Nicholas II Vintage Newsreels No. 1 – 5

No. 1 – Emperor Nicholas II in Crimea. Easter 1916

For Orthodox Christians, the annual Orthodox feast is Easter, which is celebrated lavishly with family. On that day, all the children of God are equal.

If possible, Emperor Nicholas II and his family spent Easter at Livadia. The Emperor and Empress greeted the entire household with the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy. To members of the Court and the Imperial Guard, the sovereigns gave their famous Easter eggs. Some were simple: exquisitely painted eggshells from which the yolk had been drawn through tiny pinholes. Others were more elaborate created by Faberge.

As seen in this vintage newsreel, the tsar exchanges the traditional three kisses of blessing, welcome and joy to each officer and soldier, repeating the words ’Christ is Risen!’ to which the soldier replies ’Truly, he risen!’ Each is presented with an egg, which are carried in small wooden boxes by a line of officers, who are laden with boxes filled with Easter eggs

Sir John Hanbury-Williams recalled in his diary on 23rd April 1916:

“A perfectly beautiful Easter morning. There bad been a midnight service, and then we all paraded at the Imperial house, H.I.M. presenting us each with china Easter eggs made by Fabergé.”

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds with musical background


No. 2 – Emperor Nicholas II in Smolensk. 31st August 1912

The newsreel opens with the Imperial Train arriving at the railway station in Smolensk, whereby the Emperor walks down the platform to review the honour guard. He is then seen receiving gifts and the traditional bread and salt from local officials and dignitaries.

At 2:39, you will notice a rather plump chap appearing from the right hand side of the screen. This is Prince Vladimir Nikolaevich Orlov (1868-1927), one of Nicholas II’s closest advisors. Between 1906-1915, Orlov headed the Emperor’s Military Cabinet, he also served as the the Emperor’s personal chauffeur. For many years, he was one of Nicholas II’s most trusted aides, however, his negative feelings towards Rasputin, eventually led to his dismissal from the Imperial Court.

Further into the newsreel, we see carriages carrying the Imperial Family arriving at the Cathedral Church of the Assumption. Their visit coincided with events marking the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812. Upon leaving the cathedral, they pass by students of the Smolensk Diocesan School. If you watch closely, you will see the dedicated Minister of the Imperial Court, Baron V.B. Fredericks, who constantly shadowed the Emperor.

The newsreel concludes with a view of the Imperial Family, standing on a hill overlooking Smolensk.

Duration: 5 minutes, 54 seconds with musical background


No. 3 – French President Raymond Poincare’s State Visit to Russia, 1912-1914

In this newsreel we see Emperor Nicholas II with President Raymond Poincare of France at Krasnoye Selo, the summer military capital of the Russian Empire. We see Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her daughters getting into some of the fine automobiles which the Emperor was so fond of.

This is followed by a parade of grand dukes and generals on horseback. Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is then seen riding in an open carriage with President Raymond Poincare, the Emperor on horseback riding along side.

Members of the Imperial Family join Poincare in a tent, positioned on a slight hill, where they can witness manoeuvres in honour of the French president’s state visit. Towards the end of the footage, the Empress is seen nodding as soldiers file past the tent and its guests.

Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds, no audio


No. 4 – Emperor Nicholas II at Revel in 1908

[1] Arrival of the Imperial train in Revel (modern day Tallinn, Estonia). We see Emperor Nicholas II, along with members of his family and retinue walking along the platform

[2] A launch carries the Emperor and his family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[3[ Arrival of a train in Revel carrying the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Queen Olga of Greece, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, Prince P.A. Oldenburg, among others

[4] A launch carries the Dowager Empress and members of the Imperial Family to the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’

[5] The arrival of the British Royal Yacht ‘Victoria and Albert’, carrying King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Revel, 27th May 1908

Duration: 8 minutes, 30 seconds with musical background


No. 5 – Historic visit to Riga in the summer of 1910 by Emperor Nicholas II

At the beginning of the newsreel we see the Imperial Yacht ‘Standart’ sailing into the harbour. It is one thing to admire the ‘Standart’ in photographs, however, it is only when one views it in a moving image, that one can put into perspective the sheer size of this magnificent “floating palace” – 128 m (420 feet) in length and 5557 tons standard in weight. It was the envy of all the royal houses of Europe and Great Britain.

Nicholas II’s visited Riga with his family for three days – from 3 to 5 July 1910. The Imperial Family arrived for the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the capture of Riga from Sweden by Russian troops, making it part of the Russian Empire.

The highlight of the visit was the grand opening and consecration of the monument to Emperor Peter I on the Alexander Boulevard in Riga, which is also featured in this video.

Alexandre Spiridovitch writes about the tsar’s 1910 visit to Riga in his memoirs Last Years of the Court at Tsarskoe Selo Volume II (1910-1914) – first English language edition published in 2017 [now out of print].

Duration: 5 minutes, 1 second with Russian language audio

© Paul Gilbert. 26 April 2020

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