Paul Gilbert - A Summary of My First Year of Semi-Retirement Topic: Paul Gilbert
Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia
Note: any text underscored and highlighted below in blue, provides a link to additional information, articles, and photographs - PG
On October 27th 2016, I announced that I would semi-retire, and make some major changes to Royal Russia. The past year has been a resourceful one to say the very least, and I have followed through with many of the changes which I outlined in my announcement posted in my news blog, this time last year.
I am now working from the comfort and convenience of my home office, and pleased to note that I have managed to cut the number of working hours in half! This is a result of the changes which I have implemented over the past twelve months.
Below, I am happy to provide a summary of those changes, and plans for the coming year.
Web Site, News Blog, and Facebook:
The main Royal Russia web site was downsized dramatically and given a fresh, new look. A number of full-length articles were retained and updated with additional information and photographs. A new Video and Film Archive featuring 15 documentaries and films was added. According to Statscounter, the Royal Russia web site is expected to welcome more than 5 million visitors by the end of this year - a record!
The Royal Russia News blog has grown over the past year, as well - an additional 217 news stories were added, mostly from Russian news media source, bringing the total number of listings to more than 2,300.
The Royal Russia Facebook page has seen dramatic growth during the past year - with nearly 125,000 followers from around the world. It is updated daily with news, photographs, videos, and links to full-length articles from English news sources.
In the past year, I have published the following 6 titles:
Please note that the 2018 calendar was cancelled, and there will be no further calendars published. It was a difficult decision to make, however, I decided to channel my time and resources into other publishing projects.
The selection of titles offered by the Royal Russia Bookshop is now restricted to those published by Royal Russia. I will no longer publish any titles written by other writers, nor will I offer or promote titles issued by other publishers through my online bookshop.
Plans for 2018:
The coming year promises to be an exciting year for Royal Russia, it's followers and supporters!
2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the deaths of Russia's last Imperial family. Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their five children will continue to be the subject of widespread media attention, exhibitions, conferences, etc.
I am planning on travelling to Ekaterinburg in July 2018, to take part in the events marking the deaths of Nicholas II and his family on the eve of 16/17 July.
Following this, I will be hosting a Nicholas II Conference in England in October 2018. The full-day conference is scheduled to take place on Saturday, 27 October. I will be travelling to London next month (November 2017) to view and book a venue for this event, which will feature an interesting group of experts, who will share and discuss their research on the life and reign of Nicholas II.
Please note that an announcement will be made in January, noting the venue, a list of speakers, and the opportunity to purchase tickets for this exciting and historic event.
New publishing projects will include two issues of Royal Russia - No. 13 (January 2018) and No. 14 (July 2018); two issues of Sovereign - No. 6 (April 2018) and No. 7 (September 2018); my new book My Russia. Ekaterinburg, and one additional new title (yet to be announced).
My Russia. Ekaterinburg [click on the link to view the first draft of the cover] is both a guide and history, of the places associated with the last days of Nicholas II and his family during their captivity in the Ipatiev House. Museums, churches, and more will be featured, and richly illustrated with more than 100 photographs, taken by me during my visits to Ekaterinburg in 2012 and 2016, and further supplemented with additional photographs from my private collection. Information on the upcoming Tsar's Days events in July 2018, will help any one who is planning a personal pilgrimmage during this historic date. This title will be published in early 2018, and will be of interest to any one visiting the Ural capital, or for the armchair traveller.
NEW Mailing Address:
Please note my new mailing address - effective 3 September 2017:
Royal Russia Founder Announces Semi-Retirement Topic: Paul Gilbert
On October 27th, I will mark my 60th birthday in Florence, Italy. It is also on this day that I will semi-retire, and begin collecting a monthly government pension. I have been considering this for some time now, and am confident that I have made a positive decision with regard to my future.
What does this mean for Royal Russia?
For much of the past 25+ years, I have invested up to 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week in Royal Russia. Sadly, these exhaustive hours have taken their toll on my overall health. As a result, I will be reducing both my workload and the number of hours and days which I currently invest in Royal Russia.
Though I will not be abandoning Royal Russia entirely, I will be making a number of major changes, which will take my web site, research and publishing endeavours in a new direction.
I will be downsizing the main Royal Russia web site, as well as my publishing and bookselling operations. My weekly news updates by email will continue uninterrupted.
Effective November 1st, I will be working exclusively from my home office (not open to the public). Hours of operation will be reduced to 10 am - 4 pm Monday to Friday, and 12 pm - 4 pm on weekends.
THE FUTURE OF ROYAL RUSSIA
Effective November 1st, I will be making the following projects, my priority:
Royal Russia Web Site, Blog and Facebook
- I will be downsizing the main Royal Russia web site, retaining the most popular and interesting articles
- I will continue to update the Royal Russia blog and Facebook pages on a daily basis, providing articles, news, videos and photos from Russian and English language media sources
- Please bookmark www.royalrussia.org to review all new and archived posts
- I will continue to issue my popular weekly news update (by email to subscribers) each Sunday
-I will continue to travel to Russia - though less frequently - to continue with my research, and forming new alliances with Romanov experts
-I will embark on new projects with Romanov historians and experts in Russia, having selected works translated into English for publication in my popular periodicals Royal Russia and Sovereign
- I will no longer publish new books written by other authors, though I will consider titles based on new research, as well as translations
- I will be devoting more time to researching and writing on issues which are important to me personally, particularly the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II
- I will write and publish 1-2 new titles (under 200 pages) per year
- I will be no longer issue reprints on any book titles, therefore, once a title is sold out there will be no additional copies printed
- I will continue to publish my popular bi-annual periodicals, Royal Russia and Sovereign
- I will continue to issue an annual calendar to help offset the costs of maintaining Royal Russia
Royal Russia Bookshop
- I will continue to operate the Royal Russia Bookshop, however, I will no longer sell and promote books published by other publishers and their authors
- I will no longer import books from Russia
- The Royal Russia Bookshop will only offer titles published by Royal Russia
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, who have shared my passion and interest in the Romanov dynasty, their legacy, and the history of Imperial and Holy Russia over the past 25+ years. I look forward to continuing this journey with all of you in the coming years ahead.
Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of Royal Russia.
My friend, Luba Suslyakova has written a brief article about our meeting in Ekaterinburg. She writes about our visits to Ganina Yama, and Alapaevsk.
This summer I was lucky to meet a very interesting visitor from Canada - Paul Gilbert, the founder of Royalrussia.org. Paul is Russophile and Romanovphile, his publishing house in Canada specializes in books on Imperial Russia and the Romanovs.
It was Paul’s second visit of Yekaterinburg. Obviously, he knew much more about Nicholas II than me. Apart from visiting the Monastery Ganina Yama and the actual place of the Romanovs’ burial place found in 1978, Paul wanted to go to the town of Alapayevsk.
Click on the link below to read the full article and view more photos:
Russian Imperial House Honours Royal Russia Founder Topic: Paul Gilbert
The Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House in Moscow has announced that Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna has elevated Paul Gilbert to the Imperial and Royal Order of St. Anna, III Class.
The Order of Saint Anna, established in 1735 was a dynastic order of knighthood; but between 1797 to 1917 it had dual status as a dynastic order and as a state order. The Head of the Imperial House of Russia always is Master of the imperial Order of Saint Anna. The Order of St. Anna continued to be awarded after the revolution by HIH Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, HIH Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich, and HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna. Today, the Russian Imperial Order of St. Anna, awarded by Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is recognized as a legitimate order of chivalry by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry (ICOC).
The Order is being given to Gilbert in recognition for his ongoing and many significant services to the Russian Imperial House. Gilbert is best known for his Royal Russia web site and blog, the publisher of more than 40 books and periodicals on the Romanov dynasty, his support of the Russian monarchy, and his personal dedication to distributing accurate information on the history of the House of Romanov and to highlighting the importance of the current activities of the Russian Imperial House in today's Russia.
The edict was signed by HIH on 3/16 February, 2016.
Paul Gilbert was invested into the Imperial and Royal Order of St. Stanislav III Class on 7 January, 2013 - see links below:
A Short Summary of My December 2014 Visit to St. Petersburg Topic: Paul Gilbert
I have just returned from my recent working visit to St. Petersburg, one which marked my 25th visit to Russia since 1986. My 8-day visit - December 4th to 11th - was very productive, one in which I met many new Romanov experts.
I have made numerous visits to Russia during the winter months over the years, however, this was my first winter visit to St. Petersburg since 2009. While the thought of icy cold winds and knee deep snow may put many visitors off, it has never deterred me. I should like to note that I have yet to experience a real Russian winter. During this visit, aside from a few snow flurries, there was no snow on the ground, and very little ice on the Neva. There are many advantages to travelling to this beautiful city during the winter months. First, there are few tourists in the city, which mean no line ups and no crowds, and thus making visits to the palaces and museums more enjoyable. Second, hotel prices are considerably less, you can save up to 50% over peak summer rates! Third, cultural events are at a peak, including ballet, opera and symphony performaces. Fourth, there is something simply magical about visiting this city when it is covered in a blanket of white snow - when it does snow, of course!
This was a particularly interesting and productive work visit for me. I was introduced to numerous Romanov experts, several of which have expressed a sincere interest in working together on various projects, including a proposed Romanov conference to be held at a future date in St. Petersburg.
During this visit I once again met with my Russian-based book supplier and ordered several new titles that will be featured in the Royal Russia Bookshop in the coming months ahead.
The highlights of my December 2014 visit to St. Petersburg include:
Tour of the Grand Ducal Mausoleum
I was invited to meet with Dr. Marina Logunova the chief historian for the State Museum of St. Petersburg, and the woman behind the restoration of the Cathedral of Peter and Paul - final resting place for generations of Romanovs, including the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. Dr. Logunova provided me with a private tour of the Grand Ducal Mausoleum.
It was during this tour that I took the opportunity to ask her about the popular theory that the Bolsheviks opened and robbed the graves of the Romanovs after the Revolution. "I can confirm that some of the graves were opened by the Bolsheviks, however, an inspection of these graves in 1992-93 failed to show any evidence that they had been tampered with," she said, "I can also add that there are no documents in the archives to support claims that the Bolsheviks had robbed or desecrated them."
The Grand Ducal Mausoleum has been of particular interest to me for many years. Sadly, it has been closed to the public for some years now due to ongoing restoration which is expected to take years to complete due to lack of funding. I was honoured to have had such a distinguished and highly respected expert take the time out of her busy day to provide me with this incredibly interesting tour and commentary. Sadly, the lighting was very poor and many of my photographs did not turn out. I have, however, did manage to take photographs of many of the graves of the grand dukes and grand duchesses buried in the mausoleum. It is interesting to note also that the beautiful Resurrection of Christ stained glass window (recreated in 2006) has been restored to it's original place. Today, it can be seen from the outside of the mausoleum over the rear entrance created during the Soviet years.
Dr. Marina Logunova also took me inside St. Catherine's Chapel, where the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, members of his family, as well as those of their four faithful retainers are interred. When asked why Nicholas II was not buried in the main cathedral alongside his ancestors, she explained that this was due to the fact that "Nicholas had abdicated, thus barring him from burial in the main cathedral," and that "the retainers could not be buried in the cathedral with the Russian sovereigns as they were commoners." She also confirmed that there are no plans to inter the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria alongside the rest of the Imperial family any time soon, due to the position of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Imperial Obsession: The West’s Fascination with the Romanov Legacy
Several months ago, I had been invited by Elena Konyukhova, the Director of the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library to give a talk about my magazine during my visit to St. Petersburg. I proposed that the talk be in two parts: the first would explore the West's fascination with the Romanov legacy, while the second part would focus on my magazine.
This was my first official speaking engagement in Russia. My talk on December 8th was attended by 45-50 people, including Rudy de Casseres, who travelled from Helsinki, Finland to attend my talk. I had the opportunity of meeting with Rudy for coffee on two separate occasions during which he was kind enough to share with me his his vast wealth of knowledge about the Romanovs and St. Petersburg.
The event was also attended by numerous Romanov experts: Igor Zimin, Dr. Marina Logunova, Galina Korneva, Tatiana Cheboksarova, and Zoia Beliakova. Several of these experts expressed an interest in writing articles for future publication in Royal Russia.
At the end of my presentation, Dr. Marina Logunova thanked me and presented me with a copy of her new book on the burial ceremonies of the Russian emperors and empresses. In turn, I donated a full set of Royal Russia Annuals (6 issues) to the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library, noting that copies of all future issues and books would be donated to the library for their English readers to peruse.
Overall, the evening was a success. I was overwhelmed with the kindness and enthusiasm I received from both the library staff and the guests during and after my presentation. I came away with the assurance that I had made many new friends and acquaintances in St. Petersburg.
State Hermitage Museum 250th Anniversary
The celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg took place over the course of three days – from December 7 till 9. On the evening of December 6th, the State Hermitage Museum presented a colourful high-definition 3D mapping projection called the “Dance of History”. A series of videos illustrating the most significant historic events of St. Petersburg and the Hermitage, as well as the museum’s finest pieces of art were projected on to the Winter Palace and the General Staff Building. The display was accompanied by the performance of classical music from different time periods and poetry recitals.
On my last evening in St. Petersburg I decided to return to the Faberge Museum. During my previous visit back in June, one had to join a group tour in order to view the Faberge treasures housed in the beautifully restored Shuvalov Palace, however, this has since changed.
The Faberge Museum is open daily (except Fridays) from 10:00 am to 8:45 pm. The ticket office is open from 9:30 am to 8:15 pm. Admission is 300 Rubles - a bargain!
Guided tours are offered from 10:00 am to 4:50 pm in both Russian or English. Duration of the guided tour is about one hour.
Individual visitors are admitted from 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm. Hand held audio guides in various languages (including English) are available to rent. I was delighted to have had the opportunity to purchase a ticket and spend a couple of hours browsing the numerous display cases filled with Faberge treasures at my leisure.
I would also like to note that the museum also has a gift shop on the ground floor, which offers a selection of souvernirs and books. I purchased 3 new Faberge books - all published by the Faberge Museum - to add to my library, including a 170-page Exhibit Index. For those visiting the museum independently, I would suggest purchasing a copy of this helpful little guide prior to visit. The price is only 150 Rubles.
Overall, my recent working visit to St. Petersburg was most productive. During my stay, I did a tremendous amount of research, compiling pages of notes, and took about 200 more photographs, some of which are shown above. I look forward to sharing the fruits of my research with Royal Russia subscribers and followers on my web site and blog, as well as the pages of Royal Russia Annual in the coming weeks and months ahead.
A Short Summary of My Spring 2014 Visit to St. Petersburg Topic: Paul Gilbert
I have just returned from my annual Spring visit to St. Petersburg. During my 9-day visit I spent many hours conducting research for the Royal Russia magazine and web site. I also met with my supplier and ordered several new titles that will be featured in the Royal Russia Bookshop in the coming months ahead.
The highlights of this year's visit to St. Petersburg include:
At the Court of the Russian Emperors
The venue for this extraordinary exhibiton was the State Hermitage Museum. More than 250 costumes of members of the Russian Imperial family of the 18th to early 20th century are on display in 5 halls: Nicolas Hall, Antechamber, Eastern Gallery of the Winter Palace, Armorial Hall and Concert Hall.
The costumes and accessories on display in this ambitious exhibit once belonged to members of the Imperial family and members of the Russian aristocracy. These include both ceremonial and daily costumes, outfits for visits and horseback riding, children’s and masquerade costumes, morning and strolling attire, evening wear and ball gowns.
Of particular interest were baby clothes and dresses that belonged to the daughters of Nicholas II. Numerous constumes worn by the Tsesarevich Alexei are also on display, including a ceremonial blue velvet costume, an officer's uniform of HIM's Own Guard, a Tulle lace baby dress in blue silk (1904) and his tiny Standart hat.
Court, ceremonial and everyday dresses and gowns worn by the Russian empresses from Catherine I to the last empress, Alexandra are on display. Those worn by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorona and the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna are numerous. I counted more than 30 for Maria and 18 for Alexandra! The exquisite gowns are supplemented with shoes, hats, fans, parasols and more!
The uniforms of the Russian emperors and the grand dukes are also represented. These are supplemented with display cases filled with the Orders and medals worn with their uniforms. Portraits and framed photographs hang from the walls of each room, depicting the faces of the August and aristocratic subjects of this unique exhibit.
One hall offers a large glass display case which contains 10 costumes worn by members of the Imperial family and the aristocracy at the famous costume ball held in 1903 at the Winter Palace. These include Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Prince Dimitry Golitsyn, Princess Zinaida Yusupova, among others. On the reverse side of the display case hang 18 black and white portraits of others in attendance at the historic ball.
But wait, that's not all . . . . . the exhibition continues with
Servants of the Imperial Court
Two additional rooms, the Arab Hall and the Rotunda of the State Hermitage Museum compliment At the Court of the Russian Emperors. On display for the first time are some 250 pieces of attire and accessories from the unique Hermitage collection of the livery wear of the Russian Court in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
These two magnificent exhibits rank among the finest Romanov-themed exhibitions that I have seen to date. The displays are captioned in both Russian and English and thus allowing foreigners a better understanding and appreciation of the historic items on display. The Servants of the Imperial Court exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated 400-page catalogue, in Russian only (with a 2-page English summary). I did not see a catalogue for the larger, more splendid At the Court of the Russian Emperors exhibition.
Aside from the costume exhibit at the State Hermitage Museum, the Faberge Museum was a top priority for me to see, and it did not disappoint.
Housed in the former Shuvalov Palace on the Fontanka, the museum features more than 4,000 pieces from the collection of Russian philanthropist Viktor Vekselberg. The palace has been beautifully restored, the central dome and staircase are the first taste of the splendour that await in the 10 exhibition rooms currently open to visitors.
The Blue Sitting Room is devoted solely to the museum's collection of 12 Faberge eggs. Each egg stands on a plinth in its glass case in two orderly rows. The 12 eggs include 9 of with an Imperial provenance, the remaining 3 include the Marlborough and Kelch eggs.
Aside from the Faberge eggs, visitors see other examples of fine Fabergé craftsmanship, including gold jewels, silverware and ornate cigarette cases, as well as works by Fabergé contemporaries Ivan Khlebnikov, Pavel Ovchinnikov and Ignatius Sazikov. On the ground floor is another room which is currently hosting a small exhibition dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. It will close in July, as the room is prepared for a new exhibition marking the 100th anniversay of Russia's role in World War One.
To visit the Faberge Museum requires some planning. You must join a tour, individual visits are not yet available. I had to purchase my ticket in the morning, and return in the afternoon for the tour. Tours are offered in English or Russian and last an hour and a half, the price is 300 Rubles ($9 USD). Again, photography is absolutely forbidden, and there are plenty of security on hand to ensure that every one follows this rule. I was simply overwhelmed with this museum, and there is no question in my mind it will soon be one of St. Petersburg's most popular attractions.
The Alexander Palace
Each year I hop on the suburban train from the Vitebsky Railway Station bound for Tsarskoye Selo. The 30-minute ride is a bargain at 72 Rubles ($2 USD) return. Upon arrival, I immediately note that new signs reflect the recent name change which returns the historic name of the station from Pushkin to Tsarskoye Selo have been erected. Buses and taxis are available in front of the station, however, if the weather is nice then I prefer to walk, which is about 40 minutes to the Alexander Palace.
You enter the Alexander Palace through the central colonnade. Admission is 300 Rubles (9 USD), the exhibition Reminiscences in the Alexander Palace includes Nicholas and Alexandra's rooms located in the west wing, and the suite of State Halls, including the Marble (Mountain) Hall, one of three new rooms opened to the public last year, but still awaiting restoration.
Restoration work on the east wing of the palace is underway. In fact, much of the wing facing the park is surrounded by blue fencing, the grounds are filled with construction and contractor containers, workmen and the noises associated with building restoration. The new palace-museum complex is scheduled to open in 2018.
Once again, I journeyed to this magnificent complex of palaces, pavilions, fountains and parks by hydrofoil. The Peterhof Express departs from the pier in front of the Admiralty every 30 minutes. It's not a cheap journey at 1500 Rubles ($45 USD return), however, you don't have to worry about traffic congestion and one truly arrives in style!
I spent the entire day here, and took in the Grand Palace enjoying all of the magnificent interiors. I have to admit that I do have a preference for this palace over the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Admission to the palace is 550 Rubles ($16 USD).
I also visited the Saints Peter and Paul Church, where numerous Romanov events took place, such as weddings (Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna in 1894) and baptisms (Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaievich in 1904). The interiors are breathtaking. Admission is 400 Rubles ($12 USD). Photography is forbidden, however, a guide book (in Russian only) offers photos of the interiors, including the iconostasis.
Next, was the Special Treasury, housed in the former Coat-of-Arms Pavilion. Eight rooms house a collection of memorial items that belonged to the Russian rulers from Peter I to Nicholas II. The collection includes paintings, unique court costumes, furniture and jewellery, including Faberge. Sadly, many visitors to Peterhof overlook this museum, however, I highly recommend a visit. Admission is 500 Rubles ($15 USD).
I enjoyed a nice lunch in the Orangery before visiting the Imperial Yacht Museum. Three rooms tell the history of the imperial yachts, the last of which is dedicated to the Standart. Hundreds of items from more than a dozen imperial yachts are displayed in glass cases, including selections of porcelain and crystal services. The exhibit is further enhanced by a wonderful collection of vintage photographs and watercolours, uniforms, even pieces of furniture presevered from the Derzhava. Admission is 250 Rubles ($7 USD). The Imperial Yacht Museum will be the topic for My Russia, to be published in the No. 6 issue of Royal Russia (available August 2014).
During my stay, I did a tremendous amount of research, compiling pages of notes, and more than 350 photographs, some of which are shown above. I look forward to sharing the fruits of my research with Royal Russia subscribers and followers on my web site and blog, as well as the pages of Royal Russia Annual in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Paul Gilbert's Investiture Held at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville Topic: Paul Gilbert
Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia, wearing the Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislaus, III Class.
Photo by Nick Nicholson
This past weekend, I journeyed down to Jordanville, New York as a guest of the Foundation of Russian History to participate in a private exhibition preview of The Russian Word and Image: Four Centuries of Books and Art and the opening of the Russian Nobility Association Reading Room at the Holy Trinity Monastery.
Of particular interest are display cases containing items retrieved from the Ipatiev House by Nikolai Sokolov, including a delicate white blouse which belonged to the real Anastasia, or perhaps one of her three sisters. A tiny khaki military jacket was made for their brother, Alexei. A single pearl earring survives from their mother, Alexandra.
Distinguished guests included Paul Kulikovsky (great grandson of Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna), and Michael Ilyinsky (grandson of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich) among many others. I was delighted to meet up with old friends and acquaintances, some of whom I had not see in 20 years! It was also a great honour to meet a number of the guests at the reception who were followers of both the Royal Russia web site and magazine.
Paul Gilbert, Founder of Royal Russia receives the edict signed by HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
from Dr. Russell E. Martin, International Communications Advisor to the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness.
Photo by Serge Shohov
The highlight for me personally was my investiture into the Order of Saint Stanislaus on Sunday, May 18th (the birthday of Emperor Nicholas II). The private ceremony was held in the Russian Nobility Association Reading Room. The investiture began with the reading of the edict by Dr. Russell E. Martin, International Communications Advisor to the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness. He then presented me with the Imperial and Royal Order of Saint Stanislaus, III Class. It is truly a rare privilege for non-Russians to receive one of the historic Imperial orders of knighthood. The investiture was witnessed by Nick Nicholson, Serge Shohov and Andrei Liubimov. Special thanks to Rev. Vladimir von Tsurikov, Director and Curator for the Foundation of Russian History.
"The Order is being given in recognition of a lifetime of service to the Russian Imperial House. Gilbert is best known for his Royal Russiaweb site and blog, the publisher of more than 30 books and magazines on the Romanov dynasty, his support of the Russian monarchy, and his personal dedication to distributing accurate information about the House of Romanov and to highlighting the importance of the Russian Imperial House in today's Russia." - Russian Imperial House Honours Paul Gilbert, published on 22 January, 2013
The edict was signed by HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna at Madrid on January 7th, 2013.
My interest with the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia span a lifetime, while I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life to Royal Russia as my full time occupation. I can think of no greater honour, and am truly humbled to have my work recognized by the Head of the Russian Imperial Family.
My Russia: The Petrovsky Palace, Moscow Topic: Paul Gilbert
My Russia is a series of articles which I write for Royal Russia, a unique publication that celebrates the Romanov dynasty and Imperial Russia in words and photographs. In the current issue I write about my visit to the Petrovsky Travelling Palace in Moscow. The palace has a rich Romanov legacy, playing an important role in the coronation ceremonies of Russia’s last six emperors, from Paul I to Nicholas II. I am happy to share my impressions of this beautiful Neo-Gothic palace in the current instalment of My Russia.
In October 2013, I journeyed to Moscow for the first time since 2005. It was during this visit to the Russian capital that I was able to visit a popular architectural gem with an interesting history associated with the Romanov legacy.
Most visitors to Moscow get nothing more than a fleeting glimpse of the Petrovsky Palace while travelling to or from Sheremetyevo Airport. During my visit to the Russian capital, I was able to obtain permission to visit the Petrovsky Palace for the very first time. I was met by Galina Petrovna Glotova, the senior researcher of the Petrovsky Palace Museum, though now retired.
Galina provided me with a private tour of the palace, regaling me with tales of its history from the time of Catherine the Great through to the six Russian emperors who stopped at the Neo-Gothic palace before their entry into Moscow for their respective coronations. Galina guided me through the interiors of the palace, including the museum on the ground floor, the magnificent Round Hall, the adjoining ceremonial rooms, the former royal apartments, among others. Galina was a walking encyclopaedia on the palace, and she was very pleased to share her extensive knowledge with me.
My article on the Petrovsky Palace is based on the extensive notes which I compiled during my tour with Galina, as well as English and Russian sources from my personal library. It explores the history of the palace up to the present day, it’s construction, my impressions of the interiors, it’s August guests, efforts to preserve the historic interiors during its modern day restoration, its function today, and more.
My Russia: The Petrovsky Palace appears in Royal Russia Annual No. 5 (Winter 2014). The article is 14 pages in length and illustrated with 17 black and white photographs, many of which I took myself.
The Petrovsky Palace is now under the administration of the Moscow city government, and therefore not open to the public. While this beautiful palace, so rich in Romanov history may not be accessible to many visitors to Russia, it is my sincere hope that my article and photos will offer readers a brief glimpse into this historic palace from the comfort of their favourite armchair.
Journey to Moscow, a Short Summary of My Visit Topic: Paul Gilbert
I have just returned from an 8-day visit to Moscow, my first to the Russian capital in 8 years. The main purposes for my visit were to partake in the wonderful exhibitions marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty and to conduct research for the Royal Russia magazine and web site.
The highlights of my October 2013 visit to Moscow include:
The Petrovsky Palace
My personal interest in this palace is based on my fascination with the Coronation ceremonies of the Russian sovereigns. The palace was built during the reign of Catherine the Great, and it was here that all successive Russian monarchs stayed before their official entry into Moscow for their coronation in the Kremlin.
The palace is not open to the public, therefore I was very fortunate to receive a special VIP tour of the palace last Thursday. My three hour tour with the director of the palace included the grounds, the ground floor, which hosts a small museum on the history of the palace, one room of which contains items from the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II in 1896, and a scale model of the palace. A vestibule is dominated with majestic pillars and busts of all the Romanov monarchs who stayed in the palace, from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II.
The second floor includes a suite of rooms, all decorated with furniture reproduced from the original. I saw the room in which Napoleon stayed during his unwelcome visit in 1812, as well as the balcony in which he stood while watching Moscow burn.
I will be writing an extensive article on the history of the Petrovsky Palace, which will appear in the No. 5 (Winter 2014) issue of Royal Russia Annual, to be published in January 2014. The article will include my personal notes and photographs taken during my visit to the palace.
The Martha and Mary Convent
A beautiful spot that most visitors to Moscow are unaware. The secluded convent of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna hides behind a stone wall with latticed gates on Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka. Passing through an iron gate, one is transported into an island of peace and tranquility. The grounds are beautifully maintained, and a life-size monument to Saint Elizabeth is surrounded by flowers, left by Orthodox Christians who come to pray in the church.
The Holy Protection Cathedral has been restored, and inside, one can still see the wonderful frescoes by the renowned Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov. I purchased a candle from one of the sisters and went into a side chapel which contains icons of Saint Elizabeth and the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was here that I lit the candle and prayed, also taking time to reflect on the the grand duchess and her work among Moscow's less fortunate, which, by the way, continues to this day.
The convent also includes several other buildings including an interesting museum dedicated to the life and work of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. In 2009, the Convent published a blue leatherbound pictorial album, which contains beautiful high quality photographs of Ella, with text in Russian and English.
The Romanovs: Portrait of a Dynasty
The venue for this exhibition is the new War of 1812 Museum (the former City Duma in Tsarist days, and the Lenin Museum in Soviet times) on Red Square, and now part of the State Historical Museum.
The exhibition offers more than 400 works, including colour portraits, busts, miniatures, drawings and photographs of members of the Romanov dynasty. Arranged in chronological order, the exhibit tells the story of the portrait genre in Russia—from the early “parsuna” (secular portraits) of the 1670–80s (represented by a portrait of Tsars Mikhail Fedorovich and Alexei Mikhailovich), up to 70 original pre-revolutionary photographs of members of the Russian Imperial family (mostly the grand dukes and grand duchesses). This exhibition was beautifully presented, with descriptions in both Russian and English. An enormous hard cover exhibition catalogue (in Russian only) compliments this exhibit at 2500 Rubles!
The Coronations and Anointing of Russian Tsars and Emperors at the Moscow Kremlin
This large scale exhibition is spread over three floors in two separate buildings within the Kremlin. The 16th-17th centuries on the ground floor of the Assumption Belfry, the 18th-19th centuries on the ground and upper floor of the Patriarch Palace.
The exhibit is composed of almost 400 historical relics of high artistic merit, from pieces of state regalia to rarely seen archival documents, photographs and etchings, the exhibition is intended to reveal the atmosphere of coronations and consecration ceremonies in Russia as well as to explore the evolution of these solemn rituals throughout several centuries.
Of particular interest are the numerous coronation uniforms and dresses of Russian Emperors and Empresses. Also, the ceremonial uniforms of Cossacks, heralds, senators, etc. The sheer number of exhibits are both exhaustive and breathtaking, I spent an entire afternoon here!
For me personally, this exhibition is the most interesting and beautiful of all the Romanov themed exhibitions that I have attended over the years. The 2-volume catalogue is simply magnificent!
My visit to Moscow would not be complete without a visit to the Christ the Saviour Cathedral to see its stunning interiors, and the Tretyakov Gallery, my favourite art gallery in Russia, and the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.
During my stay, I did a tremendous amount of research, compiling pages of notes, and more than 300 photographs, some of which are shown above. I look forward to sharing them with Royal Russia subscribers on my web site and blog, as well as the pages of Royal Russia Annual in the coming weeks and months ahead.