On 5th July 1910, Emperor Nicholas II and his family arrived in Riga for the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Livonia’s entry into the Russian Empire.
It was on this day that the Imperial Family planted a small grove of 7 oak trees (one for each member of the family) on the grounds of the Holy Trinity-Zadvinsky Church.
The oak trees were planted in order of the seniority of the family. Olga being the eldest, her oak was planted closest to her father’s oak. Then – Tatiana’s oak, followed by Maria (which was later cut down), and then Anastasia. The daughters’ trees stand in an arc. Behind them is a large oak tree planted by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Given his position as heir to the throne, Alexei’s oak was planted in front.
This information is confirmed in the book, “The 200th Anniversary of the Accession of Livonia to Russia, the Stay of Their Imperial Majesties in Riga on July 3-5–5, 1910,” published in Riga the same year. The book provides a plan indicating where the trees were planted, and who planted them and in which spot.
More than a century has passed, but the Tsar’s Oak Grove has endured both war and revolution. Six of the seven trees which survived are tied with colourful ribbons with inscriptions in Russian and Latvian in honour of the memorial date.
The trees of the Tsar’s daughters are marked with three red ribbons, the oak of the heir, Tsesarevich Alexei, with a blue ribbon and the trees of Alexandra Feodorovna and Nicholas II, with two orange ribbons.
© Paul Gilbert. 11 July 2020