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.
Thursday, 11 January 2018
Prince Valdemar of Denmark supporting his sister Empress Marie
Fulfilling a promise to his
daughter Empress Marie, King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark visited
Saint Petersburg in the late autumn of 1881. He worried about ‘the need to match the imperial extravagance’
writing that he ‘wished to live as close
as possible to her but not in the palace’. The king, unable to justify
another trip within six months, did not attend Alexander III’s coronation and
sent his son Valdemar.
Georges Becker’s painting (below) of The Coronation of Alexander III and Empress Marie Feodorovna
Empress Marie’s letters to her
mother reveal private details surrounding the coronation ceremony on May 15th
1883. The evening of May 14th ‘all
the family was in the church for a long time. After the service, Valdemar [her brother] and
I had dinner and were together until about 11:30 pm. Then we had confession
with Father Yanishev. After that we went to bed. Fortunately I was able to fall
asleep but poor Sasha [Alexander III] had not slept all night. We rose at 7:00
am, awakened by cannon shots that ushered in the beginning of the celebrations’.
‘At 9:00 with beating hearts and tears in our eyes we left our chambers.
I wore the silver coronation dress with a long train, nothing on the head and a
small pearl necklace to not feel naked. We entered the ancient Assumption
Cathedral and stopped in the center on the dais before the two thrones. Valdemar
stood next to me. Sasha was presented with a crown. He solemnly laid it on his
head. Valdemar laid a large velvet pillow at his feet on which I had to kneel.
Sasha solemnly put a little crown on my head’.
Engraving of Georges Becker’s Painting (below)
of The Anointing of Emperor Alexander III
Nicholas II hung the two
paintings above of his father’s coronation in his Reception Room (176) on the 2nd
floor of the northwest section of the Winter Palace (below). The Anointing
of Emperor Alexander III is on the right.
Photograph (below) of the
Reception Room in November 1917