Reconstruction of Nicholas II’s bathroom in the Alexander Palace

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PHOTO: Stavros and Artcorpus Interiors firms in St. Petersburg

My latest report on the reconstruction of the private apartments of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna in the Alexander Palace, and the recreation of their historic interiors, provides an update on the Tsar’s Bathroom – PG

The reconstruction and restoration of Nicholas II’s Bathroom, situated in the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace is nearing completion. The main feature is a giant heated swimming tub – where the Tsar, and Tsesarevich Alexei liked to swim. “This was all lost, but now the restorers, have completely recreated the interior, based on pieces of ceramics from the walls, and photos from the palace-museum archives,” said Director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Olga Taratynova.

Once completed, Nicholas II’s Moorish-style Bathroom will be one of a series of rooms showcasing the private apartments of the last emperor and empress of Russia. Work is being carried out by the Stavros and Artcorpus Interiors firms in St. Petersburg.

According to Bob Atchison’s Alexander Palace Time Machine, “the Tsar’s Bathroom had a giant heated swimming tub on a platform which also led, via a glass and wood door, to his toilet, which was a dark room hung with an assortment of pictures including a humorous cartoon of Nicholas driving a car.

“The bathroom was designed in the Moorish style by Robert-Friedrich Meltzer (1860-1943). The millwork of the room was intricately fabricated in fragrant woods. The ceiling was particularly complex. Meltzer added many interesting touches to the room including hanging glass lanterns in the shape of old mosque oil lamps. For practical reasons they were wired for electricity. He also installed magnificent antique Turkish tiles around the top of the bath. In the arcade of the tub-platform he designed elaborate patterns in Arab style.

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Nicholas II posting in front of the his elevated swimming tub in the Alexander Palace

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“It was great fun for the Tsar’s children, when they received permission from their father, to use his bath. A thick cord prevented falling into the bath by accident. The swimming bath was huge, it held 500 pails of water [1000 according to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve-PG] and had its’ own powerful special hydraulics to rapidly pump hot water from the basement boiler up into the tub. Nicholas ordered the bath to be constructed in the palace in 1896 after seeing a similar bath on one of his estates. He used it almost every day. A special servant was assigned to maintain the equipment below and a second servant was assigned to keep the bath spotless after every use.

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“Outside the tub platform, Nicholas installed a chinning bar (seen in above photo), seen in a photograph, taken in 1917. The Tsar was passionate about exercise and also had a similar chinning bar in his train. He also had weights in his bathroom for working out. 

“On the back wall, by the left hand side of the door leading to the Tsar’s Working Study, was a collection of ions and hanging Easter eggs. To the right was draped an embroidered cloth with a double-headed eagle, probably the work of Alexandra or one of the girls. [The embroidered cloth with a double-headed eagle, can also be seen in the 1917 posted above-PG]

“Nicholas kept a large collection of Fabergé cigarette cases on the table in front of the window. He put up a display of gifts and small objects from his children in the bathroom. These included porcelain penguins and dancing girls. A floral watercolor painted by his daughter, Marie, and dated May 1917, hung on the door from the bathroom to the Working Study.”

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Reconstruction of the Tsar’s Bath or swimming tub

The Alexander Palace, has been closed for restoration since August 2015. The palace was scheduled to reopen in July 2018,  however, numerous delays have pushed now back the reopening date to the end of 2019. 

“We really want to make everyone happy for the new year. But in any case, the recovery process is underway and has already progressed significantly. So if not at the end of December 2019, then in the first quarter of 2020, the Alexander Palace will open its doors,” says the Director of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum.

For more information on the reconstruction and restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the following articles:

Recreation of Furniture for Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir Underway

Furniture for interiors of the Alexander Palace to be recreated

© Paul Gilbert. 16 June 2019

2nd Nicholas II Conference planned for US venue in 2020

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After the success of the Nicholas II Conference, held in Colchester, England last year, I am pleased to announce that I am now planning a second conference, to be held in the United States in the autumn of next year. The Conference is part of my mission to clear the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar.

The theme of the 2nd International Nicholas II Conference is ‘The Triumphs and Tragedies of His Reign’

Speakers will present papers on a wide variety of topics which cover the triumphs and tragedies of the 22-year+ reign (1 November [O.S. 20 October] 1894 – 15 March [O.S. 2 March] 1917) of Russia’s last monarch. Topics including the Coronation (1896); the Khodynkha Tragedy (1894); the Birth of Alexei and His Hemophilia; Bloody Sunday (1905); Romanov Tercentenary (1913); among others will be discussed.

I am sure that you can appreciate the tremendous amount of work which goes into such an event, therefore, I am reaching out to friends and supporters in the United States for their assistance on the following:

1. I am open to ideas for a venue, preferably in New York state (although other states would be considered), one which could provide seating for 100-200 persons, and lunch

2. As with the Conference held in England, I am particularly keen to have the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church

3. I need speakers: historians, authors, and other experts who will present facts and information, based on new research, which challenges the popularly held negative assessment of Nicholas II. NOTE: speakers will be paid for their presentations

If you can propose a venue, a speaker, or have any ideas or suggestions, please contact me by e-mail at royalrussia@yahoo.com

NOTE: the idea for this Conference is in the very early stages of planning, so for those who are interested in attending this event, I ask for your patience.

The city, venue, date, times, list of speakers, ticket prices, etc., have all yet to be worked out. Further details will be announced as they become available.

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NOTE: please help support my research in clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar Nicholas II, by purchasing copies of my bi-annual journal Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert. 28 May 2019

Memorial plaque to Nicholas II established in Omsk

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On 19th May, a memorial plaque to Emperor Nicholas II was solemnly unveiled on the facade of the Cathedral in Honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and the Virgin Mary in the Siberian city of Omsk. The plaque was established to commemorate the laying in 1891, by the then still Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich (future Emperor Nicholas II), of the foundation stone for the cathedral.

The heir to the throne was traveling across Russia in 1891, and stopped in Omsk. Nicholas Alexandrovich laid the foundation stone for the new cathedral during a ceremony held at 10:00 in the morning on 16th July 1891.

A memorial plaque was installed inside the Omsk Assumption Cathedral on 6th May 1914 – the date marking Nicholas II’s birthday in the Julian Calendar. The plaque was not preserved, as was the cathedral itself – both demolished in 1935. In 2007, the Assumption Cathedral was reconstructed in the same place. The new plaque is the latest addition.

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Cathedral in Honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and the Virgin Mary, Omsk

The idea and financing of the memorial plaque is thanks to the members of the Omsk branch of the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, the Double-Headed Eagle Society, and the organizing committee for the Tsar’s Days in the Omsk District.

Celebrations began at Cathedral Square in the morning, which was decorated with Imperial flags. A Divine Liturgy was held, followed by a literary and musical composition on the theme of the life of the Imperial family performed by actors of one of Omsk amateur theaters. 

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Lyubinskaya Station

The Siberian city of Omsk is forever tied to the last days of Nicholas II and his family. On 28th April 1918, the Emperor, his wife, and their daughter Maria were taken by train from Tyumen to Ekaterinburg. Their route was changed, and the train pulled into Lyubinskaya station, not far from Omsk. It was here that more drama unfolded, as negotiations between Vasily Yakovlev and Moscow took place. The train was eventually turned around, bound for Ekaterinburg, where the last Russian emperor and his family were subsequently shot in the early morning hours of 17th July 1918.

Six months later, anti-Bolshevik White forces seized control of Omsk. The Provisional All-Russian Government was established here in 1918, headed by Admiral Kolchak. Omsk was proclaimed the capital of Russia, and its central bank was tasked with safekeeping the former empire’s gold reserves. Bolshevik forces entered the city in 1919.

It was also in Omsk, that Nicholas Sokolov, a legal investigator of the Omsk Regional Court, interviewed several members of the Romanov entourage in February 1919, notably Pierre Gilliard, Alexandra Tegleva and Sydney Gibbes.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2019

Recreation of Furniture for Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir Underway

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Two views of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace, as it looked in 1917

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Note the many photos of the Imperial family on the side table and shelves above the sofa

For those of you who have been following the restoration of the Alexander Palace, I am pleased to announce that work on the recreation of furniture for the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir is now underway.

According to Stavros (St. Petersburg), the firm commissioned to recreate the furniture for the historic interiors of the Alexander Palace: “We are now creating pieces for the Lilac Room. These include the frame of the sofa and wall panels.”

The Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir suffered greatly during the Second World War. It was located in the suite of rooms, between the Imperial Bedroom and the Pallisander (Rosewood) Drawing Room, and did not have a separate exit to the corridor. At one time, the walls were covered with high-quality gorgon lilac silk fabric, with vertical narrow paired stripes, and the lower part was decorated with wooden panels. During the war years, the room was completely burned out, only a few photographs remind us of it’s former luxury. 

The project is part of a recreation of the Private Apartments of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, situated in the eastern wing of the Alexander Palace. 

Since the closing of the Alexander Palace in 2015, the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum have been very tight lipped about the restoration itself. Very little information has been released to the media, and barely mentioned on their official website. As a result, it has been an endless source of frustration trying to obtain any reliable updates on progress of the restoration. Dates for the reopening of the palace have been delayed on numerous occasions, often simply due to the lack of funding.

According to the latest information, the restoration of the Alexander Palace as a multi-museum complex is not expected to be completed until 2022 – at the earliest!

For more information on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to my article Furniture for the interiors of the Alexander Palace to be re-created (9th March 2019)

© Paul Gilbert. 22 May 2019

Tambov honours last Russian Emperor

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Memorial plaque to Nicholas II and station signal bell, Tambov

On 18th May 2019, a memorial plaque was unveiled in the Russian city of Tambov (about 480 kilometers (300 mi) south-southeast of Moscow). The plaque, on the facade of the Tambov railway station marks the visits to the city by Emperor Nicholas II in 1904 and 1914. The installation of the memorial plaque and a station signal bell were timed to the 151st anniversary of the birth of the Russia’s last emperor. 

The initiator of the memorial plaque was the leadership of the local regional branch of the Double-Headed Eagle Society, with the support of the Council on Monumental Art of the Tambov City Duma.

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Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna arrive in Tambov, 1914

On Sunday, 20 (O.S. 7) December 1914, Emperor Nicholas II visited Tambov for the second time. His previous visit, was in the summer of 1904.

Local historians note that during his 1914 visit, the Emperor’s train arrived in Tambov at 10:45 in the morning. Nicholas II was met by 12 thousand people, representing all classes of society. Flags and flowers decorated the streets along the imperial motorcade from the station to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior Cathedral. In the evening of the same day, at 6:00 pm, Emperor Nicholas II left Tambov with his wife and two of their children.

This is how the Sovereign noted the event in his diary:

At 10 o’clock arrived in Tambov. After the meeting, we went to the cathedral, which I recalled from 1904. Vladyka Cyril is well and served the liturgy. We went to venerate the relics of St. Pitirim and stopped at his spring. We then stopped at a military hospital, followed by breakfast on the train.

The opening ceremony of the memorial plaque at Tambov railway station was attended by representatives of the Russian Guard, Cossacks, the Union of Russian Paratroopers, veterans of war and regional conflicts, regional historians, and representatives of the Tambov diocese. At the conclusion of the solemn event at the station, the audience laid flowers at the memorial plaque.

Then the representatives of the Double-Headed Eagle Society together with the Cossacks laid flowers at the bust of the Sovereign Emperor in the park of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral.

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Monument to Nicholas II, Pitirim Tambovsky Chapel

In 1914, celebrations dedicated to the canonization of St. Pitrim of Tambov (1645-1698), a holy chapel was erected above a spring, discovered by St. Pitrim at the end of the 17th century. Funding for the metal chapel was provided by Nicholas II’s mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. A marble staircase was built from the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior Cathedral to the source. 

During the Soviet years, the chapel was destroyed, and the spring was covered with earth. In the 2000s, the holy spring on the territory of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior Cathedral was revived, the territory around it was ennobled. In 2007, the metal chapel was reconstructed above the source.

In February 2016, Metropolitan Theodosius consecrated the dome and cross on the newly rebuilt chapel above the source. On 10th August, Theodosius consecrated the restored chapel over the holy source of St. Pitirim. A monument to Nicholas II (see above photo) was unveiled in the alley leading to the chapel.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 May 2019

Monument to Nicholas II at Vasilievsky Palace in Vyritsa

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The Vasilievsky Palace

Situated on the left bank of the Oredezh River in the village of Vyritsa (70 km from St. Petersburg), stands the Vasilievsky Palace (also called the Vasiliev Brothers Mansio), a tiny yet equally luxurious replica of the Catherine Palace in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo).

The mansion was built in 2005–2006 by the St. Petersburg architect Igor Nikolaevich Gremitsky (1939–2015) and is intended for functions and receptions of high-ranking guests. The design and decor are intended to impress visitors with it’s unique architectural styles, such as the size of the rooms, height of the ceilings (the ceiling in the Grand Hall measures 14 meters or 46 feet), the solemnity of the marble staircase, and the lavish decoration of the interiors. Only natural materials and old technologies were used for decoration. 

The mansion is considered the first true marble palace in the vicinity of St. Petersburg. The area of ​​mosaic marble floors covers 600 square meters. The columns, fireplaces and pilasters are made of marble in the hall, foyer, the walls of the first floor, stairs and sculptures created by the best masters of Italy and Russia. The second floor is conceived in the form of open galleries which frame an oval double-light hall which create a large visual space. The central gallery is decorated with five-meter black marble knights. The palace complex also has a chapel, a miniature version of the one in the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.

Click HERE to view 20 colour photos of the lavish interiors of Vasilievsky Palace.

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Column bearing monument of Nicholas II 

The mansion is situated on a site measuring 400 x 400 meters in size, on which a landscaped park is laid out, containing fountains, marble sculptures, cannons, and a summer arbor. A column was erected in front of the palace, with a sculptural composition which features a guardian angel supporting the last Emperor and Tsar Nicholas II with his right hand, and bearing an Orthodox cross with his left. The Emperor is depicted holding the Imperial Sceptre with his left hand, his right hand placed on his heart.

According to official documents this plot of land is owned by the International Entrepreneurial Company Litvin Limited.

The “unofficial owner” of the palace is St. Petersburg businessman Sergey Vasilievich Vasiliev, co-owner of Petersburg Oil Terminal CJSC (POT), who was born in Vyritsa in 1955. Vasiliev has controlled the automotive market in St. Petersburg, since the 1990s. His initials – “SVV” – are clearly displayed in a cartouche over the main entrance to the mansion.

In Vyritsa, the Vasilyev brothers sponsored the reconstruction of the church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God and a number of other historical monuments.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 May 2019

Sovereign No. 10 Spring 2019 – NOW IN STOCK!

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I am pleased to announce that SOVEREIGN No. 10 SPRING 2019 – is now available from the ROYAL RUSSIA BOOKSHOP.

Our TENTH issue features 130 pages, with 8 full-length articles, including 5 FIRST ENGLISH translations of works by Russian historians, plus 3 additional articles + 119 black and white photos:

1. Nicholas II in the Words of His Contemporaries by Pyotr Multatuli. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

2. Nicholas II in the Historical Memory of the Kuban Cossacks by O.V. Matveev. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

3. The Wardrobe of the Imperial Family: The History of the Alexander Palace Collection by A.S. Rognatev. Translated by William Lee 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

4. Investigator Sokolov: “The Tsar’s Suffering Is Russia’s Suffering” by Y.Y. Vorobyevsky. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

5. Novonikolayevsk: Born of the People’s Ambition and the Tsar’s Beneficence, Emperor Nicholas II and the City of Novosibirsk: Parallels Between Past and Present by E. Tsybizov. Translated by Elizabeth S. Yellen 1st ENGLISH TRANSLATION

6. Memorandum to Tsar Nicholas II by Pyotr Durnovo

7. My Mission to Clear the Name of Russia’s Last Tsar by Paul Gilbert

8. Nicholas II in Moscow. Photographic Memories of Russia’s Last Emperor

and Sovereign News – featuring news highlights from Russian media resources

Launched in 2015, a total of 12 will be in print by the end of this year, including 3 Special Issues. Click HERE For more information on our journal Sovereign: The Life and Reign of Emperor Nicholas II

© Paul Gilbert. 13 May 2019

Pascha with the Imperial Family

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Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna attending the Easter service in the Moscow Kremlin, 9th April 1900

Christ is risen! With these words, the hearts of all Orthodox Christians are filled with a feeling of ineffable joy and spiritual warmth. The same was true for the Russian Imperial Family, which is now a family of saints. They endured a great deal, but in all periods of their lives we see that they unwaveringly followed the Lord and managed to preserve the light of faith. Tsar Nicholas’s diaries enlighten us as to how they spent this holy day.

The Pascha of 1895 was the first for the newly wedded couple. Tsar Alexander III peacefully reposed in the autumn of 1894. His son, the twenty-six year-old Nicholas, immediately ascended the Russian throne and married the German princess Alice on November 14. The young emperor was on the threshold of a different life. A new page of Russian history was unfolding.

1895

April 1, Saturday

It significantly froze tonight, though the day was sunny. I have not sensed such freedom for a long time, as today I did not have any reports and had nothing sent to me for reading. We went to the Liturgy at 11:30. <…> Alix set about coloring eggs with Misha [Grand Duke Mikhail] and Olga [Grand Duchess]. We all sat down to dinner at 8 o’clock. Presents and various surprises for one another in the eggs came in the evening. At 11:50 we headed for Paschal Matins, which was celebrated in our home church for the first time.

April 2, Sunday

The service ended at 1:45. We broke the Lenten fast at Mama’s: Alix, Xenia [Grand Duchess], Sandro [Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich] and uncle Alexei [Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich]. We slept until 9 o’clock in the morning. I had to deal with the eggs—that was a burdensome and fatiguing waste of time. Alix was distributing the gifts. At breakfast were uncle Vladimir [Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich] and aunt Miechen [Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the elder] with the children, and George. We set out to pay visits to the entire family. The day was bright, though cold. We drank tea at home. Alix was so exhausted that she did not go to the Vigil service. We had supper at 8 o’clock. I devoted myself to reading, as usual.

1896

March 21, Thursday

The girls received Holy Communion at the Liturgy. Ours was perfectly serene, but Irina [Grand Duchess Irina Alexandrovna] cried a little. <…> The Service of the Twelve Passion Gospels lasted 1 1/2 h.

March 23, Saturday

We attended the Liturgy at 11:30. After it was over, we had breakfast at Xenia’s place. She did not feel well and did not attend Paschal Matins, which was a pity! Benckendorff and I were sorting the eggs of glass and porcelain. <…> We set out for the Bolshaya Church at 11:45. Before the Liturgy began, I greeted 288 people. We came back to the Malachite [room] at 2:30 to break the fast.

March 24, Bright Sunday

We went to bed at about four o’clock, when the dawn was breaking. We got up by 8:30. Finally, the morning was free from all business. Khristosovanie [the Paschal triple kiss] with all the people began at 11:30 in the Malachite room; nearly five hundred people received eggs. <…> We set about paying visits to the whole family; we saw aunt Sany [Grand Duchess Alexandra Josiphovna]. After taking a horse ride along the embankment, we came back home by teatime. I did some reading after we bathed our daughter. At 7:15 we went to the Vigil service; we had dinner with uncle Misha afterward at Xenia and Sandro’s place. We gave her our presents. We took another ride to breathe some fresh air.

The year of 1905 was one of the most troublesome for Russia. It had already waged war with Japan, and was then hit by the storm of a revolution that was to be a forerunner of the imminent catastrophe. The Imperial Family was together anyway, supporting one another and praying to Lord for intercession.

1905

April 14, Great Thursday

In the morning, we all received Holy Communion. Our Little Treasure behaved decently at the church. Then we took a walk. The weather was wonderful; the sun was burning fiercely. <…>

April 17, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

We got up at about 10 o’clock in the scorching morning. I had been greeting nearly six hundred people for an hour. We had breakfast at its time. It rained. <…> The weather was perfect. I was reading. A 7:00 we went to the Vigil service.

1906

March 30, Great Thursday,

In the morning, we and all the children received the Holy Communion. Spiritual comfort embraced me for some hours. The Matins of the Twelve Passion Gospels lasted from 7 till 8:40.      

April 2, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

The Matins began early, at midnight. I greeted the Tsarskoye Selo garrison, including the officers. The service ended at 2:30. We came back home to break the fast at a family dinner. I slept soundly until 10. The morning was sunny, but later it started to rain. A large khristosovanie went from 11:30 till 12:45, I greeted over six hundred people. I took a stroll after breakfast. The weather got better by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, though it got a bit cooler. At 7:30 we went to the Vigil service. <…>

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Nicholas II presents an egg to one of his soldiers during Pascha

1907

April 21, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

The Matins began at 12, and the Liturgy was over at 2:15. After coming back home, we broke the fast in the Round Hall. We slept until 9:30. It was pouring rain the whole morning; the weather was chilly. I greeted seven hundred people. We listened to three numbers that the choir sang to us. We had a family breakfast. I took a stroll with Dmitry [probably Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich] and broke the ice in the pond. The weather got better. I was reading. We went to the Vigil service at 7:30. <…>

1908

April 11, Great Thursday

At 9 o’clock we came to the Liturgy in the cave church and received the Holy Communion. We returned home at 11.

I took a walk after having some tea.

The day was radiant. All the bushes are beginning to show green buds. After breakfast the children and I broke the last blocks of ice. We had tea a bit earlier, at 4, and at 6 o’clock we headed for the Matins of the Twelve Gospels. It was in the Main church. We sat to dinner at 8:15. I devoted a lot of time to reading aloud afterward.

April 12, Friday

I had almost no work to do in the morning and took a little boat trip with Maria and Anastasia around our pond. At 2 o’clock we all went to the Vespers and came back home at 3:30. <…>

April 13, Saturday

I woke up at 4:15 in the morning; by 5 o’clock I was at the Matins in the regiment church with Olga, Tatiana and Maria. The procession around the church at a magnificent dawn reminded me of Moscow, the Dormition Cathedral and the same service! We went home on foot and arrived at 6. I slept until 9:30. Had a walk. We all went to the Liturgy, which was over at one o’clock in the afternoon. <…> The children were coloring eggs with the yacht officers. I was reading until 8 o’clock. We gave presents to one another. At 11:30 we set out to the church for the Midnight Office. This was the first service for Alexei, he went back home with Anastasia after the Matins.

The service in our nice church was festive and marvelously beautiful. <…> We returned home at 2.

We broke the fast with the elder daughters.

April 14, Pascha

I went to bed at 3:30 and got up 9:30.

The morning was gray, but the sun came out in the afternoon. The Khristosovanie took place before breakfast; I greeted 720 people. <…>

Then the First World War ensued. It was most tragic for the Russian nation—the country lost millions of people and moved closer to the revolution.

1914

April 6, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

I greeted everyone in the church after the Matins. The Liturgy was over at 1:45, and we went to the dining room to break the fast. We came home at about 3. I slept until 9 o’clock. <…> Khristosovaniebegan downstairs at 11:30, 512 people. The whole family was together at breakfast. Alix was tired and lay down to have some rest until 5. I walked with the children and the officers to the Krestovaya hill in Oreanda, where we sat for a while and had some rest, admiring the view. We drank tea with a delicious paskha, butter and milk. I answered telegrams. The Vespers was at 7:30. <…>

1915

April 19, Great Thursday

We all received Holy Communion. Alexei had to commune after the Liturgy lying in bed, since he had swollen lymph nodes. I went for a walk after drinking tea in his playroom. <…> Received Count Friederichs at 6 and went to the Matins of the Twelve Gospels, which was over at 8:15. I was reading for the entire evening.

April 22, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

The cathedral was beautifully lit by sparklers during the procession. It was slightly cold; the night was cloudless.

The Liturgy ended at 2 o’clock. We had festive dinner with all the daughters. I slept until 9:30. The day was sunny and bright. I greeted the court from 11 till 12:30. After breakfast I had a long walk and worked. <…>

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Contemporary egg bearing the image of Nicholas II

1916

April 7, Great Thursday

A very tough day. I went to the Liturgy at 9:20, where Alexeyev and many staff officers received the Holy Communion. Took a walk in the garden and listened to a report at 11. Few people were at breakfast and dinner. I was reading. I took a car ride along the Gomel highway and a stroll at the same place; I had walked with Alix and the children where we had made a fire. The Matins of the Twelve Gospels took an hour and a half. I devoted the evening to the work.

April 8, Friday

The twenty-second anniversary of our engagement, the second year that we have not spend this day together. <…>

April 10, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

The Liturgy ended at 1:50. They all came to my place, I greeted everyone and we broke the fast. The night was chilly and cloudless. I slept until 9:30. In an hour began khristosovanie with the staff, the managers, the clergy, the police and the locals of higher ranks.

Pascha of 1917 was preceded by the February revolution that struck the country nearly two months before, and the air of revolution and disaster permeated the Tsar’s journal entries. On March 2, Tsar Nicholas was forced to abdicate the throne and celebrated the holy feast as the ordinary “Colonel Romanov”. The entire family was together, as usual.

1917

March 30, Great Thursday

<…> At 10 o’clock we went to the Liturgy, where many of our people received Holy Communion. I took a short stroll with Tatiana. Today the ‘victims of the revolution’ were buried in our park, in front of the middle of the Alexander Palace. We could hear the sounds of a funeral march and “La Marseillaise”. Everything was over by 5:30. At 6 o’clock we went to the Matins of the Twelve Gospels. <…>

April 2, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

The Matins and Liturgy ended at 1:40. We broke the fast altogether; there sixteen of us. I did not go to bed soon as I had eaten substantially. I got up at about 10. The day was bright and truly festive. I took a short walk in the morning. I greeted all the servants before breakfast, and Alix gave out porcelain eggs that we had managed to keep from past reserves. Overall, there were 135 people. <…> Alexei and Anastasia went outdoors for the first time. <…>

April 3, Monday

A wonderful spring day. <…> I went to the Liturgy with Tatiana and Anastasia at 11 o’clock. After breakfast we went out to the park with Alexei, I was breaking ice for the whole time by our summer embankment <…>.

In 1918, the Romanov family was separated; the Tsar, Alexandra Feodorovna and Maria we’re transferred to Yekaterinburg, while the rest of the children remained in the Siberian town of Tobolsk. Some three months before the notorious murder, that Pascha was the last in their lives.

1918

April 19, Great Thursday,

The day was beautiful, windy, dust was rushing around the town and the sun was shining brightly, penetrating through the windows. In the morning I was reading the book La Sagasse et la destinée to Alix. Later I continued to read the Bible. The breakfast was served late, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Then we were allowed to go out to the garden for an hour, and we all, except Alix, took the opportunity. The weather turned cooler, some drops of rain fell upon the earth. It was pleasant to breathe some fresh air. When the bells rang, a sense of sadness imbued me—it is now Passion Week, and we are deprived of any possibility to attend its magnificent services, and moreover, cannot observe the fast! I had the joy of bath before tea. Dinner was served at 9. In the evening we, all the people dwelling in the four rooms, gathered in the hall, where Botkin read aloud the twelve Gospels. We all went to bed afterward.

April 21, Great Saturday

I woke up quite late; the day was grey, cold, with snowstorms. I spent the whole morning reading, writing a couple of lines in each letter from Alix and Maria to the daughters, and drawing a plan of this [Ipatiev] house. We had lunch at 1:30. At Botkin’s request, a priest and a deacon were allowed to come to our place at 8 o’clock. They served the Matins quickly and well. It was a great comfort to pray in such an atmosphere and hear “Christ is Risen!’ Ukraintsev, the commandant’s assistant, and the soldiers of the watch were present. We had dinner after the service and went to bed early.

April 22, the Bright Resurrection of Christ

For the whole evening and partly in the night we could hear cracks of fireworks that people set off in the different parts of the city. It was 3° c. in the afternoon, and the weather was grey. We greeted one other at tea and ate kulichi and eggs; we failed to get paskhas.

We had lunch and dinner at their respective times. We took a half an hour stroll. In the evening we spent a lot of time talking to Ukraintsev at Botkin’s place.

© Maria Litzman / Orthodox Christianity. 13 May 2019

“I consider Nicholas II a great reformer” – Serbian Ambassador to Russia

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Serbian Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic, and icon of Tsar Martyr Nicholas II

On 7th May, the opening ceremony of the photo exhibition The Romanovs: the Tsar’s Ministry was held in the Serbian Embassy in Moscow.

The exhibition dedicated to the family of the last Russian emperor, a joint project with the Moscow Sretensky Monastery, was attended by a large number of guests, including prominent figures of Serbian and Russian culture, politicians, historians, representatives of the Serbian diaspora, and students from both countries who are dedicated to preserving the memory of the Saint Sovereign Nicholas II and his family. 

“I am very happy that today, we all gathered in this Serbian house to once again honour the memory of the great Russian monarch Nicholas II, whose rule was the culmination of centuries-old relations between our two countries, one which flourished during the rule of the Romanov dynasty,” said Serbian Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic during his welcoming speech. “And today the Serbs remember the most important role of Nicholas II in the fate of their country, when during the First World War the Russian emperor came to the aid of Serbia, mobilizing Russia’s army to defend our country against Austria-Hungary.”

The Serbian ambassador reminded the audience that for many years that a street had been named after Nicholas II in the center of Belgrade, and several years ago a monument to the Russian emperor had been erected in front of the presidential palace in the Serbian capital. “I consider Nicholas II a great reformer and a patriot of his homeland. The challenges of the revolution were very tough, to which it was necessary to react harshly, but since the Russian emperor was a deeply religious man, he sacrificed himself and his family in order to save the Russian empire. Eternal memory to Nicholas II and eternal gratitude to him from Serbia and the Serbian people,” concluded Slavenko Terzic.

The organizer of the exhibition Hieromonk Ignatius (Shestakov), a priest of the Moscow Sretensky Monastery, also spoke about the history of the Romanovs: “When we decided to hold the first exhibitions in Serbia – we did not expect such interest and devotion for Nicholas II and his family from the Serbian people. Many negative myths still surround the reign of the emperor, however, the Serbs share a more positive assessment of Nicholas II.”

“We understood that it was necessary to develop this exhibition and present it to cities across Serbia. The photo-exhibit has been held in schools, churches, city museums, and galleries.”

“After the 1917 Revolution, it was Serbia – then it was called the Kingdom of Yugoslavia – where thousands of White Russian emigrants were warmly received – and the veneration of Nicholas II as a saint was born. It was in Belgrade that the first museum of personal belongings of the Russian emperor appeared, which was opened in the Russian House of Culture in the center of the Serbian capital in the 1930s. It was in Serbia, long before the emperor was glorified in the face of saints, his first images appeared in churches, and Belgrade is the only capital in the world where a street bears his name, something not found in either St. Petersburg or Moscow, ”the priest said.

The organizer of the exhibition emphasized that the main objective of the exhibition is that “visitors will have an opportunity to review photos of the Imperial family with accompanying texts – which reflect the love, kindness and beauty of this family, their Christian virtues, service to the Fatherland, and deeds of charity. ” 

The exhibition The Romanovs: the Tsar’s Ministry presents photographs from the personal archives of the Tsar’s family and their entourage, state archives and private collections. The exhibition reflects the daily life of the Imperial family, and service to the Fatherland. Particular attention is given to photographs from the period of the First World War, when the empress and her daughters worked as sisters of mercy in hospitals, rendering assistance to wounded soldiers and officers.

Launched in 2016, the exhibition was timed to the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Tsar’s family in 2018. The travelling photo-exhibit has been held in more than 100 cities and towns of Serbia, as well as Montenegro, the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The exhibition has also visited Switzerland, Argentina, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, and Russia. 

The photo exhibition The Romanovs: the Tsar’s Ministry is being held at the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Moscow until July 2019.

© Paul Gilbert. 13 May 2019

Multimedia Exhibition Dedicated to Nicholas II Opens in Novosibirsk

The inauguration of the multimedia exhibition Living Pictures: Nicholas II of Novo-Nikolaevsk to Novosibirsk, was held today – 16th April – in the Officers’ Club in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

Novo-Nikolaevsk was the only city in Imperial Russia, Soviet Russia, and the Soviet Union that for nearly 30 years bore the name of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, before it was renamed Novosibirsk in 1926.

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Uniforms of Nicholas II on display in Novosibirsk

Earlier this week, the multimedia exhibition was previewed in a unique marketing campaign on the streets of Novosibirsk – see video above.

The first part of the exhibit focuses on the fate of the Imperial Family, while the second part focuses on the historic connection that the Romanov dynasty and Tsar Nicholas II has with pre-Revolutionary Novo-Nikolaevsk and modern-day Novosibirsk.

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Poster for the multimedia exhibition in Novosibirsk

The exhibition was organized by the Double-Headed Eagle Society, and runs from 17th April to 20th May 2019, in the Officers’ Club, Novosibirsk. Admission is Free.

The exhibit is timely, as it coincides with the first English translation of Novo-Nikolayevsk: Born of the People’s Ambition and the Tsar’s Beneficence, an article about Emperor Nicholas II and the City of Novosibirsk: Parallels Between Past and Present by the Russian historian E. Tsybizov, to be published in the Sovereign No. 10 Spring 2019 issue, available in May 2019.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 April 2019