The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg has been waiting to share its intimate details in English.
It is a story of a palace of immense size and of an Imperial family of immense wealth. It is a story of the daily public and intimate life in the palace that was loved and disdained and withstood decades of changes.
Princess Louise of Baden was born on January 13th
1779 (OS) in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg. At the time of her marriage in 1793 to the future Emperor
Alexander I, she adopted the name Elizabeth Alexeievna on her conversion to
Photograph c1895 (below) of Karlsruhe Palace,
Aerial view (below) of Karlsruhe and photograph of the
With the marriages of their children from the 1860s,
Queen Victoria has been called the grandmother of Europe and King Christian IX
of Denmark the father-in-law. Many are unaware that from the 1700s the princesses from the
small Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt were the ancestresses of the royal families.
A fascinating glimpse into the Russian and
Hesse-Darmstadt relationship is through Empress Elizabeth’s mother Amalie of
Hesse-Darmstadt. Amalie was the sister of Wilhelmina, the first wife of the future
Emperor Paul. Her youngest daughter Wilhelmina, wife of Grand Duke Ludwig II of
Hesse-Darmstadt, was the mother of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the wife of
From 1792 on her arrival in Saint Petersburg until her
death in 1826, Empress Elizabeth wrote over three thousand letters to her
mother. Many are unpublished, scattered across archives and libraries. In the
reconstructed Karlsruhe Palace, the Badisches Landesmuseum exhibits the toilet
set made by the Strasbourg jeweler Johan Harnish for Elizabeth. This service
was a wedding present from her parents.
After the death of Elizabeth’s father Karl-Ludwig of
Baden on December 16th 1801, her mother Amelie moved to
Schloss Bruchsal located between Baden and Karlsruhe. Visiting Baden in 1814-1815 and 1818-1819
Elizabeth stayed at Bruchsal. Charles Edward Dodd had written in 1818 that the ladies
of Amalie’s court complained bitterly of its magnificent dreariness. I am now interested to learn more, another research project!
Photograph c1871 (below) of Schloss Bruchsal
Aerial view (below) of Schloss Bruchsal and
photographs of the Schloss today
you enter the Winter Palace doors from the Neva River and Large Inner Courtyard
on the 1st floor, there is a long corridor [Jordan Gallery] with two
rows of white columns to the Jordan Staircase.
(below) of the Jordan Staircase in the Winter Palace
Ukhtomsky’s c1850 watercolor (below) of the Entrance to the Jordan Gallery
II, Empress Alexandra and their children moved to the Winter Palace on Tuesday
February 19th 1913 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of
the House of Romanov. The following Saturday while the Dowager Empress Maria
Feodorovna attended the baise-main [kissing of hands with the ladies], Nicholas
‘received the district elders in the
lower corridor where a dinner had been organized for them’.
(below) of the dinner held in the Jordan Gallery on February 23rd
1913 and today looking from the stairs to the corridor
Panorama link (below) of the Gallery leading to the Jordan Staircase [note the
doors on either side of the staircase that led to the 1st floor
storerooms under the Court Ministery offices]
sister and I have climbed the Jordan, Saltykov, Small Church, Own Majesties and Commandant Staircases many times during our visits to
A lady-in-waiting wrote that there were 90 stairs from the 1st floor
to her apartment on the 3rd floor of the Winter Palace. We dare not
count how many stairs we have climbed over the years!
historic private rooms of King Christian IX and Queen Louise have been
recreated in Amalienborg’s Christian VIII’s Palace Museum [upper right in
the aerial view below].
(below) of Queen Louise’s Drawing Room
(below) of King Christian’s Study
View (below) of Amalienborg Palace
Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark live in Amalienborg’s
Frederick VIII’s Palace [lower right in the aerial view]. A book on its
restoration was published eight years ago with many photographs. It is
difficult to compare the design styles with its cluttered Victoriana of the
past and today. The elegant simplicity and color scheme is beautiful in the photo
(below) of the royal couple in their drawing room.
King Christian IX ascended the throne of Denmark in 1863, the family moved from
the Yellow Palace to the Amalienborg, a complex of four mansions encircling the
square. The king was given the former Schack’s Mansion, now known as Christian
photograph (below) of Amalienborg Palace with Christian IX's Palace in the upper right
with their families visited yearly. On Thursday July 14th 1894
Nicholas II arrived from England where he had been visiting his fiancé Alexandra.
‘I rode to Amalienborg where I saw Amama [his grandmother]. I was put in the
rooms at the very top’. The following Saturday a dinner for the King of Sweden
was held in Christian VII’s palace.
Plans (below) of Amalienborg Palace
the death of Queen Louise in 1898 and King Christian in 1906, their palace
remained uninhabited. The following series of interior photographs were taken in
1866 and 1908:
Drawing Room 1908
Chrisitian IX’s Study 1908
Louise’s Salon 1866
Louise’s Salon 1908
Louise’s Dressing Room 1908
An inventory of
Christian IX’s Palace was completed in 1948. The palace became the home of the current
Queen Margarethe at the time of her marriage in 1967
architect Alexander Krasovsky designed the White Dining Room  on the 2nd
floor of the Winter Palace for Nicholas II and Alexandra in 1895. A floorplan
is located here: [https://winterpalaceresearch.blogspot.ca/2016/10/plan-list-of-2nd-floor-of-winter-palace.html]
(below) of the White Dining Room
the New Year’s Mass and receptions on the morning of January 1st
1896, Nicholas wrote that ‘our dining room was used for a family lunch for the
Panorama link (below) of the White Dining Room [note the small doors on either
side of the fireplace that led to the pantry [188A] and servants’ staircase]
1861 panorama photograph (below) is the west side of the Winter Palace facing
2nd floor awnings [on the right] were the rooms of Empress Marie
Alexandrovna, the wife of Alexander II. The middle doorway is the Saltykov Entrance.
To the right of the entrance on the 1st floor with awnings were the
rooms of her daughter Grand Duchess Marie who later married the Duke of
Edinburgh. Below the rooms of the empress were the nurseries of her youngest
sons Sergei and Paul on the 1st floor that also have awnings.
monarchical circles King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark were known as
‘the father-in-law and mother-in-law of
Europe’. Before inheriting the throne in 1863 and moving to the Amalienborg
Palace, the family lived in the Yellow Palace on Ameliegade 18 in Copenhagen.
(below) of the Yellow Palace c1800s and today
of their six children would become two kings, a queen and an empress. Frederick
VIII (1843-1912) who inherited the Danish throne in 1906 married Princess
Louise of Sweden. Alexandra (1844-1925) was the wife of Edward VII of England.
Wilhelm (1845-1913) on his acceptance of the Greek throne in 1863 became King
George I of the Hellenes and was married to Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovich.
Dagmar (1846-1928) converting to Orthodoxy at her marriage to the future
Emperor Alexander III adopted the name Maria Feodorovna. The two youngest
children were Thyra (1853-1933) married to the Duke of Cumberland and Valdemar
(1859-1939) to Princess Marie d’ Orléans-Bourbon.
c1861 (below) of the salon, dining room and study in the Yellow Palace
was called ‘Beautiful’ by her father, Dagmar ‘Clever’ and Thyra ‘Kind’. Without
luxury and excessive wealth, their family life was remembered as idyllic; the
children returning with their own families in later years.
(below) of Christian IX with Dagmar, Wilhelm and Alexandra
Valdemar and his wife Marie lived in the Yellow Palace after their marriage in
1885. During their visit to Denmark, Nicholas II and Alexandra went into
Copenhagen for the day on Friday August 27th 1899. ‘We had lunch at Uncle Valdemar’s and Marie’s
in their home’.
(below) of the Valdemar and Marie’s rooms in the Yellow Palace c1897
1919 after the revolution, Empress Maria Feodorovna lived in the Amalienborg
Palace during the winter and Hvidore in the summer. On Tuesday December 2nd
she ‘went by for a little while to the
Yellow Palace to Louise’s who is settled in Uncle Hans’ old apartment.
Recollections of it flowed over me how in former times I used to visit him
there every day. I so miss that … At 7:30 I had dinner at Valdemar’s in the
(below) of the Dowager Queen Louise’s rooms in the Yellow Palace
Yellow Palace was shared by family members. Prince Valdemar was the last royal
to live here until his death in 1939. Today it is used as offices for the
current Queen Margarethe’s royal court. A shame the historical palace is hidden
in the shadows.
(below) of the Yellow Palace in 1931 and Prince Valdemar on the balcony in 1937