In early December 2013, I attended the Russian Ball at the Royal Albert Hall, organised in honour of 400 years of The House of Romanov. Seamlessly blending European sophistication and Russian glamour, it attracted over 1,000 guests, including prominent politicians, artists, and musicians. It was a charity event with proceeds going to Life Line Fund.
As our car pulled closer to the Royal Albert Hall, I for the first time vividly imagined what was ahead of me: Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of Flowers, meeting the Russian Empress, dancing in a brightly lit hall, chatting to the brilliant young people of Russia and Britain. The prospect was so magnificent, I could hardly believe it would come true. I understood all that awaited me only when, after walking through the red carpet leading to the entrance, I entered the hall, took off my cloak, and descended the illuminated stairs between hundreds of men in black ties.
Only then did I remember how I must behave at a ball, and tried to assume the majestic air I considered indispensable for a girl on such an occasion.
I could not assume that pose, for it would have made me look ridiculous. So I moved on, almost fainting from excitement and trying my best to conceal it.
Other guests, wearing ball gowns and black ties, were entering. Surrounded I was by ladies in white, blue, and golden dresses, with diamonds and pearls on their bare necks and arms.
I was hoping my champagne dress would add some charm to my gaunty complexion, allowing lustrous details around me to pop and fizz.
On entering the ballroom, the light and glitter dazzled me, and my friends greeted me in the same manner: “Lovely to see you!”
Two beautiful girls in their white dresses, with tiaras in their hair, posed for me in the middle of the dance floor. They say I have two new fans of this blog.
In the ballroom and all around me, guests twirled in a glamorous waltz. I pirouetted and whirled around the hall, I sipped some vintage champagne, I conversed to my heart’s content. On London society, on winter in Russia, and on our favourite European destinations.
For luck, I wore my late grandmother’s watch: Persian gold and glittery stones on a wine-red background. Someone handed me a sparkly red hat, saying it complements my outfit.
For me, the night was divided into two parts: one is happiness, hope, and light; the other — midnight, carriages, and darkness…
* Black-and-white picture above is courtesy of Oleg Katchinski of http://www.absolutelyphoto.co.uk
** Inspiration for the text drawn from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.