The following photographs are taken from the personal albums of my grandmother Queen Olga of Greece; they are her private photographs, shot by the queen herself. They have never before been shown or published. I hope to share many more in the future.
Grand Duchess Alexandra in the salon of Pavlosk Palace
Grand Duchess Alexandra was the mother of Queen Olga. The Tsar owned many palaces and chateaus, and distributed them among the members of the imperial family. Olga’s father, Grand Duke Constantine, had at his disposition the spectacular, splendid Pavlovsk Palace, the smallest and most charming of all the imperial palaces. Paul I built it for his wife Maria Feodorovna. It is filled to the brim with marvels.
Nicholas II disembarking the imperial yacht
Imperial yachting has little to do with the yachting of today. You would not find any sportswear, and in all likelihood there would not be any contact with the sea. Grand uniforms and dress, decorations, imperial pomp; the Tsar didn’t go anywhere without a full general staff, even for a short excursion on the sea.
Empress Alexandra disembarking the imperial yacht
The imperial family possessed many yachts, one more grand than the next. These ships were truly palaces themselves, often used for receptions. Cruises were frequently taken in the Gulf of Finland, and on rare occasion in the Baltic Sea.
Grand Duke Serge disembarking the imperial yacht
Grand Duke Sergei was the uncle of Nicholas II and the cousin of Queen Olga. Dry and unsympathetic he was universally disliked; his customs and habits were a great source of gossip. He was the Governor General of Moscow and was assassinated by anarchists who threw a bomb in his carriage.
Grand Duke Michael, Viceroy of the Caucasus, on horseback
Grand Duke Michael was the youngest son of Nicholas I, and become the family patriarch early in the 20th century. During these years he had been the Viceroy of the Caucasus, he was extremely popular and active. The whole family, who rushed to visit him in Tiflis as often as possible, greatly adored him. He married a Baden princess who was as ugly as she was haughty, and just as unpopular.
Nicholas II passing before an honor guard on board the imperial yacht
The excursions at sea were no small affair; it was not merely a matter of raising anchor. When the Tsar embarked, a full detachment presented arms. The Tsar would look them over, and salute each and every officer.
A detachment of the imperial cavalry
The emperor of Russia and the imperial family loved to watch the military processions in and around Saint Petersburg. Masterly ordered and perfectly executed, they proceeded and played out like an oft-repeated yet extraordinary ballet. This glorious and positive image hides a much different reality.