The czar's family visit their relatives

On a beautiful summer's day, 28 June 1909, world history came to Tullgarn. The Russian Tsar Nicholas II's 112 metre yacht Standart, richly decorated with mahogany and crystal chandeliers, moored up at Södermanland's idyllic Tullgarn Palace.

However, this event was not perhaps as surprising as one might initially think. The Swedish Royal Family was related to the Russian czar's family, including through Queen Victoria and Crown Princess Margareta, and the previous year King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria's second eldest son Wilhelm had married the Russian Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. So apart from the inevitable pomp and ceremony that always followed the czar's family, this was partly a family visit.

Worries in Europe

Tensions were bubbling under in many parts of Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. While many of the wealthy lived in provocative luxury, the great masses of workers survived under miserable conditions. A wave of assassinations swept across the continent. In Stockholm, a Swedish officer in parade uniform was shot by an anarchist who probably mistook him for the czar. The evening before the czar's family arrived at Tullgarn, a group of detectives was therefore engaged to search the palace and secure the grounds. Several Swedish constables subsequently received Russian honours for their efforts.

Lunching, picnicking and walking

Following military honours including flags, parades and national anthems, the czar's family were finally able to step ashore at Tullgarn Palace. At half past midday it was time for a long-awaited lunch inside the palace, followed by a slightly more relaxed activity at half past two: a picnic and a walk in the beautiful palace grounds, with its canals, islands, bridges and flowers. This was deemed suitable even for the younger royals.

The czar had brought all five of his children with him: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and five-year-old Alexei. At half past six, the czar and his wife hosted a 'family dinner' on board the Standart, and at ten o'clock the czar's family departed with all the related honours.

A Russian painting hangs in the billiard room at the palace, depicting the departure from Tullgarn on 28 June 1909. This was the last time the czar's family visited their relatives in Sweden. The Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, and a year later the czar's entire family had been assassinated.

Image: Tea in the park at Tullgarn. Seated from left: Prince Karl, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, King Gustaf V, Tsar Nicholas II, Prince Wilhelm, Queen Victoria, Empress Alexandra, Princess Märtha, Grand Duchess Olga, Crown Princess Margareta and Princess Maria Pavlovna. Standing behind them is Princess Ingeborg. The five girls at the front are the Grand Duchesses Anastasia, Maria and Tatiana and Princesses Margaretha and Astrid. Photo: CE Hahn & Co. From the archive of the Bernadotte Library.

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