End of an empire: last tsar's lavish life on show

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The exhibition at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh has borrowed more than 400 items from the State Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, many of them never seen before in Britain. They include fabulous Fabergé jewellery and objets d'art, glittering court costumes and imposing religious icons which illustrate the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty until its abrupt end in the Russian Revolution.

The show also highlights the family's close ties to Britain and the British Royal Family, including photographs and other memorabilia showing visits to the estate at Balmoral. Tsar Nicholas, who was born in 1868, and his wife, Alexandra, had five children: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei. They were murdered at Ekaterinburg near the Ural mountains, 16 months after the tsar abdicated.

The show begins with a sequence of portraits of Romanov rulers, from Mikhail Fyodorovich, who was the first Romanov tsar in the 17th century, through Peter the Great and Catherine II, who is also known as the Great.

Succeeding sections examine the central role of the Orthodox Church to Russian - and royal - life, including lavishly embroidered church vestments and beautiful icons.

Other works of art capture moments in the family's public life, including the wedding of Nicholas and Alexandra in 1894 while Nicholas's crowning as tsar two years later is depicted in a 58-metre long panorama. In Scotland, the tsar was Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Scots Greys regiment.

The exhibition runs until 30 October. It has been sponsored by Scottish and Newcastle brewery.

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