called “bisque,” and in its liquid state it is called “slurry.” 

Slurry, by the way, which is reminiscent of cocoa in terms of color and texture, is poured into porous plaster molds. Each sculpture requires several molds; for example, one for the head and one for the body. When the slurry solidifies, the parts of the sculpture are combined and sent away for firing. 

The drawings on the cups and saucers seem completely black at first, but they turn gold after hours in the oven. This gold never fades, even after many years. Despite its deceptive fragility, fine china can survive for hundreds of years and stand the test of history, with all its quirks and kinks. 
© Nina Freiman / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 19 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:19 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014 6:26 AM EDT
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Thursday, 18 September 2014
Funeral Held for Nicholas Romanovich Romanov in Italy
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 59 seconds
Topic: Nicholas Romanovich
The funeral for Nicholas Romanovich Romanov was held on September 17th in the local Chiesa dei Santi Giacomo e Cristoforo (Church of St. Jacob and Christopher) in the Tuscan town of Bolgheri, Italy. 

Nicholas Romanovich, the oldest living descendant of the Russian Imperial Family died on September 14th at his family home in Tuscany, 10 days before his 92nd birthday.

Among those present were Nicholas Romanovich’s wife, Sveva, their three daughters, five grandchildren, his brother - Dmitri Romanovich and other family members, representatives of the Russian Federation and the local city authorities. The body of the deceased will be buried in the family crypt of his wife, Countess Sveva della Gherardesca, in the nearby town of Pisa.

At the foot of the coffin lay numerous wreaths, including a wreath of flowers of the Russian tricolour. Condolences were received from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a telegram of sympathy signed by the Speaker of the State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, which was delivered by the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, Alexander Avdeev. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:10 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2014 4:15 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 September 2014
The Head of the Russian Imperial House Expresses Condolences on the Passing of Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff
Topic: Maria Vladimirovna GD

Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House has issued a statement on the passing of Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, the oldest descendant of the Romanov Dynasty, who died on September 14th in Tuscany, Italy at the age of 92.

Alexander Zakatov, the Director of the Chancellery of the House of Romanov, told RIA Novosti earlier this week that the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, has already expressed her condolences to the family and relatives of Nicholas Romanovich and asks everyone to pray for his soul.

The following statement was issued by the Chancellery in Moscow, on Monday:

It is with deep regret that the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House has learned of the death in Tuscany (Italy) on September 14, 2014, of the oldest living relative of the Russian Imperial House, Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff. He was 92 years old.

Nicholas Romanoff was born on September 26, 1922, in Antibes (France). He was the son of His Highness Prince of the Imperial Blood Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) and his morganatic wife, Countess Praskovia Dmitrievna Sheremetev (1901-1980).

The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and Heir, H.I.H. The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, are deeply saddened by the passing of Nicholas Romanoff and ask all their countrymen to join them in praying for the repose of the soul of the newly-departed Nicholas.

In his interview with RIA Novosti, Zakatov noted that "Nicholas Romanovich Romanov provided charitable assistance in Russia. Together with his brother - Dmitri, Nicholas created The Romanov Fund for Russia, whose activity has always been appreciated by Her Imperial Highness. Sometimes," Zakatov continued, "he [Nicholas Romanov] made statements on different issues of public concern or about Russian history or, the history of the House of Romanov, which, to tell the truth, did not always correspond with the official position of the Russian Imperial House. But, as a private individual, Romanov was, of course, entitled to his own opinion." 

Zakatov added that even though Her Imperial Highness sometimes had disagreements with Nicholas Romanov, she never stopped "treating him as a relative, with love and respect."

Nicholas Romanov was the great-great grandson of Nicholas I, the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855. Nicholas Romanovich was born in 1922 in France, and had three daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He spent his final years living in Switzerland and Italy. The charitable fund - created by Nicholas Romanov, provides help for orphanages and hospitals in Russia and the CIS. 
Sources: Russian Imperial House, RIA Novosti 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:04 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014 12:10 PM EDT
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Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Honoured Near Moscow
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 4 minutes, 6 seconds
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
The video (in Russian) shows the procession from Ilyinskoe to Usovo, near Moscow on September 14th, 2014
Orthodox Christians took part in a religious procession near Moscow this week honouring the charitable work of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. The event was organized by the Elisabeth-Sergievskoe Educational Society. This year’s memorial procession marked the 150th anniversary of the Grand Duchess’s birth in 1864. 

The sister of the last Russian empress is remembered for her numerous charitable works in Russia, particularly in Moscow, where she founded the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy, the construction of shelters and maternity homes, and helping the needy.

On September 14th, bell ringing heralded the beginning of the procession from the Church of the Prophet Elijah at Ilyinskoe. It was here 130 years ago, that Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria attended her first Divine Liturgy. Hundreds of believers took part in the procession honouring the memory of the Grand Duchess. The three kilometre procession route began at Ilyinskoe and ended at Usovo, which in 1882, became the property of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. The drizzling rain, wet grass, and potholes did not deter the faithful.

The route of the procession took the faithful to the banks of the Moscow River at Ilyinskoe, which once housed the estate of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife Elizabeth Feodorovna. From here, members of the procession boarded rafts which took them across to the other side where the grand ducal couple’s manor house once stood. It was here that they spent their summer months while Grand Duke Sergei served as Governor General of Moscow. 

Now in its third year, the memorial procession honouring the Grand Duchess attracts a growing number of believers each year. They believe it is important to visit these places to help them learn about the life of the Grand Duchess, in whose heart was filled with compassion for others. "And, of course, here in the middle of the river you can cleanse your soul, and pray for mercy," said one of the parishioners.

Monument to Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna at Usovo
"At Ilyinskoe estate the grand ducal couple shared the best years of married life - almost 20 years, before the assassination of the Grand Duke Sergei in 1905. Studying the life of the grand-ducal couple, we are surprised by their faith and service to others. It is interesting to note that seven buildings associated with the charitable activities of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth have been preserved from the original estate at Ilyinskoe,"- said Anna Gromov, Chairman of the Supervisory Fund of the Elisabeth-Sergievskoe Educational Society..

At Ilyinskoe, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth founded a maternity hospital, schools, and a hospital for wounded soldiers of the Russo-Japanese War. After her husband, the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated in 1905 at the hands of terrorists, Elizabeth devoted himself entirely to the service of the people. 

In Moscow, she founded the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy, where she established a hospital, and a free pharmacy. Today, the convent continues the work of the Grand Duchess, which includes a gymnasium, children's home, garden for children with disabilities. Visitors are welcome, and local parishioners come to help those less fortunate.

The desire to help others was something that Grand Duchess Elizabeth carried throughout her life, right up until her last breath. In 1918, at Apapaevsk, near Yekaterinburg she and the other representatives of the Romanov dynasty were thrown into a pit and left to die. Elizabeth Feodorovna spent the final hours of her life trying to help her wounded relatives. The Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth’s faith and courage are today shared by many Orthodox Christians in Russia and around the world.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was martyred by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole in 1992 as New-Martyr Elizabeth. 

Orthodox Christians carry framed photographs of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and her husband,
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich during the procession from Ilyinskoe to Usovo
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:54 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014 7:49 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 September 2014
The Mystery of the Tsar Cannon in Moscow's Kremlin
Topic: Kremlin

Copyright Notice: The following article was published in the September 15th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alexander Vershinin, owns the copyright of the condensed version presented below.

The enormous cannon standing in the grounds of the Kremlin is one of the best-known symbols of the fortress. The world’s largest bore howitzer, it is also a masterpiece of medieval gun casting. But according to legend, the cannon has never actually been fired – or has it?

Standing in a central spot inside the Kremlin walls, a giant ornate cannon has long symbolized the Russian capital, its sheer size and presence spellbinding visitors. Few guns can measure up in weight and there is no larger bore howitzer in the world. 

Almost a meter in diameter, the cannon balls lying beneath the muzzle testify to the unimaginable force of this ancient weapon that still guards its secrets. 

Beyond its proportions, the 40-ton behemoth called the Tsar Cannon is also a remarkable example of fine medieval gun casting and the embodiment of six centuries of Russian artillery technology.

The first cannons appeared in Russia earlier than in most of Europe, built with knowledge acquired from the Tatars, who themselves mastered the gunsmith’s art from the Chinese in the 13th century. 

One story has it that the first Russian gun-maker was a Tatar called As (Ace) who was captured during the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. Two years later, the attacking forces of the Tatar khan Tokhtamysh were beaten back by sophisticated guns mounted on the Kremlin walls. 

Russia did not lag far behind its European neighbors in gunnery development. By the end of the 15th century, Russian artillery forces comprised several hundred guns, with 55 of these set on the walls of the fortress of Novgorod. 

Characterized by ever greater numbers and quality, this artillery boom occurred during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. In 1552, just one Russian army besieging Kazan fielded 150 guns, and Russian cannons also went on to shatter the walls of Lithuanian, Polish, German and Swedish cities.

By the end of the 16th century, Russian cannon masters had consolidated their reputation as among the world’s best. They not only built and maintained one of Europe’s largest artillery arsenals but devised models of weapons with no parallel in the West.

It was under Ivan the Terrible that gunsmiths first added grooves to the interior walls of barrels - an early step towards spiralled rifling that appeared in the 19th century. Oblong shells, fixed front and rear sights, and breech loading systems are all innovations by Russian cannon masters who were way ahead of the times. 

Medieval Russian chronicles document a number of prolific gun casters, the most famous of these being Andrei Chokhov, who made the Tsar Cannon in 1586. Conceived as the greatest menace of its time, the five-meter-long monster was designed to hurl 89 cm-wide stone cannonballs weighing almost a ton over a kilometre (0.6 miles).

It was supposed to stand on the Kremlin wall for the defense of Moscow but proved too large to anchor firmly. For more than a century Chokhov’s creation stood on Red Square near St. Basil’s Cathedral, and was only moved into the Kremlin in the 18th century. 

In the early 19th century the Tsar Cannon attracted the attention of historians due to its immense size and barrel cast with equestrian reliefs of Tsar Fyodor, crown and scepter in hand. As one of two surviving portraits made of the son of Ivan the Terrible in his lifetime, the ornate depiction also inspired the gun’s name. 

Kremlin architects set the piece on a gun carriage and, for added effect, placed several large cannon balls under its muzzle. These were pure invention, however, since firing metal rounds would have wrecked a medieval weapon of this caliber.

It is also precisely because of its size that the Tsar Cannon was for a long time thought to never have been fired. But in the late 20th century expert analysis revealed that it had thundered at least once. 

Some historians believe that the cannon was used on May 27, 1606, to shoot and disperse the ashes of ‘False Dmitry’, a usurper who seized the throne while pretending to be Ivan the Terrible’s son. 

True or not, the Tsar Cannon is one of the few remaining examples of traditional Russian cannon casting. If its immense size rendered it impractical as a weapon, these dimensions also prompted Peter the Great to spare it when he smelted down the entire Kremlin artillery arsenal to rebuild it along European lines. 

Two mortars also survived this technological purge and are now exhibited in St. Petersburg. And coincidentally or not, these were also made by Andrei Chokhov. 
© Alexander Vershinin / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 16 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:27 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014 6:31 AM EDT
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Monday, 15 September 2014
Nicholas Romanovich Romanov (1922-2014)
Topic: Nicholas Romanovich

Nicholas Romanovich Romanov, 1922-2014
The Russian news media have reported this morning that Nicholas Romanovich Romanov has died at the age of 92. He passed away yesterday at his estate in Tuscany, surrounded by members of his family. "This is a huge loss for us," - his younger brother, Dimitri Romanovich told ITAR-TASS, adding that it has not yet been decided where his brother will be buried.

Nicholas Romanovich belonged to the Nikolaevichi branch of the Russian Imperial Family which was founded by his great-great-grandfather, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1831-1891), the third son of Emperor Nicholas I. 

Nicholas Romanovich was born in Antibes, in the south of France on September 26, 1922. His father, Roman Petrovich (1896-1978) - Prince of the Imperial Blood, was a second cousin of the last emperor. His mother, Countess Praskovia Sheremeteva - was the daughter of Count Dimitri Sheremetev, a childhood friend and adjutant of Nicholas II. 

His grandparents were Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich of Russia (1864-1931) and his wife Grand Duchess Militza Nikolaevna (nee Princess Milica of Montenegro). They escaped Russia in 1919 aboard the British battleship, HMS Marlborough, along with other members of the Russian Imperial family, including the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. 

After the family moved to Rome in the pre-war years, he entered the classical department of the Lyceum. In 1942, the nineteen-year-old Nicholas Romanovich rejected a proposal of the fascist government of Italy to become the king of occupied Montenegro. From July 1944, he worked in organizations engaged in military actions against the Nazi propaganda.

After the war, the family settled in Egypt, and then returned to Europe. In January 1952 he married Countess Sveva della Gherardesca, heiress of the ducal family. Nicholas and his wife lived in Rougemont, Switzerland, for seven months every year, usually in the winter. During the rest of the year they stayed at their estate in Tuscany. The couple had three daughters: Natalia, Elizaveta and Tatiana. 

In July 1998, he participated in the funeral ceremony in the Peter and Paul Cathedral of the remains of Nicholas II and his family. It was during this historic event that I had my one and only opportunity of meeting Nicholas Romanovich in person. We were introduced in the lobby of the Hotel Astoria and chatted briefly. He was very cordial, and I still recall his kind eyes and enigmatic smile.

In 1979, the Romanov Family Association was officially formed with Prince Dmitri Alexandrovich as president and Nicholas as vice-president. When Vasili Alexandrovich became president in 1980, Nicholas remained vice-president. In 1989, after the death of Vasili Alexandrovich, Prince Nicholas was elected the new president of the Romanov Family Association. As a charitable endeavour, the association operates the Romanov Fund for Russia to raise money for aid projects in Russia.

The Romanov Family Association should not be confused with the Russian Imperial House, of which HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the current head. Some years back, Nicholas Romanovich told a St. Petersburg journalist that he was a republican, and did not support a restoration of monarchy in Russia.

On behalf of thousands of Royal Russia friends, supporters and followers around the world, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences and prayers to Nicholas Romanovich’s wife, daughters, and other family members for their loss.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia and ITAR-TASS. 15 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:08 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014 11:32 AM EDT
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Topic: Royal Russia


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:31 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 September 2014 7:41 AM EDT
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Saturday, 13 September 2014
A Russian Moment No. 47 - The Beauty of Imperial St. Petersburg
Topic: A Russian Moment

Photo © Dmitry Lovetsky
My first visit to St. Petersburg was back in 1986, when it was still known as Leningrad. Since that time I have returned year after year, witnessing the transformation of a once gray and dreary Soviet metropolis into an elegant imperial city. Today, St. Petersburg ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s rich history and architecture make it a photographer’s dream! The photograph in this week’s A Russian Moment is a perfect example of how easily a person can fall in love with this city.

The full moon is seen rising in the sky above the domes of the Smolny Cathedral on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Monday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, was the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. One of St. Petersburg landmarks, the Smolny Convent's main church was built between 1748 and 1764 by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. In 2004, the Smolny Cathedral became part of the State Museum St Isaac’s Cathedral. In April 2013, an announcement was made that the Smolny Cathedral would be returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 September, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 September 2014 1:47 PM EDT
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