Tsar Nicholas II and his family made their last visit to England in August 1909. They attended the annual regatta at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and the royal families dined together on each other's yachts.
A local photographer was commissioned to record the occasion and amongst other pictures produced a double portrait of the Prince of Wales (later King George V) and his cousin Emperor Nicholas, which shows the strong family resemblance. The pictures above and below show Mary Princess of Wales on the Imperial yacht Standart.
During the visit the Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary) was given the jewel, shown above, as a present a diamond-set Fabergé brooch made from a Siberian amethyst, a stone famous for its intense purple hue.
The faceted hexagonal-cut amethyst is set within a diamond-set silver border, on top a diamond bow with diamond ribbons, wearable both as a pendant and brooch.
Some impressions from 1909....
The Czar and the Czarina arrived at Cowes about noon Monday, on the Imperial yacht Standart, escorted by the Russian warships Ruric and Admiral Makharof. Their Majesties were met off Horse Fort by the King and Queen, in the Victoria and Albert.
With the King and Queen were the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, Princess Victoria, Prince Arthur of Connaught, and Sir Arthur Nicolson, the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg.
The King, who wore the uniform of a Russian Admiral and the Order of St. Andrew in brilliants, was met on the gangway of the Russian yacht by the Czar, who wore the uniform of a British Admiral and the riband of the Garter.
The greetings of the two Monarchs were of cordial character, and, after a number of presentations, the Emperor and Empress went on board the Royal yacht, where luncheon was served, and Mr. Asquith, Sir E. Grey, and Mr. R. McKenna, who had travelled down from London in the morning, were presented.
At the luncheon, the famous gold plate from Windsor Castle was used. There were no speeches or toasts, the guests merely raising their glasses. The Victoria and Albert weighed anchor at 3.30, and the Czar inspected the Fleet from her bridge, expressing his admiration of the wonderful spectacle which the assembled Fleet presented.
As the Royal yachts with the Russian warships passed through the lines, the British sailors cheered the Czar, the Russians on the warships responding. After the yachts had anchored off Cowes, family tea was served in the saloon of the Victoria and Albert, which none but members of the Royal Family were present.
In the evening, the King gave a dinner to the Czar. The Russian Imperial yacht was closely guarded by cruisers and destroyers during the stay in the Solent. The Czar accompanied the King in a cruise on his Majesty's yacht, Britannia, in the course of which they were able see good deal of the regatta programme, notably the start for the King's Cup, in which the Kaiser's Meteor, and the Prince of Wales's Corisande were competitors. The Royal party boarded the yacht soon after twelve, and stayed out until well on in the day.
The Czarina was wearing a white serge yachting dress, with tight-fitting coat and a white veil over a dark cap, and the Queen, who was very busy with her camera, was in a neat serge coat and skirt, with burnt-straw sailor hat.
There was only a small party on board with their Majesties. While their parents were sailing, the little Grand Duchesses and their brother made friends with their relatives.
They were early ashore with their governess at East Cowes, where they landed at the pontoon landing stage, and drove to Osborne. They also boarded the Alexandra, where the Duke and Duchess of Connaught are quartered, and spent some time on the yacht. In the evening, the Czar entertained the King and Queen at diner on the Imperial yacht, Standart.
The Csar went ashore on the Isle Wight on Wednesday for the first time during his visit. His Imperial Majesty, accompanied by the Czarina and our King and Queen, landed from the Royal barge at Kingston, a small place on the River Medina, and drove in a motor-car to Osborne. There the Czar inspected the Naval College, and also paid a visit to the room in which Queen Victoria died. The Russian Royal children joined their parents, and later all returned to the Standart.
Prior to this his Imperial Majesty had received on his yacht a deputation from the Scots Greys, which he is Colonel-in-Chief. The King on Wednesday night entertained a party of gentlemen to dinner on board the Victoria and Albert in honour of the Czar's election to the Royal Yacht Squadron. His Imperial Majesty here met many of the members of the Squadron, the
function taking the place of the annual dinner of the Club. The Empress of Russia entertained a party of ladies to dinner on the Standart, the Queen and Princess of Wales being the principal guests.
A gift to the Czar of Russia! The design for the gold casket which the Corporation of the City of London will present with an address of welcome to the Czar of Russia at Cowes on August 5 has been chosen by the presentation committee. The casket will be made of 18-carat gold. On the lid will be a representation of the coronation crown of Russia supported by four Russian eagles the front will placed the arms of the City of London and enamelled views of the Guildhall and Mansion House.
Brilliant Cowes. The splendour of this year’s Cowes week eclipses all records for a long time. After the great Naval Pageant of Saturday, when the King reviewed his warships in the Solent, amidst scenes impressive in the extreme, the battleships remained to do honour to the Czar and Czarina of Russia.
When the Imperial yacht Standart arrived on Monday, it passed through the saluting lines of our grand Fleet, acknowledging the greetings of the great leviathans of war. When night fell the spectacle in the Solent, when the brilliant illuminations of the Fleet lit up the huge haven with a blaze of light, was beyond imagination wonderful.
The festivities of the week in honour of the Russian Sovereigns will be on a grand scale. Amongst the English Royalties on board the yacht Alexandra are the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden, Prince Arthur of Connaught, and Princess Patricia of Connaught.
The Queen wore a lovely gown on the opening day, though her Majesty had to remain within the friendly shelter of the Royal Box. Her picturesque gown was of crepe-de-chine, in very delicate shade of mauve, and was inset with panels of rich mauve embroidery; with it was worn a dainty toque composed entirely of heliotrope blossoms.
On Cup Day her Majesty wore a wonderful jetted gown, which was likened by some who saw it to a fragile coat of mail. Princess Victoria wore dove-grey soft satin, with a rather large hat of blue straw with plumes. The Princess chose for Cup Day a lovely soft white satin gown, in which she looked wonderfully well.
Their Majesties’ young hostess at Goodwood House this year, is Lady Helen Gordon-Lennox, one of the beauties of society, with lovely, regular features, fair hair, and slender, graceful figure. She was looking very beautiful in a plainly-cut coat and skirt of palest grey soft cloth, and a big picture-hat of pale grey straw trimmed with wide wings of rose-pink.
Amongst many beautifully-dressed women were Consuelo, Duchess of Manchester, who wore long coat of violet moiré over a black satin gown, and hat wreathed with purple pansies; Lady Mar and Kellie in periwinkle blue cashmere, and hat trimmed with huge rose peonies; Mrs. George Keppel in pale blue satin, with a long pale blue cloak, and very pretty hat profusely trimmed with white ospreys. Lady Esme Gordon- Lennox a pretty bride of this year—wore a dainty tussore gown and a big hat of sapphire blue; and Lady Bernard Gordon Lennox looked well in a rose-coloured Shantung costume.
More gift and presents from the Czar 1909:
To Superintendent Quinn was presented a gold cigarette case, with his monogram in diamonds, and to Inspector McRieu a gold watch and chain. Two fortunate post office telegraphists who were stationed on the Standart during his Majesty’s visit each received a gold watch as a souvenir of his stay.
The Chief Constable of the Isle of Wight had conferred on him the decoration of Commander of the Order of Saint Stanislas, and has received a very handsome gold cigarette case with the Czar's crest set in rich stones.