#1917LIVE: Nicholas’s brother Mikhail refuses throne, urges Russians to respect Provisional Govt
16 March 201721:00 GMT
Pavel arrives back to Tsarskoe Selo, where he is taken into custody together with his loyal butler. He is now a prisoner together with his wife and children.
- 16:30 GMT
Grand Duke Pavel, her husband, earlier today visited with Countess Gogenfelzen at Tsarskoe Selo, which is now completely overrun with soldiers stationed there at the Provisional Government’s behest – allegedly to prevent any attempts on Paley and her children’s lives.
At about 19:00, he leaves for Mogilev, where he is to see his mother, who set off from Kiev earlier today to meet with him.
As he stands on the steps of the Alexander Palace with thousands of soldiers in attendance, he delivers his final speech:
“Brothers, you are aware by now that our beloved Master has renounced the throne of his forebears on behalf of himself and his son, and that the latter has also refused power in favor of handing it over to the people. At this moment inside the palace you are no longer guarding the Empress, or the next in line for the throne. There is only the housekeeper, who is looking after her ill children. Please, promise me, your old commander, to see that no harm comes to them. Don’t make a racket, don’t be noisy. Please, remember, the children are still very ill. I ask you to promise me this.”
Thousands of voices echo in unison in response: “We promise, your Highness. We promise this to you, our Father, the Grand Duke, you can rest assured. Hoorah!”
- 15:16 GMT
The Countess Gogenfelzen, Olga Paley, writes in her diary:
“About 6 O’clock in the evening on March 16, the commanders of the reserve regiment stationed at Tsarskoe, have met with the Grand Duke Pavel to discuss the situation now that Mikhail has abdicated…”
Paley says there is an overwhelming feeling that the army is now impossible to bring under control. She also writes of the goings on in the capital, and of Nicholas’ pleas for the Russians to follow the Provisional Government in its pursuit of one important objective – fighting the war “until victory.”
Paley believes the Tsar’s mind is “preoccupied only with the fate of the Russia that he loves so dearly,” and sees this as his motivation for abdicating.
- 12:01 GMT
Kiev has received word of Nicholas’ abdication. Authorities there have begun setting up new government institutions. However, unlike the case with Russian cities, instead of a dual power structure, there is talk of a trilateral one: aside from the Radicals and Liberals, there are rumors of a nationalistic Central Rada in the cards.
- 11:38 GMT
Over on the front line, the Germans are pulling back. Realizing it could thicken up its offensive line, the German Army retreats to the Hindenburg Line, designed specifically as a defensive buffer. The Germans ransack and destroy everything on their way as they withdraw, military sources report.
- 11:20 GMT
The Baltic Fleet continues to mutiny and execute superiors. Word of the new regulations threatening severe punishment for lawlessness has apparently not yet reached there, although, by some accounts, that was the way in which sailors implemented their own version of Order No.1.
- 10:53 GMT
After a lengthy discussion with members of the Provisional Committee at the Duma, in which Rodzianko also participated, Nicholas’ brother Mikhail Alexandrovich also abdicates. He issues a statement to the Russian people, in which he asks the citizenry to obey the Provisional Government until a new government structure is formulated.
There are rumors the Grand Duke’s life was threatened unless he gave up the crown. There are also rumors of threats made earlier on Nicholas’ family, unless he does the same.