Thank you guys, you’re the BEST!
Thank you guys, you’re the BEST!
I’m out of here for today. I’m going to effing
The Emir of Bukhara visiting the Imperial Family. Livadia, 1909.
One of the most eagerly anticipated visitors during the Imperial Family’s annual holiday at Livadia was the Emir of Bokhara. An enormous man, swathed in colorful robes, he was a great favorite of all the Romanovs, and formed an especially close bond with the family of Nicholas II. His visits were always filled with great amusement and laughter, and he showered the Romanovs with expensive and elaborate gifts.
Anna Vyrubova remembered Abd al-Ahad as “a big, handsome Oriental, in a long black coat, and a white turban glittering with diamonds and rubies. He seemed intensely interested in the comparative simplicity of Russian Imperial customs.”123 Tatiana Botkin, daughter of Court Physician Eugene Botkin, was at Livadia one day when she saw a line of polished black landaus pull up the drive and halt at the main entrance. Sneaking her head round the corner, she saw “a big, tall man, in a caftan embroidered with gold, and an immaculate white turban decorated with aigrettes.” The scene was so exotic that she ran to find her father, who explained that it was the Emir of Bokhara and his suite.
Abd al-Ahad was always accompanied by an entourage of aides, doctors, secretaries, and Bokharan representatives, “dressed in long, Oriental robes of bright colors, with white turbans,” as Baron Wrangell-Rokoassowsky later wrote. These men were all extremely tall, with long beards dyed bright red, and clothed in exquisitely embroidered robes. “They were real figures out of the Arabian Nights,” Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden later wrote, “and looked as if any of the Arabian Nights adventures might have been theirs.”
Among this colorful group, one figure stood out in his plain Imperial Army uniform: this was Captain S. R. Asfendiarov, Governor-General of Turkestan, who served as Abd al-Ahad’s personal translator. Although the Emir himself spoke perfect Russian, Bokharan Court protocol officially forbid him from greeting any dignitary or fellow sovereign in anything but his native tongue. Only when he was alone with the Imperial Family did Abd al-Ahad ignore protocol and converse freely with them in Russian.
The Emir also regularly visited other Romanovs in the Crimea, and never failed to call on the Yusupovs when they were at Koreiz or Kokoz. During one of these visits, lunch was served on the terrace, and the young Prince Felix saw a chance to exchange the tray of regular cigarettes which would be passed round after the meal for one filled with exploding cigarettes he had discovered in a small shop in Paris. When the meal ended, Felix later wrote, “the butler handed round a tray of cigarettes with the coffee and liqueurs. With the Emir’s permission everybody lit one. Then hell broke loose in the form of a magnificent display of fireworks which caused such a panic among the guests that they rushed outside, thinking than an attempt had been made upon their lives. I was in fits of laughter at the success of the fake cigarettes I had bought in Paris. My laughter gave me away, and I was severely reprimanded by my father. A few days later, however, to everyone’s astonishment, the Emir returned and pinned a diamond and ruby star on my breast. It was one of his country’s most exalted decorations. He also asked to be photographed with me. He alone had appreciated the joke!”When he left Livadia, the Emir once again distributed extravagant gifts to the Imperial Family and members of their Suite. Anna Vyrubova recalled “costly diamonds and rubies” presented to Nicholas and Alexandra, and his Personal Orders decorated with jewels to members of the Emperor’s Suite.129 On one occasion, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, the Emperor’s sister who was staying at Livadia, was surprised when the Emir lavished upon her “an enormous gold necklace from which, like tongues of flame, hung tassels of rubies.” (x)