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400th Anniversary
A Russian Moment
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Amber Room
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Eagar, Margaretta
Ekaterinburg Remains
Elena Vladimirovna, GD
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Paul Gilbert
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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Russian Imperial Air Service
Topic: Imperial Russia


Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) 

Established under the Romanov dynasty, the Russian air force marks its 100th anniversary this year. In 1912, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov declared: “The Russian air force should be stronger than that of our neighbors. This should be remembered by everyone to whom the military might of our Motherland is dear.” Aviation schools were opened in Sevastopol and Gatchina. A summer training course for volunteer officers from various branches of the armed forces was set up in these schools, and the trainees were instructed in theoretical disciplines at the St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute.

The best Russian minds were drawn into aviation, and significant capital began to be invested in its development. In July 1914, the world’s first four-engine aircraft flew from St. Petersburg to Kiev and back, piloted by aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky.

By the beginning of World War I, the Russian army had 256 warplanes and 250 military pilots, from which 39 corps and fortress squadrons were formed. When military operations started, the aircraft were mainly engaged in carrying out airborne intelligence and correcting artillery fire. The pilots began to shoot down and ram enemy Albatross planes in the air on their own initiative. In December 1914, the world’s first squadron of heavy aircraft was set up by the Russian air force using Muromets planes.

In 1916, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed field inspector-general of the air force. Under his leadership, the separate corps and field aviation units were joined together in air combat groups. The tsar’s headquarters in Mogilev and St. Petersburg began to be protected from air strikes by planes and anti-aircraft artillery, and the rear support for the air force supplied it with everything it needed.

Sadly, the accomplishments of Russian aviation during the Great War were often forgotten in the subsequent chaos of the Russian Revolution and Civil War.

© Rossiskaya Gazeta. 15 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:47 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2012 7:11 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selos' Gostiny Dvor to be Auctioned
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Gostiny Dvor in Tsarskoye Selo as it looked in the early 20th century 

One of the greatest architectural treasures of Russian retailing is being put up for auction. The neoclassical Gostiny Dvor shopping complex in the town of Pushkin is ‘little brother’ to another in St Petersburg. The starting price is $7.7 million.

­At 10,000 square feet this is no mega-mall. It was built in 1866 during the reign of Emperor Alexander II, and houses thirteen shop units.

The town of Pushkin is also home to the former residence of the imperial family, the Tsarskoye Selo is a protected UNESCO site. 

The new owner of the mall will have to agree to preserve the historical nature of the building.

Gostiny Dvor is the Russian version of a department store, with a selection of individual stores occupying separate sections of the building.  

In the 19th Century, they were constructed in every large Russian town with St Petersburg’s Gostiny Dvor one of the first shopping arcades in the world.

© Russia Today. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:18 AM EDT
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The Russian Imperial Family in Denmark, 1899
Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds
Topic: Nicholas II

Members of the Russian Imperial family join members of the Danish, Greek and British royal houses at Bernstoff Castle, Denmark in 1899.

This rare vintage film clip shows Emperor Nicholas II, relaxed in civilian attire enjoying himself immensely with other members of his family and his royal relations. We even see the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna laughing while standing next to her smiling mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.

The newsreel was filmed by Peter Elfelt, who was appointed Royal Court Photographer to the Danish Royal family in 1901. During his career he produced more than 200 films and newsreels, including many about the Danish Royal family.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:29 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 7:00 AM EDT
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Faberge Siberian Aquamarine and Diamond Brooch
Topic: Faberge


Photo Credit: Anthony DeMarco  

Wartski of London are in possession of a number of Faberge objects, each of which has a special story. Unique among them is a Siberian aquamarine and diamond brooch which was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II to his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna. According to Wartski she was wearing the jewel right up until the time of her murder on July 17, 1918.

Here’s how Geoffrey Munn of Wartski tells the story (though somewhat melodramatic) behind the brooch:

"In here we have a Fabergé brooch, a Siberian aquamarine surrounded by diamonds. That’s all we knew for a while. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s of extraordinary color. (women in the group gasp with amazement). I know, I know it’s fabulous. (But) it’s only the beginning of the trouble. Because this really is going to wreck you and you’ll need a stiff drink afterwards. It’s an exemplary aquamarine and it’s a Siberian one and they don’t really come in that color unless they do come from Siberia.… The story of this is really quite awe inspiring because the color blue in the lore of lapidary stones stands for love and then there’s sort of the interlock of two lives with diamonds forever. And that’s all we knew for a very long time until my colleague sent off the number to Russia and back came the provenance and it said that it was bought by the Supreme Autocrat of all the Russias—a pretty hot title—and there’s a note beside it saying it was the engagement present from (Russian Tsar) Nicholas II to Princess Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Feodorovna). And that is sort of stratospheric. But then what happens later is even more heartbreaking because when they were taken to prison in Siberia (during the Bolshevik Revolution), they went to a place called The House of Special Purpose—a very menacing title—and you know what happens next but this (the jewel) was with her just before she was taken to the basement and riddled with gunfire. It was confiscated and it isn’t actually open to debate because it was a civil service theft and so they made an inventory of what they’ve taken from her and they photographed it on the table so you don’t hear any fanciful stories. I think possibly that’s as far as jewelry will ever take you".

Source: Forbes Magazine

© Royal Russia. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:59 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 3:55 PM EDT
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Monday, 13 August 2012
Cossacks on Bicentennial Victory Ride to Paris
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds.
Topic: Cossacks

Two dozen daredevil Russian Cossacks, known for their deep-rooted horse-riding and fighting traditions, are heading to Paris. Fear not! All they want is to celebrate the bicentenary of the country's victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812.

­Twenty-three Cossacks who set out on horseback to ride from Moscow to the French capital are descendants of those who once fought against Napoleon’s army.

Their primary objective these days is to pass through six countries – Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and France – to arrive at the Palace of Fontainebleau by October 19. The horses the Cossacks are riding are a special southern Russia breed ideal for long journeys.

Residents of the cities the Cossacks will pass through will have a chance to appreciate their strong battle and horse riding skills, which once helped them beat the French.

Among their signature stunts are riding a horse while standing up; sitting on the horse the “wrong way” and being able to shoot backwards.

Among the key battles in Napoleon’s Russian campaign was the Battle of Borodino which involved 250,000 troops and was the bloodiest single day in all the Napoleonic Wars.  

Describing that battle, Napoleon said that the French proved themselves to be worthy of victory, while the Russians proved they can be called invincible, in many ways thanks to Cossacks.

© Russia Today and RIA Novosti. 13 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:02 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2012 6:59 AM EDT
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Sunday, 12 August 2012
Memory of Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolayevich Honoured
Topic: Tsesarevich Alexei


Today marks the 108th anniversary of the birth of Alexei Nikolayevich, son of the Emperor Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

A liturgy honouring the tsesarevich and heir to the Russian throne will be held at the Feodorovsky Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo this morning. After the service the procession will then travel to his birthplace at Peterhof.


The memorial cross at the remains of the Lower Dacha at Peterhof 

Alexei was born on August 12th [July 30th O.S.], 1904 at the Lower Dacha in the Alexandria Park at Peterhof. Sadly, the Lower Dacha was destroyed during the Second World War. The ruins of the former home of the Imperial family can still be seen, and today, a large wooden cross marks the spot where the only son to the last tsar was born. It has become a popular site for pilgrimmages by monarchists over the years.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 August, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 12 August 2012 6:52 AM EDT
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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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