The Queen has allowed a Royal Victorian Chain, which once belonged to Tsar Nicholas II, to be kept in Russia and be displayed in Moscow’s Kremlin Museums.
The chain was given to Nicholas over a century ago by Britain’s Edward VII, as a personal award from the King to his cousin. The award was established in 1902 by King Edward VII, an exclusive award for high-ranking dignitaries, including foreign Royals and Heads of State, and was given to the Tsar in 1904.
Last year, when preparing for a new exhibition at the museum, ‘European Orders of Knighthood’, the award was found in amongst the collection of Andrei Khazin.
Three Tudor roses, two Scottish thistles, two Irish clover shamrocks and two Indian lotuses form the decorative chain; in the centre is a medallion in the shape of a golden laurel wreath with the imperial crown above and the Royal monogram in red enamel: ERI (Edwardus Rex Imperator).
The badge is a gold, white enamelled Maltese Cross, with an oval medallion at the centre with Queen Victoria’s cypher, VRI for Victoria Regina Imperatrix (as Edward created the award in honour of his mother) on a red background, surrounded by a blue ring bearing the word Victoria; a crown sits atop. The crown and cypher are studded with diamonds.
Under UK law, a Royal Victorian Chain should be brought back to the British Royal Family after the death of the recipient, however, following the Russian Revolution and subsequent murder of the Romanovs by the Bolsheviks in 1918, the chain was sold and lost.
A Russian delegation contacted Her Majesty to return the award in accordance with the law, but The Queen stated that she wanted the chain stay in Moscow.
The ceremony took place last Thursday, 25th February, where the collector, Mr Khazin and a representative of the Royal Collection Trust signed a gift document which gave the museum the right to exhibit the chain.
“The key point of today’s event is that Russia and the UK have a very long history together. It was the personal choice of Queen Elizabeth: She wanted the chain to be seen in Russia and by Russians as a little part of common history,” Laurie Bristow, British Ambassador to Russia, told Russia Beyond the Headlines.
Russian First Deputy Minister of Culture Vladimir Aristarkhov said the chain embodied a ‘symbol of friendship and collaboration between Russia and the UK’.
“It is deeply symbolic that this is happening on the eve of the 100th anniversary of those tragic events in 1917 that caused the death of Nicholas II,” he said.