Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna sitting to next to Princess Irina Youssoupoff, whose in a nursing uniform. 

Photos being auctioned by Coutau-Begarie on the 31st of March. Personally, I had never seen a photo of Princess Irina in a nursing uniform previously so this is unique photograph, IMO. 


At the Russian Court (2/?)  R U S S I A N    I M P E R I A L    W E D D I N G 

It had been a tradition since the 19th century that every brides of the Russian Imperial family would wear the same jewels on their wedding day.

The imperial nuptial jewels consisted of the imperial nuptial crown, created in 1840 by the jewellers Nickol and Plincke, using diamonds set in the great girdle of the time of Catherine the Great. The diamond tiara of the Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna with at his center the Paul I pink diamond. The collier d’esclave, a total weight of 475 old carats, some of the diamonds have a blue or pink tint, producing an enchanting effect. Diamond earrings in the form of cherries that belonged to Catherine the Great. These earrings were so heavy that they had to be supported with wires looped around the top of the ears, as the day wore on, the wire cut into the flesh, causing Alexandra much pain. Her niece Maria recalled on her wedding day :My earrings hurt me so that in the middle of the banquet I took them off and hung them, to the great amusement of the Emperor [Nicholas II], on the edge of the glass of water before me.“  

 And the great clasp of Catherine the Great’s imperial mantle.They also wore a mantle of crimson velvet. Except for the wedding of Alexandra, as a concession to her rank as bride of the emperor, her imperial mantle was of cloth-of-gold, lined and edged with ermine. These robes were so heavy that eight pages - four on each side - and the chamberlain, carrying the hem, had to help carry them; without their assistance, Alexandra could scarely move.
Their hair were swept back and coiled into a bun at the back of their heads, by tradition two ringlets hung down on either side of their faces. 

“These were, first, the diadem of the Empress Catherine, with a pink diamond of extraordinary beauty in the centre and the small crimson velvet crown all covered with diamonds.  Then came the diamond necklace of large stones, the bracelets, and the earrings in the shape of cherries, so heavy that they had to be attached to gold hoops and ringed over the ears. […] Finally, they laid upon my shoulders the crimson mantle of velvet, with cape and edges of ermine, fastened by an immense [diamond] buckle.  Someone helped me to rise.  I was ready.”  Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna

A witness on the wedding of Alexandra recalled : "How beautiful she is! That expression followed her all along her path, and it is true that her appearance was positively magnificent as she stood there in her bridal array of silver cloth… Her unusual height helped her to bear the weight of her dress and set off its splendor in its best light.”  This imposing yet formidable ensemble dazzled everyone and was a formidable mirror of the pomp and splendour of the Russian court.

Sources : The Jewels of the Romanovs : Family and Court by Stefano Papi || The Court of the last Tsar by Greg King.


In 1902, Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich, Nicholas’ uncle, married Olga Pistolkors, a commoner and divorceé and essentially abandoned his children Marie Pavlovna and Dmitri Pavlovich in Russia. They became wards of the Emperor and he appointed his Uncle Sergei as their guardian. During Sergei’s lifetime, his wife, Ella Feodorovna wanted nothing to do with the children and saw as little of them as possible. Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna recalled in her memoirs that her aunt was often cold and sometimes said hurtful things to her.

“I exclaimed: ‘Oh! Auntie, you look like the picture of a little page in a fairy story.’

She turned to my nurse without smiling and spoke in a dry, sharp tone: 'Fry, you really must teach her not to make personal remarks.’

She swept away.”

After Sergei’s death in 1905, the children stayed with Ella so that they would not have to endure further upheaval. Ella gained a reputation as a saintly, gentle woman but I’m really not quite sure what to think of her. It makes me wonder whether the rift between her and Alexandra was not only about Rasputin but about other things as well. I feel sure that if Nicholas and Alexandra had known that Marie and Dmitri were not being treated well they would have put a stop to it immediately. Perhaps her attitude toward the children changed after her husband’s death. She did give her famous emeralds (which she is wearing on the left) to her niece Marie Pavlovna when she became a nun (Marie Pavlovna is on the right wearing the jewels in 1914). She also did a great deal for charity as a nun and died a martyr’s death in 1918.

I will have to do some more research on Ella and come up with some more concrete conclusions…but for the time being, enjoy!

Source: A Lifelong Passion by Andrei Maylunas and Sergei Mironenko