Tsarskoe Selo, which was the summer retreat residence of the Russian emperors, became the permanent residence of the royal family during the reign of Alexander II. Members of the Tsar's retinue noted that the lifestyle of the last Romanovs in Tsarskoe Selo was much less official than wherever else. Alexandra Fyodorovna, avers to any display of pomp and pageantry, devoted nearly all her time to her husband and children. The Tsar also felt most at home among the closest members of his family.

The family of the last Russian monarchs lived in the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, built by architect Giacomo Quarenghi in the late 18th century for Catherine the Great’s favourite grandson, Grand Prince Alexander Pavlovich, the future Emperor Alexander I. A miniature copy of this palace, made of coloured gold, silver and enamel, was the surprise of one of the greatest works of Carl Fabergé - the egg which Nicholas II gave to his deeply beloved spouse for Easter 1908. The jade egg was adorned with five miniature portraits of their children – four great princesses and their only son, Tsesarevich Alexey. Their lovely faces were painted on ivory with watercolours and placed under convex plates made of rock crystal. Inside the egg, the portraits were enclosed in golden frames, on which the names of the children and their birth dates were engraved.

A deep rich green hue of jade was chosen for the Easter masterpieces. Carl Fabergé was partial to green, calling it "the colour of hope", and green has also traditionally symbolized youth, blossoming, the triumph of life and spring. The artistic design of the egg, executed in the style of Classicism, was dictated by the surprise - the strict and elegant Alexandrovsky Palace with its translucent colonnade and checked proportions. The egg was decorated with diamond thyrsi, entwined in golden leaves and crowned with pine cones and diamond seeds – a symbol of labour, fertility and abundance.Between the thyrsi, there are fine sagging golden garlands and crossed flowering branches intertwined with refined diamond ribbons. Diamonds dominate the decoration of the egg, in keeping with the definition of Shakespeare as 'the stone of monarchs' and 'a token of love'. Tiny diamonds frame the miniature portraits of the children and their initials are placed under the imperial crown. Jeweller of Wigström’s workshops, where the egg was crafted, used 1805 small rose-cut diamonds and 54 cabochon rubies in the form of congealed red drops. Two large flat triangular diamonds were fastened to the upper and lower ends of the egg, through which one can see the year when the egg was produced and the monogram of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. These triangular diamonds combined with three smaller ones placed in the middle on their sides, form hexagonal stars, likely symbolizing the star of Bethlehem which appeared at the time when Christ Child was born. Long since the hexagonal star has symbolized happiness, prosperity and was sometimes the sign of the Tsar's children.

In the middle of the precious and fragile 'shell' was the portrait of Tsesarevich Alexey Nikolaevich wearing a white lambskin cap taken from a photograph of 1907.  The Tsesarevich was a wonderful child, according to the Tsar's entourage, similar to a cherub with his golden curls and large intelligent eyes. Alexey was the centre of attention in this friendly family, yet he was also the reason for the constant concern of his loved ones. The long-awaited heir to the throne suffered from a terrible disease – haemophilia, and any bump, scratch or bruise could cause terrible suffering to the poor child.

The Alexandrovsky Palace was transformed whenever the heir to the throne was in good health, but any crises occurred were carefully concealed from the prying eyes of the outsiders. The illness was something of a state secret and was the reason for the forced isolation of the royal couple. Those who were unaware of the situation called the Emperor and Empress, as well as their children, who had withdrawn to the Alexandrovsky Palace, 'the hermits of Tsarskoe Selo'.

It was therefore probably no coincidence that the miniature palace – the place of their seclusion – was placed by the workmasters of the Fabergé firm on a tiny golden table. It seems to be shut off from the outside world in its ideal, enclosed circular form and is similar to an island, which as we now know, was to sink and vanish in a few years.