It seems that once your name becomes known on the Internet, strange things happen.
Apparently, as a result of having excerpts from my Lake Placid News and Virginia Gazette columns that deal with U. S.-Russian relations broadcast on the Voice of Russia, relayed to 160 countries, in 38 languages, and reaching an audience of more than 100 million people, I received an invitation from Paul Gilbert, to join Royal Russia, an organization that celebrates "The Romanov Dynasty, the Russian Monarchy and the History of Imperial Russia."
"Personally, I support a restoration of the monarchy in Russia, "Gilbert wrote in the introduction to his biography. "I believe that a devout Christian monarchy must rule Russia. Holy Russia has no need of Western democracy. It is a country moved by mystical forces. Monarchy is a political form best suited to Russia. The country needs a monarch, the mother of nation, one that is above the nation's law. I acknowledge HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna as Head of the Russian Imperial House and the rightful claimant to the Russian throne."
Gilbert was born in Cornwall, England, and as a child immigrated with his parents to Canada. To his knowledge, he has no Russian roots, but a book given to him many years ago, wetted his appetite to learn more about the Romanov's and the rich history of Tsarist Russia.
"Even though I was baptized into the Church of England, I have great interest and respect for the Russian Orthodox Church. While traveling in Russia, I make a point of visiting as many churches that I possibly can When I step into a Russian Orthodox Church, I feel transported back in time ...It is in the churches of Russia that I find an inner peace that I do not find anywhere else," he wrote.
Gilbert's fascination with the Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia has transformed him into a power-house for propagating the restoration of the Romanov Dynasty. His more than 30 years of experience in the publishing business has prepared him well to launch the Imperial Russian Journal, the only publication of its kind dedicated to the Romanovs and Tsarist Russia. His web site, Royal Russia: A Celebration of the Romanov Dynasty & Imperial Russia in Words and Photographs, welcomed over 1.2 million visitors from all over the world.
He wrote that for nearly 100 years after the fall of the monarchy in Russia, the world's fascination with the Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia endures. But for many decades after the 1917 Revolution, the archive materials related to the Russian Imperial family were inaccessible. Contrary to widely-held belief, he noted, nothing was destroyed. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, researchers are able to access a virtual cornucopia of diaries, letters, and other documents which shed new light on the Romanov's and their legacy.
"I have visited the Romanov Archives in the State Central Archives in Moscow on more that one occasion," he writes. "I held in my hands the personal letters between Nicholas II and Alexandra, the diaries of their children and the numerous personal photo albums of the Russian Imperial family."
To honor the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, Gilbert is launching a new series of Royal Russia Collectors Editions devoted to the Russian Imperial family and their legacy.
In January 2013, Gilbert was notified by the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, that "Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna had elevated Paul Gilbert to the Imperial and Royal Order of St. Stanislav, III Class." The presentation ceremony will take place in Moscow.
"It is truly a rare privilege for a non-Russian to receive one of the historic Imperial orders of knighthood. To be recognized for my effort by the Head of Russian Imperial House is indeed the greatest honor of my lifetime of workIt is my fervent hope, that through my work I can leave behind a legacy of better understanding and appreciating the Romanov Dynasty and the immense contribution that they have made to the history of Russia," Gilbert wrote.
This claim may have many detractors. But no doubt, Gilbert's one-man crusade on behalf of the Romanov Dynaty, has had an impact. Nevertheless, I have not joined the Royal Russia organization.
Frank Shatz lives in Williamsburg, Va. and Lake Placid. His column was reprinted with permission from The Virginia Gazette.