Sculpture Saturday: The Romanovs on the Isle of Wight

Elena Bezborodova‘s memorial to the Royal Family of Russia, murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. This Memorial was erected at East Cowes, Isle of Wight to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of their deaths.

In 1909, Tsar Nicolas ll and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia (Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria) along with their five children, visited Cowes, Isle of Wight at the invitation of King Edward Vll. The occasion was Cowes Regatta, one of the longest-running and most important regattas in the world at that time. A home-movie taken during that visit and shown on UK television last year, shows two of the children, Grand Duchess Olga and Grand Duchess Tatiana who had never experienced such freedom before, enjoying a walk around the town, diving into shops and buying postcards and sweets. An interesting account is to be found here.

On 7th July, 2018 during a weekend of events that remembered the 100th Anniversary of the assassination of the family and their close servants at Yekaterinburg, a 3-metre high granite memorial with bronze decoration was unveiled to commemorate the close connection between the Imperial Romanov family and East Cowes. This magnificent monument was unveiled in the presence of their surviving descendants, Russian Orthodox bishops, the Moscow sculptor of the work Elena Bezborodova, and a choir from Minsk, Belarus.

Top of the Memorial with its bronze relief of individual members of the family

The memorial was gifted by members of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society who revere the Tsar’s sister-in-law who was later made a saint. It stands in the Jubilee Recreation Ground close to Osborne House the former home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert which the Romanov family visited on their trip to the island in 1909. The Tsar had also been a naval cadet at the then Royal Naval College Osborne House.

The 18th/19th century photos are courtesy of Wikicommons. The Photographs of the Memorial at Cowes are from David Hill, local coordinator for the event working with the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Romanov Society.

Historical Note: Tsar Nicholas II and his family were assassinated by the Bolsheviks on 17 July 1918. They were buried in unmarked graves, and in 1979 some remains were discovered but were concealed until the fall of communism. In 1991 the graves were excavated and a state funeral was organised for five family members. Remains of two other children were found in 2007 but these are undergoing additional examinations.

This post linked to https://smkelly8.com/ for Sculpture Saturday Challenge

19 thoughts on “Sculpture Saturday: The Romanovs on the Isle of Wight

    1. I love Russian literature and poetry and of course, the history is fascinating. The murder of the Romanov family was indeed tragic but they seemed to be blind to the fact that their world was collapsing around them as the people starved. Happens!

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    1. Not sure if the sad faces are because they maybe had an inkling that all was not well with their world, or was that the face one wore at that time in history? Or the expressions could even be caused by the pain from the pinched-in waists and whalebone corsets!

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    1. Thank you. It was nice to feature East Cowes for a change. It’s a great little town with lots to commend it. I love the Marina there.

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    1. Yes, it was a terrible way to die and terrible to think that their loyal servants were also put the death with them but I can see the thinking behind it. Leave one member of the family alive and a following would have emerged to de-stabilise things even more than they were at the time. As we see even today, those born “into royalty” never want to give up their titles and many princes and princesses are still hovering in the wings ready to be re-called to a throne, somewhere, anywhere.

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    2. I watched Dr. Zhivago again the other night (BBC’s new Cinema Club on Thursdays) and it brought it all so much more into focus. What still amazes me is how Russia emerged from that terrible time with such an educated population. I’ve always been interested in education and reading and even though I know it was totally totalitarian and a vicious dictatorship, I still look at Russia and say “How did they do it?”

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  1. Much has been and will be argued about the Tsarist regime and the Soviet regime that replaced it but the killing of the Tsar and his family in such a squalid and merciless manner can only horrify us despite the passing of time.

    The monument, simple and quietly elegant, is a moving memorial of that event and of those whose lives were brutally snatched away.

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    1. Yes, I agree. I also think there was something rather disturbing about the British royal family refusing to help their cousins but it is said that the friendship between the Russians and the British royal family was never very deep.

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  2. Your post prompted me to re-read accounts of the “executions” and they were as awful as I remembered.

    While holding no brief for that bunch in Buckingham Palace, I’m not sure that anyone could have done much to help as the Romanovs were closely confined while the various factions fought to have control of them. The irony is that Nicholas had already abdicated on behalf of himself and his son, Alexei. So what did the revolutionaries have to fear from them? It reminds one of the bitter class hatred that led to so many deaths at the guillotine in Revolutionary France. When people talk glibly of “revolution”, they forget the bloodbaths that these inevitably bring.

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  3. What a fascinating piece of history. I had no idea of the threads that connect IoW with the Romanov family. I find Russian history fascinating, it’s very rich and interesting but littered with characters who sealed their own fate to one degree or another. It’s always good to keep the stories alive and monuments like this are such great prompts to do so.

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  4. Thanks for your comment. I agree wholeheartedly and there’s a whole story yet to be uncovered about the island’s connection with the last of the Romanovs. Historian Stephan Roman has a book coming out next April about just this subject. I can’t wait to read it. I believe ‘our’ royals looked down on the Russian cousins considering them bourgeoisie although it puzzles me how they reached this conclusion. Maybe they didn’t know how to pass the port correctly, or wore the wrong shoes when shooting? Who will ever fathom the lives and thoughts of such elevatde personages.

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