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The coronation of Russia’s last Emperor, Nicolas II

Nicolas II of Russia was the last Emperor of Russia, whose reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire. He and his family were brutally executed by the Bolsheviks on 17 July 1918.

He began his reign upon the death of his father, Alexander III, on 1 November 1894. Traditionally, coronations had taken place in the Cathedral of the Dormition, and this would be no exception. The coronation took place on 26 May 1896 in the Cathedral of the Dormition inside the Moscow Kremlin, even though St Petersburg was the capital of Russia during this time.

From the 6 May to 26 May, was the official coronation period. Those who were invited to attend the solemn entry of Nicolas and his wife Alexandra were requested to be in Moscow no later than 5 May. The entrance was to take place on 9 May. According to royal tradition, the new emperor and other high-ranking guests were to begin their entrance at the Petrovsky Palace, located on Petersburg highway. The procession continued down both Tverskaya-Yamskaya and Tverskaya streets.

May 14, 1896, coronation of Nicholas II. Leaving the Dormition Cathedral right after the event. Photo: Unknown photographer for K. E. von Hahn and Co. printhouse. (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons.

May 14, 1896, coronation of Nicholas II. Leaving the Dormition Cathedral right after the event. Photo: Unknown photographer for K. E. von Hahn and Co. printhouse. (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons.

For a coronation gift, Nicolas was presented with a Silk Imperial Crown Of Russia by the Russian Empire. He was the first and the only monarch to be given such a monumental gift such as this. It was intended to be a private property for Nicolas.

Mass celebrations were scheduled on the 30 May, on the order of Nicolas at Khodynka Field. On this day, temporary pavilions and theatres were put up as part of the celebration. There were places where gifts were handed out to the people, as well. These gifts included things like bread, souvenir cups, sausage, beer, and sweets.

A few days before this event people started gathering. When the festival was opened, the 100,000 strong group of people moved quickly inside. Tragically, many were crushed in the process, and the official estimation showed that 1389 people were killed. Other reports had near 4000 victims. The event has been called the ‘Khodynka Tragedy’ after the location of where it occurred. This was seen as a bad omen for his reign by some.

After being told the news of the tragedy, Nicolas sent a telegram expressing his condolences, and the official celebrations continued. That night, he attended a ball at the residence of the French ambassador, but this did not sit well with the Russian people. They found it to be very disrespectful of their new monarch to attend such an event under the circumstances.

Tsar Nicolas II’s reign lasted from 1 November 1894 to his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. He and his family were murdered by the Bolshevik revolutionaries on 17 July 1918 in Yekaterinburg at the Ipatiev House.

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