How Queen Elizabeth II Once Broke the Royal Protocol for a Russian Sailor
The life of the British Queen Elizabeth II and those around her are strictly guided by rules. There’s a royal protocol that must be followed to keep The Queen — and her sense of morality — calm and content. However, she never wished for that kind of life. Her ascension to the throne was unpredicted and led to some outstanding events in British history.
We at Bright Side have come across one of those outstanding historical occasions that involved The Queen at the dawn of her reign. We’ve investigated the case so that you can learn about this interesting event in British history.
It only takes a moment to destroy a life.
Let us introduce you to one of the main characters of this story, Olimpy Rudakov, a Russian sailor who would later steal the show and The Queen’s attention.
The first time Olimpy Rudakov took part in a foreign trip to England was in 1937. It was dedicated to the Royal Coronation Ceremony of King George VI, and he came to London on board the Marat battleship as a cadet at that time. A brilliant future was ahead of him, no one doubted that.
In 1942, amidst serious attacks, Rudakov served as right hand to the Sokrushitelny fleet destroyer in command. The ship was caught in an awful storm which led to serious damage and the ultimate sinking of the ship. While most of the crew were saved, 30 members died. This was considered a great war crime, and Rudakov was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He was also denied all military ranks.
A second chance
Destiny is quite benevolent to handsome men, and Olimpy Rudakov proves this point all but well. If someone ever doubts his appealing looks, they can easily see the truth without having to Google it.
Whenever you’re in Moscow, make sure to go underground and travel to the “Ploshchad Revolyutsii” station in the metro. In 1938 a famous sculptor, Matvey Manizer, was creating a series of sculptures for the hall of this station. He chose Cadet Olimpy Rudakov as a model for one of them saying, “A Red Navy soldier from Marat battleship. A dashing navy soldier with binoculars on his chest and signal flags in his hands — that’s him, our hero.”
After serving his prison sentence, Rudakov got a second chance to prove himself to be a brave soldier and a devoted patriot. He was sent to the frontlines, was injured twice and finally came back to the Northern fleet with his military rank recovered. In 1952 he became the commander of the Doblestny fleet destroyer.
The sun began shining on his horizon again.
Drive the ship like nobody’s watching.
Following King Edward’s abdication from the throne and the sudden death of her father, King George VI in 1952, Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth had to take the country into her own hands. On June 2, 1953, her coronation was about to happen.
The Soviet military seamen were invited to participate in the international military-marine parade in honor of this occasion. 40-year-old first rank captain, Olimpy Rudakov was chosen to sail to England on his cruiser, Sverdlov.
Weather misfortunes seem to stalk this captain. On the way to England, the cruiser was caught in a severe storm and was forced to slow down. So when they finally arrived at the destination very late, Rudakov had to make up for the lost time. He chose the most impressive way to do so. He led the ship at full speed right on its mooring spot. Mind you, the cruiser was 210 meters long and 20 meters wide with 1200 crew members onboard.
It took Rudakov 12 minutes instead of the regular 1.5 hours to perform this. The time was noted by a British communications officer, whose own naval protocol gave 45 minutes for such an action. The French cruiser, for instance, needed 4 hours to moor.
You can watch a British Pathé documentary review the Royal Naval Parade here. The sight is indeed worth seeing, impressing all with its grandeur and precision.
Life in the public eye
Olimpy Rudakov’s brilliant performance at Portsmouth was an absolute sensation. The day after the event, his face was on the cover of almost every English newspaper. And that’s how the future Queen noticed him. By the way, if you are interested in the topic, we suggest you do further research in the British Newspaper archive.
The next day, The Queen was waiting for all the ship captains at the Vanguard battleship. They were invited there for the ceremony and were to be presented with memorable awards in honor of the coronation.
The moment when The Queen was supposed to greet and award the American and French captains with first place, she suddenly walked past them and approached Captain Rudakov. The Queen congratulated him on the remarkable “parking” of the cruiser, gave him the award and only then paid her attention to the other commanders.
It was a striking violation of the protocol, but no one intervened. Though Winston Churchill, who was hardly fancying the Soviets at the time, was completely flabbergasted.
You can’t touch The Queen — but you can dance with her!
We’d like you to completely immerse yourself in the context now. Imagine you’re a young 27-year-old princess, who recently got married for life (literally, divorce is not an option) and are now faced with the obligation to become the queen for life too. It’s incredibly scary if you think about it!
Would you risk it all for the last bit of youthful freedom, for a whimsicality that no one can actually punish you for? Would you take that chance? This queen did!
The coronation ball followed, and 20 members of the Sverdlov crew with their commander included were to attend it. Rudakov presented The Queen with a gorgeous weasel mantle from Khrushchev, but he himself was a far more impressive and interesting object than the mantle. The Queen asked Rudakov for a dance (a waltz, to be precise). It was her very first dance as The Head of State, and she shared it with a Soviet commander.
She then introduced him to her sister, Princess Margaret.
2 peas in a pod
The story doesn’t end here. To break the rules of the royal protocol even further, Queen Elizabeth invited Rudakov as an audience instead of 2 official representatives of the USSR. The Queen and the commander left the ball and proceeded to her cabinet. The Prime Minister couldn’t bear it and left the ball.
Princess Margaret, well known for her rebellious nature and passion for grand gestures, sent Rudakov a van of flowers the next day and offered him a 10-day tour across the English castles. She had The Queen’s written permission to do so.
Perhaps all the storms of Rudakov’s life were guiding him toward that very moment. His star shone bright at that time and dazzled the one person who seemed to matter most. Yet we like to think that this episode of Princess Elizabeth’s life left her memories to cherish and served as a bold mark on her path as Queen.
Do you know any other exciting stories about the Royals and their interaction with common people? Please share them in the comments! Perhaps we’d make an article out of them as well!
Preview photo credit Courtesy Everett Collection / East news