On Board the Imperial Yacht Standart

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Tsar Nicholas II with his family on board the imperial yacht Standart

These pages are maintained by Royal Russia and Gilbert's Royal Books.
© 2004-2010. All Rights Reserved.

All Photos are from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University

History must be grateful to Anna Vyrubova. A devoted friend and confidant to the last Empress of Russia, she was one of the lucky few who were associated with the Russian Court that escaped from the horrors that swept post-revolutionary Russia. Anna was dearly loved by the entire Imperial Family, and as a result she spent a great deal of time at home with them and even accompanied them on board the Imperial yacht Standart. She was a keen photographer and used her skills to photograph their most intimate moments together. When she escaped to Finland in 1920 she managed to leave with a set of handsome leatherbound albums filled with photographic memories of the last Imperial family of Russia. These albums now form part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

A selection of photographs from these albums are displayed here and focus on Tsar Nicholas II and his family during their cruises onboard the Imperial yacht Standart. They portray the private moments of a very private family during some of the happiest moments of their lives, as they sailed to the islands in the Finnish archipelago, the Crimea in the Black Sea, or to visit relatives in Denmark and Great Britain.

Their peaceful life onboard the Imperial yacht Standart was enjoyed by the entire family, including the Empress, who was rarely photographed smiling. When she boarded the Imperial yacht, Alexandra seemed to take on a whole new persona and in a total moment of abandon would exhibit motherly tenderness to her children, and husband, or engage in cheery, light-hearted conversation and fun with those around her. The gaiety onboard quite often included the members of the ships's crew and officers, who not only dined with the Imperial family, but also participated in their games and excursions onshore.

These photographs are proof that the family of the man who reigned as autocrat of the vast and mighty Russian Empire, were a very typical Edwardian family. They portray a family pursuing the carefree pleasures that many other families of that era also pursued, a world and a time that have long since disappeared but have not been forgotten.

Paul Gilbert

Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Emperor Nicholas II, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia

The Emperor with his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (nee Princess Dagmar of Denmark)

Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, the younger sister of the Emperor, seated with the Empress

Grand Duchess Olga with her favourite niece, Anastasia

Anna Vyrubova with the Empress

A pensive looking Empress Alexandra surrounded by her daughters (from left to right: Tatiana, Maria, Olga, Alexandra, Anastasia)

Empress Alexandra, Tatiana, Olga, and Anastasia holding a dog

The Emperor and his four beautiful daughters: Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia

Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga, Anastasia and Tatiana preparing for an excursion

The four sisters

Empress Alexandra with Grand Duchess Maria

Empress Alexandra on the main deck of the Standart

The Empress looking relaxed and content with her surroundings

An equally relaxed looking Emperor poses for the camera

Despite his critics, Nicholas II looked every bit an Emperor!

Emperor and son, Alexis

Alexandra, the doting mother and Alexis

The Empress bore a heavy cross after learning her only son had been afflicted with haemophilia

The Empress often stayed onboard the Imperial yacht with Alexis if his health did not allow him to partake in excursions with the rest of the family

Alexis looking happy and healthy

Alexis with one of his tutors, Pierre Gilliard

The Empress looking happy as she boards the Imperial yacht

Grand Duchesses Maria and Olga

Grand Duchess Olga had grown into a beautiful young woman

The Emperor had a great passion for books and often read aloud to his wife and children after dinner

The Emperor posing in front of one of the Standart's lifeboats

A beautiful photograph of father and son

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna, the eldest daughter of Nicholas II

The Emperor reviewing one of the many reports submitted to him onboard

Another beautiful photograph of father and son

The Emperor and his son, Alexis who is wearing naval uniform complete Standart on his cap

The Empress and the Emperor caught in a more relaxed moment on the deck of the Imperial yacht

Nicholas and Alexandra relaxing onboard the Standart. This is one of my favourite photos - Paul Gilbert

The Emperor consulting with Admiral Konstantin Nilov. General Count Alexander Grabbe,
author of 'The Private World of the Last Tsar' can be seen in the left of the photo

The Emperor consulting with Commander Nicholas Sablin, Commander of the Imperial yacht

The Emperor and the Tsesarevich Alexis with the crew of the Imperial yacht Standart

The Emperor (seated holding a cat), accompanied by his children, and surrounded by the officers of the Imperial yacht

The Empress arrives onboard and is greeted by the officers

Fun and games were enjoyed by all including the officers who are seen here dancing with the grand duchesses

The grand duchesses dancing on the main deck of the Imperial yacht

Grand Duchess Tatiana, Commander Sablin, Grand Duchess Olga, and two unidentified officers

The officers were often invited to dine with the Imperial family in the main dining room of the Standart

The Emperor with Count Vladimir Fredericks, who served as Minister of the Court

Empress Alexandra conversing with Count Paul Benckendorff, who served as General A.D.C. and Grand Marshall of the Court