Thursday, 19 April 2018

A Lunch in the Alexander Palace, Tsarskoe Selo

The adjutant Vladimir Dzhunkovsky’s memoir reveals details missing from Nicholas laconic diary entry on Monday November 13th 1906 in the Alexander Palace. ‘Dzhunkovsky (on-duty) for lunch. The two of us took a walk. Received Taneyev at 6 pm’.

Photograph (below) of the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo
Aerial (below) of the Alexander Palace and its park with the Chinese Village to the north
Dzhunkovsky arrived ‘in Saint Petersburg on November 10th for service duty with the emperor on the 13th. His Majesty showed me much attention and after the reception invited me to dine. Lunch was exclusively in a family setting: their majesties, daughters and I. The heir was still small and had lunch alone. At the end of lunch he was brought to the dining room and the empress put him beside her’.

Photographs (below) of the Palisander Room where lunch was often held in the Alexander Palace

During lunch Nicholas and his adjutant discussed the various imperial awards [i.e.naming of state councellors] to ministers, court officials and officers that were to be presented on December 6th the name-day. State councellor Alexander Taneyev, the father of Anna Vyrubova, refused Dzhunkovsky’s request for a member of the Moscow nobility to be awarded a state councellor as he would be bypassing the time frame of rising up the ranks to that position. The emperor listened but did not say anything. After lunch Dzhunkovsky was invited to drink coffee with them in Alexandra’s Mauve Boudoir.

Photograph (below) of the Mauve Boudoir
As Dzhunkovsky was leaving, the emperor told him that he was meeting Taneyev at 6:00 and to bring him a memorandum on the rules of rank. Before the meeting, he gave the paper to the valet to pass to the emperor. At 6:00 he met Taneyev in the Reception Room and waited there until the door to Nicholas’ Study opened when Taneyev came out with the paper in his hands. Taneyev, very unhappy, said ‘this is your note, you asked for it, but it is impossible to break the rules, you let me down. The sovereign categorically ordered this to be performed’.

Photographs (below) of Nicholas’ Study and Reception Room

Dzhunkovsky returned to 'the duty room where a valet arrived with an invitation to dinner in Alexandra’s rooms that included Anna [Vyrubova] and Orlov. Nicholas 'asked if Taneyev said anything to me'. When told the conversation, he laughed and said ‘yes, he wanted to assure me that this is absolutely impossible’.

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