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Saturday, 21 May 2016
Head of the Russian Imperial House Visits Massandra
Topic: Russian Imperial House

This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

On 19 May, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son, HIH Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich made an official visit to Massandra, the oldest winery in the Crimea. Their Imperial Highnesses attended a special event for Livadia, a red port wine produced by the Massandra estates, and a particular favourite of Emperor Nicholas II. 

The history of Massandra is closely linked with the Russian Imperial House. The first commercial winemaking in the Crimea was organized by Count Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov, who built a small distillery plant at Massandra. He imported the finest vines and invited the best wine experts from France to manage his new wine making industry. Vorontsov produced high quality wines, some of which were enjoyed by Emperor Nicholas I, who visited Crimea in 1837. 

More than half a century later, in 1889, the Department of Appanages (part of the Ministry of the Imperial Court), bought Massandra from the Vorontsov family. In 1892, Emperor Alexander III appointed Prince Lev Golitsyn, as chief winemaker. It was he who ordered construction of the first underground winery with tunnels in Russia in order to produce and ripen fine table and dessert wines. Its construction lasted four years.

Golitsyn built seven 150-meter tunnels bored into the side of the mountain, which held more than one million bottles of wine in the special galleries created for aging the wines. It was here, that on 19 May, 2016, that Their Imperial Highnesses were invited to celebrate the famous red Livadia port wine. Considered to be one of the most expensive wines from the cellars at Massandra, one hundred bottles were presented, of which Their Imperial Highnesses signed twenty.

The classic Livadia red port wine was first produced in the Crimea in 1891. The wine was produced only at Massandra (for the Imperial wine cellars at Livadia) from the red Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, cultivated in the vineyards surrounding Simeiz, Livadia, Massandra, and Ai-Danil. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:43 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 21 May 2016 1:04 PM EDT
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Three New Busts of Emperor Nicholas II Unveiled in Russia
Topic: Nicholas II

This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

On 16 May, a bronze bust of St. Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was unveiled on the grounds of the Transfiguration Cathedral in the Russian city of Tambov. Metropolitan Theodosius of Tambov and Rasskazovsky performed the consecration in the presence of members of the clergy, Orthodox Christians and monarchists.

In 1914, Emperor Nicholas II visited the church during a short visit to Tambov, where he venerated the relics of St. Pitirim of Tambov (glorified in 1914). In honour of this historic event a walkway was recreated from the church to the source of a nearby well, which allows the faithful to retrace the steps of Russia’s last emperor some 102 years ago.

"He proceeded along the walkway by which we today march to the source of Saint Pitirim, and drank water from it. We have historical evidence of this event, "- said Metropolitan Theodosius of Tambov and Rasskazovsky.

The bust of Emperor Nicholas II was presented to the church by the Orthodox Mission Branch of the Tambov Archdiocese.

A second bust of Emperor Nicholas II was also unveiled on 16 May in Yalta. The bronze bust was unveiled by Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) Chairman Sergei Stepashin, marking the 100th anniversary of the last visit to the Crimea by Russia’s last emperor.

Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea performed a liturgy in St. Nicholas Cathedral, followed by a procession along the waterfront where he performed the consecration of the bust. The solemn ceremony was followed by festivities attended by the heads of the municipality, municipal education departments of Family, Youth and Sports in Yevpatoriya. 

The opening ceremony was attended by Metropolitan Lazar of Simferopol and Crimea Lazar, Metropolitan Platon of Feodosia and Kerch, the Head of the Russian Imperial House HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, her son Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich, and the head of the administration of Yevpatoriya Andrew Filonov, among other guests of honour.

The bust was established on the initiative of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society and its Chairman Sergei Stepashin with the blessing of His Eminence Lazarus, Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea. This is the second bust of Emperor Nicholas II in the Yalta area. The first was unveiled at Livadia Palace on 19 May, 2015.
A third bust of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled on 19 May in Rostov-on-Don. The bronze bust was erected at the entrance of the Cadet School of the Second Don Emperor Nicholas II Cadets Corps, located at the Don State Technical University. 

� Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:40 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 23 May 2016 5:42 AM EDT
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Friday, 20 May 2016
Death Mask of Emperor Alexander III on Loan to Russian Museum
Topic: Alexander III

This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

On 18th May, International Museum Day, a unique collection of personal belongings of Emperor Alexander III were put on display at the Vologda State Historical-Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve. The items come from the vast collection of Hermann Alexander Beyeler, a Swiss entrepreneur and collector, who claims to be a direct descendant of the Tsar Peacemaker. Beyeler claims that the items have been in his family for two generations.

The items from the Beyeler Collection, currently on loan to the Vologda Museum include a portrait of Emperor Alexander III by the Russian artist Nikolay Gustavovich Shilder (the original painting is now in the Military History Museum of Artillery in St. Petersburg), a porcelain plate bearing the monogram of the emperor, his 1883 coronation glass, and his death mask. Of particular interest is an album containing 15 photographs of the Borki train disaster on 29 October (O.S. 17 October) 1888.

Beyeler transferred the historic items to the museum for free use for a period of 20 years, noting that at the expiration of the term that they would most likely remain part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Beyeler claims to be a direct descendant of the Tsar Peacemaker, that his maternal great-grandmother, a Polish noblewoman, had at one time had an affair with Emperor Alexander III, and that she bore an illegitimate son - Beyeler's grandfather. 

"They say my grandfather was the illegitimate son of Alexander III” - said Beyeler - “the Emperor was living at Spala, his hunting lodge in Poland. We have an old photograph, which shows my grandfather sitting on the Emperors’ knee. I was told that my grandfather sang very well, and that Alexander III often asked him to sing something."

After the October Revolution of 1917, Beyelers grandfather escaped Russia, fearing for the lives of his wife and two daughters. They arrived in Paris, where Beyeler's mother Helena Lisicki was born in 1925. After the occupation of Paris in 1943, she was deported to a concentration camp in Poland, however, she managed to escape to Switzerland, where she met her future husband and married him.
Helena Lisicki had four children. According to Beyeler, it was not until shortly before her death that she divulged to them that “our grandfather was the illegitimate son of Russian Tsar Alexander III". Beyeler, insists that his middle name Alexander, was given him in memory of his imperial ancestor.

When asked about the DNA test to prove his descent from the Russian Imperial family, Beyeler conveniently adds that he “does not want to talk, the results were clear,” he says, believing the results confirm his Romanov connection. His reluctance to make public the results of any DNA tests, merely leads to speculation about his claim.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 20 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:19 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 20 May 2016 9:26 AM EDT
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Thursday, 19 May 2016
Sotheby's Displays Magnificent Faberge Cigarette Case in Moscow
Topic: Faberge

Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913
Photo © Sotheby's London
Sotheby’s has brought to Moscow for pre-auction display on 19th May, the top lots from the upcoming Russian Works of Art, Fabergé & Icons auction to be held in London on June 7. Currently on display in Moscow in the decorative and applied arts section is a rare and magnificent Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913. The last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II gave it as a gift to Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov (estimate 180,000 — 250,000  GBP = 253,044 - 351,450 USD). 


A rare and magnificent Imperial Presentation Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel cigarette case made for the Romanov Tercentenary, Moscow, 1913

rectangular, the lid chased and repoussé with an Imperial eagle, its crown and shield set with circular- and pear-cut rubies within rose-cut diamonds, above a cartouche painted en plein with a view of the Moscow Kremlin, within stylised flowers and scrolling leaves, the lower register with dates 1613-1913, the ground of matte finish green enamel, cabochon ruby thumbpiece, polished gold sides and base, struck KF and K.Fabergé in Cyrillic beneath the Imperial Warrant, 56 standard, scratched inventory number 4389
length 9.5cm, 3 3/4 in.


As noted in the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet and the Fabergé invoice, this object entered the Cabinet's stock as item number 467 on 25 March 1913, the cost recorded as 650 roubles.  It was released on 14 May 1913 "on the occasion of Their Imperial Majesties' travels around Russia" and thereafter presented to Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov, probably in Moscow on 24-27 May 1913.  The recipient returned the object to the Cabinet for its cash value on 11 November 1913, the payment authorised on 15 November 1913.

CATALOGUE NOTE (Courtesy of Sotheby's London)

The Imperial Cabinet’s meticulous planning for the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule in 1913 began three years prior and included placing orders for commemorative objects with court suppliers Tillander, Hahn, Bolin and of course Fabergé.  Intended to be given to courtiers and other officials, foreign dignitaries, members of the clergy, and ordinary citizens, these objects consisted mostly of small pieces of jewellery.  The Tercentenary objects produced by Fabergé included most famously the Imperial Egg inset with portrait miniatures of all eighteen Romanov sovereigns, which Emperor Nicholas II gave to his wife for Easter that year, now at the Kremlin Armoury.

The culmination of the 1913 Tercentenary celebrations occurred in Moscow in May, following visits by the Imperial Family to Nizhny Novgorod and Kostrama.  The formal procession into Moscow was led by the Emperor riding alone, sixty feet ahead of his Cossack escort.  He dismounted in Red Square and walked through the gates of the Kremlin.  The Empress and Tsarevich rode in an open car; the eight-year-old boy was ill and had to be carried by a Cossack into the Kremlin.  The present lot was presumably given to General Anichkov during this visit to Moscow, given that it was released from stock the day before the Imperial journey began, and of course given its decoration.  (Anichkov is also recorded as having also received a silver inkwell by Grachev; please see U. Tillander-Godenhielm, The Russian Imperial Award System, 1894-1917, Helsinki, 2005, p. 235.)  His decision to return the object to the Cabinet for its cash value is in keeping with his sensible and economical approach to his professional life detailed below.  There was no sense of affront attached to the selling-back of Imperial gifts, the system having been set up as a tasteful way for the Emperor to remunerate people for their service to the State.  

Lieutenant-General Miliy Milievich Anichkov (1848-after 1917) was born into an old Russian family, formerly called Onichkovy, with strong ties to the Court, the military, and the city of St Petersburg.  After serving in the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878, he ran the palace and park at Tsarskoye Selo from 1882 to 1883.  A contemporary remembered him from this time as “small, puny, smart, has undeniable comic talent and a large Russian shrewdness” and praised his manner of working: “In a short time Anichkov became acquainted with the running of the Tsarskoye Selo palace, he visited everywhere, climbing on roofs and basements, and made friends with all the staff.  Once settled into his position of Little Captain he began to rule the roost, he delved into every little thing.… He did not hesitate to openly ask the advice of the experienced, intelligent subordinates, be it even a park guard or an upholsterer. The lively, energetic activity of the cheerful manager fell on the souls of his staff, and talk of him spread.”  He was appointed Assistant Chief of Palace Administration in 1883, and the following year promoted to Head of the Imperial Residence at Gatchina, Emperor Alexander III’s primary residence.  Another contemporary recalled: “Alexander III, who was fond of Gatchina and his palace, could not miss how everything came to life, smartened, and yet was done economically, domestically. The Emperor invited Anichkov to see him and thanked him.”  His loyal and valued service continued into the next reign, as Head of the Gofmarshalskoy department for Nicholas II.  As a Lieutenant-General, a rank he attained in 1906, Anichkov was Level III on the Table of Ranks and therefore received one of the most expensive Tercentenary cigarette cases; individuals of Levels I and II were given objects with the sovereign’s portrait which were not strictly speaking Tercentenary in design.

Writing years later of the Tercentenary, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna stated, “Nobody seeing those enthusiastic crowds, could have imagined that in less than four years, Nicky’s very name would be splattered with mud and hatred.”  General Anichkov was there to witness the downfall, one of a handful of loyal generals struggling to protect the Imperial Family during the final days of the dynasty.  During the February Revolution of 1917, with chaos raging in the streets of Petrograd, amid cries of “Down with the Tsar!”, Count Paul Benckendorff recalled, “During the night of the 27th-28th February, General Khabalov… telephoned to me that he was holding the Winter Palace with such troops as had remained faithful, that these troops were dying of hunger, and he implored me to help them in providing him with Court provisions which he thought were at the Palace…. I rang up General Komarov on the telephone in order to tell him to give General Khabalov and General Anichkov all the provisions that they could collect.”  In fact, there was almost nothing left to give.  Three days later, on 2 March, Emperor Nicholas II abdicated, ending 304 years of Romanov rule. 
© Sotheby's London / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:12 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 19 May 2016 6:29 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Head of the Russian Imperial House Honours Emperor Nicholas II in Crimea
Topic: Russian Imperial House

This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

During their official visit to the Crimea this week, the Head of the Russian Imperial House Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov took part in ceremonies marking the historic visit to Yalta in 1916 by Emperor Nicholas II.

On 16th May, they attended a liturgy in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Yalta, followed by a procession along the waterfront where a bronze bust of Nicholas II was unveiled. The bust was established on the initiative of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society and its Chairman Sergei Stepashin with the blessing of His Eminence Lazarus, Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea.

They then visited Evpatorian Kenassas, the temple complex of Crimean Karaites - opened in 1837 - located in Evpatoria. Their Imperial Highnesses unveiled a memorial plaque in memory of the visit by Emperor Nicholas II to the Karaite kenasa on 16 May, 1916. 

Their Imperial Highnesses then took part in a prayer service given by Victor D. Tiriyaki - Head of the Karaite religious community in Evpatoria. After that, the representatives of the imperial family laid flowers at the memorial to the Karaites, who died during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). They were also shown a marble obelisk, erected in 1851, in memory of the visit by Emperor Alexander I to Evpatorian Kenassas in November 1825. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:15 AM EDT
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On This Day: Emperor Nicholas II was Born at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Nicholas II

Note: this article has been amended from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 18 May (O.S. 6 May) 1868 in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, was born the first son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich - the future and last Emperor of Russia - Nicholas II.

Nicholas passed his childhood years growing up in Gatchina Palace. The future emperor had been educated in compliance with an accurately designed thirteen year program. During the first 8 years particular attention was devoted to subjects such as political history, Russian literature, French, German, English, and gymnasium; the next five years were devoted to studying military affairs, legal and economic sciences, necessary for a statesman. Among his tutors were outstanding Russian scholars: N. N. Beketov, N. N. Obruchev, J. F. Cui, M. I. Dragomirov, N. J. Bunge.

In 1884 Nicholas joined the military service, and in July 1887 he joined the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Prior to ascending the throne, Nicholas commanded – as a colonel - the first battalion of the Life Guards Preobrazhensky Regiment.

Having a notion about public affairs, Nicholas began to attend meetings of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers from May 1889. In October 1890 he went on a voyage to the Far East. During the first 9 months, he visited Greece, Egypt, India, China, Japan, and then by land, having crossed the entire Siberia, returned to the capital of Russia.  

In April 1894 the future Emperor became engaged with Princess Alice of Hesse Darmstadt, the daughter of Grand Duke of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England. After her conversion to Orthodoxy, she took the name Alexandra Feodorovna.

On 2 November (O.S. 20 October), 1894 his father Emperor Alexander III died at the young age of 49. A few hours before his death, the dying emperor obliged his son to sign a Manifesto on his accession to the throne.

During the reign of Nicholas II, Russia was being transformed into a major agro-industrial nation, the cities grew, railroads and industrial enterprises were being rapidly developed. The Emperor supported the decisions aimed at economic and social modernization of the country: introduction of the gold circulation of the ruble, Stolypin's agrarian reform, laws on workers' insurance, universal primary education, and religious tolerance.

The Reign of Nicholas II took place in an atmosphere of growing revolutionary movements and the complexity of the situation of foreign policy (Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Bloody Sunday, Revolution of 1905-1907; First World War, February Revolution of 1917).

Under the influence of a strong social movement in favour of political reforms, the Emperor signed the Manifesto of 17 October 1905, proclaiming democratic freedoms. On 6 May (O.S. 23 April), 1906 he approved a new edition of “Fundamental laws of the Russian Empire”, and in 1906 the State Duma began its work established by the emperor’s Manifesto.

The turning point in the fate of Nicholas II was the year of 1914 - the beginning of World War I, which worsened internal problems of the country.  In Petrograd unrests began, which grew into mass demonstrations against the government and dynasty. On 15 March (O.S. 2 March) 1917 in Pskov, Nicholas II signed an act of abdication, handing power to his brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, who rejected the crown.

On 20 March (O.S. 7 March) 1917, the Provisional Government ordered the arrest of Nicholas and his wife. In early August 1917 the former emperor and his entourage were exiled to Tobolsk in Siberia. In May 1918, they were transferred to Ekaterinburg. On the night of 16 (O.S. 3) / 17 (O.S. 4) July 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, along with their five children and four of their faithful retainers were murdered by the Ural Soviet.

After years of research of the remains found near Ekaterinburg in the 1990s, they were solemnly buried in Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 17 July, 1998. In 2000, Nicholas II and the members of his family were canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. The Imperial family had canonized in 1981 by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). 

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:24 AM EDT
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Monday, 16 May 2016
On This Day: Society for Education of Noble Maidens (Smolny Institute) Established in St. Petersburg
Topic: St. Petersburg

Note: this article has been amended from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

On 16 May (O.S. 5 May), 1764 the Empress Catherine II established the first Russian privileged closed institution of secondary education for daughters of gentlemen by birth – ‘Society for Education of Noble Maidens’ (Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens) in St. Petersburg 

The full name of the decree was ‘On the education of noble maidens in St. Petersburg under the Resurrection Monastery; including the Regulations and personnel of the Educational Society’. The document consisted of an introductory part and two chapters. The first chapter contained 6 sections: On positions of wardens and acceptance of noble maidens to the institute; On division of the accepted maidens into four age classes, on personnel and education; On the lady superior; On lady ruler; On ladies supervisors; On ladies teachers and masters. The second chapter covered the education in general.

The initiator of the Society’s creation and the author of its Regulations was Ivan Ivanovich Betskoy. The closeness of the institution was the major condition and idea of Betskoy who was planning to educate a ‘new generation’ of young women. According to the decree the objective of this educational institution was to ‘… provide for the state educated women, good mothers, useful family and society members’.

The Smolny Institute of Noble Maidens was housed next to the Smolny Resurrection Convent; in 1809 it was given a new building constructed in accordance with a design by the famed architect Giacomo Quarenghi (1744-1817).

The educational society took care of 200 noble maidens. Their education lasted for 12 years and was divided into 4 age classes of 3 years each. The first admission of girls aged 4 to 6 took place in August of 1764.

Girls of each age class wore dresses of a particular colour: the first class wore coffee-coloured dresses so that its pupils were often called coffee-girls; the second class wore blue dresses, the third one – gray ones and the older girls wore white dresses. Later, the white being easily soiled, were replaced by green ones but the tradition to call the class ‘white’ remained.

Pupils’ began their day at 6:00 a.m. After the morning prayer and breakfast the classes started. Intellectual work alternated with physical exercises, daily walks, outdoor games. The girls were taught reading, writing, history, geography, foreign languages, fundamentals of mathematics, physics, chemistry as well as needlework, dancing, music, and social manner of conduct.

Their knowledge was evaluated in accordance with a 12-point system: 1-2 points – ‘bad’; 3-4 – ‘poor’; 5-6 – ‘satisfactory’, 7-8 – ‘good’, 9-10 – ‘very good’, 11-12 – ‘excellent’.

The major event in the girls’ life was a public exam attended by the members of the Imperial family. At the graduation the pupils received certificates. During the reign of Catherine II  – a golden cipher bearing the Empress’ monogram – was granted to six best pupils; during the reign of Maria Feodorovna – to ten. The best girls received positions in the service of the Russian Court.

In summer of 1917 the pupils of the Institute were transferred to other educational institutions.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:16 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2016 5:12 PM EDT
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Head of the Russian Imperial House Arrives in Crimea
Topic: Russian Imperial House

This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016

The Head of the Russian Imperial House Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and her son Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich have arrived in the Crimea on an official visit — the first after the historic reunification of the peninsula to the Russian Federation in 2014. Their Imperial Highnesses will visit the Crimea until May 20th. Their arrival is timed to the 100th anniversary of the last visit of Emperor Nicholas II to the Crimea in 1916. Their visit will also include a series of meetings with representatives of the clergy and examine the historical and cultural attractions of the region.

Their Imperial Highnesses were met at Simferopol airport by a delegation of Crimean officials headed by Federation Council senator from the legislative (representative) public authority of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Tsekov, vice-speaker of the Crimean parliament Andrei Kozenko, head of the Committee of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea on State Building and Local Government Yefim Fiks, Metropolitan of Petrograd and Gdov in Simferopol Archpriest John Simon, among many others.

Welcoming the Head of the Russian Imperial House to the Crimean land, Tsekov said that this visit will be especially interesting for Maria Romanova and her son George. "Since your last visit to the Crimea, much has changed. The peninsula has transformed rapidly since the reunification with the Russian Federation in 2014."

During a meeting held upon their arrival at the airport, representatives of the republic's authorities updated the Grand Duchess and her son on the current situation in the Crimea, as well as prospects for development in the socio-economic, cultural, recreational and other areas. 

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna visited the Peninsula in September 2013 in the framework of the events dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. It was during this visit that HIH hosted a gala reception at the Livadia Palace, attended by about 40 representatives of European Royal and aristocratic families.

On Monday, May 16 - the Grand Duchess will travel to Evpatoria, where a memorial plaque in memory of the visit made by Emperor Nicholas II in 1916.

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna will also attend the unveiling of a monument to Nicholas II and visit a mosque in Evpatoria, and in the evening in Simferopol will meet with the mufti of Muslims of Crimea Haji Emirali Ablayev.

On Tuesday, May 17th - Grand Duchess Maria will journey to Sevastopol, visiting the Bratskoe cemetery memorial, St. Nicholas Church, St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, and will also meet with the leadership of the city and commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, followed by a walk along the embankment of Balaklava.

On Wednesday, May 18th - the Grand Duchess, together with officials of the Crimea will take part in the events dedicated to the day of memory of victims of deportation of the Crimean Tatars. On the same day will be her meeting with the Plenipotentiary representative of the President of Russia in the Crimean Federal district Oleg Belaventsev.

On Thursday, May 19th - the Grand Duchess will meet with the Head of Crimean Parliament Vladimir Konstantinov, as well as visit the winery at Massandra, and will open the exhibition «History of Russian Perfumery and Cosmetics» in the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:39 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2016 3:45 PM EDT
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Friday, 13 May 2016
Diaries and Memoirs Assess Life and Reign of Russia's Last Emperor
Topic: Nicholas II

Note: this article has been amended from its original by Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia

Shortly before the anniversary day of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918), which is celebrated on May 18, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg offers rare materials, revealing the tragedy of the autocrat, who failed to save Russia from the social cataclysms which engulfed Russia in the early 20th century.

Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov was born at the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo on the day when the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of Holy Job the Long-Suffering. The Emperor made note of this coincidence, believing with "profound conviction that he was fated to terrible ordeals."

And they were not slow to come. The results of the Russian-Japanese war, the economic crisis and dissatisfaction of populace in response, the events of January 9, 1905, when the army and police of St. Petersburg took arms to drive away a peaceful procession of workers carrying a petition to Tsar... In the end of 1905 railway strike broke out nationwide. It shut down traffic on the Baltic Railway. "Transportation to St. Petersburg only by water, disgraceful situation," - the last Russian Emperor noted in his diary.

In an electronic copy of the "The Diary of Emperor Nicholas II" for the years 1890-1906 can be found his brief notes about the weather, dinners with those close to the Emperor, his "treasures" (son Alexei) behaviour - but almost nothing about the ripening of the revolutionary storm brewing in the country. "The weather was calm and sunny with wonderful frost on the trees," - writes Emperor Nikolai on January 7, 1905, two days before Bloody Sunday. A mention of the events of January 9 is interspersed with description of the everyday family rituals:

"Hard day! In St. Petersburg there were serious disturbances due to workers’ longing to get to the Winter Palace. The troops had to shoot across the city; there were many dead and wounded. Lord, how painful and hard! Mamá came over to see us from the city straight to liturgy. We had breakfast with everyone. Mamá stayed over with us."

Note: I would like to point out that historians often cite the lack of “details” in Nicholas II’s diaries as evidence of a ruler out of touch with reality. In situations such as ‘Bloody Sunday’ they also accuse him of insensitivity. This is an unfair assessment, due to the fact that his diaries were never intended as a historical record for his descendants, nor as a historical record on which to judge his life and reign. Historians are guilty of an unconscionable number of conclusions based on diary entries, the overwhelming majority of them unfavorable to Nicholas II. One of the worst offenders is French historian Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, in her book Nicholas II: The Interrupted Transition, published in 2000 - Paul Gilbert

Russian journalist, writer, critic M. Nevedomsky in the book "The First Year of Nicholas II" of 1896 edition wrote about a petition to Tsar from the district council "community" in response to his first "programmatic" speech, which has over crossed out all the hopes for society democratization: "The most advanced district council and council’s people insisted, or rather, asked only for the Tsar’s accord with the people, the direct access of district council to the throne, for transparency and the fact that the law was always higher than administrative tyranny. In short, it was all just about the bureaucratic-court wall, separating Tsar of Russia, to collapse."

Most historians explain the defeat of the empire in many respects to mismatch of Nicholas’ II personal qualities with the scale of problems he had to face (although many contemporaries stressed his good manners, amazing memory, accuracy in business, and modesty). "A task, which has laid into his shoulders, was too heavy, it exceeded his powers," - wrote a mentor of Tsarevich Alexei, who well knew Emperor Pierre Gilliard.

A prophecy of Leo Tolstoy, who sent two letters to the Tsar, trying to warn Nicholas from the wrong steps in dealing with crisis, has come true - in February 1917 Petrograd was consumed with riots. On March 2 the abdication of Nicholas II from the throne occurred, followed by the arrest of the entire family. On July 17, 1918 after five months of detention, the Bolsheviks in the cellar of the Ipatiev house shot dead the former ruler of Russia, Tsarina and their five children. In 1980 Nicholas II, Tsarina and their five children were canonized by the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. They were later canonized in 2000 by the Moscow Patriarchate.

Detailed information about the fate of Nicholas II can be found in the electronic collection of the Presidential Library, which in 2013 marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The collection includes about a thousand digitized documents, most of which were previously unknown to Russian and Western historians.

© Presidential Library / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:14 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 May 2016 3:58 PM EDT
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Thursday, 12 May 2016
Crimean Prosecutor General Carries Icon of Nicholas II in WWII Procession
Topic: Nicholas II

Natalya Poklonskaya, Prosecutor General of Crimea, carrying an icon of Saint Nicholas II Tsar-Martyr of Russia,
during the Immortal Regiment procession held in Simferopol on 9th May - Victory Day
This article was written by Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia © 2016
On 9th May - Victory Day in Russia - Natalya Poklonskaya, Prosecutor General of Crimea, took part in a procession carrying an icon of Saint Nicholas II Tsar-Martyr of Russia. While most of those who participated in the Immortal Regiment march in the Crimean capital of Simferopol carrying photos of their relatives who fought in WWII, Poklonskaya instead carried an icon of Russia’s last emperor.

Poklonskaya, explained why she carried an icon of Nicholas II and not photos of her relatives who fought in WWII during the procession: “A lot of WWII veterans told me they had visions of the Virgin Mary and Russian Tsar Nicholas II” - said Poklonskaya, - “the two helped them survive in the most desperate and hopeless situations during the Great Patriotic War.” 

She also noted that the idea of worshiping deceased or incumbent monarchs, or the ideology of monarchy was frowned upon back in the days of the Soviet Union, while the country’s official anthem up until 1943 was The Internationale which had the following refrain: “There are no supreme saviours, Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune”.

Since its inception in 2007, the Immortal Regiment initiative has been met with unprecedented support, spreading from Russia to cities worldwide, with millions of people in 42 countries across the globe marching in commemoration of their loved ones who fought in World War II. The Immortal Regiment procession follows Russia's annual Victory Day parade. This year, an estimated 24 million took part in processions held in cities across Russia. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin once again took part in the "Immortal Regiment" leading a procession of more than 700,000 people through the center of Moscow. 

Victory Day marks the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. According to official data, about 27 million Soviet citizens died, including both civilians and servicemen. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 12 May, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:02 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 14 May 2016 9:34 AM EDT
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