Lost Magnificence – Coronation Regalia

I have provided a detailed summary of the final coronation held in Russia. You will find the document at the end of this post.  Reading this summary will help in understanding the opulence and pageantry that made the Russian Imperial Court the most unique, breathtaking, and mesmerizing royal court of pre-World War I Europe.  All the Coronation Regalia items are still in existence and are held in the Diamond Fund, exhibited in the Kremlin Armoury in Moscow, Russia.  As the reign of a monarch is officially marked with a coronation, then the Coronation Regalia will be our first chapter.

The Imperial Crown was created by Posier for Empress Catherine II’s coronation in 1762.  It is topped with a Red Spinel.  This is a perfect example of excess on a grand scale.  The pearls alone are glorious.  It reminds me of a jeweler’s attempt to make something look like diamond encrusted lace.  Catherine the Great stated that she wished for the Imperial Crown to remain unchanged after the Coronation.

The Imperial Crown of the Tsarinas is phenomenal – covered in nothing but diamonds.  It was made in 1801 for the first wife of Paul I (son of Catherine II), Elizabeth of Hess.

Tsarina’s Crown Explanatory Text

Then there is the Imperial Globe which is the symbol of the Tsar’s earthy power.  It has a single, pear-shaped diamond (46.92 carats) placed front and center on the middle diamond encrusted strip from the Golconda mines in India.  It is made of red gold and topped with a sapphire from Ceylon (200 carats) and a diamond cross. 

The Imperial Sceptre contains the famous Orlov Diamond.  A gift from Prince Grigori Orlov as a special token to regain Catherine II’s love.  She loved the diamond but moved on to other favored gentlemen of her Court! 

The State Mantel Clasp is stupendous!  Imagine wearing something across your chest measuring approximately 10-inches x by 3-inches!  It was made in 1750 for the coronation of Tsarina Elizabeth I, daughter of Peter the Great and last of the Romanovs. 

One very intriguing fact I discovered in my research was that Catherine II and all her descendants are not true Romanovs.  Catherine was from a minor Prussian princely family.  She married Peter (he became Peter III of Russia), son of Peter the Great’s daughter Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna.  Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna married Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, of the house of Oldenburg.  Descendants of the Romanov and Oldenburg Houses are sometimes referred to as Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.  As Prince Michael of Greece said in his book “…the Gotha Almanac, in its scrupulous devotion to the truth, consistently refused to endow them with the name of Romanov, listing the Russian imperial family under ‘House of Holstein Gottorp’ – much to the indignation of successive tsars.”  I found the history of the Gotha Almanac itself amazing.  All its archives were destroyed in 1945 by the Soviet Army when the troops entered Gotha.  Feel free to jump into this rabbit hole!

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Imperial weddings. Please tune in.