The End of Royal Russia

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Please take a moment to review my new professional page,
which includes photos, a video and links

After 25+ years, Royal Russia is no more. I have permanently closed my Royal Russia web site and news blog. My Royal Russia Facebook page will automatically be deleted on 12th January. I will, however, continue to publish my popular semi-annual journal Royal Russia.

I will now be devoting my time and resources to the full-time study of the life, reign and era of Russia’s last emperor and tsar. You can follow my research on my ‘Nicholas II’ blog, and my personal Facebook page. I will also continue to publish my semi-annual journal Sovereign as well as new book titles.

My blog ‘Nicholas II. Emperor. Tsar. Saint’ received more than 70,000 hits in 2019. I will continue to post articles and news from Russian media sources throughout 2020.

I am also looking forward to hosting the 2nd International Nicholas II Conference on Saturday 15th May 2021, at the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have followed and supported me and my work over the past 25 years. Today marks the beginning of the next page of my personal journey, please join me!

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© Paul Gilbert. 3 January 2020

 

New outdoor portrait of Nicholas II appears in Serbia’s capital

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Another monumental portrait image of Tsar Nicholas II has appeared in the Serbian capital of Belgrade

With the blessing of Archpriest Vladimir Levichanin, the image of Nicholas II has been painted on the wall of the parish house of the Church of St. George the Great Martyr, located on Voyvodzhanskaya Street in New Belgrade.

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The tradition of historical murals and street art is popular in the Serbian capital, but this is the first such case that an image of such a high artistic style has appeared on a building belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

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The creator of the portrait is the famous Belgrade artist Milan Milosavljevich, who wanted to donate his work to the church, in which he could portray Emperor Nicholas II, who is especially revered in Serbia. One of the initiators of the project is the Serbian book publisher Nikola Drobnyakovich.

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Currently, there is Tsar Nicholas II Street in Belgrade, and in the very center of the city there is a majestic monument to the last Russian emperor and patron of the Serbian people.

© Paul Gilbert. 2 January 2020

Early 20th century photos of Nicholas II

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Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, during a photo session – 1903
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) 

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Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, during a photo session – 1903
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) 

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Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, during a photo session – 1903
Photo © State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) 

© Paul Gilbert. 31 December 2019

The sad state of the Imperial Railway Pavilion in Tsarskoye Selo

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Current state of the Imperial Railway Pavilion near the Alexander Palace, Tsarskoye Selo

Over the past 25+ years, I have written numerous articles on the Imperial Railway Pavilion in Tsarskoye Selo. Among these, have been news updates from Russian media sources on proposals to restore this historic building, sadly, none of which have seen the light of day.

Meanwhile, the Imperial Railway Pavilion has continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate. This of course is in part due to the elements, vandalism, but also from sheer neglect.

During my many visits to Tsarskoye Selo over the years, I have visited the pavilion on a number of occasions, only to have my spirits dampened on each successive visit by its ongoing neglect and deterioration.

On one such visit, a door had been broken open, and I ventured inside to explore the interior. I was shocked by what I saw. Graffiti all over the walls, garbage strewn throughout, including empty vodka and beer bottles. The smells were equally offensive. The interiors were being used by local drug addicts and thugs, who not only used it as a public toilet, but also lit fires, charring the walls and ceilings in the process. I took many photographs as evidence of what I saw. The only light came through what remained of the windows, the darkness cast shadows, and I entered each room with trepidation, fearing what or who might be lurking in the shadows.

The pavilion is now completely surrounded with a fence, all the doors and windows sealed – as seen in the photo above – to prevent any further trespassing and acts of vandalism.

Can the Imperial Railway Pavilion be saved?

In July 2019, Channel 5 News (St. Petersburg), reported that a decision by the regional government would allow the lease on historical buildings for the price of just one ruble per square meter. Among the list of seven structures was the former Imperial Railway Pavilion in Tsarskoye Selo.

The investor would be responsible for the reconstruction of the Imperial Railway Station, with a 49 year lease. Some developers suggested using the historic building as a hotel, shopping center, or restaurant. Any of these proposals would further (negatively) affect the historic integrity of this architectural monument, therefore, let us pray that none of these ideas come to fruition!

Given its proximity to the Alexander Palace of one and a half kilometres, it would be both fitting and logical that the pavilion should be turned over to the administration of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve (GMVZ), who have shown a high degree of professionalism in the restoration of damaged building dating from the Tsarist period. For instance, they are about to begin the restoration of the Chinese Theatre, which is in a far worse state than the Imperial Railway Pavilion.

If they could get financial backing from the Ministry of Culture, the GMVZ could breath new life back into the pavilion. Drawings have been preserved of the interiors, including the magnificent wall and ceiling paintings, which have almost disappeared. One idea, would be to create a museum dedicated to the history of the Imperial Railway, which opened during the reign of Nicholas I, and include a permanent exhibition dedicated to the luxurious Imperial Train of Russia’s last emperor. 

A shocking state of neglect and disrepair 

The following photographs taken by St. Petersburg historian and guide Roman Venezin, depict the interiors of the Imperial Railway Pavilion, as they looked in 2014. Please bear in mind that these photographs were taken five years ago, and the building and its once magnificent interiors have deteriorated even further. 

A brief history of the Imperial Railway Pavilion

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The original Imperial Pavilion was constructed of wood in 1895, however, it was destroyed by fire on 25th January 1911. A new stone pavilion designed by architect V.A. Pokrovsky, was constructed in the same Neo-Russian style as the buildings of the nearby Feodorovsky Gorodok. It was here that the Emperor greeted many foreign dignitaries. A special road was laid from the station to the Alexander Palace.

The richly decorated interiors were stylized as chambers with heavy stone vaults. The rich decoration of the facades and interiors corresponded to the grand presentation of the station, being an example of a synthesis of architecture, monumental painting and decorative art, which successfully combined the forms of ancient Russian architecture of the 17th century. with construction technologies and materials characteristic of the modern era.

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The imperial chambers of the station were painted by the artist M. I. Kurilko, reflecting the chambers of the beloved suburban palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.

During the First World War 1914-1917. The Tsar’s pavilion was used to transfer the wounded soldiers with special ambulance trains to hospitals deployed in Tsarskoye Selo (there were more than 60 of them). In 1918, the station was renamed the Uritsky Pavilion, and was closed in the middle of the 20th century. The pavilion was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). 

© Paul Gilbert. 29 December 2019

Unique Sabre of Emperor Nicholas II

Emperor Nicholas II, in the uniform of a Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet

One of the many memorial items belonging to Emperor Nicholas II from the collection of the Military Chamber in Tsarskoye Selo, is this sabre of the admiral of the British Navy.

On 27-28 May 1908, King Edward VII of Great Britain met Nicholas II, during the King’s State Visit to Russia, which took place off Revel (now Tallinn, Estonia).

During their meeting, in addition to discussing diplomatic and trade issues, Edward VII granted Emperor Nicholas II the rank of Admiral of the British Navy.

On May 28, 1908, Emperor Nicholas II wrote in his diary:

Again, a wonderful day. We slept well … At one o’clock a big breakfast was held on the ‘Standart’. Uncle Bertie appointed me Admiral of the British Navy … “.

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From the collection of Tsarskoye Selo State Museum

On the blade is the English inscription “To His Imperial Majesty Nicholas II Emperor of all the Russians from his affectionate uncle Edward Revel 1908”

© Paul Gilbert. 27 December 2019

Church of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II under construction in Novosibirsk

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The Church of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in Novosibirsk

The Church of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, is now in the second phase of construction in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, with the final phase due to be completed in 2020.

The Church of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II is being built on the site of the Zakamensky Cemetery, which was destroyed by the Soviets in the middle of the 20th century. During construction of the stone church, liturgies are carried out in a temporary wooden building nearby, which is intended for the administration building. Construction has been slow, due to lack of funding, much of which has been collected by donations collected by local parishioners. 

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The consecration of the church dome and cross was performed by
Metropolitan Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berd on 19th May 2018

The future church is based on the design of the Cathedral of the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery in Moscow. The temporary wooden church is a simple architectural design. It was consecrated on 23rd March 2007. In 2009, a belfry was built. It contains six bells cast at the Svetolitie enterprise, and an evangelist cast at the Litex Moscow plant in 2012. The temporary belfry is an architectural one-story building in the form of an octahedron crowned with a crown – a dome with a cross. The tier of ringing is with eight openings located on the cardinal points.

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Icon of the Holy Royal Martyrs in the temporary wooden church

The church is consecrated in honour of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. A decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church of 14 August 2000, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexy, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia were canonized as holy martyrs.

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Monument of Emperor Nicholas II and Tsesarevich Alexei in Novosibirsk

A monument of Emperor Nicholas II with his son and heir Tsesarevich Alexei was established on 17th July 2017, on the grounds of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Novosibirsk.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 December 2019

‘Nicholas II 2020 Calendar’ – only a few copies left!

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO ORDER MY 2020 CALENDAR

I am reaching out to friends and followers of my 25+ years of researching and writing about the Romanovs, and the history of Imperial and Holy Russia.

If you appreciate my efforts in keeping the memories of old Russia alive, please support me in the coming new year, by purchasing a copy of ‘Nicholas II 2020 Calendar‘ – only a few copies left!

Each month features an iconic full-page photograph of Nicholas II (see images below), printed on glossy stock.

Each month features an iconic full-page photo
of Nicholas II printed on glossy stock

Each month features an iconic full-page photo
of Nicholas II printed on glossy stock

The net proceeds from the sale of each calendar will go towards my research from Russian media and archival sources, including translation costs, and more.

The price is only $10 + postage. Payment can be made by credit card or PayPal online or by personal check or money order (order forms can be downloaded and printed from the order page at the link provided on this page)

THANK YOU to those of you who have already purchased a copy,
your interest and support of my research is much appreciated – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 19 December 2019

Memorial Bas-relief plaque of Nicholas II installed in Voronezh

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Memorial plaque to Emperor Nicholas II by the sculptor  Alexander Melnichenko

On 19th December 2019, a memorial plaque in memory of Emperor Nicholas II was unveiled in the Russian city of Voronezh, and consecrated by Metropolitan Sergiy of Voronezh and Liskinsky.

The date marks the 105th anniversary of the emperor’s visit to Voronezh on 19th December 1914. This was the second time Nicholas visited Voronezh, the first was in 1887, when he visited the city as heir to the throne, together with his father Alexander III.

The bas-relief plaque was made by the sculptor Alexander Melnichenko, and placed on the facade of the former Mariinsky Gymnasium (now the Youth House, situated on Revolution Avenue). During the First World War, the gymnasium served as a hospital for Russian soldiers, and it was here that the Emperor met with those who had been wounded. 

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The memorial plaque was consecrated by Metropolitan Sergiy of Voronezh and Liskinsky

Today, 19 December (O.S. 6 December) is also the day when the Orthodox Church honours the memory of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the patron saint of Nicholas II.

During Nicholas II’s visit to Voronezh on 19th December 1914, an arch to honour his visit was built near Petrovsky Square (which has not survived). The Emperor together with the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana Nikolaevna, attended a Divine Liturgy held in the Annunciation Cathedral, after which, they visited the Mitrofanov Monastery, where the Emperor presented awards to wounded Russian soldiers.

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© Paul Gilbert. 19 December 2019

Watercolours of Livadia Palace and Gardens

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Monument to Nikolai Krasnov (1864-1939), unveiled on 9 December in Belgrade, Serbia

This month marks the 155th anniversary of the birth (5 December O.S. 23 November 1864) and the 80th anniversary of the death (8 December 1939) of the famous Russian-Serbian architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov.

In 1919, the architect emigrated with his family from the Crimea, lived in Malta for several years, before settling in Belgrade in 1922. For the next seventeen years, Krasnov served as an inspector of the Architectural Division. He left a significant mark in the architecture of present-day Serbia. To this day, the Serbian people deeply revere the memory of the Yalta architect, the architect most famous for Livadia Palace, the Crimea residence of Nicholas II and his family.

On 9th December 2019, celebrations were held in the Serbian capital, which included the opening of the Architect Krasnov exhibition and the unveiling of a monument to Nikolai Krasnov. As part of the Russian delegation, the Livadia Palace Museum took part in the celebrations.

The monument to Krasnov by the sculptor Neboisha Savovich Nes, was unveiled in the park of the Archive of Serbia. The sculptor captured the eminent architect sitting at his desk working on the design of the Archive building.

Krasnov died on 8 December 1939, he was buried in the Russian sector of the Belgrade New Cemetery. The architect’s grave is located near the monument of ‘Russian Glory’, the first monument in the world erected in honour of Emperor Nicholas II and soldiers of the Russian Imperial Army who died in the First World War. 

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Watercolours of Livadia Palace painted by the famous palace architect himself
Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

Livadia must have been beautiful when it was an Imperial residence before the First World War. Construction on a new white limestone palace began on 21 January 1910, and after 17 months of construction, the palace was inaugurated on 11 September 1911. Emperor Nicholas II spent about 4 million gold rubles on the palace. In November 1911 Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna celebrated her 16th birthday at Livadia.

The Imperial family visited Livadia in the fall of 1911 and 1913 and in the spring of 1912 and 1914.

Sadly, on 30th April 30 1918, German troops entered Livadia, who immediately began to plunder the palace. 

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Northern facade of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Northern facade of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Iron grille gate leading to the Italian courtyard of the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Gallery of the Italian Courtyard in the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Gallery of the Italian Courtyard in the Livadia Palace
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Corner of the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Corner of the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Arch of blooming roses in the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

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Laurel gazebo in the park of the Livadia estate
Watercolour by Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939)

© Paul Gilbert. 16 December 2019

Exhibition: Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 15 February 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

The following exhibition ran from 26 January to 4 April 2018

The exhibition Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor, opened on 26 January at the Central House of Artists in Moscow. The exhibition is based on memories and original photographs from the personal archive of Captain 2nd Rank Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin (1880-1937), who served on the Imperial yacht Standart from 1906 to 1914.

A significant part of these historic images were photographed by the co-owner of the photographic studio “K. E. von Gan and Co., the famous Russian photographer AK Yagelsky, who had the title of Court photographer of His Imperial Majesty. Yagelsky also owned the right to conduct filming of the imperial family. The exposition includes photographs of the photographic studio K. E. Von Gan and Co., as well as unique newsreel footage taken on board the imperial yacht. In addition to the photographs, original letters of Emperor Nicholas II written on board the ship, watercolours and a collection of postcards dedicated to the Imperial yacht, a yacht logbook and a number of other unique documents will be on display.

The photos taken on board the yacht Standart are not widely known to the general public and are associated with the inner life of the royal family, moments not intended for an outsider’s eye and therefore very sincere and direct.

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The exhibition was first shown at the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO in St. Petersburg, from 2 August to 24 September 2017 and in Smolensk from 18 October to 15 December 2017. Click on the VIDEO above to view highlights from the St. Petersburg venue.

The exhibition Imperial Yacht Standart and the Family of the Last Russian Emperor, runs until 4th April 2018, at the Central House of Artists in Moscow.

Click HERE to visit the ROSPHOTO site for more information and photographs of the Imperial Yacht Standart – in Russian only.

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© Paul Gilbert. 15 December 2019