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Mysteries of the Mining Museum: The two caskets of the Empress

Queen Elizabeth II often wears a diamond tiara. She also wears a collar of pearls and diamonds. Another favourite of hers is the brooch with a cabochon-cut sapphire and a drop-shaped pearl pendant, which she wore during a state visit to Russia in 1994. From Maria Feodorovna she has also a brooch with a huge sapphire and large diamonds. One of Elisabeth II's daughter Princess Anne's favorite necklaces is a choker with a huge sapphire, also from Maria Feodorovna.

These are all Russian jewels from the famous box of Alexander III's wife, Empress Maria Feodorovna. The English, who refused to accept her son, Nicholas II, willingly took for themselves the treasures which she had taken from Crimea to Denmark and which are a national treasure of Russia.

According to the official version, they were bought in 1929 from the daughters of the deceased, Olga and Xenia, by King George the Fifth for Queen Mary, but at a price several orders of magnitude lower than their real value. The Grand Duchesses in Britain and Denmark were practically starving.

Until now, it remains a mystery how much jewelry was actually in this chest and where it went. Any attempts by cunning journalists to get to the bottom of this obscure story end up, at best, with the unemployment of the latter. At today's prices, at a rough estimate, we are talking about twelve billion pounds and, of course, Buckingham Palace's notoriety is at stake.

Missing content item.

But Maria Feodorovna had one more casket left in the country that had become, for Princess Dagmar (her Danish royalty name), her second homeland, and where her ashes found their final resting place.

It is well known that, under her husband's rule, the industrial revolution began in the country. Production of steel and pig iron increased dramatically, the military-industrial complex was put in order (the famous phrase "Russia's friends are its army and navy" was based on specific numbers: during the reign of the most rigid opposition emperor, 114 new warships, including 17 battleships and 10 armored cruisers were launched; and so, the Russian Navy took third place in the world).

It is a well-known fact that "Minnie," as Alexander Alexandrovich called her, actively helped her husband. According to Count S.Y. Witte, the father of the Trans-Siberian railway and the grandfather of Russian industrialization: "her charming manners and sharp mind attracted to her all who had the happiness of knowing her." The author of the gold standard was echoed by other contemporaries, recalling that Maria Feodorovna "had a striking charm ... Her mind and political acumen proved useful in state affairs." So much so that the Nobel brothers proclaimed her "the mother of the Russian oil industry. When the royal couple visited the factory BraNobel in the Black City in Baku, Maria Feodorovna was presented with an oak casket with crystal vials of samples of oil and petroleum products in recognition of her assistance in the development of concessions. It is noteworthy that nothing like this had ever been given to the imperial family before, or since.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In the very box next to the black Baku oil there is a "white" Surakhani oil. There is, of course, gasoline and fuel oil. In addition, there is kerosene, diesel oil, vaseline, paraffin, tar, benzene and naphthalene. The latter is also a hydrocarbon, as all petrochemical products.

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Maria Feodorovna did not take this gift to Denmark. She gave it to the Mining Institute so that its students "would be aware of the landmarks of the country's development." Today, one hundred and twenty years later, we can safely say that the Empress's vision has developed enormously, and the value of the Russian chest, is beyond comparison with the value of the "British" one.