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Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Preserving the Romanov Legacy
Topic: Royal Russia


Dear Friends of Royal Russia:

This letter is part of my annual Christmas appeal to Romanov enthusiasts and lovers of the history of Imperial Russia.

Established in 1994, Royal Russia has been a personal labour of love for more than two decades, one which I am honoured to share with many others around the world on a daily basis. I am able to achieve this via my web site, blog and Facebook pages, and through the publication of books and periodicals.

The many hours which I devote to Royal Russia are strictly voluntary. I do not earn a salary from Royal Russia. I am now retired and receive a monthly pension. My income is supplemented from my online bookshop. Royal Russia's existence and continued growth is solely dependent on the sale of my annual calendar, as well as donations from friends and supporters.

In 2016, the Royal Russia web site continued to grow, adding another 200 additional news stories, dozens of new full-length articles, hundreds of new photographs, dozens of videos, and much more. I am sure that you can appreciate that the maintenance and upkeep of a web site and blog of this size is both time consuming and costly?

Web Site and Blog: my web site and blog now offer more than 50 full-length articles, more than 700 news articles, more than 500 videos, over 2,000 photographs, plus a blog with over 2,000 news clips, videos and photographs and much more. Royal Russia is updated on a daily basis!

The growing number of articles, photographs and videos added annually, coupled with the more than 3 million visitors who visited my web site over the past year have had a serious impact on monthly operational and maintenance costs.

Each month, I pay a fee to my web-host Lycos-Angelfire. Videos, photographs (JPEGs), music (MPEGs) and online auction catalogues and other documents (PDFs) use up a lot of space, and I am forced to pay a monthly fee in order to provide additional space on my web site so that people can read and enjoy them.

I also pay a monthly fee to keep my web site and blog free from advertising pop-ups which otherwise are so numerous that they become a nuisance. I also have to pay for domain registration and a host of other services. All of these fees are paid for out of my own pocket.


"The translation of new articles from Russian, and a new Romanov book

from French into English will be the single largest expense in 2017" 


Translations: the cost of translating books and articles from Russian into English puts the greatest strain on the limited finances I have to work with. Books in particular cost thousands of dollars to translate, including Memories in the Marble Palace by Grand Duke Gabriel Constantinovich, and Last Years at the Court of Tsarskoe Selo, 1906-1909 by Général Alexandre Spiridovitch. The second volume of Spiridovitch’s memoirs, which cover the years 1910-1914 is now complete, and is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2017. 

Giving Back to Russia: over the past 4 years, the sale of my annual calendar has allowed Royal Russia to donate a total of 70,000 Rubles to the Tsarskoye Selo and Peterhof State-Museum Preserves. These gifts go towards restoration work in the palaces and the acquisition of items for the palace-museum collections. I am very proud that I have been given the opportunity to make at least a small contribution to each museum. I am committed to helping to preserve the Romanov legacy when and where I can, and will continue to make additional donations in the years ahead.

In past years, I have donated Royal Russia publications valued at $380.00, to the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in St. Petersburg, and the Holy Trinity Seminary Library at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

If you enjoy all the FREE articles, photographs, and videos on Royal Russia, as well as the weekly news and blog updates, please help support my work by making a donation.

If you would like to show your support for Royal Russia by making a personal donation, you may do this with a credit card by clicking on the Donate button below. Your donation, no matter how small (even $5 would be appreciated) will help to offset growing annual operational costs. 

Please note that there certainly is no obligation, this is merely a request for you to help by sponsoring my work and keeping the memories of old Russia alive.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of Royal Russia. 

Sincerely Yours, 
Royal Russia Founder / Website Administrator
NOTE: If you have recently made a donation, please accept my most sincere thanks for support of my work.
You will receive confirmation and thanks by e-mail or regular post.





Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:00 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2016 12:20 PM EST
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Monday, 5 December 2016
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Visits Moscow for Patriarch's Birthday
Topic: Russian Imperial House

H.I.H. the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich congratulates His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his 70th birthday in Moscow
On November 19-21, 2016, H.I.H. the Grand Duke George of Russia visited Moscow to attend church services marking the 70th birthday of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and to convey to him birthday greetings from his mother, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia.

On November 19, the Grand Duke arrived in Moscow from Madrid. His Imperial Highness met with members of Her Imperial Highness’s Chancellery to discuss on-going projects being carried out by the Chancellery and by other organizations supported by the Russian Imperial House.

On November 20, the birthday of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia, accompanied by the Director of H.I.H.’s Chancellery, Alexander N. Zakatov, and by the Advisor to the Chancellery for Public Relations and Publications, David G. Mepurishvili, went to Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where a Divine Liturgy was served by His Holiness and representatives of other Local Orthodox Churches, including His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria; His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine; His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia; His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia; His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus; His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania; His Beatitude Metropolitan Savva of Warsaw and All Poland; His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia; His Beatitude Archbishop Tikhon of Washington and All America; other hierarchs and clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church, and representatives of other Local Orthodox Churches, who were themselves unable to attend the service.

Among those attending the liturgy were: the Speaker of the State Duma, V. V. Volodin; the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the Russian Federation, S. V. Kirienko; Deputy Prime Minister S. E. Prikhodko; Minister of Culture V. R. Medinsky; the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President in the Central Federal District, A. D. Beglov; the Mayor of Moscow S. S. Sobianin; the member of the Federation Council A. A. Klishas; the Chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of the State Duma, L. E. Slutsky; member of the State Duma V. I. Resin; and representatives of numerous other state and public organizations.

After the Divine Liturgy, H.I.H. the Grand Duke George of Russia met with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and gave him a letter from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, congratulating His Holiness on his 70th birthday. He also presented the devices of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker to His Holiness, as well as a very old icon of the St. Nicholas, the Heavenly Patron of this Order, from the private collection of the Imperial House.

Here is the text of the congratulatory letter from Her Imperial Highness:


to His Holiness

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

Your Holiness,

I send you my heartfelt congratulations on your 70th birthday.

Your pious grandfather and father, who lived through the crucible of atheistic persecution, instilled in you a strong and abiding faith and taught you to defend your faith with courage and wisdom.

More than 50 years ago, you chose to follow in their pious footsteps. You pursued your education in the theological schools of the Northern Capital, took on yourself the mantle of monasticism and the priestly office, and then were given the dignity of episcopal rank. At each level of service assigned to you by the Holy Church, you fulfilled your duty to God, your fellow clergy, and your flock with a deep and profound sense of responsibility.

In 2009, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, recognizing your spiritual gifts and vast experience as an archpastor, elected you to the throne of the Russian patriarchate.

From the very first meeting with my parents, which took place exactly a quarter century ago, in November 1991, you showed unwavering love for us, respect for the historical heritage of our House, and a keen understanding of its mission in the modern world. You have assisted us with your prayers and advice, and have supported us at difficult moments in our lives.

Together with all the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church and of Orthodox Churches the world over, I pray that God will send down upon you health, many years, and unfailing strength as you continue to carry the Cross of Christ in your service as Patriarch.

In honour of your birthday, I ask you to accept the devices of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker I Class, and an icon of the Heavenly Patron of the Order. The Order of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker is one of our Dynastic Orders, your membership of which derives from your membership of the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, the highest of our Dynastic Orders.

I have sent my son and heir, the Grand Duke George of Russia, to convey to you this letter and these gifts, and also to demonstrate personally and publicly the love and respect our House has for you, our Holy Father and Intercessor.

Entrusting myself to your holy prayers and asking your blessing, I remain ever yours in faith and devotion,


Madrid, November 7/20, 2016

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich venerates an icon of Holy Physician and Passion-Bearer Evgeny (Botkin)
His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the Head of the House of Romanoff and to her Heir for these congratulations and gifts, and spoke warmly of his many meetings over the years with Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, in particular the time when they together attended the consecration of the memorial church in honour of the Icon of the Mother of God “Seeking of the Lost” on Soloviev Crossing, at which time there took place one of the first investiture ceremonies for the Order of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker, and when the Grand Duke received a blessing for his upcoming trip to Antarctica

From Christ the Saviour Cathedral the Grand Duke made his way to the D. D. Pletnev City Clinical Hospital No. 57, where he attended a service in the first church in Russia dedicated to the recently canonized Holy Physician and Passion-Bearer Evgeny (Botkin), who on July 4/17, 1918, was martyred in Ekaterinburg with the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The son of Dr. Sergei P. Botkin, the founder of modern Russian medical science, Evgeny Sergeevich Botkin was a lecturer at the Military Medical Academy, a hero of the Russo-Japanese War, and, from 1908 on, the physician to the court of Emperor Nicholas II. But it was not the glitter and gold of the court that attracted Dr. Botkin to his new duties. A deeply pious Orthodox believer, Evgeny Botkin was devoted to the Imperial Family and genuinely loved them, admiring their talents and nobility of spirit and understanding them as people, and so able to forgive their faults. The relationship between the doctor and his Imperial patients was not without its bumps, but at that tragic moment when a decision had to be made, he without the slightest hesitation acted on the basis of duty and devotion. Taken with the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers down into the basement of Ipatiev House, he alone understood that they were being led to their deaths.

The chapel at the D. D. Pletnev City Clinical Hospital No. 57 was the brainchild of the Chief Medical Officer of the hospital, Distinguished Doctor of the Russian Federation Irina A. Nazarova; the Academician and Chief Internist of the Department of Public Health of the City of Moscow, Alexander G. Chuchalin, and Archpriest Maksim Siniuk. The chapel was consecrated on March 25, 2016, by His Grace Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo. Now, any of the approximately 50,000 patients who receive treatment at this hospital each year can also benefit from the spiritual comfort offered in this holy place.

In the summer of 2016, the first Russian biographer of Dr. Evgeny Botkin—the historian and writer A. N. Krylov-Tolstikovich—presented as a gift to the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, an old icon of Christ “Behold the Man,” depicting the Saviour in the Crown of Thorns.

The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia had accepted this gift with enormous gratitude, but expressed her desire to keep the icon in Russia so it would be available for veneration by the people of her country. Recognizing the historical significance of the consecration of this church—the first dedicated to Dr. Botkin—the Grand Duchess asked to have the icon installed in this new church.

After the moleben in the chapel served by Archpriest Maksim Siniuk, the Grand Duke presented the Icon of the Saviour “Behold the Man” to the church. Dr. Irina Nazarova, Dr. Alexander Chuchalin, and the biographer A. N. Krylov-Tolstikovich attended the service and were present during the presentation ceremony of the icon.

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich presents the icon “Behold the Man,” depicting the Saviour in
the Crown of Thorns to the chapel at the D. D. Pletnev City Clinical Hospital No. 57 
Then the Grand Duke met with the hospital staff in the main auditorium. Dr. Irina Nazarova and Dr. Alexander Chuchalin gave short speeches formally greeting the Grand Duke, and Alexander N. Zakatov, the Director of H.I.H.’s Chancellery, rose and spoke about the activities of the Imperial Foundation for Cancer Research, which the Grand Duke founded and continues to serve as its Trustee and Director. (See The discussion quickly turned to how the hospital and the Imperial Foundation can work together in the future. The Grand Duke then took questions from the hospital staff and from the press.

Also present were members of the Chancellery, representatives of the organizations “For Faith and Fatherland” and the Russian Nobility Association, the famous Georgian actor and director David B. Giorgobiani, and representatives of other civil organizations.

Irina Nazarova and Alexander Chuchalin presented a Bible to His Imperial Highness.

After his visit to the D. D. Pletnev City Clinical Hospital No. 57, the Grand Duke George of Russia visited the oldest member of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker, Lieutenant-Colonel Nikolai Ignatievich Furmanov, whose 103rd birthday is fast approaching. His Imperial Highness wished Colonel Furmanov health and spiritual strength, and presented him a silver Icon medal of the Feodorov Mother of God—the patron icon of the House of Romanoff.

On November 21, the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel and the other Heavenly Powers, H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia met with members of H.I.H.’s Chancellery and with others working on projects supported or connected with the Imperial House. He then departed from Moscow for Madrid.

© Russian Imperial House. 5 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:55 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 5 December 2016 12:31 PM EST
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Saturday, 3 December 2016
Soviet War Hero Refused to Shake Hands with Nicholas II's Killer
Topic: Bolsheviks

This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

December 1st marked the 120th anniversary of Soviet war hero Marshall Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov (1896-1974). Zhukov is recognized as the most acclaimed Soviet military commander during World War II, particularly for Russia’s victory over the Nazis in the Battle for Berlin in 1945. He is the most decorated general in the history of the Soviet Union.

An article published in the November 29th edition of the daily Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, revealed some little known facts about this man. Of particular interest is a meeting between Zhukov and the man who murdered Russia’s last tsar in 1918 Peter Ermakov. 

Georgy Zhukov was appointed commander of the Urals Military District from 1948 to 1953. According to the official version Zhukov was sent to the Urals, because he illegally exported from Germany works of art. But according to unofficial, he had simply fallen out of favor with Stalin. It appears that Stalin was jealous of Zhukov's popularity among the Soviet people.

During his years in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg), he was fascinated in the history of the city and region. According to friends, Zhukov was distressed by the shooting of Nicholas II and his family by the Ural Soviet on 17th July 1918. Zhukov believed that it was necessary to save the monarch and his family. 

It was during those same years in Sverdlovsk that great honour was being enjoyed by yet another local: Peter Ermakov. After the Civil War Ermakov became a policeman, and was later promoted as head of the prison in 1927. Ermakov met regularly with workers' collectives and bragged that it was he who pulled the trigger of his revolver, ending the life of Russia’s last emperor and tsar. This dreadful act of regicide was rewarded with the renaming of a street in his honour in the Ural capital. [Note: Ulitsa Ermakova was renamed Kluchevskaya in the 1990s - PG]. Zhukov gnashed his teeth while witnessing all these honours.

Finally, in 1951 the two men met. At a reception, which gathered all the local Party elite, Peter Ermakov approached General Zhukov and held out his hand. Frowning in disgust Zhukov looked Ermakov in the eye, and muttered, "I do not shake the hands of the murderers."
For more information on Peter Ermakov, please refer to the following article:

Communists Lay Flowers at the Grave of the Murderer of Russia's Imperial Family

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:14 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2016 11:29 AM EST
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Friday, 2 December 2016
Exhibition: Matilda . . . Costumes from the Film by Alexei Uchitel
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Costumes from the film Matilda on display in the Catherine Palace. Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The preview of a unique exhibition Matilda . . . Costumes from the Film by Alexei Uchitel, was held today in the Grand Hall of the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. The exhibit showcases 70 magnificent costumes from the upcoming film, including ball gowns, evening dresses, uniforms and accessories. The exhibit opens to the public on 3rd December 2016. 
More than 7000 original costumes and wardrobe items - shoes, headaches dresses, jewellery and accessories were created for the film. The costumes are based on historical prototypes of the late 19th-early 20th century, designed by St. Petersburg artists Nadezhda Vasilyeva and Olga Mikhailova. 

The creation of the wardrobe for this film took two years to complete, and included more than 50 sewing and textile enterprises, hundreds of masters of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, in the manufacture of fabrics and costumes. Some of the work was done abroad, in England, India, China, Pakistan and Germany. The costume crew employed dozens of experts: artists, costume designers, embroiderers, jewellers, tailors, and historical consultants. It is interesting to note that more than 12 tons of silk, wool, velvet, cloth, gabardine, calico, cotton, organza and leather, were used in the making of the costumes. The Coronation costumes were technologically produced in the same way as a hundred years ago. 

The controversial film Matilda tells the story of a three-year love affair between the future Tsar Nicholas II and the ballet dancer named Matilde Kshesinskaya. The film is scheduled for release in March 2017

The exhibition Matilda . . . Costumes from the Film by Alexei Uchitel runs until 17 April 2017 in the Grand Hall of the Catherine Palace.
All Photos © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 2 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:44 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 2 December 2016 10:07 AM EST
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St. Maria of Helsinki. The Holy Life of Anna Taneyeva-Vyrubova
Topic: Vyrubova, Anna

Anna Alexandrovna Taneyeva-Vyrubova (1884-1964)
Article written by Archpriest Andrew Phillips, Orthodox England © 2016

All the tears that you have shed will glitter like diamonds on the robes of the Mother of God;
for all your sufferings and trials God will especially bless you and reward you.

—Prophecy of the Holy Martyr Tsarina Alexandra[1]

There are a number of ancient Orthodox saints in Scandinavia: St Anschar (Oscar, + 865) in Demark; St Sunniva (c. 990), St Olaf (+ 1030) and St Hallvard of Oslo (+ 1043) in Norway: St Olaf (+ 1022), St Sigfrid (+ 1045) and St Anna of Novgorod (+ 1050) in Sweden. However, there is no ancient Orthodox saint in Finland as such, as it came to the Faith so late, already in Roman Catholic times, so it missed out on being in communion with the Church. However, in the renewal of Orthodoxy in modern times Finland does have a saint: Righteous Mother Maria of Helsinki.

Born on 16 July 1884 in Oranienbaum in Russia as Anna Alexandrovna Taneyeva into a family with Imperial connections, she was to become a lady-in-waiting and the closest friend of the Tsarina Alexandra. Snobbish and profoundly jealous aristocrats, rich but without nobility and imbued with selfish vanity and vulgarity, detested her. Typically for them, they dismissed here and slandered her as stout, unattractive, talkative, naive and unintelligent. However, children loved her and the pious Tsarina saw her pure, kind-hearted and childlike face and beautiful, tender eyes and valued her immense piety and generosity. Thus, the Tsarina befriended Anna, preferring her to the superficial and unspiritual court snobs, and in 1905, at the age of twenty, Anna was given a position at court. The three following years she went on holiday with the Romanovs.

In 1907 Anna Taneyeva married Alexander Vyrubov, an officer in the Imperial Chancellery. A few days before she had been warned by Gregory Rasputin that the marriage would be an unhappy one, but she had ignored him. The marriage remained unconsummated, for Anna’s husband did indeed turn out to be mentally deranged, having tried to kill her, and had to go for treatment in Switzerland. Within eighteen months the unconsummated marriage had been annulled. After the Revolution Anna’s mother told interrogators that her son-in-law had ‘proved to be completely impotent, with an extremely perverse sexual psychology that manifested itself in various sadistic episodes in which he inflicted moral suffering on her’.

Anna Vyrubova, as she had now become known, became one of Elder Gregory Rasputin’s followers and on orders from the Tsarina went to visit his home village of Pokrovskoe in Siberia in order to investigate rumours about him, which turned out to be baseless. Her importance grew at court and with the death of St John of Kronstadt Elder Gregory became more and more important to her. For some years she served as a go-between for the Tsarina and Elder Gregory at those times when his healing powers were needed. During World War I Anna trained as a Red Cross nurse and cared for soldiers along with the Tsarina and the Tsarina’s two older daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. Her great generosity to the poor left her virtually penniless.

In January 1915 Anna was severely injured in a train accident between the capital and Tsarskoye Selo; the convalescent found herself crippled, but credited Gregory with saving her life through his prayers. In September 1916 she, Lili Dehn and Gregory went to Tobolsk to venerate St John of Tobolsk who had been canonized. Anna opened St Seraphim’s military hospital with the huge amount of 100,000 roubles she received from the railway company in compensation for her accident. She also planned to build a church dedicated to St Seraphim of Sarov on her property.

On the evening of 16 December 1916 Elder Gregory told Anna of a proposed visit to Prince Yusupov in order to meet his wife who was reportedly ill. The next morning Gregory’s disappearance was reported by his daughter to Anna. An investigation followed and the murderers Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri were placed under house arrest. Two days later Gregory’s brutalized body was found. On 21 December it was taken to be buried in a corner on Anna’s property adjacent to the Imperial Palace. The burial was attended by the Imperial couple with their daughters, Anna, her maid and a few of Gregory’s friends.

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Anna Vyrubova in the Crimea
On 21 March 1917, very ill with the measles, the much slandered Anna Vyrubova was arrested for no reason by the masonic Kerensky dictatorship. Completely innocent, she underwent five months of harsh imprisonment in the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg that even included an unnecessary and humiliating medical examination to prove her virginity. The fifteen interrogations on her political role concluded that she was too morally upright, honest, sincere and childlike to have done anything wrong and she was released.

Anna’s memoirs describe her harsh treatment in the damp prison, her illness, the beatings, kickings, mockings and being spat upon, and her narrow escape from execution when, miraculously, she met several old friends of her father on a Saint Petersburg street who helped her to escape. This she attributed to St John of Kronstadt, who had already consoled her in a dream before her arrest. She endured much hardship and poverty avoiding the Bolsheviks, but only reluctantly escaped to Finland in early 1921.

Her memoirs, Memories of the Russian Court[2], published in Paris in 1922, provide rare and valuable descriptions of the home life of the Tsar and his family. No-one understood Gregory Rasputin and the Tsarina better than Anna. Condemned and slandered by the worldly as naïve and unintelligent, she had foreseen everything that would happen with the overthrow of the Tsar. The “intelligent” politicians and aristocrats who had betrayed the Tsar had foreseen nothing.

In 1923 Anna became a nun at the monastery of Valaam under the name of Mother Maria. She lived under the spiritual direction of Valaam elders and lived in poverty as a pious Russian Orthodox nun. Unable to enter the convent of her choice due to her physical disabilities, she stayed in her own very modest house, living the strict monastic life of a secret nun. At first she lived with her mother and then, when she died in 1937, a loyal friend called Vera Zapevalova (+ 1984), poorly and reclusively.

Anna spent this second half of her life first in locations in Finland, then in Sweden and after the Second World War in Helsinki. For over forty years a nun, she died penniless aged 80 on 20 July 1964 in Helsinki, where her grave is located in the Orthodox section of the Hietaniemi cemetery. She had been born one day before the date of the martyrdom of the Imperial Family and reposed three days after it. In birth, as in death, she had been tied to them. So ended the life of one who was faithful to the end to the ideals of God, Tsar and Homeland.

“In Finland you have a saint—Anna Vyrubova,” said a hieromonk from the Trinity St Sergius Lavra. “Turn to her in any need for help. Go to her grave in the Orthodox cemetery there, stand and pray. Feel how easy it is to pray there, how calm and peaceful your soul becomes” (Bishop Arseny).[3]

“May God help us all….to unite with one another in peace and love, offering our tears and ardent repentance to the Merciful God for our countless sins, committed before the Lord and the Tsar crowned by God…And only then will a great and mighty Russia rise up, for our joy and for the fear of our enemies’.[4]

—Mother Maria
[1] P. 196 of ‘Vernye’ (The Faithful) by O. V. Chernova, Moscow 2009


[3] P. 203 of ‘Vernye’ (The Faithful) by O. V. Chernova, Moscow 2009

[4] Ibid.

© Archpriest Andrew Phillips / Orthodox England. 2 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:38 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 2 December 2016 7:58 AM EST
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Thursday, 1 December 2016
Restored Portrait of Nicholas II Unveiled in St. Petersburg
Topic: Nicholas II

Rector of the Academy Stieglitz Vasily Kichedzhi presents the restored portrait of Emperor Nicholas II
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

Historical justice is done, a portrait of Emperor Nicholas II - by the Russian artist Ilya Savich Galkin (1860-1915) - hidden from human eyes for some ninety-odd years - was presented at the St. Petersburg Museum of Applied Arts on November 30th. 

The restoration which took three years to complete, was initiated by the staff and students of the department of painting and restoration of the Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design under Professor Tatiana Potselueva. 

The portrait of Russia’s last emperor was discovered on the back of a portrait of Vladimir Lenin in 2013. Today, the double portraits are presented to the public for the first time. Nicholas II is presented in an elegant frame, while Lenin is presented in the "workers and peasants” wood. 

The story of this unique painting attracted the interest of the Russian media, as well as specialists in the field of painting. They believe that the history of these portraits is both mysterious as mystical, symbolizing both the tragedy and the greatness of the country's history at a time of great change and upheaval.

In 1896, Ilya Galkin was appointed Court painter. The young artist painted a portrait of Nicholas II in the year of his coronation. The emperor appears in all his glory - in dress uniform, set against the background of a palace interior. The portrait was painted under the order for the Petrovsky Commercial College, which during Soviet times became Primary School No. 206.

During the upheaval of the 1917 Revolution, to which Galkin did not live to witness, the disappearance of the portrait went unnoticed. As it turned out, the portrait of Nicholas II did not disappear, it was merely hidden. The artist Vladislav Izmailovich utilized the reverse of the canvas of Nicholas II for a portrait of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (1924). Izmailovich’s initiative in fact saved Galkin’s portrait of Russia’s last emperor. For the next 90 years, the back-to-back portraits hung in the hall of Primary School No. 206 in Leningrad.
It was not until 2013, when Primary School No. 206 asked for the portrait of the Bolshevik leader, which was ripped at the bottom, to be restored. When the Stieglitz Academy restorers took the painting out of the frame, they discovered that the back of the canvas was covered with black water-soluble paint. Beneath the paint they found the well preserved portrait of Emperor Nicholas II.

Portrait of Emperor Nicholas II (1896) Ilya Savich Galkin (1860-1915)
What's next?

Professor Tatiana Potselueva, engaged students of the Academy in the restoration of the portrait. These young artists took great pride and honour by participating in this historic event. Now that their work is complete, the question now, is what will the Academy do with the portraits?

Rector of the Academy Stieglitz Vasily Kichedzhi, notes that this painting requires special storage conditions and should be put on display in a large museum. In addition, he notes that the portrait has always been the property of the state and should continue to belong to the state.

“It is not just a picture, it is - the personification of the history of the country and the state” - said Kichedzhi. The rector wrote a letter to the Minister of Education and Minister of Culture with a request to determine the future fate of the picture.

In the meantime, a number of prominent museums have expressed an interest in the portrait of Emperor Nicholas II. Among those is the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve Olga Taratynova, who believes that the panting should be displayed in the Alexander Palace, which will reopen as a multi-museum complex in July 2018.
The Museum of Political History in St. Petersburg, is believed to be a perfect venue to display the portrait of Lenin.

While the fate of both portraits is being decided, visitors to St. Petersburg can view the portraits of Emperor Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin at the Stieglitz Applied Arts Museum in St Petersburg, from December 1st.
For more information on the restoration of this painting, please refer to the following article:

Image of Emperor Nicholas II Found Beneath Portrait of Vladimir Lenin

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 1 December, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:02 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 2 December 2016 11:58 AM EST
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Saturday, 26 November 2016
Iconic St. Petersburg Bridge to be Restored
Topic: St. Petersburg

The four winged lions (griffins) crowning the abutments of the Bank Bridge were designed by sculptor Pavel Sokolov (1764-1835)
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The restoration of one of St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmarks, the Bank Bridge is now underway. Situated just a few minutes' walk down the Griboedov Canal from Nevsky Prospekt and Kazan Cathedral, St. Petersburg's Bank Bridge is one of the world's most beautiful pedestrian bridges, thanks to the glorious sculptures of golden-winged griffons, created by the sculptor Pavel Sokolov in 1826. 

Part of the restoration work involves the removal of the famous winged griffons for “long-term treatment”. These sculptures are among the most popular sites in the city. Tourists do not miss a chance to make a selfie, some even climbing on them. 

The bridge is in front of the former Assignation Bank building
(now housing the St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Financing)
The griffins managed to survive the Revolution, war and the elements, however, random acts of vandalism over the years have become a big problem for this historic landmark. There is a legend still propagated among the citizens of St. Petersburg, that if you rub a griffon’s paw, that you will inevitably make a fortune. While many may see this as harmless fun, it has in fact resulted in the gilding being erased, or scratched.  Even worse, are tourists and locals who have carved their initials into the wings of the griffins. Sadly, it is these types of vandalism which are becoming a growing problem in St. Petersburg.

"The state of griffins is very bad, and this is evidenced by mechanical damage, the condition of the joints, the condition of the gilded wings, and exposed layers of paint," - said the chief specialist of the State Committee for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments of St. Petersburg Ekaterina Krupnikova-Balashov.

At 1.85 meters, it is the narrowest bridge in the city, a miniature architectural gem
During the last century, the bridge has undergone numerous repairs and restorations, as well as structural modifications. In 1949 the wooden cover of the bridge was repaired, and later in 1951-1952 the wooden bearing structure of the bridge was replaced by a metal one. In 1967 and 1988 the gilding of the lions’ wings was renovated. In 1997 the sculptures and handrail lattice were restored. In 2007-2008 the Griboyedov Canal Embankment from Kazan Cathedral to the Bank Bridge was renovated. 

In 2008, the wings of the griffins were covered with gold leaf. Within a week, much of it was scraped off by vandals. The griffins have remained in a neglected state ever since. The State Committee for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments of St. Petersburg, have now found a private investor, who has allocated some 20 million rubles for the restoration of the griffin wings. 

According to preliminary estimates the repair will take about six months. Krupnikova-Balashov noted that precautions will be taken during the restoration to implement “vandal-proof technology” to safeguard this architectural gem from repeated damage.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 November, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:40 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2016 6:21 AM EST
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Friday, 25 November 2016
Monument of Last Imperial Family to be Established in Russian Convent
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

Artist concept of the proposed monument to Russia's last Imperial family at the Holy Trinity-St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent 
This article has been translated from Russian by Dmitry Lapa

On November 17 representatives of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Fund and the Nizhny Novgorod Metropolia announced the beginning of collecting donations for installing a monument to the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The monument, which will also be dedicated to the family of the Russian tsar, is to appear at the Holy Trinity-St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent as early as 2017.

Founder of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Fund Konstantin Malofeyev; Metropolitan George of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas; Abbess Sergiya of Diveyevo; representatives of the business community and public organizations that honor the history and hope for the resurgence of the former glory of Russia were present at the event, reports Tsargrad TV.

According to Konstantin Malofeyev, “the Russian people are beginning to realize the gravity of the crime of apostasy and betrayal of the tsar.” He also stressed that they have also now come to realize the significance of the martyrdom of the Holy Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The date of unveiling of the monument was not chosen at random—2017 will mark the 100th anniversary since the tragic events of 1917. The location was chosen intentionally as well. The St. Seraphim-Diveyevo Convent and the family of Nicholas II are inseparably interconnected. It is much to the credit of St. Nicholas II that the holy elder Seraphim of Sarov, the patron of Diveyevo for many years, was canonized. The emperor insisted on his glorification in spite of the opposition of almost all the members of the Holy Synod. “The ceremony of the Church canonization of Venerable Seraphim took place on July 19 (August 1 according to the new calendar), 1903. The imperial family along with thousands of people from all corners of Russia took part in it,” representatives of the metropolia noted.

© Translated by Dmitry Lapa / 25 November, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:08 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2016 6:15 AM EST
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Thursday, 24 November 2016
Special Offer from ROYAL RUSSIA
Topic: Books



24 November, 2016

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:11 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2016 1:27 PM EST
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Moscow Prepares to Honour New Martyrs and Confessors with New Church
Topic: Russian Church

Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka by Russian architect Dmitry Smirnov
This article was researched from Russian media sources and written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

Despite the fact that the construction of the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka is still ongoing, it is already possible to fully appreciate its majestic appearance. 
The church's construction marks the 100th anniversary of the victims of the Russian Revolution in 1917. 
The beautiful interiors of the church, built on the grounds of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, are particularly noteworthy, and can be appreciated in these stunning images presented on the web site.

The foundation stone at the construction site, was laid and consecrated on 28th December 2013, by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. At the same time the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed hope that the realization of what happened to Russia in the early 20th century which "brought such untold suffering and sacrifices" will help contemporaries to "remember those events and not to repeat the tragic errors of their ancestors."
The Sretensky Monastery was founded in 1397, it is one of the five oldest monasteries of Moscow. The monastery is located in the center of Moscow, on the now infamous Bolshaya Lubyanka street.

The consecration of the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in Lubyanka is expected to take place on 2nd March 2017.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 November, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2016 12:57 PM EST
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