Author Topic: Life in the Alexander Palace  (Read 16109 times)

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RobMoshein

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Life in the Alexander Palace
« on: January 23, 2004, 01:09:18 PM »
Use this thread to discuss questions about daily life in the Palace.

Offline Moiraine

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2004, 04:54:21 PM »
This is one area I am very curious about... but not in a mundane, chart reading, way...more-so the perceptions of what the Family thought about, and dealt with, routine life, in Tsarkoe Selo, in particular.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2004, 11:50:53 PM »
From what I gather in the various books [far too many to mention, but they all seem to say the same thing], life was pretty boring at least for the children. Classes, some walks in the gardens.  A very formal Victorian relatioship with their parents- at least with their mother. The Emperor was,of course head of the gouvernment as well as State, so he had duties, but historical perspective  seems to indicate he was fairly dis-insterested in the workings & functions.
The Empress, of course, has been variously descibed as an aloof bitch, over protective mother [Alexei] religous fantatic and everything in bewteen. Greg King & Penny Wilson give what I consider a fair description of the relationships in THE FATE OF THE ROMANVS. Naturally, there will be other opinions about this.
They were not overly educated & were quite prejudiced in their outlook towards others.
Ceremonies, while giving the children a diversion, were looked on as tiresome by the Empress, & duty by the Emperor, with little thought to meaning behind them.
Family meals were boring & predictable, unless guests were present.
Considering the era, family activities were pasting photos in albums, reading aloud  to each other, card games and [not sure about this-] jigsaw puzzels.
We must remember there was no radio or tv entertainment. Live entertainment "at home" might be recitals of the latest popular music from London or France. This seems to have been fairly rare though, and only at a tea. The Imperial couple did not entertain  at night, from all that I have read. It seems they were practically forced to go to other's balls, dinners, whatever and the Empress often did not go. The Emperor usually had  his 2 eldest daughters with him on such occaisions.
In all, a very isolated, insular life, which left them unprepared for what was to come.
I do not pretend to be an expert on all this, but I am culling from reading almost 400 books on the last Imperial Family. I welcome any further comments, indeed, contradictions.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2004, 11:28:04 AM »
Robert,
While alot of what you said is correct, it isn't necessarily "accurate" in your interpretations. Many people reading history forget to put what they read back into the context of the time.  Remember that Victorian women were usually educated only in  learning domestic and household activities. Queen Victoria advocated Anglo-German standards, and she raised and influenced all of her children and grandchildren in that same way: "Kitchen, Children and Church" were the most important education.  Given the limitation of those standards, the Imperial children were well educated, learning four languages simultaneously, art, music, literature and dance, not to mention Romanov family history, Russian history and world history.  Olga was an accomplished pianist who was said by some who had met her that she could play any song she heard once perfectly. Don't forget that each Grand Duchess would lead her own military Regiment, and Olga and Tatiana loved to learn the history and exploits and traditions of their Regiments.

To be fair, they could all be, to some extent, lazy students however. Remember that virtually from birth, each had a staff and appointment calendar and fully scheduled day. From getting up until going to bed they were watched, guarded, tended and supervised. There was no time in the day for unsupervised and unstructured play and interaction together so in the classroom they tended to be unruly. Outside the classroom, they would rather try to play or do nothing, instead study when they had the time.

To say that  "In all, a very isolated, insular life, which left them unprepared for what was to come" misses an important point: They were under constant threat of harm daily by the Revolutionary terrorists. We must remember the incredible stress that had to have created.  They knew about Uncle Serge being blown to bits as well as their Great Grandfather. They were all in the theater when Stolypin was murdered, and it was Tatiana who saw the shooting and slammed the door to the box to protect her father. Their travel schedule was often erraticly changed without notice by the Secret Police learning of threats and assassination attempts, and the children all knew full well of what was going on.  They were watched 24/7 by police guards when outside Palace walls.

The Family travelled extensively together, Finland, Livadia, England, Denmark, Moscow, and all over Russia and elsewhere.  The Children were attending many events and meeting many people.  However, they sometimes appeared to act immature and childish in public, which lead some people to assume they were less intelligent than they were.

Alexandra expected the girls to always stay busy with something productive, like sewing, needlwork, painting or reading.  In the evenings when together as a family they did play games, they loved the board games of the period, a game called "Lotto", played music and yes had jigsaw puzzles.  They loved photography and had cameras and albums full of their photos.  They had records and a gramophone, and watched the latest silent movies from Europe and the US.  They read books, magazines and newspapers from all over Europe and the US, and even had a subscription to National Geographic Magazine.

Nicholas took many of the official ceremonies quite seriously, but don't forget that any public official forced to attend some ceremony almost daily will not always be at full attention all the time.  As for Alexandra, she found many such events tiresome because she was often sick and they literally tired her out too much or she was staying behind to care for a sick child or two. Also, she had five pregnancies all with long and difficult recoveries, and so was out of public sight for long times and she insisted on nursing each child herself.  She was long faulted for not being social and public like Marie Feodrovna, but to her, her husband and family came before everything else, and she strove to create a warm, stable and secure environment for them to combat the stresses and strains of their life.

Offline Almedingen

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2004, 07:27:18 PM »
Here are some rare photographs which I believe were taken in the Alexander Palace:

Tsarina Alexandra dark dressed

http://www.etnshops.com/romanovphotoarchive/listings/50.html

Alexandra with her daughters and others in her boudoir

http://www.etnshops.com/romanovphotoarchive/listings/79.html

Tsarina Alexander in her boudoir

http://www.etnshops.com/romanovphotoarchive/listings/91.html

Alexandra in her Boudoir dressed in white

http://www.etnshops.com/romanovphotoarchive/listings/101.html

Alexandra in her boudoir

http://www.etnshops.com/romanovphotoarchive/listings/120.html


Offline pers

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2004, 04:33:52 AM »
Photo 107 was taken in the Maple Drawingroom.  The door behind her in the distance gives access to the corridor.
The next photo where she stands directly in front of the door in furs, is taken in the Mauve Boudoir.  The door behind her gives access to the Pallisander Room.
I'm not sure of the photo taken on the couch.

Offline Lanie

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2004, 01:53:31 PM »
All of those "postcards" were actually taken from Yale University's Beinecke Library Romanov Photo Albums -- http://highway49.library.yale.edu/romanov/default.htm.  Many pictures of the rooms!

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2004, 10:07:36 AM »
129 is of Alexandra sitting on a sofa in the Maple Room.  Behind her and the plants is a big cabinet with curtained glass doors.  The way out to the outside balcony is behind the Empress to the right.  The sculpture of the woman to the left of the Empress is "Ondine" by M. Antokolsky, it survives and was at Pavlovsk the last time I was there.

Bob

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2004, 10:13:01 AM »
118 shows the Empress standing next to a big planter of flowers that stood behind her mauve couch and a screen there.  You can just see the ivy-latice design of the carpet.  This was a good place to take pictures because there were two huge windows on the left.  One had an arched top frame.  There were only thin silk blinds here so the Mauve Room was flooded with light.  That's one reason so many pictures were taken here - it was a bright space.

Bob

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2004, 10:23:43 AM »
107 shows Alexandra standing at the planter behind the couch in the earlier picture in the Maple Room.  You can see the flowers and plants are almost six feet high!  They were brought in from the palace greenhouses that were nearby (built by Quarenghi).  These greenhouses were able to supply most of the needs of the palace.  Fruits, such as strawberries and pineapples were grown there as well.  In the basement was a room for the flower arranger.

People sent Alexandra flowers all the time and it was a present she enjoyed.  They arrived with beautiful ribbons with hand-painted messages on them.  The Empress collected these ribbons and kept them tied to her bedroom door.

Straight ahead of the Empress is the door to the outside balcony.  The floor was covered with a grey carpet, the walls were pale green with white plaster-carved cabbage roses.

The Empress is wearing her famous pearl and diamond earrings.  She wore these in the daytime.  They were part of the pearl set given her by Alexander III.  They were found in Yekaterinburg, one pearl was burned.  Obviously they were concealed in one of the family's clothing at the time of the murder.

Offline NickNicholson

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2004, 12:55:39 PM »
Hi Bob!

It is entirely possible that the empress was wearing these pearls when she was assassiated.  She seems to have wprn them every day, and I see no reason why she wouldn't have continued to do so, even in captivity.

Don't you think?

Nick

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2004, 03:19:55 PM »
Nick:

In the Ipatiev House all of their jewelry (that they wore) was removed and put in a sealed box.  The only thing left on Alexandra was the gold hoop bracelet given to her by her Uncle Leopold when she was a young woman.  This bracelet would not come off.

Nicholas's sapphire ring (his wedding ring) could also not be removed.  Splinters of the sapphire were found at the mine.  I has always thought the finger found at the mine was Nicholas's (not Alexandra's as supposed by Sokolov) since they must have cut it off to try and get at the ring.  Unfortunately for the Bolshevik butchers they smashed the ring and its stone in the process...

Getting back to the pearl earrings - they must have been sewn into something.  Since one was burned they might have been in the clothes that were torn up and burned - rather than in the corsets - since they seemed to get all of the gems in there.  Who can know for sure.

Bob

Offline pers

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2004, 05:03:05 PM »
Bob, you say above that the walls of the Maple room were covered in green.  On the website under the Maple room you say it was dusty pink.  I suspect you meant pink...?

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Life in the Alexander Palace
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2004, 10:21:29 AM »
The walls, cornice and ceiling were pink and green.  It was a nice, subtle combination.