The Coronation of Nicholas and Alexandra of Russia
|Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra|
Moscow, May 26, 1906 - Nicholas II was crowned emperor of all the Russias with the most gorgeous ceremonies the world has ever seen, the New York Times wrote of the historic event. The Cathedral of the Assumption, where the coronation was held, was "a blaze of gold and silver. The ornate richness of the cathedral, the splendor of the uniforms, the gleam of jewels, the assembled beauty of the empire, the glories of the vestment, the magnificent singing and the clouds of incensed" heightened the solemn emotions of everyone around who were "witnessing the most splendid of worldly functions." The Czar's throne, which dated back to the time of Michael Feodorovitch, was "covered with purple velvet and set with rubies and turquoises." The throne's back was gold, while Czarina Alexandra's throne was made of ivory.
The Pioneer Express noted that the ceremonies started at 7 in the morning with a 21-canon shots followed by the ringing of the Cathedral bells. By 7:30 am, distinguished guests and dignitaries who were part of the cortege started their assembly at the palace and cathedral halls. The ladies wore court dresses, while the gentlemen wore their full uniform. Scarlet-clad attendants ushered dignified guests to their seats. Church dignitaries slowly processed into the Cathedral to the tune of solemn music and church bells to their assigned seats. "Then gold and silver crowns of the popes, the golden capes of the metropolitans, the chasubles of the minor clergy, the dalmatics of the deacons, the grand toilets of the ladies, and uniforms of the officers" sparkling with orders definitely made the grand occasion a glittering royal event, reported New York Times.
The Shakur of Gondal, "gorgeously attired" in her green and red silk Indian costume was the most scene-stealing of the royal guests. He was resplendent with his "gems and gold and silver ornaments," as they gloried the event with their "barbaric magnificence" that Westerners seldom saw that time. With him was his wife, the Maharana.
By 8:50, the Cathedral was already filled. All the diplomats and their wives were present, except for the ambassador from Turkey, whose Muslim faith barred him from entering a Christian church.
The coronation procession was headed by the chevalier guards of Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Czar's mother. They were followed by the pages, representatives of the syndics from the rural areas, the mayors of the leading cities and members of various local governments, and other respectable officers of the lands, followed by the Cossack soldiers, nobility, the senate, the church, etc.
The imperial insignia, which included the collar of he Order of St. Andrew of the czarina, the sword, the standard, and the seal of the empire, the imperial mantles, the globe, the sceptre, and the crowns of the emperor and empress, were borne by high court dignitaries. Next were the ceremonial officials, then, by the emperor and empress, who were walking under canopies carried by the imperial aides-de-camp. Right next were the hereditary nobility and military officials.
The czar and czarina bowed their knees three times as they entered the church. They then proceeded towards the estrada and took their seats on the throne of Czars Michael and John III. The Orthodox Church officials filed in two lines between the estrada while the choir was chanting.
The dignitaries carrying the imperial mantles then proceeded on the first step of the throne, then the one holding the sword of the empire stood on the second step. On the third step was the bearer of the standard. The ceremony of the coronation and anointment was then accomplished, followed by the state banquet at Kremlin.
There, the czar and czarina received the greetings of foreign dignitaries and government representatives. The reception was celebrated at the Hall of St. Andrew, also known as the Throne Room. The New York Times reported that "this room, which had been renovated for the coronation fetes, presented a brilliant appearance." The walls were bedecked with light blue silk adorned by gold plates which were gifts to the czar and czarina from various Russian towns. .
At around 10.30 am, the halls and rooms of Kremlin were already filled by the revered guests coming to celebrate with the newly crowned sovereign and his consort. By 11.30, the Hall of St. Andrew was beaming with guests. The czar and czarina entered after "the gilded doors swung open." The emperor was dressed in general's uniform, while the empress was wearing a gala costume. The regalia was displayed on their right side.