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400th Anniversary
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Saturday, 11 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selo Commemorative Coin
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Pacific island of Niue has issued an unusual coin puzzle commemorating Tsarskoye Selo. The silver coin is composed of five parts and reflects the history of the former palace complex of the Romanovs.

In the central part of each coin is the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the incriptions - ELIZABETH II, NIUE ISLAND (issuer), the mint's mark, 2 DOLLARS (face value), 2012 (year of issue), Ag 925 (alloy of silver).

On the reverse of the central coin is the image of the front gate of the Catherine Palace. The left coin - the effigy of Empress Elizabeth in pad printing technology. The right coin - the effigy of Emperior Nicholas II, the last tsar who was in residence before the October Revolution. The top coin - the image of the front elevation of the Catherine Palace. The bottom coin - the image of the eastern front elevation of the Cameron Gallery.

Each irregular coin is decorated by rococo ornament and an insertion of amber stylized as the decorations of the Amber room in the Catherine Palace.

All Niueans are citizens of New Zealand, and HM Queen Elizabeth II is head of state.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:55 PM EDT
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Friday, 10 August 2012
Large Scale Restoration at Kuskovo Underway
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 40 seconds
Topic: Country Estates


The Kuskovo Estate-Museum is currently undergoing a large scale restoration. The restoration of the facades of the historic buildings is expected to be completed by October.

There are further plans to reconstruct the pond and garden, which, when completed will reflect an 18th century formal French garden, complete with alleys of lime trees, flower beds and marble statues.

Further restoration will be carried out on the historic interiors of the main house itself. However, special care must be taken by craftsmen due to the fact that the building was originally constructed out of wood.

Restoration of the ballroom will begin shortly and include the chandeliers, mirrors and parquet floors with a complex pattern, originally made using three different types of rare woods.

Situated several miles east of Moscow, Kuskovo was the former summer country house and estate of the Sheremetev family. Built in the 18th century, it was one of the first great summer country estates of the Russian nobility, and one of the few still preserved in the Moscow region.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 August, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:21 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2012 4:49 PM EDT
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Thursday, 9 August 2012
Portrait of Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich
Topic: Nicholas Alexandrovich GD


This miniature portrait of the Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich was painted by Alois Gustav Rockstuhl in 1911. It was originally in the personal collection of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, and is now in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

Born at Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich was born 20th September [O.S. 8 September] 1843. He was the eldest son of the Emperor Alexander II and the Empress Maria Alexandrovna. He was Tsesarevich and Heir-Apparent from 2 March 1855 to his death on April 24th [12th April] 1865.

In the summer of 1864 he became engaged to Princess Dagmar of Denmark (the future Empress Maria Feodorovna). After his death, she married his brother, the Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Alexander III).

A comprehensive study on the life and death of the Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich will be featured in Royal Russia Annual No. 3   due in January 2013.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:25 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 12 August 2012 11:14 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 8 August 2012
The Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent and the Last Days of the Romanovs



 The Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, Ekaterinburg (early 20th century) 

In October of 1824, there was a great festivity at the Novo- Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg, as the sisters welcomed an eminent guest: the Emperor Alexander I. For them, he was not only the Tsar but also their benefactor, for it was due to his royal patronage, the opening of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent became possible. At the moment of this joyous encounter no one could imagine that in less than a hundred years, the sisters would become the benefactors of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II...

During the difficult years of suffering under the Bolsheviks, the sisters did not forget all the good deeds they had received. When in 1918, Tsar Nicholas II with all of his family were kept under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent prayed for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, to strengthen them, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters' help came not only through prayer but also through deeds: disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family by passing over various foods to them through the guards on a daily basis. On June 18th of 1918, a month before their murders, the Empress Alexandra Fedorvna made the following entry in her diary: "The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Aleksey and for us, as well as cream."

On July 16th, 1918,while making their daily visit bearing food for the August family, the nuns were told not to come any more. That night, the Tsar and his entire family perished as martyrs at the hands of the Bolsheviks.

During the 23 years of his reign, Nicholas II did not personally visit the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, but the following fact speaks of his benevolence. When the artists at the convent painted a portrait of the Emperor Nicholas II in the Life-Guards' uniform of hussar regiment and passed it along to St. Petersburg, the Emperor placed this gift in his personal apartment at the Winter Palace. The portrait was painted by Nun Emilia in 1896. In October 1917, during the assault against the palace, this portrait was bayonetted by soldiers and sailors. For over 70 years, it was kept at the Museum of the October Revolution in Leningrad. Now it has been restored, but the cuts from the bayonets were left in place.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent 

During the 1920s, the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, like many other convents, monasteries and churches in Russia, was subjected to terrible persecution, looting and destruction at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The convent saw a revival in 1994, and today accomodates 150 nuns, all of whom carry out charitable work in the community, as well as work in the convents icon workshop, publishing house, or sewing workshops.

Situated in the southern part of Ekaterinburg, the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent welcomes pilgrims and visitors. Each year on the night of July 16/17 a liturgy is held in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, whom the nuns of the convent had shown such kindness in their final days.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 8 August, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:59 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 9 July 2016 12:21 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Horseman from the Banks of the Neva
Topic: Peter the Great


The Bronze Horseman is an impressive monument to the founder of Russia’s city of St.Petersburg, Peter the Great. On August 7, 2012 this symbol of St.Pete turns 230.

In Russian the monument is called “ the copper horseman” though it’s actually made of bronze. The famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was the one calling the horseman “copper” in his narrative poem of 1833.

Commissioned by Catherine the Great, the statue was erected on Senatskaya Square. In correspondence with the Empress, the famous philosopher Denis Diderot suggested French sculptor Étienne Falconet to create the monument. Before erecting the statue, Falconet did a lot of research about Russia and Peter the Great, says director Andrei Konchalovsky who knows a lot about the sculptor.

"Peter the Great was a mystery for any foreigner so Falconet wanted to understand his character. The monument is unusual –Peter has no symbols of power like orb and scepter. He is more of a hero, athlete on a horse rearing at the edge of a cliff. Falconet carved from life and as this was the pre-photography era a guard officer on a rearing horse was posing for him everyday."

It took Falconet 12 years to finish the monument. The statue was unveiled marking 100 years of Peter the Great’s ascension to the throne.

A horseman on a large stone is dominating the Neva embankment having survived the Revolution of 1917, the renaming of city to Leningrad and back and many other things. Its engraving says to Peter the Great from Catherine II.

The horseman’s outstretched arm is pointing towards Sweden while Stockholm has a monument to Karl XII pointing towards Russia reminding of fierce battles between the countries. Then, Peter defeated Sweden and gained access to the Baltic Sea.

The legend has it that during the Siege of Leningrad the statue was covered with sandbags and a wooden shelter. After the shelter was removed someone painted the Medal for the Defense of Leningrad on the horseman’s chestand it remained untouched for a long time.

© The Voice of Russia. 7 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:52 AM EDT
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Monday, 6 August 2012
Nationalist Launches Latest Bid to Relocate Lenin
Topic: Bolsheviks


Vladimir Lenin may be dead, but the question of what to do with his corpse is still very much alive.

That could change soon thanks to a new initiative by nationalist and Orthodox Christian groups to have the Soviet primogenitor evicted from his Red Square mausoleum by the end of the year.

"Nationalists, Cossacks and Orthodox groups have always supported his removal, but until now, we've never formed a united front to make it happen," said Dmitry Dyomushkin, head of the banned Slavic Union movement and a co-organizer of the aptly named "For Removing Lenin!" initiative.

The presence of Lenin's corpse violates the cultural, national and spiritual traditions of the Russian people and has led to unnecessary social tensions, Dyomushkin said by telephone Friday.

Public support appears to be building, albeit slowly, behind the idea of removing Lenin from the mausoleum, where he has been on display almost continuously since 1924.

Fifty-six percent of Russians support such an initiative — up from 50 percent in 1997 — according to a 2011 Levada Center poll.

In May, they received a boost when Vladimir Medinsky, a State Duma deputy and outspoken proponent of burying Lenin, was named culture minister.

Dyomushkin said people of all political persuasions are welcome to join the initiative, whose narrow aim is to build public support for Lenin's removal, including via rallies.

But it remains to be seen whether Dyomushkin, a controversial ultranationalist with fascist leanings, can attract mainstream and liberal supporters.

Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, said that he has long supported Lenin's removal from Red Square, but that he won't work with Dyomushkin, a controversial ultranationalist, or appear on stage with him.

"I have nothing in common with Dyomushkin, but if he says 'two plus two equals four,' I'll agree," Mitrokhin said by telephone Friday, adding that Yabloko deserved credit for the idea to remove Lenin.

Representatives from 28 organizations, including the Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers, the Monarchist Imperial League and the For Holy Rus movement, attended the second meeting of the organizing committee, which was held Thursday, according to a page on Dyomushkin's website.

But strangely, he couldn't provide any information on Andrei Chernyakov, the coordinator of the organizing committee's "liberal-democratic" wing, one of three ideological blocks spelled out in the statement on Dyomushkin's website.

Thirty-one percent of Russians, including many Communists, believe Lenin should stay put.

Sergei Obukhov, a State Duma Deputy from the Communist Party, denounced Dyomushkin's initiative as an attempt to curry favor with the presidential administration, citing the Slavic Union leader's application to join the presidential human rights council.

"I don't think Dyomushkin will score points in the Kremlin by cursing the memory of the founding father of the current Russian Federation, the great Russian political genius, the man who put social and national liberation on the agenda of the 20th century," he told Interfax last month.

And in a further reminder of how divided Russians still are on Lenin, the organizing committee has vowed not to take a position on what to do with the body once it's removed.

"Let Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov take the corpse to his dacha. Let them bury Lenin next to his relatives. Let them cremate him, as he wanted. Let them fire him out of a cannon. Just as long as they get him out of Red Square," Dyomushkin said.

He denied that the initiative, whose aims include a letter-writing campaign to cultural figures and politicians, including the heads of the four parties represented in the State Duma, was at all affiliated with the Kremlin.

Dyomushkin has already asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to check the legality of Lenin's presence on Red Square, where he has lain almost continuously since 1924.

Ultimately, the fate of Lenin's corpse seems to lie with President Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia party, neither of which appear to be in a rush.

Mummification and the public display of corpses aren't in Russia's national tradition, but now is not the time to bury Lenin, State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov of United Russia said.

"I don't see any reason to start a bitter fight with the third of the population that sees Lenin and the mausoleum as a symbol. This isn't the biggest problem facing our society," he said by telephone Friday, adding that Lenin should be moved as soon as the issue no longer polarizes society.

Editor's Note: There are many people (myself included) who still believe that Lenin gave the order to murder Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918. Further, he is responsible for the deaths and suffering of millions of innocent people when he unleashed the Civil War and the Red Terror that followed. His hatred towards religion led to the endless violence against the Russian Orthodox Church. Lenin also signed the shameful Treaty of Bretsk-Litovsk with Germany on March 3, 1918. For these reasons, among many others, his body should be removed from the mausoleum where his memory is glorified on Red Square and interred in a cemetery. Paul Gilbert

© The Moscow Times. 6 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:36 PM EDT
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Fascinating Photos Capture Life in Imperial Russia Before the Revolution
Topic: Imperial Russia


These remarkable pictures show the lives of Russian peasants living in the 1800s.

Taken by Edinburgh-born artist William Carrick he was born on New Year's Eve in 1827 and months later was taken to Russia where he grew up.

He studied painting at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and studied in Rome.

During one of his visits to Edinburgh, he took photography lessons and met John McGregor who returned with him to St Petersburg.

In 1859 he opened one of the first photographic studios and McGregor worked with him as an assistant.

Together the pair travelled rural Russia capturing the lives of peasants living and working in Russia.

Carrick did this to boost his income and keep his studio afloat. The pictures satisfied the curiosity of tourists and the public who found Russia's peasants fascinating.

The pictures, which are dated from the 1860s to the 1870s, include the lives of those working in the busy streets of St Petersburg, from street vendors to musicians and chimney sweeps.

Another set of pictures records the life and labour of Russian peasants in the Volga Region of Simbirsk.

They are seen at work in the fields and at rest and many happily posed for the camera. This would have been the first time many of them had seen one.

Carrick often spent months travelling with his assistant and was known for his compassionate nature.

McGregor died in 1872 and Carrick continued to take photographs until he died of pneumonia in 1878.

© National Gallery of Scotland. 6 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 5 August 2012 12:01 PM EDT
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Sunday, 5 August 2012
Tsar Days in Retrospect: Russia Remembers the Holy Royal Martyrs


This year marks the 94th anniversary of the murder of Tsar Nicholas and his family at Ekaterinburg. Memorial services and other events were held in cities across Russia during the week leading up the anniversary on July 17th.

I have created a retrospect of this year's Tsar's Days events held last month at Ekaterinburg and other cities across Russia. It features 4 VIDEOS and 25 COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS!!

Note: one of the videos includes the Divine Liturgy held at the Alexander Palace for Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

||| Russia Commemorates the Holy Royal Martyrs  |||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 5 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 5 August 2012 9:15 AM EDT
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Saturday, 4 August 2012
Grand Palace at Oranienbaum Opens New Rooms
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 46 seconds
Topic: Oranienbaum



 Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna  

The Grand Palace at Oranienbaum opened four newly restored rooms to the public today. This brings the total number of rooms open to visitors to fourteen.

Elena Kalnitskaya, CEO of the Peterhof Palace Museum Complex greeted visitors this morning with a brief welcome speech.

"Restoration at Oranienbaum can not be stopped, and I have no doubt that it will continue at a rapid pace," she said.

Five years ago the palace was in a terrible state of disrepair. The experts sounded the alarms and it was at this time that the palace administration decided to bring the palace back to life.

Reparing cracks in the walls, installing a new heating system, and re-planting the Lower Park were just a few of the problems that had to be addressed. The palace opened its doors last year to coincide with the 300th anniversary of Oranienbaum. Ten rooms had been restored and decorated with many original items from the Oranienbaum storage and archive facilities.

The four newly restored rooms focus on the private life of the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (wife of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich), nicknamed "the Freedom Princess" due to her support of the abolition of serfdom in Russia.

She lived at the Grand Palace for more than ten years. It was here that the former Princess of Wurttemberg, discussed such topics as Peasant Reform, her exhaustive charitable work, and the arts. Her palace was "cozy" and reflected the trends of the time. Visitors to the palace can now see her bedroom, decorated in pink, her favourite colour.

There are now plans for the restoration of the rooms of Princess Elizabeth Vorontsova, the mistress of Emperor Peter III.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 4 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:16 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 2 March 2018 11:09 AM EST
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Friday, 3 August 2012
Vintage Photo of Nicholas II No. 8
Topic: Nicholas II


Emperor Nicholas II inspecting a Vityaz, designed by Igor Sikorsky and built at the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Works in St. Petersburg. Sikorsky's aspirations for the aircraft were short-lived. While parked on a runway on 23 June, 1913, the Vityaz was crushed by an engine that fell off another aircraft coming in for a landing. Sikorsky decided not to repair the seriously damaged Vityaz and began working on his next project. The photograph was taken at Krasnoye Selo in 1913.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 3 August, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2012 12:52 PM EDT
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