The 1903 Ball at the Winter Palace: The Last Grand Ball in Imperial Russia

Nicholas and Alexandra at the 1903 Grand Ball

The Russian royals had the fascination for throwing lavish gatherings and extravagant balls. Anyway, they had all the money in the world to splurge on and we could only imagine how glittering an event that was! The 1903 Ball at the Winter Palace was dubbed the last ball of Imperial Russia. Held on February 11 and 13, guests who were members of the Imperial family and Russia's elite wore ostentatious dress in the 17th century style.

Nicholas II’s brother-in-law and cousin, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch recalled that the event, the grandest during the reign of Nicholas II, was the "the last spectacular ball in the history of the empire...” However, the grand duke also noted that “a new and hostile Russia glared through the large windows of the palace.” While the royals and the nobility were dancing, social unrest was brewing across the empire’s four corners. “Workers were striking and the clouds in the Far East were hanging dangerously low," Alexander noted.

Empress Alexandra Fedorovna requested the empire’s best photographers– Boasson and Egler, Alexander Renz and Schroeder, Levitsky V.Yasvoin, D.Zdobnov and others –  to be at the event to perform single portraits and group shots of participants of the ball. That was the last time that the Imperial Family was photographed together.

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia.

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.

Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich

Grand Duke Constantine Konstantinovich

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna

Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich

Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich

Grand Duke George Mikhaelovich

Princess Olga Konstantinova

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna

Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich

Empress Maria Feodorovna

Grand Duchess Olga Georgievna

Grand Duchess Xenia Alexand



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