Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2020


A Divine Liturgy is held on the night of 16/17 July at the Church on the Blood

Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Tsar’s Days events will go ahead as planned in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. Russia has been hard hit by the coronavirus, reported more than 371,000 cases to date.

A press release from the Ekaterinburg City Hall has confirmed that in 2020, Tsar’s Days will be held from 12 to 21 July. Tsar’s Days is the annual festival of Orthodox culture in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk Region, marking the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Ipatiev House on 17th July 1918. The festival includes divine services, religious processions, exhibitions, concerts and other events.

The main event, for which thousands of Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Martyrs – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.


Pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg
to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama

In addition, several exhibitions will be held in Ekaterinburg, including From Repentance to the Resurrection of Russia, which will be held from 12-19 July. Representatives of the largest Orthodox churches from across Russia, Ukraine, Greece and other countries will take part.

The first Tsar’s Days was held in Ekaterinburg in 2001. In 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the regicide in the Ural capital, attracted more than 100,000 Orthodox pilgrims, monarchists, among others from across Russia and around the world.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2020

Reopening of the Alexander Palace now delayed to end of 2020


Curtains featuring a pattern of pink ribbons entwined with green wreaths set
with flowers on a white background have been recreated for the Imperial Bedroom

The Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Olga Taratynova, announced in Russian media yesterday, that the long awaited reopening of the Alexander Palace has been further delayed due to restrictions made by the coronavirus. Russia remains one of the hardest nations hit by the pandemic with more than 362,000 cases reported to date.

The Alexander Palace, the last residence of Emperor Nicholas II, was scheduled to open to the public on 20th August, however, Taratynova has now confirmed that the reopening of the palace to the public has been delayed until the end of 2020 – although the exact date has yet to be confirmed.

“As for the Alexander Palace, unfortunately, there is a ban on restoration work, including the transfer of museum items during the quarantine. At first we thought that we could open the first eight restored rooms in the summer months, unfortunately, however, work has come to a standstill due to strict quarantine measures. The recreation of the historical interiors is done, but we now need to prepare each room for the exposition. Once our experts have decorated the rooms with objects of applied art, the interiors can then be showcased to visitors in all their glory,” said Taratynova.

The Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo was built by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi on the orders of Catherine II for her eldest grandson Alexander, the future Emperor Alexander I. From 1905, it became the permanent residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. It was from the Alexander Palace that the Imperial Family were sent into exile to Tobolsk on 14 August (O.S. 1), 1917. After the October Revolution, the palace housed a sanitarium for NKVD employees and later an orphanage. In 1951 the building was transferred to the Navy of the USSR, and the palace collection was transferred to Pavlovsk Museum. In 2009, the palace was transferred to the authority of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve.

The palace has been undergoing restoration since 2011, which includes reconstruction work, the installation of internal engineering networks, and restoration of interiors. The Pavlovsk State Museum  have agreed to return “some items” for the exposition; while furniture for the halls has been recreated according to original samples and archival materials.

The first eight interiors to open in the eastern wing of the palace include: the Reception of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Imperial Bedroom, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, and the New Study of Nicholas II.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family.  The multi-museum complex is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2022.

Click HERE to review more articles, news, photos and videos of the history and restoration of the Alexander Palace

© Paul Gilbert. 26 May 2020

“It is important for our society to reconsider Nicholas II” – Metropolitan Kirill


Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye

On 19th May 2020, the day marking the 152nd anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II, Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, gave a sermon at the Church on the Blood, urging Russian society to make a fresh assessment of Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

Emperor Nicholas II was born on the day of the Righteous Job the Long-suffering, and his memory is celebrated by the Church on 6th May in the old calendar or on 19th May according to a new style.

* * *

The birthday of Saint Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich on 19th May almost always falls during the days of Pascha, the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Church on Blood in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg, on the Russian Golgotha, the memory of the Holy Tsar Martyr, born 152 years ago, on the day of memory of the Righteous Job the Long-suffering, and who was martyred 102 years ago in Ekaterinburg, who suffered for Christ, is especially celebrated. for the Orthodox faith and for Holy Russia.

In Ekaterinburg, the earthly life of a great, very kind and decent man, the anointed of God, whom we revere with love today, has ended. Today, the veneration of the Tsar-Martyr is strong among believers, however, Bolshevik myths and lies about the “weak-willed ruler Nicholas the Bloody” remain embedded in our modern-day secular society.

If we use the language of images that is inherent in modern society, whom are less and less inclined to read and think for themselves, one can weigh the enormity of the atrocity without words, it is enough to compare the photographs of the victims and the executioners. On the one hand is a photograph of the Holy Family: Tsar Nicholas, Tsarina Alexandra and their five children, and on the other is a photograph of their killers. Two very different worlds are clearly reflected In this “mirror”: light, mercy and kindness, almost heavenly beauty, on the one side, anger and black-hearted hatred, on the other.

We must understand that the people who committed the massacre of the Imperial Family and their followers for decades ruled the Russia in which we live today. The ideologists of Bolshevism needed to justify the murder of the Tsar’s family and their loyal subjects, to justify their brutal reprisals and repressions, which were committed during their reign of terror. Having launched their campaign of murder and oppression, the Bolsheviks and later the Soviets completely erased from the textbooks of history and public consciousness the large-scale achievements and great achievements of Nicholas II’s reign.

This glaring contradiction in many respects affects our contemporaries today who cannot understand and accept a Christian life and the Orthodox worldview of the Holy Tsar Nicholas. And he was truly a Christian – sincere, kind, decent, warm-hearted, pious and honourable. Therefore, for us, this date is the day of our constant and pure repentance for the atrocity committed by our ancestors …

Repentance is a change of consciousness. In relation to the Tsar’s family, this is a rethinking of the role of the Tsar Martyr in Russia’s history, a change in our attitude towards him. Yes, this activity is ongoing, but its scope is extremely modest in the absence of state ideology.

But in a world where the image of the Holy Tsar still remains slandered and distorted, and the streets, squares, and even entire regions bear the names of murderers, to this day there is no repentance. Is spiritual healing of our society possible without such a change? Is it any wonder today when among us there are those who draw the swastika, raise their hands in a Nazi salute, try to include Nazi photographs in the Immortal Regiment, putting the murderers and those killed in the memorial march? These are people brought up on the very contradictions of our public and state life.

Therefore, until sincere repentance occurs, we are doomed to suffer from the lack of spirituality of modern society, having Victory Day as the only national holiday, forgetting the Kulikovo Field, the Battle of Borodino and many other glorious victories of the Russian soldier, Russian people, sanctified by Orthodox prayer and faith. Until then, people will continue to desecrate the churches of the Fatherland, for whom there is nothing sacred in this life, because it was destroyed a century ago, when Russian history was swept into an abyss, the Russian state, including here in Ekaterinburg, where a memorial church stands today on the sight of the Ipatiev House, where on the night of 16/17 July 1918, the blood of the Holy Royal Martyrs was spilled. This seal of regicide lies today in the city where the atrocious crime took place. It’s regrettable, but much less attention is paid to preserving the memory of the Holy Tsar than the memory of their monster killers,

Therefore, today, living here, on the site of Russian Calvary, we have a great and special responsibility before God, before the Holy Church, before our Russian Motherland and before the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. If others around us do not repent, we must do this all the time. The memory of the Holy Tsar and the fact that the last days of his holy life passed here in Ekaterinburg, that it was here that he accepted his martyrdom – this is our personal responsibility to the Holy Church and to all those future generations of people who, hopefully, have something they can change within their own environment and our region will not bear the name of any of the men who participated in regicide.

And while we are serving the Divine Liturgy at the Tsar’s Altar, while we honour the memory of the Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas and all the new martyrs who were killed for the Orthodox faith and for our Holy Fatherland, until then we can still hope for God’s mercy. We will pray to God and meekly, humbly – like the Holy Tsar himself – to wish salvation to everyone who lives among us, who is our compatriot, and who today does not know or does not want to know the feat of the Holy Tsar and all the new martyrs and confessors of the Russian Church – who to this day they stand for Holy Russia, they protect us and do not let everything that has been gathered in our Fatherland for centuries and that today is held by some special Divine power, preserving our people, our country on this earth in peace and prosperity .

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, great efforts by historians and the Russian Orthodox Church to research and establish a fresh and honest reassessment of the last Russian Tsar, but in the absence of a state ideology and a clear position on this issue, all this is but a small fraction.

It was in Ekaterinburg in May 2018, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the last Russian Emperor, on the initiative of the World Russian People’s Cathedral and the Double-Headed Eagle Society, that a public forum was held to preserve the heritage of Tsar Nicholas II. Scientists and members of the public raised the issue of preserving the historical memory of the Sovereign, gathered to recognize the merits of Nicholas II on the development of the Russian state and public assessment of the murder of the Tsar’s family, committed a century ago. Today, the results of this forum require further development.


© Paul Gilbert. 26 May 2020

COLOUR photos of the Coronation of Nicholas II


On this day – 27 May (O.S. 14 May) 1896, Russia’s last emperor and tsar Nicholas II was crowned in Moscow

The following text is a short introduction of the preparations and ceremony, to prepare readers for the wonderful colour photographs of the Coronation of Russia’s last emperor which follow – PG


On 13 January (O.S., 1 January) 1896, the manifesto “On the upcoming Holy Coronation of Their Imperial Majesties” was published, according to which the coronation ceremony was to be held in May, and inviting the Government Senate in Moscow, and other representatives of the Russian Empire, to attend. Responsibility for organizing the ceremony was assigned to the Ministry of the Imperial Court, on the basis of which the Coronation Commission and the Coronation Office were organized.

From 6 May to 26 May 1896 was the official coronation period, with 25 May being the birthday of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. On 26 May, a manifesto was published that expressed the gratitude of the monarch to the inhabitants of Moscow.

It was proposed that all persons participating in the 9 May ceremonial entrance of the imperial couple to Moscow arrive in Moscow no later than 5 May. The ceremonial entry was to be from the Petrovsky Palace on Petersburg Highway and further along Tverskaya-Yamskaya and Tverskaya streets.

Preparations for the celebrations were the responsibility of the Minister of the Imperial Court Count I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov. The High Marshal was Count K. I. Palen; the supreme master of ceremonies was Prince A. S. Dolgorukov. The duties of the herald were performed by E. K. Pribylsky, an official of the Senate. A coronation unit was formed from 82 battalions, 36 squadrons, 9 hundreds, and 28 batteries, under the command of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, under whom was a special headquarters with the rights of the General Staff led by Lieutenant General N.I. Bobrikov. Vladimir Alexandrovich arrived in Moscow and took command on 3 May 1896.

Coronation ceremony

The coronation of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was the last coronation during the Russian Empire. It took place on 26 May (O.S. 14 May) 1896, in the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

On 26/14 May, the day of the Coronation, the liturgy was read and prayers of thanksgiving recited in all the churches in St. Petersburg. The metropolitan cathedrals could not accommodate all the worshippers, in view of which prayers were also recited in the squares near a number of cathedrals and some churches, as well as in the Horse Guards.

The coronation ceremony began at 10 am, with the emperor, his mother, and his wife seated on thrones on a special raised platform installed in the middle of the cathedral. The emperor sat on the throne of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, Empress Maria Feodorovna on the throne of Tsar Alexy Mikhailovich Tishayshy, and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna on the throne of Grand Prince Ivan III.

The ceremony was presided over by Metropolitan Palladium, of St. Petersburg, the pre-eminent member of the most Holy Synod (the Synod at the time of the coronation having been transferred to Moscow). During the liturgy, the metropolitan con-celebrated with the metropolitans of Kiev, Ioanikiy (Rudnev), and of Moscow, Sergius (Lyapidevsky). At the end of the liturgy the emperor and empress were anointed and then took communion of the Holy Mysteries at the altar. In the ministry of the liturgy, among others, John of Kronstadt also took part.


















© Paul Gilbert. 26 May 2020

General Count Alexander Nikolaevich Grabbe (1864-1947)


General Count Alexander Grabbe, Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy,
in parade uniform (1917)

General Count Alexander Grabbe (1864-1947), served as Major-General of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy from 1914 to 1917

Alexander Nikolaevich Grabbe was born in the Caucasus on 12th February 1864. The son of Count Nikolai Pavlovich Grabbe (1832-1896) and Countess Alexandra Feodorovna Orlova-Denisova (1837-1892).

In 1901, he was allowed to add the name of his grandmother Elisaveta Alekseevna Nikitina (1817-1898), who was the only daughter of the cavalry general Alexei Petrovich Nikitin, to his last name and became known as Count Alexander Nikolaevich Grabbe-Nikitin.

Like many other members of his family, he attended the prestigious military academy, the Corps des Pages, quartered in the Vorontsov Palace in St. Petersburg, where he graduated in 1887. It was the custom to select outstanding students in their final year to serves as pages to members of the Imperial Family on state occasions, of whom Grabbe was among those chosen. 

Grabbe had wanted to study engineering, but his wealthy grandmother, the Countess Elizabeth Orlov-Denisov, insisted that he join her husband’s Cossack regiment. As he had no means of his own, he had no choice.

Between 1889-1891, Grabbe served as an adjutant to the Grand Dukes Alexander (1866-1933) and Sergei Mikhailovich (1869-1918). They embarked on a world cruise, where Grabbe met Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Nicholas II) in Ceylon. From June 1897 to 1910 he served as adjutant to Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich (1832-1909).


Alexander with his wife Maria and their son George

In 1893 he married Maria Nikolaevna Bezak (1864-1951), a lady-in-waiting to the Empress, and daughter of a cabinet minister of Tsar Alexander III. The couple had three sons: George (1895), Nicholas (1897) and Paul (1902).

In 1911, following the death of the grand duke, he was promoted aide-de-camp to Tsar Nicholas II with the rank of colonel. During the following years he was invited to accompany the Imperial Family to the Crimea and cruised with them on the Imperial yacht Standart in the Finnish Skerries.

On 2 January 1914, he was promoted to Major General, appointed commander of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy – the Cossack unit which served as the Tsar’s elite guard. He served the Emperor until the Tsar’s abdication on 15 March 1917.

According to Romanov historian Margarita Nelipa, Grabbe abandoned Nicholas II immediately after the abdication to wait for Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929) to return as Supreme Commander.

During the February Revolution, fearing arrest, Grabbe left for the Caucasus. On 22 March 1917, he was dismissed from service due to illness with a uniform and pension. He went into exile, eventually immigrating to the United States in 1940.

General Count Alexander Grabbe who served as the last Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy, died on 5th July 1947 in the United States. He was buried at the Congregational Church Cemetery, in Kent, Litchfield County, Connecticut.


Alexander Grabbe with Nicholas II at Kozmodemyansk in Crimea. 1914

Paul Alexandrovich Grabbe (1902-1999) writes about his father: “Father lasted as long as he did at an intrigue-ridden court because the Tsar appreciated his abilities as a raconteur and his tact. Significantly, he never proffered advice. My brother Nicholas, four years older than I, was aware of some of the difficulties our father encountered, and told me about them: a growing coolness in Father’s relations with the Empress Alexandra, his disapproval of the governments’ use of Cossack troops to quell disorders and to repress minorities. Father’s greatest difficulty was remaining neutral in a politically charged atmosphere. He served the Tsar until his abdication on March 15, 1917.”

Protopresbyter Georgy Ivanovich Shavelsky (1871-1951) shares a very different impression of Grabbe in his memoirs: Воспоминания последнего протопресвитера Русской армии и флота (Memoirs of the last Protopresbyter of the Russian Army and Navy), published in 1954:

“From his appearance, Convoy commander Count Alexander Grabbe betrayed himself. A face swollen with fat, small, cunning disagreeable eyes; a smile that almost never left his face; with a special manner of speaking – as if in a whisper. Everyone knew that Grabbe liked to eat and drink, and he was not at all platonic. I heard that his favorite readings were self-effusive novels, and I personally watched how he, at any convenient and inconvenient occasion, translated the words into spicy conversations. The Sovereign was his favorite partner in the game of dice. Of course, he could entertain the Tsar. But he could hardly have turned out to be a good adviser in serious matters, for this he had neither the necessary intelligence, nor experience, nor interest in state affairs. In addition to a narrow personal life and meeting the needs of the “flesh,” his attention was always riveted on his Smolensk estates, the management of which he gave a lot of care.”


In 1984, his youngest son Paul and his wife Beatrice Grabbe published ‘The Private World of the Last Tsar’ – a stunning pictorial, based on the private photographs and notes of Paul’s father.

The book is an extraordinary collection of some 200 never-before-published photographs of Tsar Nicholas II and his family during the last years of the Russian monarchy. It is the only collection of pictures taken by a single individual. General Count Alexander Grabbe was one of Imperial Russia’s early amateur photographers. His candid photographs – taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera –  together with pertinent notes from his journal add dimensions to a period important to us even today.

A brief historical introduction sets the stage,. We then see the Tsar and his family in those informal settings that only a very few intimates of the Imperial Family were privileged to observe: relaxing in the Crimea, sailing on the Imperial yacht, vacationing off the Finnish coast. We see the last years of the Romanov dynasty through the eyes of Count Grabbe as he travels with Nicholas II to the Eastern Front and to Army Headquarters at Mogliev, where he was present for the dramatic days leading up to the abdication. This is a poignant, fascinating, and human glimpse of Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children during the last years of their lives.

Identification of persons, places and dates derives from Count Grabbe’s notes accompanying the negatives. His own eyewitness comments were recorded in his diary and later in his journal. Captions and historical background have been added by the editors. It is interesting to note that Count Grabbe was able to include himself in many of the photos by using a rubber tube that worked the camera shutter. 

Nearly 40 years after its publication The Private World of the Last Tsar remains one of the finest pictorials published to date on the Imperial Family. Prior to the year 2018, the year marking the 150th anniversary of Nicholas II, I approached the original publisher Little, Brown & Company with the idea of issuing a reprint of the book. Sadly, however, they showed no interest. The book has been out of print for decades, but second-hand copies are easy to find on eBay, Amazon, Alibris, Bookfinder, etc. – PG

Paul Grabbe is also the author of Windows on the River Neva, published in 1977.


General Count Alexander Grabbe (1864-1947)

© Paul Gilbert. 24 May 2020

The myth that Nicholas II was a drunkard


1917 caricature depicting Nicholas II as a drunk

During the latter years of Nicholas II’s reign, myths and lies about his private life filled the parlour rooms of St. Petersburg, and fueled the propaganda of revolutionaries. Among the most outrageous lies, were that the Tsar was a drunkard and even took drugs.

When censorship was abolished, the Tsar’s enemies wasted little time in their vicious attacks. Forbidden topics, such as writing about Nicholas II, were now fair game. Slanderous criticisms and demeaning caricatures poured into the Russian press, and quickly became “hype”. They were believed not only be readers, but also by the journalists themselves. Anti-monarchist themes were the most popular. They were published by humorous journals, the yellow press, and even respected publications.

In particular, people discussed the betrayal of Russia by Nicholas II, due to his alleged alcoholism. Numerous publications published insulting caricatures depicting the Tsar in an inebriated state. Of course, none of this was true, as can be attested by the reliable eyewitness accounts of two persons who observed the Tsar on a regular basis.

General Alexandré Spiridovitch (1873-1952) who served as personal security chief to Nicholas II from 1906-1916 noted in his memoirs:

“As for wines, he [Nicholas II] only drank port at table. Since the Japanese war, the Tsar had given up spirits; it was only when he traveled by sea that he would take (and very rarely at that) one or two small glasses before dinner.”

He further noted: “The Emperor was seated in the place of honour. Before him was a bottle of a special Port, the gift of the King of England, and a small, golden goblet. He never drank more than one goblet of this wine, and never tasted any other.”

In his memoirs, Semyon Fabritsky, an Aide-de-Camp to Nicholas II, further addressed the stubborn gossip which persisted about the Tsar’s alleged drunkenness:

“I personally can attest to the fact that these tales were both false and malicious” he wrote. “At most, the Emperor would sometimes drink one or two shots of vodka before dinner and a glass of his favorite port during the meal (or one goblet of champagne at gala dinners).”

Even at regimental dinners, Fabritsky notes, “When the Emperor attended such dinners, he did not change his custom of drinking very little. He would sit there all evening — and once in awhile all night — nursing a single glass of champagne, delighting in the joyful faces of the young officers whom he adored, and in whom he had so much faith.”

This post is an abridged excerpt from my forthcoming book Nicholas II: A Century of Myths and Lies – scheduled for publication sometime in 2021


© Paul Gilbert. 22 May 2020

Frozen in Time: 5 Iconic Photos of Nicholas II


On this day 19 May (O.S. 6 May) 1868, Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich was born in the Blue Boudoir of his mother Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna (the future Empress Maria Feodorovna) in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. 

The following 5 images of His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, are among my personal favourites. As if frozen in time, the photographer has captured a moment in his 22+ year reign as Emperor and Tsar of All the Russias.

PHOTO No. 1 (below)

This photograph of Nicholas II, standing at the window of the Imperial train is one of the most popular images of Russia’s last sovereign. It has been published in countless books and web pages, but is quite often misidentified at Pskov, after signing his abdication in “1917”. This is incorrect.

The photograph, is one of a series taken at the Stavka military headquarters at Mogilev in 1915, by one of his daughters. It does not depict a man who has just signed over his throne, but that of a very well-composed Emperor and Tsar.


PHOTO No. 2 (below)

Unlike many of his predecessors, Emperor Nicholas II was devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church and considered himself a Christian monarch, one who regarded his political activity as a religious duty. He strove to live and to rule in accordance with the Orthodox faith. To the end of his days, Nicholas II believed himself to be anointed by God, selected to be more than an Orthodox ruler, and more than a Russian emperor.

His official biographer, Major-General Andrei Georgievich Elchaninov wrote “not one day, not one act is started by him without turning with prayer to God.”

Nicholas prayed several times per day, often with his wife and children in the mornings and evenings. Nicholas used this time to ponder his role within the country as well as seek religious guidance from God. Additionally, Nicholas spent time daily studying the Bible and its teachings. The tumultuous events of his 22 year reign did not weaken his faith, but rather, made him more devout. 


PHOTO No. 3 (below)

In 1905, twelve years before Emperor Nicholas II’s abdication and three years from his own repose, St. John of Kronstadt (1829-1909), spoke these prophetic words:

“We have a Tsar of righteous and pious life. God has sent a heavy cross of sufferings to him as to His chosen one and beloved child, as the seer of the destinies of God said: ‘Whom I love, those I reproach and punish’ (Rev. 3.19). If there is no repentance in the Russian people, the end of the world is near. God will remove from it the pious Tsar and send a whip in the person of impure, cruel, self-called rulers, who will drench the whole land in blood and tears.”

Nicholas himself made a similar observation about his fate when speaking to his Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911). In his diary, Stolypin noted with some degree of incredulity that Nicholas spoke these words without any hint of alarm or distress.

“I have a premonition. I have the certainty that I am destined for terrible trials, but I will not receive a reward for them in this world… Perhaps there must be a victim in expiation in order to save Russia. I will be this victim. May God’s will be done!”


PHOTO No. 4 (below)

As Emperor Nicholas II steps off the Imperial Train at the station of Dvinsk, near the Northwestern Front, he is caught off guard by a waiting photographer. 30th January 1916.

Standing over the Tsar left shoulder is General Count Alexander Grabbe (1864-1947), who served as Major-General of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy – the Cossack unit which served as the Tsar’s elite guard – from 1914 to 1917.

In 1984, his son Paul Grabbe produced ‘The Private World of the Last Tsar’ – a stunning pictorial, based on the private photographs and notes of his father.

Photo: Central State Archive of Film and St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербурга (ЦГАКФФД СПб)


PHOTO No. 5 (below)

On 15th March (O.S. 2nd March) 1917 – Russia’s last emperor abdicated, bringing an end to more than 300 years of the Romanov dynasty and the monarchy in Russia.

The Emperor abdicated in the heartfelt belief that his abdication would save the honour of the army, prevent civil war and keep Russia in the war against Germany.

Sadly, it did not. In his diary, Nicholas wrote: “I am surrounded by betrayal, cowardice, and deceit.”

Nicholas II was an anointed Tsar, sealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit during the Sacrament of his Coronation in the Dormition (aka Assumption) Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, on 26 May (O.S. 14 May) 1896.

As God’s Anointed, Nicholas II could not be displaced during his lifetime. Since the will of God was nowhere manifest, neither in the naming of his brother Grand Duke Michael to the throne, nor in the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable.

What God performs cannot be undone; therefore, Nicholas II remained the anointed Tsar to his martyr’s death in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg on 17 July 1918.


Click HERE TO review my professional page Paul Gilbert, Independent Researcher

© Paul Gilbert. 19 May 2020

Moscow Sculptor Captures Last Tsar’s Likeness in New Bust


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

This bust of Emperor Nicholas II, by contemporary Russian sculptor Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko, has truly captured the tsar’s likeness.

Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

Born on 26 May 1986 in Moscow, Tishchenko graduated from the Institute of Management and Fashion Industry of MGUTU with a degree in economics and enterprise management. In 2012 she graduated from the Ilya Glazunov Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, specializing in art and sculpture. In 2015, she graduated from the graduate school of RAZHViZ majoring in art history. She is Member of the Moscow Union of Artists and the Moscow Association of Sculptors.


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko


Photo © Victoria Alexandrovna Tishchenko

Her other works include a bust of General Count Fyodor Arturovich Keller (1857-1918), one of only two Tsarist generals, who remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox emperor and refused to swear allegiance to the Provisional Government.

© Paul Gilbert. 18 May 2020

‘Royal Russia’ – the return of an old favourite



Full-colour covers, 122 pages + 99 black & white photos. Price: $25 + postage

I am pleased to announce that the No. 15 issue of Royal Russia is now available for purchase from my online bookshop. This is the first issue to be published in more than a year!

The past year has allowed me to rethink the future of this popular journal, and during that time, I have made several changes to the publication.

Aside from a new font and page numbering, I have also made a slight change in the wording of the subtitle of Royal Russia, which now reads A Celebration of the History of the Romanov Dynasty in Words and Photographs.

The No. 15 issue, and all future issues will only feature full-length articles on the history of the Romanov dynasty: biographies, events in their respective lives, their residences among other like-minded topics.

I have eliminated all advertising and Royal Russia News, thus devoting more space to more full-length articles, many of which will be first English translations of works by Russian historians, providing readers with fresh, new facts and information from a variety of Russian media and archival sources.

I am also pleased to note that each new issue will contain more photographs of the Russian Imperial Family, their residences, as well as those of life in Pre-Revolutionary Russia.

I am making great efforts to find and publish photos which are rare or never seen before to the majority of readers. Don’t let any one convince you that there are “no new photos of the Romanovs” – there are many!

I must apologize for the quality of some of the photographs published in Royal Russia, however, this is something which I have no control over. Photos have been chosen for their visual impact, but historical accuracy has made it vital to include a number of photographs whose quality is poor, but whose value as historical documents is considerable. Sadly, during the Soviet years, many photographs of the Imperial family were stored under poor conditions and their standard is low

Please note that while I will make every effort to publish two issues per year, I can no longer guarantee such. Each new issue will be published only when I have enough full-length articles. Translations are both time consuming and costly, but I will work very hard to bring readers something fresh, new and interesting with each successive issue.

I must also stress, that when an issue has sold out, no further reprints will be issued. I can confirm that 5 of the 15 issues of Royal Russia published to date, are now out of print.

I trust that you will like the changes made to Royal Russia, that you will enjoy all the articles and photos, and that you will continue to be a dedicated reader in the years ahead.

Below, is a list of the 6 full-length articles and their respective authors, featured in Royal Russia No. 15:

by Yuri Alexandrovich Zhuk & Vladimir Mikhailovich Khrustalev – 1st English Translation

TIMOFEJ YASHCHIK: The Fate of Maria Feodorovna’s Bodyguard
by Andrei Razumov – 1st English Translation

by Coryne Hall

by Alexander Anatolyevich Vaskin – 1st English Translation

by Coryne Hall

ANNA VYRUBOVA: The Finnish Years in Exile
by Ludmila Khuktiniemi – 1st English Translation

plus, two collections of vintage photographs:

Photographic Memories of the Russian Imperial Family

Vintage Photographs of Russia Before the Revolution

Royal Russia No. 15 can be purchased from my online bookshop – thank you for your interest in my publications! 

© Paul Gilbert. 7 May 2020

78 nightly Divine Liturgies in the Church on the Blood for the Holy Royal Martyrs


An icon of the Holy Royal Martyrs set against the backdrop of the entrance to the so-called
Royal (aka Imperial) Room, in the lower church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On 30th April, an evening Divine Liturgy was served in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. A Divine Liturgy will be held every night from 30th April to 17th July – marking the 78 days in which Emperor Nicholas II along with his family and faithful retainers were held under arrest in the Ipatiev House.

Night liturgies are traditionally held in the so-called Royal (aka Imperial) Room, situated in the lower church of the Church on the Blood. An altar was erected on the site of the murder of the Imperial family in the early morning hours of 17th July 1918. In 2018 the room and the altar were decorated with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Cyril to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Imperial family.

The tradition of holding 78 nightly Divine Liturgies in the Church on the Blood from 30th April to 17th July was established with the blessing of the ruling bishop in 2018.

Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас!
Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us!

Click HERE to read my article The Imperial Room in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg + 17 PHOTOS and 2 VIDEOS

© Paul Gilbert. 5 May 2020