January 29, 2016

0355, 2249 RUSSIA - Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia

2249 - Engagement portrait of Tsar Nicholas II
and Alexandra Feodorovna (1894)

Posted on 09.10.2012, 29.01.2016
Even though it's been almost a century since then, the dramatic fate of the last tsar of Russia and his family remained a hot subject, intense reactivated a few years ago when the veil of mystery which covered the destiny of Anastasia, the youngest daughter, and of her brother, Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, was scattered. Now no longer any doubt that the Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, and all their five children were shot in the basement of Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg by a Bolshevik firing squad on the night of July 16 to July 17, 1918.

0355 - Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna
with their childran on board the yacht Standart (1906)

Started with Khodynka Tragedy, the reign of Nicholas II, which never excelled in tact and compassion, was an unbroken string of bad decisions with catastrophic consequences, social movements, mass killings and wars. Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (b. 18 May 1868) ruled from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917, and his reign saw Russia go from being one of the great powers to economic and military collapse. "Most commonly, he is described as shallow, weak, stupid - a one-dimensional figure presiding feebly over the last days of a corrupt and crumbling system." (Robert K. Massie)

Nicholas II, the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna, married on 26 November 1894 with Alexandra Feodorovna (born Alix of Hesse and by Rhine), granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, despite the opposition of relatives. The couple had five children: Olga (b. 15 November 1895), Tatiana (b. 10 June 1897), Maria (b. 26 June 1899), Anastasia (b. 18 June 1901), and Alexei (b. 12 August, 1904). Often overwhelmed by situation, Nicholas found refuge in family, togheter with his wife whom he loved deeply and sincerely and his children whom he adored.

Therefore, the last tsar didn't missed the happy moments, some of them spent on the yacht Standart. The yachts were once the norm among the world's rulers, and Standart, named after the famous frigate of Peter the Great, was a queen. Constructed in Copenhagen in 1895 by the Danish firm Burmeister-Wain, to the tsar's own specifications, the superb, black-hulled Standart was at that time the largest private ship in the world. As big as a small cruiser, but elegant and graceful, it was luxurious as a palace, with salons panelled in mahogany, crystal chandeliers, velvet drapes, and the bowsprit covered with gold leaf.

When the tsar and his family were on board, a large household staff attended to their every need, the yaht having a crew of 275. Also on board was a platoon of marines as well as a brass band and a balalaika orchestra. It seems that for Nicholas II, but also for his family, there was no greater relaxation than the seaborne excursions on Standart, away from the palaces and rigid rules that governed the Russian court. Many royal personages were on the board of Standart, including King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, King Gustav of Sweden and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

Among the guests frequently encountered on the yacht was Anna Vyrubova, a devoted friend and confidant of Alexandra Feodorovna, but also a keen photographer, who photographed the intimate moments of the imperial family. When escaped to Finland in 1920, she managed to leave with many photographs, which now are found in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. The postcard 0355 is a nowadays reproduction of a photo belonging to this set, taken in 1906, the year of the first Russian Constitution, which put an end to the absolute monarchy.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0355
The first stamp is part of a definitive series about which I wrote here.

The second stamp belongs to the series Weapon of the Victory, designed by A. Drobyshev and consisting of several sets issued annually, between 2009 and 2015.  


2012.04.16 - Weapon of the Victory. Automotive vehicles
• Lorry GAZ-AA (10 RUB) - It’s on the postcard 2998
• Lorry ZIS-5B (12 RUB)
• Jeep GAZ-676 (14 RUB) - It’s on the postcard 0355
• GAZ-M1 (15 RUB)


2013.05.08 - Weapon of the Victory. Warships
• Mine sweeper Mina (10 RUB) - It’s on the postcard 0843
• Escort ship Metel (12 RUB)
• Armored boat BKA-75 (15 RUB)
• Gun vessel Usyskin (20 RUB)

On the postcard 2249
The stamps are part of a definitive series about which I wrote here

This is a post for Sepia Saturday 146. The theme of this week is anything to do with ships, the sea, holidays, transport, crowds, or marble bathroom suites. Click on the button to visit Sepia Saturday blog and all the other participants.


References
Nicholas II of Russia - Wikipedia
Russian yacht Standart - Wikipedia
The Standart - Royal Russia
The Russian Imperial Yacht Standart - yachtstandart.com
Dona Russie

Sender 0355: Maria Gutkova (direct swap)
Sent from Gatchina (Leningrad Oblast / Russia), on 03.08.2012
Photo: Anna Vyrubova / 1906
Sender 2249: Vallery / gana (postcrossing) RU-4343309
Sent from Murmansk (Murmansk Oblast / Russia), on 11.01.2016
Photo: / 1894

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