emperor alexander ii

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Wedding of Prince Alfred of the united Kingdom to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia painted by Nicholas Chevalier, 1874. Also seen in the painting are the parents of the bride Emperor Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna, as well as Tsesarevna Maria Fyodorovna, the groom´s brother Prince of Wales and many other related royals. Since the bride was an Orthodox and the groom an Anglican, there were two marriage ceremonies performed on the same day.

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Replica Colt Model 1851 Dragoon single action revolver presented to the Russian Czar and Ottoman Emperor.

In the 1854 Samuel Colt center picture) ordered the production of two heavily decorated Colt Model 1851 Dragoon single action revolvers, which were decorated by master engraver Alvin A. White.  Each revolver featured a portrait of George Washington on the cylinder and the Marquis de Lafeyette on the frame.  Each were heavily decorated with gold inlays and intricate scroll work engraving.  One was presented to Sultan Abdulmecid I, Emperor of the Ottoman Empire (left picture) and Czar Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.  Both leaders were adversaries during the Crimean War, and the purpose of the gifts were to celebrate the end of the war.

The revolver gifted to Abdulmecid II is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Royal Birthdays for today, July 17th:

Ismail I, Shah of Iran, 1487

Xianfeng Emperor, Emperor of China, 1831

Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, 1945

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, 1947

Letsie III, King of Lesotho, 1963

Felipe de Marichalar y Borbón, Grandee of Spain, 1998

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The Signs as Queens : Leo - Maria Alexandrovna

Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse and by Rhine) was born in August 1824 and became Empress of Russia as the first wife of Emperor Alexander II. She gave birth to eight children and was also awarded the honor of Dame of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa in Spain. Maria Alexandrovna passed away in June 1880.

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Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich of Russia (7 June 1869 - 2 May 1870) was the infant son of Emperor Alexander III – the heir apparent, styled Tsesarevich, to the Russian throne as the eldest living son of Emperor Alexander II – and his consort, Marie Feodorovna of Russia. He was Alexander and Marie’s second child, second son, and the younger brother of the future Emperor Nicholas II.

Alexander tragically died of meningitis in 1870, one month before his first birthday. “The doctors maintain he did not suffer, but we suffered terribly to see and hear him,” the baby’s grieving mother wrote to her own mother, Queen Louise of Denmark.

His parents had him posthumously photographed and sketched to remember him, therefore it is likely that the photograph above, of Grand Duke Alexander in his coffin surrounded by flowers, is the only existing photograph. It appears that little Alexander had a great facial resemblance to his youngest brother, Michael, as a toddler.

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              // Queen Victoria & Emperor Alexander II //

It’s on his tour of Europe in 1839 that the young heir to the Russian throne met Queen Victoria. Beforehead he stopped at Darmastadt where he fall for the young Princess Marie of Hesse.  That night he wrote to his father,“I liked her terribly at first sight. If you permit it, dear father, I will come back to Darmstadt after England.”

It turned out that leaving England would be difficult. It was the fault of Queen Victoria. She was twenty years old and she, too, had gorgeous blue eyes. Soon Victoria wrote in her diary, “I like the Grand Duke extremely; he is so natural and gay and so easy to get on with.” The next day Victoria and the Russian heir were at the Royal theater in separate boxes. In the intermission Alexander entered the queen’s box and spent close to half hour alone with her behind the velvet curtains. Dispatches flew to St. Petersburg:“The queen is clearly enjoying the society of His Imperial Majesty. Everyone is saying they are an ideal couple. Were the Grand Duke to make a proposal to the queen, it would be accepted without hesitation.”

Victoria described the history of their brief romance in her diary Monday, 27th May 1839. Windsor. At ¼ to 8 we dined in St. George’s Hall, which looked beautiful. The Grand Duke led me in and I sat between him and Prince Henry of Holland. I really am quite in love with the Grand Duke; he is a dear, delightful young man… I danced Ist a quadrille with the Grand Duke, then followed a Valse, during which time I sat down, then another quadrille… This was followed again by a Valse (of course I and also the Grand Duke sitting down during the Valse)… After super at 12 they danced a Mazurka… The Grand Duke asked me to take a turn; the Grand Duke is so very strong, that in running round, you must follow quickly and after that you are whisked round like in a Valse, which is very pleasant… This concludes our little ball at near 2 o'clock. I never enjoyed myself more. We were all so merry; I got to be by a ¼ to 3, but could not sleep till 5.“ 

But it was vain. His father’s letter was delivered to him. His father’s orders were “Back to Darmstadt!” Russia needed an heir to the throne, not a pathetic husband of the English queen. “Don’t be a milksop!” The sight of the grand duke made everything clear to Victoria. After the last dance on May 28, “which was over at 20m to 3, I went to the little blue room next to my Dressing-room, where Lord Palmerston brought in the Grand-Duke to take leave. The Grand Duke took my hand and pressed it warmly; he looked pale and his voice faltered, as he said, “Les paroles me manquent pour exprimer tour ce que je sens” [I lack the words to express what I feel]; and he mentioned how deeply grateful he felt for all the kindness he met with, that he hoped to return again… He then pressed and kissed my hand, and I kissed his cheek; upon which he kissed mine (cheek) in a very warm affectionate manner, and we again warmly shook hands. I really felt more ad if I was taking leave of relation than of a stranger, I felt so sad to take leave of this dear amiable young man, whom I really think (talking jokingly) I was little in love with, and certainly attached to; he is so frank, so really young and merry, has such a nice open countenance with a sweet smile, and such a manly fine figure and appearance.“  

As a farewell gift, Alexander gave the queen his favorite dog, Kazbek. She kept it with her until it died. {Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky,Antonina Bouis}

Following the Crimean War Queen Victoria would bore anti-Russian sentiments. Nevertheless in 1874 her second son Prince Alfred married the daughter of Alexander II, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. Few years later her granddaughter Princess Elizabeth married Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich, followed by Princess Alix, who married Nicholas II. Queen Victoria and Emperor Alexander II became the great grandparents of the last children of the Imperial Family : Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia; canonized as Holy Martyr Yelizaveta Fyodorovna; 1 November 1864 – 18 July 1918) was a German princess of the House of Hesse-Darmstadt, and the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, fifth son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Princess Marie of Hesse and the Rhine. 

She was also a maternal great-aunt of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort of Elizabeth II. Granddaughter of Queen Victoria and an older sister of Alexandra, the last Russian Empress, Elisabeth became famous in Russian society for her beauty and charitable works among the poor. 

After the Socialist Revolutionary Party’s Combat Organization murdered her husband with a dynamite bomb in 1905, Elisabeth publicly forgave Sergei’s murderer, Ivan Kalyayev, and campaigned without success for him to be pardoned. She then departed the Imperial Court and became a nun, founding the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent dedicated to helping the downtrodden of Moscow. In 1918 she was arrested and ultimately executed by the Bolsheviks. In 1981 Elisabeth was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate.

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1. The Sacking of the Winter Palace at Petrograd: The Room of the Grand Duchess Tatiana

2. Showing a Shell-Hole in the Wall: The Empress-Dowager’s Work-Room in the Winter Palace at Petrograd

3. Occupied by Kerensky, Whose Bed Was behind the Screen: The Study of the Ex-Emperor Nicholas Pillaged

4. After the Bolsheviks Had Ransacked It: Chaos in the Room Formerly Used as a Study by the Emperor Alexander II

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“A big squeeze to your hand and face. Thinking of you. Love you always, everywhere - Anastasia to her father, Tsar Nicholas II.

Love and affection was rampant in the Romanov family, especially the families of the last two Russian Emperors. Alexander III and Nicholas II were both family men and would prefer to be with their families instead of living in pomp and ceremony their jobs demanded. Unlike their predecessors, they were both very faithful to their wives as they never had any mistresses.

Their many letters serve as evidence for their deep affection for each other. In fact, Nicholas II did not abdicate in favor for his son because he could not bear leaving the burden of a revolting country on his young and sickly son’s shoulders nor could he let his son to be taken away from his family.

When the little Grand Duchess Olga was born, Tsar Nicholas II is reported to have said: “I am glad the child is a girl; had it been a boy he would have belonged to the people; being a girl, she belongs to us."  Despite the harbored hatred many Russians felt towards the family for their politics, the Romanovs had a deep affection for their country. After meeting a potential Romanian royal suitor for marriage (of whom she intensely disliked), the same Olga has said, “I am a Russian and I shall remain a Russian!” Love for family (and Russia) was a dominant trait. Sometimes even their worst enemies could not deny them this.

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Nicholas II in Kiev for the opening of the monument to Alexander II

On 30 August 1911, the feast day of St Alexander Nevsky, Emperor Nicholas II took part in the opening of the memorial to his grandfather, Alexander II, in Kiev. Of note in attendance were also Prime Minister Stolypin, Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod Vladimir Sabler, Chief of Gendarmes Pavel Kurilov, Minister of Education Lev Kasso, and Prince Boris of Bulgaria (the future Tsar Boris III). After the Russian Revolution, the monument was eventually destroyed between 1919-1920.

  1. Emperor Nicholas II greets Prince Boris at the monument to Alexander II
  2. Emperor Nicholas II, Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev and Galicia, and members of the Imperial Family: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarevich Alexis, Grand Duchess Tatiana (right), and Grand Duchess Olga (left)
  3. Clergy, Emperor Nicholas II and his daughters Grand Duchess Olga (left) and Grand Duchess Tatiana (right), Imperial Household Minister Count Woldemar Freedericksz, and Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich
  4. Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the grand duchesses, clergy from the Kiev Monastery of the Caves at the grave of Iskra and Kochubey
  5. Participants in the ceremonies for the opening of the monument before the beginning of the parade
  6. Mayor Dyakov of Kiev greets Emperor Nicholas II with the traditional bread and salt
  7. Moleben at the monument to Alexander II
  8. Emperor Nicholas II and members of the City Duma at the monument to Alexander II
  9. Clergy and Emperor Nicholas II at the monument to Alexander II