TSAR NICHOLAS II
26 May 1896
(14 May in the Russian Orthodox Calendar)
Dinner in the Alexander Hall, the Great Kremlin Palace, Moscow,
for the Sacred Coronation of the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II
and the Sovereign Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia.
“The Emperor crowned himself, the Metropolitan handing him the crown”, recalled the Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden of this historic day in 1896, which would become the last coronation ever in Russia.
“Then the Empress left her place and knelt before him”, Baroness Buxhoeveden continued, “the Emperor took off his crown and touched her forehead with it. Then he took a smaller crown and with the utmost gentleness put it on her head. Her ladies fixed it on. The Emperor kissed her, took her hand as she rose, and both went to their places on their thrones”.
As Lady-in-Waiting to the newly crowned Empress, Buxhoeveden was an unrivalled witness to the most intimate preparations and thoughts of the imperial couple before, during and after the coronation.
The Romanovs had gone to great lengths to facilitate and entertain representatives from all the royal and imperial families from across Europe arriving in Moscow for this special day.
“The Imperial Russian court had put a house at our disposal, carriages, servants, military guard and every luxury characteristic of Russian lavishness”, remembered the future Queen Marie of Romania.
“Several gentlemen had been attached to us and last, but not least, as in a real fairy-story, I had a young page to hold my train, to carry my cloak, to stand behind my chair during the great banquets, gala-representations or parades”.
With the crowning complete, Princess Catherine Radziwill remembered how “festivity upon festivity followed each other in quick succession after the ceremony, and for days one lived in a whirl of gaiety with scarcely time to think…”
This menu is from that evening’s banquet in the Alexander Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace. The diplomatic set along with the Moscow authorities and other participants in the Coronation were joined by the Tsar and Tsarina along with city’s Governor-General, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.
The menu included saddle of wild goat and the famous and prized Gatchina Trout caught in the stream running through the Tsar’s own Gatchina estates south of Saint Petersburg.
The menu is decorated with the twin imperial monograms of Tsar Nicholas II (the Cyrillic H II) and Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna (A) along with views of the Kremlin in Moscow, Kiev and Nizhny Novgorod. On the right of the menu is the Romanov Griffin which appeared on the original Boyar family arms.
Traditional Russian soup of
beef and buckwheat
Pirogki (pirozhki): small Russian pies to
accompany the soup
Гатчинские форели разварные
Steamed Gatchina trout from the Partitsa stream that runs through the Tsar’s Gatchina imperial estates south of Saint Petersburg
Saddle of wild goat
Филе из цыплят с трюфелями
Chicken fillet with truffles
Холодное из омара
Артишоки с грибами
Artichokes with mushrooms
Hot sweets: soufflés, puddings, baked apples,
fritters, pancakes etc.
Tsar Nicholas II on the day of his Coronation, May 1896
"Decked in gorgeous apparel, surrounded by the Imperial Family and their royal guests, the Tsar and his wife received the homage of many quaintly garbed envoys from the North, South, East and West of their mighty realm.
Slit-eyed Tartars, mysterious-looking Chinese, slim-waisted Circassians, Lapps, Finns, and many picturesque personages strangely reminiscent of the Thousand and One Nights, and all these differently complexioned deputies brought gifts to lay at the feet of the young sovereigns.
Dusky sables, snow-white ermines, gold and precious stones, rare cashmeres, costly carpets and richly rippling brocades, many-coloured, of rare texture and exquisite design, shimmering veils and glittering embroideries, gift-bearers in endless file, resembling the classical procession of the biblical Three Kings from the East."
Queen Marie of Romania