Paul Gilbert reflects on 2022

PHOTO: Paul Gilbert holding a copy of his book The Lost World of Imperial Russia: The Russian Empire During the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II, published in September – I am so proud of this publishing project!

No one will be happier to see this year come to end than myself. Without exaggerating, 2022 has been the worst year of my life. Every month seemed to present a fresh bombshell:

February – Russia’s declaration of war against Ukraine hit me very hard;
March – I was forced to cancel my September trip to Ekaterinburg and Tobolsk;
April – I was diagnosed with Stage-2 Colon Cancer;
May – I underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor;
June – post-surgery recovery at home;
July – I began 6-months of chemotherapy;
September – I experienced sadness and grief following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II;
October – the death of my 16-year-old dog and faithful companion ‘Maggie’ was a profound personal loss;
December – I was forced to cancel the Nicholas II Conference (planned for September 2023) following threats from “Russophobes”

Despite the challenges that 2022 brought to my doorstep, I still managed to maintain a positive attitude. I am so very grateful that I had my books and writing to distract me during these challenging months. My commitment to clearing the name of the Russia’s much slandered Tsar gave me something positive to focus on, especially during my recovery and chemotherapy. I was still able to write articles for my blog and posts for my Facebook page from the comfort of my favourite chair.

Much of positive attitude I attribute to my faith. When I was diagnosed with cancer back in April, rather than give in to fear, I placed my health in God’s hands. My faith was empowered even further by the prayers and words of love and support that I received from the thousands of people around the world who follow my posts on Facebook every day.

My chemotherapy will end on January 12th, at which time I look forward to a healthier new year. Not only am I making plans to travel again, I have some very interesting new books planned for publication in 2023, including the revival of my semi-annual periodical SOVEREIGN.

Happy New Year! С Новым Годом!

© 31 December 2022

Nicholas II in the news – Autumn 2022

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II on the deck of the Imperial Yacht Standart

Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar continues to be the subject of news in Western media. For the benefit of those who do not follow me on my Facebook page, I am pleased to present the following 7 full length articles, news stories and videos published by American and British media services, in addition, are several articles about Nicholas II’s family and faithful retainers.

Below, are the articles published in October, November and December 2022. Click on the title [highlighted in red] and follow the link to read each respective article:

The Officers’ Assembly Building in St. Petersburg – FREE Book

Download, print and read a FREE 94-page English-language copy of Officer Assembly Building by S. Kononov (2018), or the Russian-language edition Дом офицеров Санкт-Петербург.
The author has compiled a history of this magnificent building, and richly illustrated with vintage black and white photos, complimented with full colour photos of the building and its interiors, as they look today.

Source: Russia Beyond. 19 November 2022

British royal family and the last Romanovs pictured together + PHOTOS

Nicholas II was almost a “twin” of King George V, while THE two families had very close relative ties.

Source: Russia Beyond. 17 November 2022

‘The Crown’ Season 5 on Netflix: Fact and fiction in the ‘Russian episode’

A key episode in the new season of ‘The Crown’ – ‘Ipatiev House’ – dwells on the centuries-long relations between Britain and Russia. Here is one account of what is true in it and what is simply artistic invention, something the current season is particularly good at.

Source: Russia Beyond. 14 November 2022

Archival Documentary of the Russian Royal Family (VIDEO)

I am pleased to share the following NEW documentary prepared by the Museum in Memory of Emperor Nicholas II’s Family, which features rare footage, made from 98 fragments of film from 1896-1916.

Duration: 43 minutes. ENGLISH with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

Source: The Romanov Royal Martyrs Project. 16 July 2022

Remembering the Romanov Children (VIDEO)

The Romanov children were extraordinary in their ordinariness. Despite being born in one of the highest and most enviable positions in the world, and having access to all possible worldly goods, they lived and were brought up like ordinary children. They were beautiful not only in their outward appearance, which was striking but primarily in their inner qualities. From their father, they inherited the traits of kindness, modesty, simplicity, an unshakable sense of duty, and an all-consuming love for their homeland. From their mother, they inherited deep faith, straightforwardness, self-discipline, and strength of spirit.

Duration: 37 minutes. ENGLISH with closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

Source: The Romanov Royal Martyrs Project. 27 October 2022

5 urban legends about Rasputin – the ‘wizard’ of the Romanovs

Did Rasputin really predict the death of the Romanov dynasty and the Revolution? And did he really treat the sickly tsesarevich with prayer alone, as well as act as gray eminence to the tsar? We did a fact check on the last Russian Royal Family’s notorious spiritual advisor.

Source: Russia Beyond. 7 October 2022

‘Fear God and Honor the Emperor

Some Thoughts on the Passing of HM Queen Elizabeth, of Blessed Memory’ by the Very Reverend Archpriest Michael Protopopov, the parish priest of the Church of Our Lady’s Dormition, Dandendong, Australia.

“Our beloved Queen of blessed memory, understood that royal power is a gift of God and that her subjects need to be educated before they can understand the deep implications of a government instituted by God and which is a reflection of the Divine Kingdom of God.

“The Queen was a perfect sovereign reigning within the bounds of Christian principles and not on the desire for personal power and authority; and she had the understanding that a true monarchical structure is a divine partnership in which God, the sovereign and the people all have an important role to play.”

Source: Orthodox Christianity. 5 October 2022


For MORE articles, please refer to the following links:

Nicholas II in the news – Summer 2022
12 articles published in July, August and September 2022

Nicholas II in the news – Spring 2022
7 articles published in April, May and June 2022

Nicholas II in the news – Winter 2022
6 articles published in January, February and March 2022

Paul Gilbert’s Romanov Bookshop on AMAZON – UPDATED with NEW titles!!

I have published more than 30 titles to date through AMAZON – featuring one of the largest selections of books on Nicholas II, the Romanov dynasty and the history of Imperial Russia.

Please CLICK on the BANNER or LINK above to review my current selection of titles in hardcover, paperback and ebook editions. Listings provide a full description for each title, pricing and a Look inside feature.

© 31 December 2022

On this day in 1933 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo was closed

PHOTO: Early 20th century view of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo

On this day – 27th December 1933, the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral[1] at Tsarskoye Selo was officially closed by a resolution of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee[2].

The Cathedra’s Upper Church became a cinema hall, where a screen was placed right in the altar, while the Lower Cave Church[3] was turned into a warehouse and archive for film and film documents.

The Decree on the Separation of Church and State had been proclaimed by the Bolsheviks in January 1918. It declared all Church property to be the property of the state. Sanctioned by this license, squads of Bolshevik thugs went around the country desecrating and looting churches and monasteries, mocking religion and religious people unmercifully, even murdering priests, monks, nuns and other believers by the thousands.

The years between 1929-1939, the Russian Orthodox Church was subject to further rabid anti-church persecution. Thousands of cathedrals, churches and monasteries were desecrated and pillaged by the Bolsheviks, by order of Joseph Stalin.

PHOTO: watercolour of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral (1917) by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna

At first, during the collectivization process, many rural parishes were dissolved by local Soviet authorities, and on 9th August 1931, the Leningrad [St. Petersburg] City Council raised the question of closing all of the city’s churches.

The Bolsheviks anti-church campaign spread from parish to parish throughout the former Russian Empire. In Pushkin[4] the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral[4] was desecrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.

In 1934, the Bolsheviks conducted an Anti-Easter campaign, which included Detskoye Selo[4]: “… in an attempt to distract parishioners from the churches, a carnival with music and dancing was arranged on the streets of the city… Against the backdrop of the Catherine Cathedral a screen was arranged on the wall of the City Council on which a film was shown.”

Between 1934 to 1935, a total of 361 churches were closed in the diocese, and many more churches could not function due to the absence of the repressed clergy.

PHOTO: the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in 1945

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was badly damaged during the Nazi occupation of Pushkin (1941-44). During the Soviet years, the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was left in a terrible state of disrepair and neglect.

PHOTO: the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in 1977

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. The entire complex of buildings closely connected with the life of the last Russian Emperor was taken over by the Moscow Patriarchate, who allocated funds for the reconstruction and restoration work carried out over a 20 year period.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was reconsecrated on 29 February 1992. Regular liturgies are today carried out in the Upper Church, and the Lower Cave Church. In addition, Divine Liturgies are regularly conducted in memory of the murdered Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia Nikolaevna, and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral has become a popular pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians from across Russia and around the world. In addition are monarchists, modern-day Cossacks and adherents of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

On 17th July 1993, Russia’s first monument to Emperor Nicholas II by the Russian sculptor V.V. Zaiko was established in the garden located in behind the Cathedral.

On 4th May (O.S. 21st April) 1913, Emperor Nicholas II and his family planted a group of oak trees on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral. A total of seven trees were planted that day, with each member of the Imperial Family, beginning with the Tsar, planting a single oak tree. Of the seven trees planted, only four have survived to the present day, the other three were cut down during the Nazi occupation of Pushkin.

PHOTO: the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looks today. The blue tent-roof of the Royal or Tsar’s Porch – used by the Emperor and his family – can be seen to the right


[1] The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral served as the regimental church of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Convoy. In addition, the cathedral served as the house church for the Imperial family, while they were in residence in the Alexander Palace. Construction of the Cathedral was financed by Nicholas II, who contributed 150,000 gold rubles from his own personal funds.

[2] The All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) was the highest legislative, administrative and revising body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR) from 1917 until 1937. Although the All-Russian Congress of Soviets had supreme authority, in periods between its sessions its powers were passed to VTsIK.

[3] Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was particularly fond of the Cave Church. A special room was arranged for her, which allowed her to retire in prayer. The chapel, a small room less than a meter wide, was installed to the right of the altar. It contained a mosaic icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov. The Cave Church has been fully restored and open to worshippers.

[4] On 7th November 1918 Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Detskoye Selo (Children’s Village). On 10th February 1937, it was renamed Pushkin, in honour of the great Russian poet, playright and novelist Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837). On 10th June 1939, the Catherine Cathedral was demolished by the Soviet authorities.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 December 2022

Christmas returns to the Alexander Palace

Christmas/New Year’s Tree in the Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room
Photo © Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve

In 2021, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum restored the tradition of decorating a Christmas/New Year’s tree in the Alexander Palace. For the second year in a row, a live spruce tree was installed today in the Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room and decorated with more than forty authentic toys from the early 20th century from the museum’s collection.

From 1905 to 1917, the Alexander Palace was the centre of Russian statehood, and the permanent residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. It was here that they celebrated the New Year holidays, which included Christmas – the Imperial Family and their close associates all took part in decorating the tree and gifts for it.

Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna celebrated Christmas in the Alexander Palace for the first time in 1895. It became a favourite family holiday and was celebrated on a grand scale. According to eyewitnesses, at least eight trees were installed in the palace, and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna herself took part in the decoration of each of them. She also chose gifts for the entire palace staff, including lackeys, cooks and stokers, a separate Christmas tree was decorated for them and the children’s nanny.

It was not until 1915, that the Alexander Palace became the permanent residence of the Imperial Family, however, they celebrated their first Christmas at Tsarskoye Selo on 24th December 1904.

PHOTO: OTMA seated in front of a Christmas tree in the Alexander Palace

Each year, on the 24th, the children would dress up in their finery and decorate a Christmas tree on the second floor, where there private rooms were situated. The first floor was set aside for the main family holiday. That evening, the Emperor and his wife visited the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in the Gatchina Palace. There they also attended the Christmas Vigil service. The imperial couple returned to Tsarskoye Selo at 11 o’clock in the evening and arranged their Christmas tree in the Empress’s new room (apparently referring to the Maple Drawing Room of Alexandra Feodorovna).

In subsequent years, the celebration of Christmas in the Alexander Palace took place according to that of previous years: a Christmas tree for the children on the second floor, the main family holiday on the first: several separate trees for servants and guards in the ceremonial halls, and in Alexandra Feodorovna’s rooms – a tree for the Emperor and Empress. The last tree decorated in the Alexander Palace was in December 1916.

The celebration of the New Year was significantly inferior in scale to that of Christmas. Throughout the entire reign of Nicholas II, December 31st was a festive day for the Emperor. The last day of the year stood out with a small festive tea party with the participation of family members, as well as a New Year’s prayer service, at which the Emperor was always present.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 December 2022

Tula museum to host Nicholas II exhibit in 2023

Next year marks the 155th anniversary of the birth [19th (O.S. 6th) May 1868] and 105th anniversary of the death [17th July 1918] of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. The Tula branch of the State Historical Museum in Moscow is now preparing a unique exhibition dedicated to these anniversaries.

The exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to “look” at the life of the Russian ruler and his family through the impartial lens of the camera. The exposition is emphatically documentary: rare photographs from the collection of the State Historical Museum which depict the private life of the Russian monarch. In addition, the exhibit will feature two topics: “Nicholas II as the head of the Russian Empire” and “Nicholas II as the head of the Imperial Family”.

In addition to photographs, portraits of Nicholas II and Akexandra Feodorovna, watercolors depicting episodes from the life of the Imperial Family, drawings of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, unique historical documents, including autographs of the last Romanovs, will be exhibited.

In addition, the exhibition will include precious orders presented to Nicholas II from the collection of the State Historical Museum. “These precious orders from European and Asian countries, stored in the collection of the numismatics department of the museum, rarely leave the walls of the fund,” said Director Alexey Levykin.

The exhibition presents Russian Orders awarded to Nicholas II[1], in addition to those given by Great Britain, Prussia, France, Austria-Hungary, Japan, Thailand and other European and Asian countries[2]. Many orders are exhibited for the first time.

“The orders were made of silver and gold and decorated with precious stones. Each exhibit outstanding craftsmanship, utilizing various jewelry techniques: gold embroidery, filigree, various types of enameling, engraving, and casting,” he added.

The Nicholas II exhibition will open in May 2023, the museum is planning a Russian-language illustrated exhibition catalogue.

The State Historical Museum in Moscow, opened the first regional branch in Tula at the end of September 2020 as part of the celebration marking the 500th anniversary of the Tula Kremlin.


[1] Nicholas II was the recipient of 7 national honours

[2] Nicholas II was the recipient of 51 foreign honours from 35 countries, duchies, etc

©  Paul Gilbert. 19 December 2022

Konstantin Pobedonostsev: symbol of Russian monarchal absolutism

PHOTO: Konstantin Pobedonostsev drinking tea in the garden of the Cottage Palace, the Peterhof residence of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, July 1898

Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev was born in Moscow on 30th (O.S. 18th) November 1827. He remains one of the most interesting, yet controversial persons from the life and reign of Emperor Nicholas II.

Pobedonostsev was a Russian jurist, statesman, and adviser to three Tsars: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II. Nicknamed the “Grand Inquisitor,” he came to be the symbol of Russian monarchal absolutism.

Pobedonostsev and Tsesarevich Alexander Alexandrovich [future Emperor Alexander III] remained very close for almost thirty years, through Alexander’s ascension as Tsar in 1881 and until his death in 1894. During the reign of Alexander III he was one of the most influential men in the Russian Empire. He was the mastermind of Emperor Alexander II’s Manifesto of 29th April 1881. The Manifesto on Unshakeable Autocracy proclaimed that the absolute power of the Tsar was unshakable thus putting an end to Loris-Melikov’s endeavours to establish a representative body in the empire.

Pobedonostsev was the chief spokesman for reactionary positions. He was the “éminence grise” of imperial politics during the reign of Alexander III, holding the the distinguished position of Chief Procurator of the Most Holy Synod, the non-clerical Russian official who supervised the Russian Orthodox Church [from 1880 to 1905].

In 1883, Emperor Alexander III appointed Konstantin Pobedonostsev, as chief tutor to his son and heir Nicholas Alexandrodovich [future Emperor Nicholas II].

Nicholas received a thorough training under the direction of the best teachers in Russia. Among his teachers, the one who exerted the greatest influence on him was undoubtedly the ultra-conservative Russian academic Konstantin Pobedonostsev, who was highly intelligent, widely read and very hardworking. Pobedonstsev believed that only the power and symbolism of an autocratic monarchy, advised by an elite of rational expert officials, could run the country effectively.

Pobedonostsev’s guidance and influence imbibed the principles of absolutism, dynasty, military greatness and the official religious tradition on the future Tsar. He constantly reminded Nicholas that the Tsar was anointed by God and was a divinely inspired source of wisdom and order.

PHOTO: Emperor Nicholas II with Konstantin Pobedonostsev (far right). Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, both dressed in white (center) standing next to the Tsar. This photo was taken on the steps of the Cottage Palace, the Peterhof residence of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, July 1898

Following the death of Alexander III on 1st November [O.S. 20 October] 1894, Pobedonostev remained an aide to Nicholas II, although he lost much of his influence. While the new Tsar adhered to his father’s Russification policy and even extending it to Finland, he generally disliked the idea of systematic religious persecution, and was not wholly averse to the partial emancipation of the Church from civil control.

In 1901, Nikolai Lagovski, a socialist, tried to assassinate Pobedonostsev, shooting through the window of Pobedonostsev’s office, but missing. Lagovski was sentenced to 6 years.

It was Pobedonostsev who ordered the excommunication of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in 1901.

As the Chief Prosecutor of the Holy Synod – a position he held until 1905 – Pobedonostsev opposed the canonization of the Monk Seraphim of Sarov in 1903. Standing firm in his beliefs, Emperor Nicholas II ordered the canonization of Seraphim of Sarov.

Konstatnin Pobedonostsev died in St. Petersburg on 23rd March (O.S. 10th March) 1907. He was survived by his wife Ekaterina Alexandrovna, née Engelhardt (1848-1932), and their adopted daughter Martha (1897-1964).

Pobedonostsev’s funeral took place on 26th March (O.S. 13th March) 1907 at the Novo-Devichsky Convent; members of the Imperial Family were not present. He was buried at St. Vladimir Church in St. Petersburg. The church has not survived, however, the grave has survived to the present day.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 December 2022

Maria Romanova arrives in Moscow amid Ukraine crisis

PHOTO: Princess Maria “Masha” Vladimirovna

Since February 2020, I have written more than 20 full-length articles on the Kirillovich branch of the Romanov dynasty. These articles have proven to be of great interest to many readers of this blog. In fact, during the past year, these articles have proved the most popular and widely read, some generating thousands of hits.

Some people are not going to like the following article, however, I am merely reporting the news . . .

Last week, Princess Maria “Masha” Vladimirovna[1] arrived in Moscow from her home in Madrid, her first visit to Russia since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The main purpose of her visit was the baptism of her grandson Alexander Georgievich Romanov, the son of Prince George “Gosha” Mikhailovich[2] and Princess Victoria Romanovna[3]

The baptism ceremony was held at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow on 6th December. The event was attended by Gosha’s father and Masha’s ex-husband Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, as well as Rebecca’s parents Roberto Amedeo Simeone Bettarini and wife Carla Virginia Cacciatore.

While most will think of this as nothing more than a happy family event, Maria’s visit to Russia is sure to raise eyebrows, particularly among those who support her, but are vehemently opposed to Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Just last week, I posted some beautiful photographs of the ‘Ural Express’, a luxurious new retro-train, which began service from Ekaterinburg. One Australian chap added the following comment: “visiting Russia at this time is morally wrong!” It is interesting to note that this man supports Maria’s claim to the non-existent Russian throne, recognizing her as the “legitimate Head” of the Russian Imperial House, which ceased to exist on 17th July 1918. I wonder how our friend in Sydney will react to Maria’s visit to Russia?

PHOTO: Masha at the baptism of her grandson in Moscow on 6th December 2022. From left to right: Carla Virginia Cacciatore, Roberto Amedeo Simeone Bettarini, Princess Victoria Romanovna, Alexander Georgievich Romanov, Prince George “Gosha” Mikhailovich, Princess Maria Vladimirovna and Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia

Masha and Gosha on annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine

It is no secret that both Maria and her son supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

It was in 2014, the self-proclaimed “Head” of the non-existent Russian Imperial House Princess Maria Vladimirovna[4] illegally awarded the Imperial Order of St. Anastasia to the Russian politician and State Duma deputy Natalya Poklonskaya, for her efforts in the reunification of Crimea with Russia.

On 30th November 2017, Poklonskaya returned the Order and nobility title, because Maria Vladimirovna refused to support Poklonskaya’s efforts on outlawing the controversial film Matilda for its allegedly blasphemous portrayal of the affair between Nicholas II and the ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya.

In June 2018, Masha and Gosha drove a Russian made Lada across the newly opened Crimean Bridge, which links the Russian Federation with the Crimean Peninsula.

In June/July of this year, Gosha weighed in on the Russia/Ukraine situation. He was quoted on Russian social media [Вера и Верность], stopping short of condoning Putin’s “special operation”:

“Ukraine for me has been and remains a part of the Fatherland [Russia] in the highest sense of the word.” 15th July 2022

“Unfortunately, Western partners have chosen the path of an ultimatum against Russia, which, as we see, does not entail a solution to the Ukrainian issue, but, on the contrary, aggravates not only it, but, as a result, other world problems,” 27th June 2022.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Masha and Gosha have both issued veiled pleas for peace, however, neither of them have come out and condemned Putin for a war which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Russians and Ukranians. Needless to say, both Masha and Gosha are persona non grata in Ukraine, a country they both claim to hold close to their hearts.

PHOTO: Gosha and Masha visiting Crimea in June 2018

The “Russian Imperial House maintained good relations with Vladimir Putin”

Masha and Gosha don’t dare criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why? Because according to Russell Martin, a prominent American mouthpiece for Maria Vladimirovna, the “Russian Imperial House [Masha and Gosha] maintain good relations with Vladimir Putin”. Martin acts as both translator and International Communications Advisor to the so-called “Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness”.

In my review of Gosha and Rebecca’s nuptial’s in October 2021, I noted that while Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had been invited to the wedding of George Mikhailovich to Victoria Bettarini in St. Petersburg, would not be attending.

Putin also stated that he would not be congratulating the newlyweds either, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in response to the relevant question.

“No, the president is not planning to congratulate the newlyweds in any way. Once again, this wedding has absolutely nothing to do with our agenda,” Peskov said.

This is a clear indication that Putin does NOT recognize the current Romanov descendants – Maria Vladimirovna and her son George Mikhailovich, as anything more than Russian citizens.

It is interesting to note that Martin’s quote about Masha and Gosha’s “good relations with Putin” is one of many sensationalized articles penned by him on his Legitimist blog. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Martin promptly deleted any and all comments which linked Maria and George to Putin. Martin has a history of distorting the truth about the Kirillovich branch of the dynasty and their descendants. His job is to detract any negative media coverage of Masha and Gosha, always putting a spin on the truth in order to make them come up smelling like roses. This is reason enough to take anything written by him with a grain of salt.

Maria and George are wise not to speak out against Putin, knowing the consequences which they would face. For one, Maria’s “Chancellery” would be closed in Moscow; her son and his morganatic wife—both of whom live in Moscow—would be asked to leave the country; and Maria herself would be persona non grata in Russia. In addition, their Russian passports would most likely be revoked.

PHOTO: Prince George “Gosha” Mikhailovich

“Send George to the front and sanction him!”

In the Spring of 2021, Gosha was interviewed in an international magazine out of Hungary known as Gentleman’s Review. He was quoted as saying: “I was raised to serve my country.”

This statement, coupled with his Ukraine comments documented on Russian social media this past summer raise some serious questions about Gosha’s personal commitment to “serve his country”, and he must be made accountable!

Not only should Gosha be recruited and sent to the front to fight for Russia in this dreadful war, he should also be sanctioned by the EU.

George Mikhailovich is a successful and wealthy businessman, and while thousands of his countrymen are being sent home in body bags, George and Victoria live in the lap of luxury in their sumptuous home in Moscow.

“The Russian Imperial House does not make statements of a political nature . . . ”, claims Maria Vladimirovna, words of wisdom her son may want to take into consideration . . .

Why is this article relevant?

I am dedicated to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. This includes identifying those who broke their personal oath to Nicholas II, including George Mikhailovich’s great-grandfather Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938), a member of the Russian Imperial Family, who not only lacked a moral compass, but openly defied his Sovereign, culminating in committing treason against the Tsar in 1917.

Under no pretext can we admit to the throne those whose ancestors belonged to parties involved in the 1917 revolution in one way or another. Nor can we admit those whose ancestors betrayed Tsar Nicholas II. Nor can we ignore those who ancestors openly supported the Nazis. Thus, without any reservations, the right to the succession to the throne of the Kirillovich branch should be excluded.

Any one who supports this branch of the family, dishonours the memory of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.


[1] Maria “Masha” Vladimirovna is a Princess, not a Grand Duchess. The last grand duchess of Russia was Nicholas II’s younger sister Olga Alexandrovna, who died on 24th November 1960, in Toronto, Canada.

[2] George “Gosha” is the son of the Prussian Prince Franz Wilhelm of Hohenzollern [born 1943], and a great-grandson of Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941). He is legitimately a German prince, and has much more rights to the German throne than that of Russia. But George, albeit very conditional, is still Romanov on the female side, it is absolutely unrealistic to imagine that Russia, would ever accept him as their Tsar.

[3] Born Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, she was received into the Orthodox faith on 12th July 2020, taking the name Victoria Romanovna [named after Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna, wife of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich].

[4] Maria Vladimirovna never had or has any authority to hand out titles or awards as she is not and never has been a ruling monarch. Despite this, Maria actively, and completely illegally distributes orders, medals and even titles of the Russian Empire. While many orders and awards of the Russian Empire have been officially restored in the modern Russian Federation, an ordinary civilian, and not a representative of the state, distributes the same order in appearance and name to her supporters on behalf of the “Imperial House”.

© Paul Gilbert. 12 December 2022

Why Nicholas II Is Glorified As a Saint

by Ruslan Ward @ Russian Faith

People often ask why Tsar Nicholas II and his family were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The controversy reached a new high following the release of the controversial film ‘Matilda’ in Russia in 2017. Many people still question the sainthood of Tsar Nicholas II because of their criticism of his political and personal actions. The Russian television channel Tsargrad.TV released a video explaining the canonization. This article written by Ruslan Ward is based on a translation of the arguments in the video. It also complements the video material with other sources. 

Following the social upheaval caused by the Russian film “Matilda” in 2017, the timeworn question surfaced yet again: Why did the Russian Church canonize Tsar Nicholas II as a saint?

Some people are doubtful, saying: What kind of saint was he? He rejected the throne, destroyed the country, was a weak ruler, etc.

Though many of these accusations are actually inaccurate stereotypes, whether they’re true or not is irrelevant in this instance.

Let’s review, once again, how Christians understand “sainthood” and why the Church made the decision to name Nicholas II a saint. 

A saint is NOT a person who never sinnedA saint is definitely not someone who never made mistakes.

The Bible directly states that no man has ever lived, who has not sinned – Ecclesiastes 7:20: Surely there is no righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.

A saint is someone who always strains towards God, becomes near to God, and, by the strength of God’s Grace, defeats evil in himself and in the surrounding world.

The Russian Orthodox Church has different categories for saints, that offer explanation what particular aspect of that person’s life made them pleasing and similar to Christ.

Here are a few examples: 

  • The Holy Martyrs are people who were faced with the choice between keeping their own lives and being faithful to Christ. They chose faith to Christ and lost their lives.
  • The Confessors are people who openly preached the faith during persecutions.
  • The Holy Unmercenaries are saints who exhibited extraordinary charity and generosity in the name of the Christian faith

In the Russian Orthodox Church, Nicholas II and his family were canonized (made saints) as Passion-bearers[1]. A Passion bearer is someone who faced his death in a Christ-like manner.

Passion-bearers die and suffer not for the explicit reason that they are Christians. They are people who were killed innocently, with no fault, but yet maintained an attitude of Christian meekness and love towards their persecutors and murderers, thus fulfilling God’s commandment.

An example of this love, of this meek approach to ones’ torturers, was given to us by Christ Himself.

Having been completely innocent on the Cross of Golgotha, Christ pronounced the words that totally changed the course history of humanity, offering a radically different approach to one’s enemies. The soldiers that had just crucified Christ were standing around the cross. They didn’t understand at all what had just happened, they didn’t understand WHO was dying on the Cross. They sat around the scene of violence and suffering, and threw lots for would take which article of Christ’s clothing home.

Yet Christ said “Lord, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Emperor Nicholas and his entire family meekly, patiently accepted their unfair persecution, the surrounding unjust criticism and hate, the harsh treatment they received, and their violent, brutal death.

It’s well known that the Emperor was offered the chance to leave the country, to escape a horrifying end and save his own life and the life of other members of the family. But he consciously decided not to. He consciously remained in the country; he believed it was his duty. 

Nicholas II and his family have been named saints, because they accepted their sufferings and trials in a Christian manner; because they met death at the hands of those, who were moved by hatred and anger, with Christlike love and patience.

On the eve of the terrifying murder in Ipatyev house, Nicholas II’s eldest daughter, the Grand Duchess Olga wrote.

“Father asks the following message to be given to all those who have remained faithful to him, and to those on whom they may still have influence, that they should not attempt to take revenge for him, since he has forgiven everyone and prays for everyone. He wants them to remember that the evil which is now in the world will be become still stronger, but that evil will never conquer evil , but only Love…”

It was precisely for the reason of their unconquerable meekness, patience, and love, that the Tsar’s family are saints. Not for their political actions, not how saintly or “right” their lives were, but for how they met their horrible end: with Christian love and faith.

More about how they treated their trials and the people who hated and purposely tortured them from an article on Pravmir:

In Ekaterinburg they spent three hellish months of psychological torture – and yet they all retained their inward calm and state of prayer, so that not a small number of their tormentors were softened by these valiant Christian strugglers.

As Pierre Gilliard, the French tutor to the Tsarevich Alexis recalled:

“The courage of the prisoners was sustained in a remarkable way by religion. They had kept that wonderful faith which in Tobolsk had been the admiration of their entourage and which had given them such strength, such serenity in suffering.

They were already almost entirely detached from this world. The Tsaritsa and Grand Duchesses could often be heard singing religious airs, which affected their guards in spite of themselves.

Gradually these guards were humanised by contact with their prisoners.

They were astonished at their simplicity, attracted by their gentleness, subdued by their serene dignity, and soon found themselves dominated by those whom they thought they held in their power.

The drunken Avdiev found himself disarmed by such greatness of soul; he grew conscious of his own infamy. The early ferocity of these men was succeeded by profound piety.”

When this would happen, the inhuman Bolsheviks would replace the guards who had been so touched with crueller and more animalistic ones.

Seldom being allowed to go to church, they nevertheless nourished their souls with home prayers and greatly rejoiced at every opportunity to receive the Divine sacraments.

Three days before their martyrdom, in the very house in which they were imprisoned, there took place the last church service of their suffering lives.

As the officiating priest, Fr. John Storozhev, related:

“‘It appeared to me that the Emperor, and all his daughters, too, were very tired. During such a service it is customary to read a prayer for the deceased. For some reason, the Deacon began to sing it (which is usually done in memorial services for the reposed), and I joined him…As soon as we started to sing, we heard the Imperial Family behind us drop to their knees’ (as is done during funeral services)…

Thus they prepared themselves, without suspecting it, for their own death – in accepting the funeral viaticum.

Contrary to their custom none of the family sang during the service, and upon leaving the house the clergymen expressed the opinion that they ‘appeared different’ – as if something had happened to them.”

Not only the Tsar, but the whole of his blessed family, met their fate with truly Christian patience. Thus on March 13,1917, the Tsarevich Alexis wrote to his sister Anastasia:

“I will pray fervently for you and Maria. With God everything will pass. Be patient and pray.”

Shortly after the abdication the Empress said: “Our sufferings are nothing. Look at the sufferings of the Saviour, how He suffered for us. If this is necessary for Russia, we are ready to sacrifice our lives and everything.”

And again: “I love my country, with all its faults. It grows dearer and dearer to me… I feel old, oh, so old, but I am still the mother of this country, and I suffer its pains as my own child’s pains, and I love it in spite of all its sins and horrors… Since [God] sent us such trials, evidently He thinks we are sufficiently prepared for it. It is a sort of examination… One can find in everything something good and useful – whatever sufferings we go through – let it be. He will give us strength and patience and will not leave us. He is merciful. It is only necessary to bow to His will without murmur and wait – there on the other side He is preparing for all who love Him indescribable joy.


[1] The Moscow Patriarchate canonized the family as passion bearers: people who face death with resignation, in a Christ-like manner, as distinguished from martyrs, the latter historically killed for their faith. Proponents cited the piety of the family and reports that the Tsarina and her eldest daughter Olga prayed and attempted to make the sign of the cross immediately before they died.

The term “passion-bearer” is used in relation to those Russian saints who, “imitating Christ, endured with patience physical, moral suffering and death at the hands of political opponents. In the history of the Russian Church, such passion-bearers were the holy noble princes Boris and Gleb (1015), Igor of Chernigov (+ 1147), Andrei Bogolyubsky (+ 1174), Mikhail of Tverskoy (+ 1318), Tsarevich Dimitri (+ 1591). All of them, by their feat of passion-bearers, showed a high example of Christian morality and patience.

Despite their official designation as “passion-bearers” by the August 2000 Council, Nicholas II and his family are referred to as “martyrs” in Church publications, icons, and in popular veneration by the people.

*On 1st November 1981, Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, their five children and four faithful retainers were canonized as new martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR),

© Ruslan Ward @ Russian Faith. 11 December 2022

Obituary: Zoya Iosifovna Belyakova (1932-2021)

I was deeply saddened to learn that Romanov historian and author Zoya Belyakova passed away nearly a year ago, but I am only learning of her passing today. According to the St Petersburg Literary Newspaper, she died on 9th December 2021, at the age of 90.

Zoya Iosifovna Belyakova [nee. Volnova] was born in Leningrad on 13th February 1932. In 1949 she entered the English department of the Faculty of Philology of Leningrad State University. In 1954 she her husband G. A. Goryshin, a graduate of the Faculty of Journalism, moved to Barnaul in the Altai region, where she taught English and German. Between 1962-1987 she worked as a guide-translator for Intourist, the primary travel agency for foreign tourists in the Soviet Union. Zoya traveled throughout the country, and often visited abroad, where she gained valuable impressions from meetings with political and public figures, scientists and writers in England and the USA (among them J. Updike, J. Cheever, Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Barbara Cartland, etc.). For many years she was a lecturer in advanced training courses for Intourist guides.

After retiring, she devoted herself entirely to the study of the history of the Romanov dynasty. Her reputation as a respected researcher and writer allowed her access to both Russian and foreign archives, including private collections of the descendants of members of the Romanov family. As an independent researcher, Belyakova lectured both in Russia and abroad at universities, museums and research centers (mainly in the USA). In 2005 she was admitted to the Writers’ Union of St. Petersburg. In 2012, by she was awarded a commemorative badge by the Romanov Family Association, for her “long-term service”.

Zoya Beliakova is the author of numerous books on the Romanovs in both Russian and English, including ‘Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg’ (1994); ‘The Romanov Legacy : The Palaces of St. Petersburg’ (1995); ‘The Romanovs: The way it was’ (2000), among others.

In the 1990s, Zoya was a regular lecturer for my annual Romanov Tour groups. One year, she was our guide and lecturer for two full days, in which she took us inside the many former palaces of the grand dukes and grand duchesses in St. Petersburg and along the Peterhof Highway.

On 8th December 2014, Zoya attended my first speaking engagement in Russia. My talk was held in the White Hall of the Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library in St. Petersburg. My topic ‘Imperial Obsession. The West’s Fascination with the Romanov Legacy‘.

In the March 19th 2021 edition of ‘Moskovsky Komsomolets’, Zoya was asked to comment on the Kirillovich branch of the Romanov dynasty:

“The Tsarevich [George} is false. I am not at all a fan of the mother of the so-called Tsarevich. The fact is that Maria Vladimirovna, who pretends to be a Grand Duchess, is actually just a princess. This is a completely different title. Her grandfather, the cousin of the last Tsar Nicholas II, Kirill, was not anointed to the throne. The Russian Empire no longer existed at that moment, and to be Tsar, you need to be the Tsar of some state.”

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 2 December 2022

Nicholas II: News from Russian Media & Archival Sources

*This title is available from AMAZON in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia,
France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Japan


English. Large 8-1/2″ x 11″ format, 256 pages, 300+ black & white photos

In this book, you will find more than 130 articles and news stories about exhibitions, new monuments, portraits, polls on Nicholas II’s popularity in post-Soviet Russia, updates on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, events marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nicholas II and the 100th anniversary of his death and martyrdom, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ekaterinburg remains and much more.

These articles and news stories were originally published in Sovereign (2015-2020) and Royal Russia (2011-2020). Both of these periodicals are no longer published, the back issues out of print, therefore, I am pleased to offer these important materials in one concise volume. They are complemented with more than 300 black and white photographs, many of which have never been published in any Western newspaper, magazine or book. Each article has been sourced from Russian media and archival sources, and translated into English.

While this collection of articles and news stories, may not appeal to every one, it will prove a valuable research tool for those studying the life and reign of Nicholas II, particularly as he is perceived in modern-day Russia.

Paul Gilbert’s Romanov Bookshop on AMAZON

I have published more than 30 titles to date through AMAZON – featuring one of the largest selections of books on Nicholas II, the Romanov dynasty and the history of Imperial Russia. These include both new titles and reprints of titles which have out of print for years.

Please CLICK on the BANNER or LINK above to review my current selection of titles in hardcover, paperback and ebook editions. Listings provide a full description for each title, pricing and a Look inside feature.

© Paul Gilbert. 7 November 2022

© Paul Gilbert. 2 December 2022