Topic: Russian History
Today marks the 145th anniversary of the Russian Red Cross, one of the world’s oldest humanitarian organizations, established by the Russian Imperial family. It was on 15th May, 1867 that Emperor Alexander II approved the first Charter of the Russian Society of the Red Cross (RSRR), thus initiating its development in Russia. The Red Cross was under the patronage of the Empress up until 1917.
At the outbreak of World War I members of the Russian Imperial family became actively involved with the Russian Red Cross. Empress Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana enrolled as trainee nurses. Hospitals under the patronage of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna among others including the more senior grand duchesses played a key role in the care of wounded soldiers from the Front.
Pictured above are medical personnel and wounded Russian soldiers at a hospital established in one of the tsar's palaces. Seated in the second row are the Grand Duchesses Anastasia, Maria, Olga, their mother, Empress Alexandra, and Grand Duchess Tatiana. The photograph was taken in 1915.
The Red Cross with Imperial Portraits Egg is a jewelled and enamel Easter egg made by Henrik Wigstrom, under the supervision of Karl Faberge in 1915. It was made for Emperor Nicholas II, who presented the egg to his mother, the Dowager Empress Marie, in the same year.
The surprise inside was a hinged, folding screen of five oval miniatures of women from the Russian Imperial family, each wearing the uniform of the Red Cross. The portraits depict Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (Nicholas II's sister), Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana (Nicholas II's eldest daughters), Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (Nicholas II's first cousin).
The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna served with the Russian Red Cross during the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, and was later President of the Red Cross from 1894 until her death in 1928. When the Tsar presented her with the Red Cross With Imperial Portraits Egg in 1915, she was still serving as Head of the Russian Branch of the International Red Cross.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 15 May, 2012