Zinaida Mengden

Imperial Lady-in-waiting and Countess

Top illustrations: Several private photographs from Mengdens life, notably Zinaida, Countess Mengden and von Altenwoga, in court dress a Portrait of Maria Feodorovnas´ Lady-in-Waiting photographed in front of the staircase at The Russian Church Aleksander Nevskij, several photographs from her various courtly functions and as seamstress in her old age, in Copenhagen © Ballerup Museum

Almost three different lives: as companion and Lady-in-waiting of the Dowager Empress, here behind the Empress at the palace of Kiev in 1916 – the 50th anniversary of the Empress´arrival in Russia; Dressed in hermine and finery at Hvidøre in the late twenties and tailoring at her own apartment in Copenhagen in her older days © Familiejournalen and Ballerup Museum

Zinaida Mengden published her memoirs in the 1940´ies. The memoirs are about life in a distant past. Her story is about bygone days in the household of an Empress. She was appointed lady-in waiting in 1912 and had, from that day onwards, no life of her own. She was in service. She must always be at the disposal of the Empress, first and foremost consider the life, needs and well being of the Empress. As a devoted lady-in-waiting, the service of Zinaida never stopped. She accompanied the Empress and left Russia after two years of involuntary retreat at different palaces in the Crimea. A dangerous part of her life, sleeping with a knife under her pillow, and taking part in the dilapidated remaining household, concerned for her brothers fighting at the front. When Maria Feodorovna died in 1928, Zinaida could return to her own life. That is to say, to try and make one of her own. She succeeded in creating an existence with basis in a flat in Venøgade, situated in the district Østerbro at Copenhagen. Here she dealt in perfumes, cosmetics, soap and millinery sent from Paris.