On May 18, 1896, thousands of people gathered at the Khodynka Field to celebrate the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II. As an estimated half a million people waited in the field by the dawn of May 18, 1896, a rumor suddenly spread that there was not enough food and gifts to go round for everyone in attendance. The celebration events were held at Khodynka field because it was big enough to accommodate the large number of people attending.
Tsar Nicholas was formally bestowed with the title of Tsar Nicolas II on May 14, 1896. Nicholas had inherited the throne 18 months earlier; however, the coronation and celebratory events were planned for a later date. Preparations for the crowning of the new Tsar were assigned to a Coronation Commission under the Ministry of the Imperial Court.
Panic swept through the crowd, and in a rush to escape, people pressed forward, breaking through the frail barricades that were put up. A police force was sent to quell the unrest, but the crowds began to flee from the scene, resulting in a stampede that killed 1,389 people and injured over a thousand more.
Tsar Nicholas was advised not to offend France, its only European ally, so the day went forward as planned. All traces of the stampede were quickly cleared out. An orchestra performed, and at 2:00 PM Tsar Nikolai II and his wife arrived at the central pavilion to watch the parade and greet the people.