How the British Royals Spent Christmas in 1949

Christmas is just around the corner – hurray!- so we thought we’d take a moment to peak into what Christmas 1949 looked like for the British Royals.

(via Daily Mail)
All Dressed up on Malta (via Daily Mail)

Why 1949? Well, we recently stumbled across a letter from the Queen to Princess Elizabeth, written from Buckingham Palace on December 21 1949. The letter is included in The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It’s quite newsy  and gives a a rather illuminating look inside the innerworkings of the royal family that year from the Queen Mum’s perspective. Everything from ‘feeling quite gaga with Christmas preparations’ (which I’m sure we can all relate to) to a visit and hissy fit from the Duke of Windsor is covered. Do read on!

21 December 1949

Buckingham Palace

My Darling Angel, 

This is a little letter to wish you a very happy Xmas. I am so glad that you are to spend it with Philip, tho’ we shall miss you horribly. The first Xmas without our darling daughter- but never mind, it is quite right to be with the hub of your universe!

I went to see Charles yesterday & he seemed in very good form. I think that his teeth are worrying him a bit, but otherwise he is very well. Of course a rather violent attack such as he had, takes a little time to get over, and he may be a few days yet before he is absolutely back to form. 

He looks just the same, right?! (source)
He looks just the same, right?! This was taken in October 1949

Miss Turner is mad about him, and I think it was a good thing to have her here, as it was rather a terrifying responsibility for Nannie alone. She really has been very good & quietly coping.

I love the picture of Clarence House. It is very attractive and thank you so very much. Darling. I’ve had trouble over what to send you out for a Xmas present. I shall send you a small present & keep my other more useful ones here.

Papa seems well but gets a bit tired with all the worries – Uncle David  [the Duke of Windsor] came & had one of his violent yelling conversations, stamping up & down, the room, & very unfairly saying that because Papa wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do a certain thing, Papa must hate him. So unfair, because Papa is so unscrupulously fair & thoughtful & honest about all that has happened. It’s so much easier to yell & pull down & criticize, than to restrain & build & think right – isn’t it.

The Duke & Duchess of Windsor have a twirl on New Years Eve 1949 (source)
The Duke & Duchess of Windsor have a twirl on New Years Eve 1949 (source)

I am feeling quite gaga with Xmas preparations! On Sunday we did all the Royal Lodge servants & gardeners & policemen etc & then went to Windsor & did Mrs. Bruce [housekeeper] & Lucking [foreman] & the housemaids & Simpson [Head  Gardener] etc. On Friday we had the servants ball at Windsor. – We had ’20 questions’ & ‘Ignorance is Bliss’- great fun. Then the presents for everybody here on Monday! Then the servants ball here last night, with a show including Jimmy Edwards & yes!! Frank Howerd! He is exactly the same off stage as on, oh yes, come now, ladies & gentlemen – etc!I danced with Evitts [yeoman of the plate pantry]– we had an impassioned talk about the footmen – with Hailey [page], bending over me kindly in a waltz, and an endless dance with Lance [footman], & my dress was too long, & he stepped on it every other twirl.

Then we had a Paul Jones & I danced with a tool-maker from the outskirts of London, nephew of one of our charladies, he cheered me by saying that he loved his work, & had a grand ‘guvnor’, & then I was claimed by a smart but seedy looking individual , who said in a fruity voice that he had just had a letter from Philip saying that the weather was lovely in Malta – you know the frenzied conversations one has with utter strangers! But, after keen questioning, I found that he really belonged to Dickie [Mountbatten], & had lived at Chester Street!

Then I had a samba with Jack Crisp, everyone else stood round & watched, except for some swoopers & twirlers who executed the most magnificent bonga-bongas all around us. But it went quite well – & I think that everyone seemed happy. 

Darling Lillibet I do miss you so much – but I love to think that you are having sun & fun & above all a change & above all a look into another form of life.

Papa & I were so lucky, because we had tried so many different ways of life – We had night club life madly for a few years, but also mixed with dinners & country house visits, & big games shooting in Africa, & visits to Paris & Oslo & Belgrade & Rome & Brussels & Australia & MALTA, and out of the welter,, one gradually found one’s feet & head. You are so young and you are also ‘finding out’ – & I am sure that your life in Malta must be one of the ‘finds’.

Lots of love darling & so many good wishes for a very happy  Xmas, from your very loving


King George VI and the Queen must have left London shortly after this letter was written since they spent Christmas of 1949 at Sandringham. The King’s Christmas address was broadcast from the estate that year, and in it he reassured people of his recovery from illness and expressed his gratitude to the United States of America for its sympathy and help in Britain’s effort towards recovery (at the time, Britain was the largest beneficiary of the Marshall Plan). source

The King's 1949 Christmas Speech  (source)
The King’s 1949 Christmas Speech (source)

For some more insights into Christmas 1949,  we have this gem of an article that was published on December 8, 1949. It gives some more info and speculation on the family members who were to be included in the festivities: it was Prince Charles’ second Christmas, Princess Alexandra celebrated her 13th birthday on Christmas day that year (this year she will celebrate her 78th birthday) and Queen Mary traditionally took on the job of  filling stockings on Christmas Eve.

An aerial view of Sandringham circa 1949 (source)
An aerial view of Sandringham circa 1949 (source)

A popular song that year was “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” and one gift that we know was opened that year was this gem-set cigarette case from Cartier. It was a present for Princess Margaret from the king. The inscription reads ‘To Margaret from her very devoted Papa GR Christmas 1949′. It sold for over 100,000 pounds at auction in 2006. Perhaps Lillibet got one, too?




Despite some family shenanigans and Lillibet off in Malta, it sounds like quite a cozy and festive Christmas, right?

If  you’d like to see, we rounded up a few past Christmas posts you might enjoy:

Christmas at Sandringham and the Walk to Church on Christmas Day in 2011 and in earlier years here, here, here, here and here, here,  here and here (so many hats!!)

We also have Princess Diana’s first royal Christmas and Queen Victoria’s Christmas at Windsor Castle.

Royal Christmas cards galore from the Wessex’s York’s, and the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Diana (more of the Wales’ here as well)

And we can’t forget Christmas cards from the Royal Families of Sweden, Denmark, and Monaco.

Royal Stamps

It’s no secret that royal and postage stamps often go together, but sometimes the results are a little more fun than others. Here’s a round up of some royal stamps that stand out, regardless of whether you are a stamp collector or not (I most definitely am not, though many attempts at stamp collecting were made in my youth).

Princess Amalia, Princess Alexia & Princess Ariane

First up is the delightful young princesses of the Netherlands. A series of stamps was issued in 2012 featuring the 3 daughters of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange (she goes by Amalia) is next in line to be Queen followed by Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane, the youngest.



By the way, this photograph was released earlier this month to mark Princess Amalia’s 11th birthday of December 7th.

The Birthday Girl (via Hello!)
The Birthday Girl (via Hello!)

She posed with her two sisters as well – their parents refer to them as ‘the triple A’s.

The girls (via Hello!)
The girls (via Hello!)

Crown Princess Frederick, Crown Princess Mary & Prince Christian

We have another young future ruler next. Princess Christian, the future King of Denmark, made his stamp debut at the age of 14 months with his parents. The three of them are wearing Greenlandic costume (Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark0. Mary’s colourful outfit was a wedding present she’d received back in 2004 . This stamp is part of a charitable fundraising program in Denmark that dates back to 1921.

Hello World! (via Australian News)
Hello World! (via Australian News)

Queen Elizabeth II

Royal Mail released this sweet stamp to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday in 2006. 8 stamps were issued, one for each decade, and each featured an informal photograph.

(via Postal Heritage)
Two Elizabeths (via Postal Heritage)

I love this one, too. It was taken during a relaxed moment on the Royal Yacht Brittania in 1972.

Just so much fun (via Postal Heritage)
Just so much fun (via Postal Heritage)


Crown Prince Haakon & Crown Princess Mette-Marit

A little more on the formal side, these stamps  were released in  celebration of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s  40th birthdays in 2013 (they were born just under a month apart). The series also included a shot of Crown Princely Family as well as one of the King of Norway with his son and granddaughter.

(via )
So glossy! (via

Here’s a bit of a closer look at the family photos (apologies that they are so tiny!)

(via )

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

This shot taken during William & Kate’s Australia tour is now a stamp in Australia. That’s the dress William told Kate she looked like a banana in..but hey it makes for a cheerful stamp!

(via Pinterest)
(via Pinterest)

So which is your favourite? I vote for the laughing Queen shot from 1972 🙂