Iconic chair recreated for Mauve Boudoir in Alexander Palace

PHOTO: copy of recreated chair for the Mauve Boudoir
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

Situated in a corner of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir of the Alexander Palace, was a large, plush arm-chair with a high backing, and covered with the Moscow-made silk. This corner is among the most photographed spots in the Alexander Palace. There are countless photos of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Emperor Nicholas II and their five children posing in the now iconic arm-chair.

Other family members who have been photographed in this spot include the Empress’s sister Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna with her husband Grand Duke Alexander “Sandro” Mikhailovich, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich.

PHOTO: Copy of the chair recreated in 2000 for Panfilov’s film

The original chair did not survive, however, a copy of the chair was made in 2000, and used by Russian director Gleb Panfilov to shoot a scene for Романовы. Венценосная семья / The Romanovs: An Imperial Family [click on the link to watch the entire film with English subtitles], a film on the last days of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Following the completion of the film, the chair was added to the Memories in the Alexander Palace exhibition, which opened in 1997.

PHOTO: copy of recreated chair for the Mauve Boudoir
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

The Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop have now recreated an exact copy of the iconic chair based on the original from vintage photographs. The chair will be moved into the corner of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir of the Alexander Palace, and will be on display when the palace reopens this summer.

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2021

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Fifteen interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, are now scheduled to open to visitors in the Summer of 2021. Among the recreated interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Maple Drawing Room, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

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, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy my articles and updated on the history and restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMePayPal, credit cardpersonal check or money order

Your donation helps support my work in a number of ways, including research, the cost of translations from Russian media and archival sources, the maintenance of my news blog: Nicholas II. Emperor. Tsar. Saint., the organization of conferences and other events. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Faithful to the End: Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev 

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Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny (left). and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev (right)

Today – 28th June 2021, marks the 103rd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev. 

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev selflessly served the Tsar’s children. Nagorny in particular, lay the great responsibility of protecting the Tsesarevich, even the slightest injury could put the heir to the Russian throne in danger, due to his hemophilia. Alexei was very fond of Nagorny, who in turn showed complete devotion to the Tsesarevich, faithfully sharing with him all the joys and sorrows.

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Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev voluntarily stayed with the Tsar’s family during their house arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, and then followed them to Tobolsk, where Nagorny shared a room with the Tsesarevich, serving him day and night. Together with the Imperial family, Nagorny also attended all the divine services, and the only member of the family’s retinue who was a member of the choir organized by the Empress: he sang and read for the Imperial family during services held in the house church.

In the spring of 1918 Nagorny and Sednev once again, voluntarily followed the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg. They spent only a few days in the Ipatiev House, and then were separated from the Imperial prisoners. They were arrested and imprisoned, their sole crime had been their inability to hide their indignation on seeing the Bolshevik commissaries seize the little gold chain from which the holy images hung over the sick bed of the Tsesarevich.

On 28th June 1918, they were shot in the back by the Bolsheviks, in a small wooded area behind the Yekaterinburg-2 railway station (modern name – Shartash). Nagorny and Sednev were “killed for betraying the cause of the revolution” – as indicated in the resolution on their execution. The murderers left their bodies unburied.

When Ekaterinburg was occupied by the Whites, the the half-decayed bodies of Nagorny and Sednev, were found and solemnly buried near the Church of All the Afflicted (demolished). Witnesses at the funeral recall that the graves of the former sailors of the Imperial Yacht Standart were strewn with white flowers. Their graves were not preserved – they were destroyed when the Soviet authorities built a city park on the site of the cemetery.

Both Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981, and both rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009. They have yet to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. 

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

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Sednev and Alexeei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

Nagorny, Klementy Grigorovich (1887—1918) – from 1909, he served on the Imperial yacht Standart and appointed as a footman to the imperial children. He received the Court title Garderobshik (wardrobe keeper) in 1909 and accompanied the Imperial family on every tour. In November 1913, he was appointed assistant dyadka to guard the Imperial children. He travelled with the Tsesarevich Alexei to Mogilev during 1914-16. After the Tsar’s abdication, he lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

Sednev, Ivan Dmitrievich (1881—1918) – was recruited into the Russian Imperial Navy in 1911, where he began as a machinist on the Imperial Yacht Polyarnaya Zvezda (Polar Star) then transferred onto the Imperial yacht Standart. By invitation he became a Lakei (liveried footman) to the Grand Duchesses, and subsequently to the Tsesarevich. Ivan lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2021

Orthodox Christians still divided on authenticity of Ekaterinburg Remains

During an interview held earlier this week on the Echo of Moscow, the First Vice-President of the Center for the Political Technologies Dr. Alexei Makarkin, talked about the Ekaterinburg Remains:

On 17th June 2021, the Holy Synod reviewed a report from Metropolitan Tikhon on the genetic examinations of the Ekaterinburg remains, and with the information provided by the Investigative Committee of Russia regarding various examinations as part of the investigation of the criminal case on the murder of members of the Imperial Family. It was decided to publish information on the results of the examinations and submit them for consideration by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which will take place in the fall.

“Prior to this, the issue of the remains of the Imperial Family (the ROC officially refer to them as the “Ekaterinburg remains”) was discussed at the Bishops’ Council in 2016 and 2017 respectively. In 2017, it was expected that the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria found in 2007 would take place on the centenary of the murder of the Imperial Family in 2018, however, this did not happen. Despite numerous exhaustive scientific tests carried out on the remains by experts, a significant number of Orthodox Christians in Russia still do not believe in the authenticity of the remains, nor do they want to recognize them as holy relics. It is psychologically impossible for them to imagine that both the Moscow Patriarchate and numerous pious believers were wrong, instead believing that the relics were destroyed with fire and acid in 1918, and that Boris Yeltsin and Boris Nemtsov, on whose initiative established the authenticity of the remains back in the 1990s, were right.

“The issue remains controversial to this day, but the position of the opponents of the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains were weakened earlier this year following the scandalous story with the now former schema-abbot Sergius (Romanov), one of the main opponents of the recognition of the authenticity of the remains. There was concern that he, along with the priests and nuns loyal to him, would go into schism, protesting against the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains, instead, Sergius was excommunicated by the Moscow Patriarchate. The problem of delimitation among believers still remains – but, as far as can be seen, the state authorities continue to show interest in the symbolic act of burying the last Tsar and members of his family. In order for this to take place, a decision by the Moscow Patriarchate is needed – so that the departed can be glorified as saints and their relics venerated by the faithful.

“So there will be internal church differences, and Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon will have to resolve them. Unfortunately, there is no ideal solution as there will most certainly be protests, regardless of the Church’s final verdict on the remains. But here’s what is interesting – a couple of decades ago, the topic of the authenticity of the remains was socially significant, it was actively discussed in circles far outside the Church. Sadly, most Russians have today lost interest, especially those who are not practicing believers. Interest in history (and, in particular, in the monarchy) has diminished, they are tired from all the arguments about the country’s past and, instead, desire to understand what the future holds for Russia and her people.”

© Paul Gilbert. 22 June 2021

Ekaterinburg preparing a mobile application for Tsar’s Days 2021

The Ekaterinburg Diocese is currently preparing a mobile application for the Tsar’s Days events, held annually in July in the Ural capital. July 17th marks the 103rd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The free Russian language mobile application for participants and guests taking part in this years’ Tsar’s Days, presents a program of traditional cultural, educational and liturgical events, in memory of Holy Royal Martyrs.

The mobile app will allow Tsar’s Days participants access to basic information about ongoing events and a program with the ability to select events by date and location; a detailed schedule of the liturgies and Cross Processions; contact information required to attend Tsar’s Days events; cross procession card; hotline telephones, and a guide to the Church on the Blood.

The application will also provide a live online broadcast of the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Spilled Blood, held on the night of 16/17 July.

In addition, pilgrims will have access to articles and news about the Imperial Family, and special routes dedicated to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs: “The Holy (Blue) Line”, “Ekaterinburg Tsar’s Route” and the “Ekaterinburg’s Path of Sorrow”.

For more information about Tsar’s Days, please refer to my article What is Tsar’s Days?, published on 15th May 2021

© Paul Gilbert. 22 June 2021

The Truth About St. Tsar Nicholas – an interview with Paul Gilbert

CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO WATCH MY INTERVIEW – DURATION: 55 mins.

On the evening of 19th June 2021, I was interviewed on a popular Orthodox YouTube channel, in which I discuss the state of Russia at the time of St. Nicholas, his life and reign, along with refuting some of the common myths which exist to this day.

During this one hour interview, I answer the following questions – among others:

1) Who exactly is St. Tsar Nicholas? What was his personal and spiritual life like?

2) The idea that St. Nicholas was supposedly this inept ruler is the norm even amongst some Orthodox Christians, what kind of a ruler was St. Nicholas and was he actually good at being an emperor?

3) In your article “A Century of Treason, Cowardice and Lies”, you debunk four common myths about St. Nicholas: Him being not prepared for the throne, Russia being a poor and backwards country under him, The Tsar being a drunkard, the people met his death with indifference, implying that they didn’t like him. None of these are true, but they are still popular myths, why is that the case?

4) What do you think is the motivation behind the slander against the Tsar in the modern age. Is it due to academic laziness, or something more nefarious such as a political agenda which aims to denigrate monarchism?

5) Just like St. Nicholas, there’s a lot of divergent views on the person of Rasputin, some people claim he was a degenerate whereas some go as far as to say he was a Saint! What is the correct view on Rasputin?

6) St. Nicholas notoriously states: “All around me there is treachery, cowardice, and deceit.” Why did he say that?

7) What kind of a role did St. Nicholas see himself in relation to the Orthodox Church, that is, what was the ideal relationship between the Church and the State?

In addition, I briefly discuss my faith. I was born and raised in the Anglican Church, and now, after nearly 65 years, I am committed to entering the Russian Orthodox Church. It’s all in God’s hands.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 June 2021

Metropolitan Hilarion hopeful ROC will recognize authenticity of Ekaterinburg remains

PHOTO: Metropolitan Hilarion

The head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, expressed the hope that the question of the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains will be resolved in November by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

He recalled that last Thursday the Holy Synod discussed the identification of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family members during an interview on Church and Peace, a program on the Russia-24 TV channel .

According to him, the reports of the Metropolitan of Pskov Tikhon (Shevkunov) and the representative of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation were heard, which included results of the multitude of examinations – requested by the Investigative Committee – and carried out in different laboratories around the world. Members of the Holy Synod, were presented with a “very clear and unambiguous” picture, and now have a better understanding of the question on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains, Metropolitan Hilarion said.

“We listened to this report with great attention for a very long time, and we passed the final decision on this issue to the discretion of the Council of Bishops, which will be held in November of this year. I think that the Council of Bishops will put an end to this epic, which has lasted almost a quarter of a century,” noted Metropolitan Hilarion.

When asked what the Council’s verdict would be, the Metropolitan clarified: “I hope that it will be a positive decision.”

PHOTO: icon of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, near Ekaterinburg

Recall that in July 1991, on the Old Koptyakovskaya Road near Ekaterinburg, a burial site was opened, which contained the remains of nine people. They, according to a subsequent investigation, belonged to members of the Russian Imperial Family – Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their four daughters – Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, as well as four faithful servants. Following the exhumation and examination of the remains, their remains were buried in St. Catherine’s Chapel, a side chapel in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg on 17th July 1998.

On 29th July 2007, during an archaeological excavation near the first burial site, the remains of two more people were found. Numerous examinations identified the remains as those of Nicholas II’s other two children – Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria.

On the eve of centenary marking the regicide in Ekaterinburg, the official representative of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Svetlana Petrenko, stated that a second comprehensive study confirmed the authenticity of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were shot 100 years ago in Ekaterinburg.

Click HERE to read my article The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains, originally published in 2016, and updated on 18th June 2021.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 June 2021

Russian Royal Classics . . . and then there were three!

Following the 1917 Revolution, a number of prominent persons who served at the Court of Emperor Nicholas II, as well as members of the Russian nobility wrote their memoirs in exile. Their writings provided curious readers in Britain, Europe and America with eyewitness accounts of the private world of the last Tsar and his family, and life in Imperial Russia.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent discovery of the remains of the Imperial Family, a whole new generation of Romanovphiles emerged. Their quest for knowledge was often met with disappointment, as by the 1990s, those memoirs which were originally published in the 1920s and 1930s were long out of print.

As a result, I embarked on a new series of 12 of the most popular titles and aptly named them as my Russian Royal Classics series. Each title was copied exactly from its original, complete with photos. I had the series published as library editions: a hard cover book having a superior quality of paper, binding, but without a dust jacket.

The series proved popular with Romanovophiles, so much so that out of the 12 original titles published, I have copies of only 3 remaining in stock. Once they are gone, there will be no reprints.

Below, I have provided a summary of each of these titles, and links to order in either US or Canadian dollars. In addition, I have provided a link to download and print an order form, for those who prefer to pay by personal check. The books are priced at $25 each + shipping and handling. Order information located at the bottom of this page.

LIFE & TRAGEDY OF ALEXANDRA FEODOROVNA
by Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden

*THIS EDITION IS A HARD-COVER REPRINT OF THE ORIGINAL 1928 EDITION

Hard Cover Edition. 360 pages. Illustrated with 18 black and white photographs!

The intimate life of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna is told by the Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden who became acquainted with the Empress in 1904, and appointed a lady-in-waiting in 1913.

From the outbreak of the Revolution, the Baroness shared the captivity of the Imperial Family at the Alexander Palace, remaining with them till May 1918 — just before the regicide at Ekaterinburg — when, with other members of the household, she was forcibly separated from them.

This book is in part a vindication of the Empress, contrasting her devotion to her husband and his country and the affection felt for her by those who really knew her, with the widespread rumours of her unpopularity and the part she played in bringing about the calamity which had overwhelmed Russia.

Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden (1883-1956), served as a lady in waiting to the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She was often chosen by the Empress to accompany the four grand duchesses on official duties. Sophie Buxhoeveden was the author of two other memoirs about the Imperial family and about her own escape from Russia: Left Behind: Fourteen Months in Siberia. December 1917-February 1919 (1929) and Before the Storm (1938).

MY RUSSIAN LIFE
by Princess Marie Bariatinsky

*THIS EDITION IS A HARD-COVER REPRINT OF THE ORIGINAL 1923 EDITION

Hard Cover Edition. 351 pages. Illustrated with 18 black and white photographs!

This remains one of the most interesting memoirs written by a member of the Russian aristocracy, featuring fascinating details about Princess Marie Bariatinsky’s (1876-1933) life in Tsarist Russia, and her impressions of the Imperial Family.
The author’s husband was a personal friend of Tsar Nicholas II, so that both Prince and Princess Bariatinsky attended all the important Court functions. The Tsar’s Coronation, the magnificent ball that followed, the Emperor’s historic visit to Paris in 1901, the Bariatsinky’s life in Manchuria, regimental duties in Tashkent, home life on the vast Bariatinsky estate are all vividly depicted in these reminiscences.

The personalities of the Tsar and Tsarina, Grand Dukes and Russian Generals are intimately portrayed. During the First World War the Princess superintended a hospital at Kiev, once invaded by the Bolsheviks.

As a writer, Princess Bariatinsky possesses a distinct gift of graphic eye-witness description, while a lively style adds to the attractiveness of her reminiscences.

AT THE COURT OF THE LAST TSAR
by A.A. Mossolov

*THIS EDITION IS A HARD-COVER REPRINT OF THE ORIGINAL 1935 EDITION

Hard Cover Edition. 273 pages. Illustrated with 14 black and white photographs!

Alexander Alexandrovich Mosolov (1854-1939), was a Russian military commander, diplomat, and Lieutenant-General. From 1900-1916, he served as permanent secretary of the Ministry of the Imperial Court – his immediate superior was the Minister of the Imperial Court, Count Vladimir Fredericks. He was the head of court censorship (department of the office of the Ministry of the Court), that is, he carried out a preliminary censorship of materials in which persons of the Imperial family were mentioned.

During his sixteen years at the Imperial Court, General Alexander Mossolov, was in close personal touch with the Russian Court. He was among the close circle of Emperor Nicholas II, and here describes the intimate life of the Emperor and Empress and their children, and reveals the strange relations between the Tsar and his Ministers and the foibles and difficult nature of the Empress.

His memoirs provide an interesting picture of foreign affairs as seen from the court of the Father of all the Russians: what “Nicky” thought of the Kaiser’s little ways and how he dealt with his visits and that of King Edward VII. A notable feature is General Mossolov’s authoritative account of the battle fought in a vain attempt to break the demoniacal influence of Rasputin, with descriptions of personal interviews with him.

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Click HERE to order any of these 3 titles and pay in US DOLLARS – payment can be made securely online with a CREDIT CARD or PAYPAL

For those of you who prefer to pay for your order by PERSONAL CHECK or MONEY ORDER, please click HERE to download and print an ORDER FORM. Payment can be made in either US or CANADIAN DOLLARS.

© Paul Gilbert. 19 June 2021

The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains

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NOTE: This article was originally published on 17th March 2016, it was updated twice since, on 4th January 2017 and 7th March 2020. It has been expanded and further updated on 18th June 2021, based on new information from Russian media sources. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are my own based on my own research and do not reflect those of the Russian Orthodox Church.

For the record, regarding my personal position on the Ekaterinburg remains, I have now and always believed the remains discovered near Ekaterinburg in 1991 and 2007 respectively, are those of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, their five children, and four faithful retainers. Further, not only did I attend their interment on 17th July 1998 in St. Petersburg, I have visited both Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log on several occasions, where I have offered prayers and left flowers. Memory Eternal! Вечная Память! – PG

Bones of Contention

On 17th July 1998, the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their five children: Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, Ivan Kharitonov, Alexei Trupp and Anna Demidova were interred in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Not only was I both privileged and honoured to attend this historic event, I was also hopeful that the burial would bring some closure to what is considered one of the greatest tragedies of 20th century Russian history. Sadly, this was not to be.

The questions raised about the murders of the Russian Imperial family in 1918, the discovery of their remains in the vicinity of Ekaterinburg in 1991 and later those of Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich and Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna in  2007, as well as the recognition or non-recognition of their authenticity, have been unsettling both Russian and Western society ever since.

As a result, many people looked to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) for its verdict on the Ekaterinburg remains. But expressing an objective view required the Church to conduct a thorough examination of their own, of the historical records as well as the investigation materials and the results of scientific inquiries.

Over the course of the last few years, I have published nearly 100 news stories and articles on the subject, which included many first English translations from Russian media sources. Since that time, I have received numerous emails and telephone calls from readers frustrated by the ROC’s position on the Ekaterinburg remains. I cannot stress enough, that I do not represent the Russian Orthodox Church or His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. I do, however, hope that the contents of this article will help provide some answers.

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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk

New Investigation

In September of 2015, I published an article on my Royal Russia News blog announcing that the investigation into the Ekaterinburg remains had been reopened by the Russian Orthodox Church. The investigation would include a new series of genetic studies, and a comprehensive review of the evidence accumulated since 1918 into the murders of the last Russian Imperial family. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and at his request to the Investigative Committee a new team of experts was formed. A complex examination would be carried out for the first time – a historical, anthropological and genetic one – one in which the ROC would be involved in all aspects of the investigation.

It is important to note, that had the ROC been invited to participate in the original investigation and forensic tests carried out by Western experts in the early 1990s, that this new investigation might not have been necessary.

Many viewed the 1991 investigation as a propaganda tool by then president Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), who was anxious to bring closure to the century-long mystery, thus gaining favour with Western nations.

More than 50 descendants of the Romanov dynasty arrived in Russia for the interment in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The only descendants absent were Leonida Georgievna (1914-2010), her daughter Maria Vladimirovna (b. 1953) and her son George Mikhailovich (b. 1981), all of whom did not recognize the authenticity of the remains and declined to attend the reburial ceremony. 

In the face of skepticism, the late Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) was obliged to profess agnosticism over the identity of the bodies, as a way to avoid massive internal rifts within the church. 

Many Westerners believed that the ROC were obligated to accept the findings of the original Western led investigation, however, the Moscow Patriarchate were under no obligation to accept their findings, which they believe left a number of unanswered questions and concerns about the Ekaterinburg remains. The ROC wanted to confirm 100% that the remains were authentic, in order for them to be recognized as Holy Relics.

As Archpriest Oleg Mitrov points out in his essay The Investigation Into the Deaths of the Russian Royal Family and Persons of Their Entourage (first English translation published in Sovereign No. 2 Winter 2016, pg. 7-29), in the early 1990s, the Moscow Patriarchate had suggested “a temporary burial, then completing the investigation which, once it produced indisputable results, could stop all discord that this question created in society.” Their request fell on deaf ears, “the voice of our church wasn’t heard at the time,” added Mitrov.

More than 20 years of scientific testing, extensive theological debates, and the enormous public outcry for resolution on the issue failed to deter the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision to resolve the issue. In early January 2016, Bishop Tikhon of Yegoryevsk noted that the “examination of the Ekaterinburg remains may take several years.” This statement was later confirmed during the bishops’ council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia announced at the opening ceremony that “the inquiry will last as long as is necessary in order to establish the truth”.

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Members of the new ROC investigation inspect the Ekaterinburg remains

Non Orthodox Christians must understand the position of the ROC on the matter of both relics and canonization. The Russian Legitimist web site correctly notes: “Any remains of the murdered Imperial Family are ipso facto religious relics, and therefore the internal procedures of the Russian Orthodox Church in completely satisfying itself of their genuineness must be followed. The Russian Orthodox Church wants to address any remaining doubts about the remains, given the fact that, once accepted by the Church as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, they will become relics venerated by the faithful.” 

It was hoped, that given the weight of evidence accumulated by experts in their respective fields since the early 1990s, that the Moscow Patriarchate would not dispute the remains recovered from the two burial sites in Ekaterinburg between 1979 and 2007 for much longer. A number of statements made in the Russian media offered some hope that they are moving in that direction:

“The re-examination of the criminal case is not an attempt to reconsider the evidence received earlier and established facts, but rather represents the necessity of additionally investigating the new facts, which was requested by the Russian Orthodox Church,” Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told the TASS News Agency (24 September, 2015).

Markin went on to say, “an interdepartmental working group for the study and burial of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria (discovered in 2007) gave its consent to conducting additional identification studies of the objects previously inaccessible for investigators.” To this end, the investigators exhumed the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Blood samples of Emperor Alexander II, Nicholas II’s grandfather who died in a terrorist act in 1881 and whose blood stains are found on his full-dress uniform, kept in the State Hermitage Museum, have also been taken. Additional DNA samples were extracted from Emperor Alexander III in November 2015, in a bid to conclusively answer questions about the fates of Nicholas II and his family.

Markin’s statements would suggest that the Moscow Patriarchate had already accepted the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, although no official statement had been issued by the Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church also believed that it was necessary to continue the search for the remains of Nicholas II’s children. Only a small part of the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria had been found [44 pieces of their bones had been discovered at the site], therefore, the search must be continued, said a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church. Some experts, however, believe that such a search would be in vain, and that given that any remaining bones would have been dug up and carried off by animals.

The investigation into the criminal case of the murder of the Imperial Family also included an examination of the remains found by Nikolai Sokolov in the 1920s and later transferred to St. Job’s Church in Brussels.

On 27th November 2017, the Sretensky Monastery and Seminary in Moscow hosted the conference “On the Murder of the Royal Family: New Evaluations and Materials. Discussion,” devoted to studying the results of the study of the Ekaterinburg remains.

In early 2018, the Russian media announced that Patriarch Kirill would be participating in the commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg in 2018. Many believed that Kirill’s attendance was significant, and fueled speculation that the Moscow Patriarchate was on the verge of officially recognizing the Ekaterinburg remains. Once again, this was not to be!

On the eve of the anniversary marking the regicide, the Investigation Committee announced that the remains were “authentic”. Despite the announcement, the ROC remained silent. The commemoration could have been a great and solemn moment of truth, a time to reflect on the passage from one era of Russia’s tragic history to another. Many (myself included) were hopeful that both the examination and investigation would conclude before the 2018 centenary.

Sadly, the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ deaths passed with little notice in Russia. The Russian government ignored the anniversary, as it surprisingly did the year before, when Russia marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. None of the prominent state museums or venues hosted events to mark the anniversary. The few exhibitions and other events organized were tellingly modest.

The most significant event, took place on the night of 16/17 July 2018, when more than 100,000 people from across Russia, and around the world gathered at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg for the Patriarchal Liturgy, followed by a Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, a journey of 21 km. Porosenkov Log, where the Imperial Family’s remains were discovered was not included in the Cross Procession.

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The tomb of the Imperial Family in the St. Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains

In the summer of 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized Nicholas II, his wife, and five children as Royal Passion-Bearers. [Nicholas II, his wife, and five children were canonized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in 1981] The ROC’s official recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains would result in an elaborate glorification ceremony headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia.

Many people continue to ask when the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria will be interred with those of the rest of their family in the Saint Catherine Chapel of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The ROC’s recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains would make this highly unlikely for a number of reasons.

Both the Saint Catherine Chapel and the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral are currently museums under the administration of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, in which visitors must pay an admission fee to gain entry to view the Romanov tombs as a tourist attraction. This is something that the ROC would vehemently oppose, and rightly so!

It seems highly likely that the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei, and their four faithful retainers would be reinterred in another church. It is quite possible that a new church would be constructed in their honour, one which would allow Orthodox Christians to enter freely to venerate the Holy relics. During the past few years, there has been some speculation in the Russian media that such a church would be constructed in Ekaterinburg – possibly Porosenkov Log, where their remains were originally discovered in 1991 and 2007 respectively.

It is interesting to add, that one unconfirmed report claims that the remains of the last Imperial Family are no longer entombed in the St. Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral. According to the report when their remains were exhumed for further testing by the new ROC commission a few years back, they were never returned to the tomb. It is believed that the Ekaterinburg remains are now in the possession of the ROC, in the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, where the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria have been since 2015.

If there is any truth to this rumour, it only adds further speculation that the ROC have no plans to rebury the entire Imperial Family in the St. Catherine Chapel.

Should the ROC recognize the remains of the Imperial Family as Holy Relics, they cannot be returned to their tomb in St. Catherine’s Chapel, as relics cannot be returned to the earth. They must be placed in reliquaries above ground which allows the faithful to venerate them. This would be one very important reason why their remains would be interred in a new cathedral named in their honour.

It is important to add that by accepting the remains as authentic, the ROC will be forced to acknowledge that for more than 100 years, they were wrong. This in itself may be perceived by many as a great embarrassment and humiliation to the church.

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Ganina Yama

Will the Imperial Family be reinterred in Ekaterinburg?

A number of rumours have circulated in the Russian media over the past few years that once the ROC have officially recognized the remains, that all of the members of the Imperial Family will be interred in an existing or a new cathedral in or near Ekaterinburg.

For some, one option would be the Church on the Blood, built on the site of the former Ipatiev House, where the Imperial Family met their martyrdom. For others, another possible option would be a new cathedral constructed at Porosenkov Log, where the Imperial Family’s remains were discovered by two amateur archaeologists in 1978.

It is interesting to note that in March 2016, the Ministry of Culture of the Sverdlovsk Region reported that if the ROC requests the transfer of the territory in and around Porosyonkov Log (added to the cultural heritage list in 2014), would be designated as sacred land and transferred to the ROC, where a memorial and monastery, similar to that at Ganina Yama would be constructed. This in itself suggests that perhaps the ROC has already come to a decision on the authenticity of the remains, and were making preparations.

There is also the possibility that the reconstruction of St. Catherine’s Cathedral (timed to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the founding of Ekaterinburg in 2023) is being considered?

While some may scoff at the idea of interring the remains of the Imperial Family in Ekaterinburg, it seems only logical that their remains should be interred in the place in which they met their death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918 or the final resting place where their remains were recovered.

Once a bastion of Bolshevism, Ekaterinburg has slowly shed its status as the “capital of atheism”. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Urals have experienced a revival of faith, with Ekaterinburg at the the center of Orthodox Russia in the Urals. It should also be noted, that Ekaterinburg has done more to honour Nicholas II and his family than any other city in Russia.

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Aerial view of Ekaterinburg

“Ekaterinburg was the last capital of the Russian Empire”

The Ural city of Ekaterinburg occupies an important place in the modern spiritual life of Russia. This conclusion was reached by Russian historian Peter Multatuli following the results of the International Festival of Orthodox Culture Tsar’s Days 2019. The historian is recognized as one of Russia’s leading authorities on the life and reign of Nicholas II, having published numerous books, articles, and a popular public speaker.

“On a spiritual level, Ekaterinburg is the last capital of the Russian Empire, because the residence of the Sovereign was always considered the capital in Russia. Peter the Great never officially transferred the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, but since he lived there, it was the capital,” said Multatuli.

He noted that in 1918, for 78 days, Emperor Nicholas II and his family lived in Ekaterinburg, and that is why the Ural capital can be considered the last capital of the Russian Empire. [It is important to note that many historians – myself included – firmly believe that the Tsar’s signing of the instrument of abdication, his status as Tsar remained inviolate and unassailable – PG]

“Petrograd and Moscow to one degree or another welcomed his overthrow, and they bear a greater responsibility in this than any other Russian city. No matter what anyone says, it was Ekaterinburg that served as the last Imperial residence, which, according to God’s special plan, became the Royal Golgotha,” added Multatuli.

According to him, in the near future, Ekaterinburg will play a great role in the history of Russia, because “the city named after St. Catherine and becoming the Royal Golgotha ​​will be the city of Russian resurrection.”

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

The world awaits closure by the ROC

On 17th June 2021, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met at Danilov Monastery in Moscow under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. Among the many decisions made by the Synod, it was resolved to refer the results of the extensive examinations carried out on the remains in recent years to the upcoming Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, which will meet in Moscow in November of this year.

The Synod examined the report from His Eminence Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov on the genetic examinations of the remains, as well as the information provided by the Investigative Committee of Russia on the various examinations (molecular-genetic, physical-chemical, trace evidence, ballistic, handwriting, historical-archival, soil science, forensic, anthropological studies, and more) appointed as part of the investigation of the criminal case of the murder of the Royal Family.

The experts have announced on more than one occasion that their examinations definitively prove that the remains belong to the Royal Martyrs. In an interview last July, senior investigator Marina Molodtsova repeated that the examinations have verified the authenticity of the remains, though investigations were continuing in order to “eliminate the slightest doubt.”

In accordance with the instructions of the Bishops’ Councils of 2016 and 2017, the Synod decided to publish information on the results of the examinations after their completion and to submit the results of the examinations for consideration by the next Bishops’ Council.

For more information about the this highly contentious issue, please refer to my book Bones of Contention: The Russian Orthodox Church and the Ekaterinburg Remains, published in 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 18 June 2021

Holy Synod meet to discuss results of Ekaterinburg Remains investigation

On 17th June 2021, a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Throne Hall of the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The members of the Synod examined the report of Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon – submitted on 17th April 2021 – on the genetic examinations of the “Ekaterinburg Remains”, as well as information provided by the Investigative Committee of Russia on various examinations: molecular genetic, physicochemical, traceological, ballistic, handwriting, authorship, historical and archival , soil science, forensic – anthropological, forensic. In addition, members of the Synod reviewed the investigation of the criminal case on the murder of members of the Imperial Family on 17th July 1918.

JOURNAL No. 31 of the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 17th June 2021

LISTENED information about the progress of work on the identification of the “Ekaterinburg remains”.

Reference:

The consecrated Bishops’ Council of 2016 decreed: “The members of the Council got acquainted with the work of the church commission acting with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill for the study of the “Ekaterinburg remains”. The Council expresses satisfaction in connection with the fact that, in response to the appeal of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the state authorities decided to conduct a comprehensive historical, anthropological, genetic and forensic examination of these remains and a comprehensive study of the circumstances of the murder of the Tsar’s family. The decision on the recognition or non-recognition of the “Ekaterinburg remains” as the holy relics of the Royal Passion-Bearers may be made by the Bishops’ Council on the proposal of the Holy Synod, based on the assessments of the final materials of the comprehensive examination, which must be pre-posted for public comment. The timing of the completion of the examination should not depend on any external circumstances, but be determined by the time required for scientific research” (paragraph 10 of the 2016 Council Resolutions).

The consecrated Council of Bishops in 2017 decreed: “With the host of new martyrs and confessors, the Church glorifies the Royal Passion-Bearers. The church commission, together with state investigative bodies, is still carrying out painstaking work to identify the “Ekaterinburg remains.” Having heard a detailed report on this topic, the Council expresses the hope that in good time an end will be put in the mentioned studies ”(paragraph 3 of the 2017 Council Resolutions). The 2017 Council of Bishops emphasized that the above resolution of the Council of 2016 regarding the adoption or non-recognition of the “Ekaterinburg remains” as the holy relics of the Royal Passion-bearers and the publication of the final materials of a comprehensive examination for public discussion remains in force.

PHOTO: meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Throne Hall of the Patriarchal and Synodal Residence in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow, 17th June 2021

IT WAS RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:

Upon acquaintance with the report of His Grace Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov Tikhon regarding the genetic examinations of the “Ekaterinburg remains”, as well as with the information provided by the Investigative Committee of Russia regarding various examinations (molecular genetic, physicochemical, traceological, ballistic, handwriting, authorship, historical and archival , soil science, forensic – anthropological, forensic), appointed as part of the investigation of a criminal case on the murder of members of the Imperial Family:

  1. To express gratitude to all workers on the establishment of the truth in the issue of identification of “Ekaterinburg remains”.
  2. In accordance with the instructions of the Councils of Bishops in 2016 and 2017, to publish information on the results of the examinations after their completion.
  3. Submit the results of the examinations for consideration at the next Bishops’ Council.

What happens next?

The next Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church will be held in November 2021, at which time, the ROC is expected to acknowledge that the Ekaterinburg Remains are those of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and their four faithful retainers.

Click HERE to read my article The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains, originally published on 17th March 2016, and updated on 4th January 2017.

© Paul Gilbert. 17 June 2021

Nicholas II’s visit to the 1812 Memorial Chapel in Saltanovka, 1917

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II and his family visiting the Memorial Chapel, 1917. To the left of the Tsar is General Count Alexander Grabbe (1864-1947), who served as Major-General of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy from 1914 to 1917, and Pierre Gilliard (1879-1962), can be seen between the two

NOTE: The three vintage photographs presented in this post, depict Emperor Nicholas II and his family visiting the Memorial Chapel in the village of Saltanovka, on 1st January 1917, just weeks before the Tsar’s abdication on 16th (O.S. 3rd) March 1917.

The Memorial Chapel was constructed in 1912, it is situated two kilometers north-west from the village of Saltanovka near Mogliev. It has survived to this day – see photo below.

The chapel was erected by the Tsarist government in 1912 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Saltanovka, during the Patriotic War of 1812. It was here, on 11th July 1812, that the battle took place between the Russian troops of Emperor Alexander I (1777-1825) the 7th corps under the command of Lieutenant General Nikolai Raevsky (1771-1829), and the French troops of Emperor Napoleon I (1769-1821) under the command of Marshal Luis-Nicolas Davout (1770-1823).

It was constructed in the Neoclassical style by the Russian architect Konstantin Alekseevich Mikhailov (1873-1927) and sculptor Pyotr Grigorievich Yatsyno, who carried out the artistic stucco decoration, memorial plaques and finishing works.

On the walls of the chapel are commemorative plaques listing the Russian regiments and divisions that took part in the battle. The ashes of Russian soldiers who died in the 1812 Battle of Saltanovka, lie within the walls of the chapel.

PHOTO: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna and an unidentified officer

PHOTO: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna

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PHOTO: The Memorial Chapel near the village of Saltanovka as it looks today

© Paul Gilbert. 15 June 2021

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