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Saturday, 6 January 2018
Christmas Greetings from Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia to Their Parents
Topic: OTMA

In honour of Orthodox Christmas - 7 January in the Julian calendar - I am pleased to present these wonderful memories of Christmases past from the Grand Duchesses Maria and Anastasia, to their parents Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. From the Romanov Collection of the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF).

Read a short article about the last Christmas celebrated by the family of Nicholas II at Tobolsk in January 1918:

The Romanovs Last Christmas

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 6 January, 2018


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:35 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2018 6:45 AM EST
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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Russian Museum Home to Toys and Dolls of Last Tsar's Children
Topic: OTMA

Sergiev Posad is situated about 75 km northeast of Moscow. The town grew in the 15th century around one of the greatest of Russian monasteries, the Trinity Lavra established by St. Sergius of Radonezh, today is one of the largest monasteries in Russia. 

Sergiev Posad also has a long history of toy-making and is considered to be the capital of the toy kingdom. The Russian matryoshka known all over the world was born here. It seems only fitting that the town should claim to its fame a tiny museum, one which is home to a collection of rare toys, some of which date back to Imperial Russia and the last Russian Imperial family. 

The Art and Pedagogical Toy Museum is a unique repository of historic treasures, founded in Moscow in 1918 by artist, collector, museum activist Nikolai Dmitrievich Bartram (1873-1931). With 100,000 items, the museum boasts one of the largest and most unique collections of toys in Russia.

In 1918 Bartram opened a toy museum in his four-room Moscow apartment located on Smolensk Boulevard and gradually enriched his collection with toys and children's items from the noble estates nationalized under the new Bolshevik regime. Bartram also managed to gather an impressive collection of children's portraits of 17th - 19th centuries. In 1931, the Toy Museum was transferred from Moscow to the town of Zagorsk (Sergiev Posad),

The pride of the museum is a collection of toys of the five children of the last Russian emperor Nicholas ii, which miraculously survived revolution and war. Among these are a collection of porcelain dolls, once owned by the grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. Many of these works of art were specially made by Western European and Russian firms abroad for Their Imperial Highnesses in the early twentieth century.

In 2000, the State Historical Museum in Moscow hosted an exhibition of some 400 items, including the toys of the children of Emperor Nicholas II from the collections of the Toy Museum in Sergiev Posad. They produced a magnificently illustrated exhibition catalogue (photo above left). The 144-page catalogue (published in Russian) featured more than 200 colour and black-and-white photographs of the exhibits, which included the children’s toys, dolls, books and games as well as their clothes (the grand duchesses dresses and the tsesarevich Alexei’s uniforms),  and other personal items such as porcelain, furniture, letters, drawings and paintings made by the children,  portraits, photographs and more. The exhibition ran from December 29, 2000 - March 31, 2001. Shortly after the close of the exhibition I was able to import a quantity of these catalogues and offered for sale in the Royal Russia Bookshop. This title is now long out-of-print, yet still highly sought after by Romanovphiles.

In June 2011, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo hosted the exhibition In the Children's Rooms of the Alexander Palace. Set out in the former rooms of the last tsar's children on the second floor of the Alexander Palace, the exhibition featured over 200 items, including toys, dolls, puppets, and other personal items belonging to Nicholas II’s children, many of them on loan from the Toy Museum in Sergiev Posad. A small 36-page catalogue (published in Russian) was also producted (photo above right). 

Sergiev Posad is an easy day trip from Moscow. The Toy Museum is situated at pr. Krasnoy Armii, 123, a short walk from the monastery. 
© Paul Gilbert. 02 March, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:52 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 2 March 2016 2:26 PM EST
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Tuesday, 9 February 2016
Memories of OTMAA - The Imperial Children No. 1
Topic: OTMA

"Amongst themselves, the girls were very friendly toward one another - I have never seen them quarrelling; their attitude to the Heir bore the character of a special tenderness bordering on adoration. At that time, none of the grand duchesses spoke any other language than Russian: the two older girls were only just beginning to learn English and French. The Empress always spoke to them in Russian, and held that language almost perfectly."

Rear-Admiral Sergei Nikolaevich Timirev (1875-1932) - from his memories of sailing in the Finnish archipelago on the Imperial yacht Shtandart in 1907
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 February, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:37 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 9 February 2016 9:48 AM EST
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Wednesday, 12 August 2015
Australian Magazine Features The Forgotten Tutor
Topic: OTMA

Congratulations to Dr. Gabriella Lang, co-author of The Forgotten Tutor: John Epps and the Romanovs - published by Gilbert's Books (the publishing division of Royal Russia) in December 2014, for her recent article, published in the August issue of the Australian magazine Highlife.

Gabriella Lang tells the story of co-author Janet Epp’s discovery of a remarkable bundle of documents in 2004 that had belonged to her great-great-uncle John Epps, who served as tutor to the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, between the years 1905-1914.

The pair are now preparing to film a documentary based on the book.

Two Australian bookshops currently stock the remaining copies of the first edition: Pages & Pages, Mosman, NSW and The Brown Bookshop, Bowral, NSW.

Gilbert's Books is now planning a second printing, scheduled for the Fall of 2015.
For more information on the discovery of John Epps papers, please refer to the following news articles published in the Australian press in 2004: 

Romanov Children's Ephemera Found in Trunk in London (ABC - The World Today, 14 October, 2004)

A Rare Glimpse into History (The Sunday Age, 14 October, 2004)
NOTE: copies of The Forgotten Tutor are available at our online bookshop:

The Royal Russia Bookshop 

© Paul Gilbert. 12 August, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:34 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 31 March 2016 10:13 AM EDT
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Friday, 12 September 2014
Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna's Kokoshnik Returned to the Alexander Palace
Topic: OTMA

The 1913 kokoshnik of Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna
Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve 
A beautiful peach-coloured kokoshnik presented to Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna, the eldest daughter of Emperor Nicholas II in 1913 has been returned to the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Formed in the shape of a crown, it contains semi-precious stones and ornate embroidery, including an image of the double-headed imperial eagle at its center.

The kokoshnik was one of four made for the daughters of Emperor Nicholas II. Two of them - for the Grand Duchesses Olga and Maria - were sold abroad - presumably in the 1930s. The other two belonging to the Grand Duchesses Tatiana and Anastasia, were evacuated during the Great Patriotic War. Both have survived and are now part of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum collection.

This story is unique because it even has a connection to Royal Russia!

To read the full article published on Royal Russia News, and view the colour photos and video (in Russian), please click on the link below:

Grand Duchess Olga Nicholayevna’s Kokoshnik Returned to the Alexander Palace 


© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia / Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 12 August, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:18 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 September 2014 12:26 PM EDT
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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Tsar's Tragic Family
Topic: OTMA

Copyright Notice - The following article was originally published in the May 15th, 2014 edition of The Oxford Times. The author Andre Van Loon owns the copyright presented below.

‘Now that I’m about to be freed of my responsibilities to the nation, perhaps I can fulfil my life’s desire — to have a farm, somewhere in England.” Such was Tsar Nicholas II’s counterintuitive reaction after being forced to abdicate.

Did the last Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias not try to cling to power? Well, no: Colonel Romanov, as he became in March 1917, took sustenance instead in the company of his wife, four daughters and son as they joined him in captivity.

A year and a half later, they were all brutally murdered by their revolutionary guards in a basement in Ekaterinburg, now famous for little else. Russia had moved on.

The Tsar, his wife Alexandra, their haemophiliac son Alexei, Rasputin, World War I, the 1917 revolutions, Kerensky, Lenin. . . these are the widely known talking points in a discussion of the Russian Empire’s collapse. Much less well known are the Tsar’s daughters — Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Maria.

Aged between 22 and 17 when they died, these tragic princesses are rarely mentioned — victims whose voices are not needed to underscore their aggressors’ brutality.

Seeking to rectify what she sees as this final injustice, the Oxford-based historian Helen Rappaport has dug into the Grand Duchesses’ diaries, letters and other sources to bring them back to life.

In her book, subtitled The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses, we learn about the sisters’ childhoods, private tuition and sometimes rowdy behaviour, their familial love, youthful crushes and stoicism in captivity. The method and patient elaboration successfully illuminates a genuinely obscure aspect of the Romanov story.

The overriding impression generated is of the princesses’ humility.

Despite their immensely privileged situation, they seemed happiest in each other’s company and in bantering innocently with their tutors, ladies-in-waiting and military escorts.

Rappaport shows how their mother kept them young, shielding them from the court she herself despised and from the “horrid bore” of their father’s responsibilities.

It is astonishing how ill suited to power the family generally was. They were reticent, polite, apologetic, even somewhat mundane.

In captivity, parents and children alike stunned their guards by their equanimity and good humour, so out of place in 1918 Russia.

Although slightly overlong and curiously disengaged from Russia’s revolutionary forces, Four Sisters shows the warmth and spirit of a much pilloried family.

In the end, they appear as dignified in death as they were ill prepared for life.
© Andre Van Loon and The Oxford Times. 15 May, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 31 March 2016 10:09 AM EDT
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Monday, 21 April 2014
From Romanov Tutor to Orthodox Missionary: The Life of Charles Sydney Gibbes
Topic: OTMA


Charles Sydney Gibbes, 1924

Charles Sydney Gibbes was an Englishman who served as English tutor to the children of Nicholas II. Inspired by the kindness and spirituality of the Imperial family, he followed them even after their capture by the Bolsheviks. He later underwent a religious conversion, becoming the first English Orthodox abbot, before returning to his homeland to set up an Orthodox church.

The following article was originally published in the April 18th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Alexandra Kulikova owns the copyright presented below.

Click on the link to read the full article:

From Romanov Tutor to Orthodox Missionary: The Life of Charles Sydney Gibbes 

© Russia Beyond the Headlines and Alexandra Kulikova. 21 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:12 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 April 2014 3:18 PM EDT
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Friday, 19 July 2013
Russia's Crown Jewels: The Royal Martyr Children
Topic: OTMA


The crown of Imperial Russia was one of the most resplendent in the world, shining with precious jewels and symbolizing a mighty nation that covered one-sixth of the globe. But in the beginning of our century, when the forces of evil arose to topple this mighty nation, the bastion of Orthodoxy, then even more resplendently shone the crown of Holy Russia, made of the purest gold of the New Martyrs and Confessors. And adorning this unique and magnificent crown were the most sparkling and wondrous jewels of all: the royal children-martyrs.

This beautifully written article about the children of Tsar Nicholas II was written by Matushka Natalia, it was originally published in Orthodox America.


© Orthodox America. 19 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 July 2013 1:46 PM EDT
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Friday, 14 October 2011
Monument to Children of Nicholas II to be Erected in Russia
Topic: OTMA

A monument to the children of Tsar Nicholas II will be erected near the spot where the remains of the last Russian Imperial family were disposed of by their murderers in 1918, near the Ural city of Ekaterinburg.

The composition created by local craftsmen depicting the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, along with their brother, the Tsarevich Alexis, will be unveiled in November.

© Royal Russia. 14 October, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:00 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 14 October 2011 10:40 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Topic: OTMA


A photo of the grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia (OTMA), in front of the Cathedral on the Spilled Blood, on the site of the former Ipatiev House, in Ekaterinburg.

© Photo: F. Nodé-Langlois / Le Figaro. 22 March, 2011

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:29 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:06 PM EDT
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