The recent death of the Queen of England, and the arrangements for her funeral, made me think of this post from earlier in the year. My great-grandmother, mother of my maternal grandfather remembered the funeral for Tsar Alexander II and I am fortunate to have her memories in my possession. This is what I wrote back in March:
Last week I shared the memories of my great-grandmother, Anna Pavlovna Voronov, of the day Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. This week I share her next diary entries.
The day after the assassination, Anna’s father went to pay his respects to the dead Emperor. Anna tried to visit the scene of the bombing but was turned away. Instead she went to church. Later Anna notes:
“Our people were in the palace when the Emperor’s remains were transferred from the inner chambers to the large Palace Church.
The coffin with the body of the Emperor was carried by Emperor Alexander III and all the Grand Dukes.
Directly behind the coffin was the Emperor’s widow, the Most Serene Princess Yuryevskaya (born Princess Dolgorukova, with whom the Emperor was married morganatically).
The Empress Maria Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich) and all the Grand Duchesses and Princes who were in St. Petersburg at that time were walking a little further away.
My father had to be on duty in the church at the Emperor’s coffin. Afterwards, he said that at night, during his duty, Princess Yuryevskaya came to the coffin. She prayed for a long time at the coffin.”
Anna’s father, my great-great grandfather, was to be part of the funeral procession. The day of the funeral must have been cold.
“We were on the Catherine Canal. A temporary wooden tent-chapel was built over the place where the Sovereign was wounded. There are a lot of icons and lamps are burning everywhere, candles are burning There are a lot of people. Everyone’s mood is mournfully depressed, sad. Everyone is aware of what they have lost.
We’re a little worried. My father is 71 years old, but he does not even allow me to order a fur-lined uniform. Then, an order was brought from the Ministry of War: persons appointed to participate in the sad procession should wear overcoats.
The burial was postponed. They are waiting for foreign princes and representatives of the Powers that should be present.
A day has been set for the body to be taken to the Peter and Paul Cathedral.
My brother came from Tsarskoye [Selo] with a Life-Hussar squadron. He is assigned to the procession. He and my father are in deep mourning.
The whole cathedral is in black. There are a lot of wreaths. On the right side are members of the Imperial Family and foreigners who have arrived. On the left side are ladies, both courtiers and city ones. All in black dresses with long trains (depending on which class the person belongs to). They all have white collars and cuffs. On the heads of black crepe-veils.
After the memorial service, everyone in turn comes to say goodbye to the Sovereign. The sovereign has changed little. So calm and solemn was his face. Suddenly, one of the flowers that was on the coffin accidentally fell. I picked it up and put it in the Gospel at home.
This flower was kept by my mother until the end. At her request, it was placed in her coffin.