The solution of the housing issue in a royal way: where did Nicholas II and his young wife live
Categories: HistoryBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/the-solution-of-the-housing-issue-in-a-royal-way-where-did-nicholas-ii-and-his-young-wife-live
Igor Zimin in his book " The Winter Palace. People and walls. The History of the Imperial Residence " describes the everyday life of the young family of Emperor Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna. Nothing human is alien to the tsars, so the newlyweds also had to solve their housing issue and move out from their parents.
The decision to move the heir-Tsarevich, the future Nicholas II, to the Winter Palace was made by his parents in the early 1890s. "The boy has grown up," and the St. Petersburg beau monde was animatedly discussing which of the European royal brides would become the wife of the Russian tsarevich. It is further known that on November 14, 1894, the young emperor married a Hessian princess. At first, the young people lived in the Anichkov Palace, with their mother-in-law, but this situation, of course, did not suit the young empress, and already in the spring of 1895, the imperial half began to be equipped on the second floor of the north-western risalit of the Winter Palace.
The diary of Nicholas II for 1894-1895, in which he diligently recorded everything that happened, reflected the "apartment theme", so important for any young family. It should be noted that the younger sister of Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, who married six months before her brother, by the autumn of 1894 had already settled down to live with her husband on one of the spare halves of the Winter Palace. And the elder brother, along with his wife, often visited them in the Winter Palace.
So, immediately after the wedding, the young empress began to solve the "housing issue". November 16, 1894 (two days after the wedding) she wrote to her beloved grandmother, Queen Victoria of England: "We have pretty rooms here (in the Anichkov Palace), while our apartments in the Winter Palace are not ready, and we do not want to immediately leave his dear mother alone..." In these short lines, the characteristic of the present is "rooms", in which Nicholas II felt very comfortable in his parents 'house all his life, and prospects for the future are "apartments in the Winter Palace".
After the wedding fuss, Nikolai and Alexandra for the first time examined the premises of the western facade of the Winter Palace in detail on November 18, 1894: "At 8 o'clock, the four of us went to dinner at Xenia and Sandro's. They have beautifully decorated their room in the Winter-the former rooms of D. Sergey and Pavel". On November 21, 1894, the young people had already specially arrived at the Winter Palace, "where Ella was waiting for us. We went around together and talked about everything regarding the arrangement of our future rooms." On December 1, 1894, the young couple again visited the Winter Palace, "where they selected samples of furniture and fabric for our future apartment; then they also examined my Japanese, Chinese and Indian things." On December 3, 1894, the young family went from the Anichkov Palace through the Fontanka River to the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, where the Empress ' elder sister lived with her husband.
It should be borne in mind that it was the elder sister of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who coordinated the efforts of the architects and acted as the main "designer of the project". It was she who made all the final decisions during the repair of the imperial half. As a result, the so-called English style became the dominant style in the decoration of the rooms of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna. After meeting, the sisters worked with catalogs, choosing samples of fabrics, furniture and other interior details. Nicholas II wrote in his diary: "I went with Alix to Ella; we looked at various details of the arrangement of our rooms."
Business executives, of course, decided a lot, but in such an almost intimate issue as the design of the tsar's apartment, endless consultations with young spouses were required. Therefore, on January 15, 1895, an entry appears in the diary: "The three of us talked for a long time with Speransky and finally selected samples of fabrics, calico and carpets for our rooms in the Winter Palace." Having bypassed the rooms of the second floor of the north-western risalit in November 1894, Nicholas II and his wife first climbed to its third floor only on February 7, 1895: "We went for a ride and stopped by in the Winter; we examined the upper rooms of the Pope, the cat. Alix hasn't seen it yet." For sure, the young couple also went to the alleged apartment of Nicholas II, arranged on the third floor in the former apartment of Mrs. Rohrbeck.
The immediate environment of the young family began to populate the apartments of the third floor of the Winter Palace since November 1894. On February 9, 1895, Nicholas II mentioned in his diary that he and his wife "stopped by in Winter", where "they visited E. A. Schneider, who lives at the very top". Mrs. Schneider taught the Russian language to the Empress's older sister and Alexandra Feodorovna herself, so she was given an apartment in the Chamber-Jungfer corridor of the Winter Palace. During the winter season of 1895, the emperor and his wife often visited Xenia and Sandro, i.e. Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich.
In the endless bustle of affairs, Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna from time to time returned to their apartment on the second floor of the Winter Palace. On April 26, 1895, they " stopped by Winter, where they finally decided everything in the last details." Since the Empress was already pregnant ,the "latest details" also provided for the decoration of the children's room, the distribution of office rooms for the mandatory-the traditional contingent of English nannies.
When the young couple left St. Petersburg in May 1895, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna continued to monitor the repair of the imperial half in the Winter Palace. As a loving sister, she periodically reported to the imperial couple about the "progress of work". On July 15, 1895, Nikolai mentioned in his diary: "We drank tea with Ella and talked for a long time about our rooms in the Winter Palace."
Baroness S. K. Buksgevden recalled: "The Empress was busy with projects for the reconstruction and decoration of the Winter Palace and Tsarskoye Selo, which, as she hoped, were to become her own home. Together with the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, who had specially arrived from Moscow, the young empress planned the transformations that should be made in the old palace. The idea that she was creating her own, unique home, gave her the greatest joy."
By the autumn of 1895, the finishing work on the second floor of the north-western risalit of the Winter Palace came to an end. The timing was already tight, because in October 1895, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was supposed to give birth to her first child. At this time, the young family was already living in the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo. On October 5, 1895, the tsar wrote in his diary: "Ella moved to us from the Grand Palace; she went to the city to inspect our premises in the Winter, which are nearing completion." On October 23, 1895, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich mentioned that the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, having arrived in St. Petersburg, went directly from the railway station to the Winter Palace "on business of rooms", and stated that they were "not bad". Shortly after the birth of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna on November 3 in the Alexander Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, the happy father himself "went to the Winter, where he examined our rooms with Ella, which are almost ready" (November 8, 1895).
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was very worried, showing Nicholas II the results of her design efforts. Her husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, then wrote to his younger brother: "... my wife had great emotions for visiting Nika's rooms! " On November 26, 1895, the traditional celebration of St. George's Day took place in the Winter Palace. After the representative bustle, Nicholas II for the first time "rested in his new and so far bare rooms". For the first time after the birth of their daughter, the young couple left for St. Petersburg on December 16, 1895. Of course, they visited the Winter Palace, where the young empress finally saw the rooms in which she was to live for two years: "They returned to our rooms; Alix had not seen them yet, and therefore we examined them in all details." Apparently, these" details " included an inspection of the real pool, built specifically for the emperor on his half. There were no swimming pools in the Winter Palace yet.
Finally, the young family moved to the Winter Palace on December 30, 1895: "From the station in St. Petersburg, we went straight to the Winter Palace to our new rooms. A prayer service was served in the library, all the rooms, ours and the children's, were sprinkled. After two hours of work, I got settled and put all the things in their appropriate places. Mom and Ksenia visited us. I read a lot. We had lunch together. I was still reading in the evening. I enjoyed swimming in my wonderful pissina." For the young people, it was a real housewarming party.
Alexandra Feodorovna was especially pleased, she felt constrained in her mother — in-law's house-in the Anichkov Palace. On December 31, 1895, the tsar wrote in his diary: "Both slept perfectly at the housewarming party. The sun shone beautifully on my office while I was studying in the morning. At 11 o'clock we went to Anichkov for mass; it's strange to feel like guests there! After breakfast, we went down to our old rooms and selected all the paintings and photographs and the last things that were still left, for transporting them also to the Winter. During the day, we sat at home and put everything in order."
On the evening of December 31, 1895, a few hours before the New Year, a congratulatory telegram was brought to the Winter Palace from Sergei Alexandrovich and Elizabeth Feodorovna, in which it was again mentioned about the new home of the royal family: "... We kiss the trio gently. So happy that you like the rooms." On January 1, 1896, the young family replied with the following telegram: "We sincerely thank and congratulate you. We will not enjoy the new rooms. Alix. Niki." Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich stated in his diary: "... Here the Winter has come to life again-God grant, in a good hour." Thus began the family life of Nicholas II in the Winter Palace.