Royal Problems

By Alexey Braguine
July 18, 2012

Did you ever dream, whether as a kid or adult about being a king or queen? Recently I visited Tsarskoe Selo (Tsar's Village, just outside Sankt Petersburg. Of course, I walked through Katherine's Palace first. including the fabulous Amber Room and was suitably impressed. That was the original purpose of the building, to impress foreign dignitaries. Even today it is used for state dinners. The place pretty much humbles architectural icons like Versailles. However, the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo are much simpler than its French counterpart or Peter Hoff not far away. It is while ambling through the vast estate that it hit me how terrible it is to be king.

Katherine's Palace

Inside The Palace

Let's imagine you are a Tsar, you work and live in the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage Museum). After a hard day at the office you want to relax and take your dog for a walk. Well, forget it. You can't do that. The moment you step outside, you are downtown. So, forget walking the dog except limiting yourself to walking in the courtyard.

So as top honcho, you need a place where you can take your dog for a walk The Tsarskoye Selo grounds meet that basic requirement. Of course, royals need to ride a horse and elaborate gardens would limit areas for riding unless the head of state was bent on galloping through the tulips. Preoccupied with such lofty matters, I walked the grounds and discovered that the compound was really a village. A suitable place to receive guests and install them in suitable quarters somewhat removed from the main house. A royal would know such things as the Chinese proverb that like fish, after three days, house guests begin to smell.

To make sure that guests didn't resemble Chinese fish, you would need to have a pond and build an attractive bath house.

By comparison, the White House has adequate dog walking facilities. It also has an 18 X 6 meter swimming pool, but I never heard of a US President inviting anyone for a swim.

A guest house

A bath house


About the author: Alexey Braguine spent four years in Vietnam and Laos during the American involvement there. He has also worked in the Middle East and has visited Pakistan-Afghan border areas. He is the author of Kingmaker, a geopolitical thriller.


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