Christmas Letters from Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon Written From 1910 – 1921

With just a few more days to go before Christmas, we thought it would be fun to look at a few letters written over the Christmas holidays by Elizabeth Bowes Lyon. The letters chosen for this post show her spirit and sense of fun, and give some insight into what it was like growing up as a free spirited aristocratic Lady in the early 19o’s. This post covers the years from 191o (when she was just ten years old!) to 1921 when she had become good friends with Prince Albert.

(via Amazon)
(via Amazon)

All of these letters are part of the collection published in The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Counting One’s Blessings by William Shawcross. We highly recommend this book to any Royal watchers, it is a delightful read. It can be purchased here.

 

Elizabeth and her brother David at St. Paul's Walden Bury in 1905
Elizabeth and her brother David at St. Paul’s Walden Bury in 1905 (source)

Before we jump in, let’s have a little refresher. The Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was born in August of 1900 (there is some debate around the actual date). In 1904, her father inherited the Earldom of Strathmore and Kinghorne, making her Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The family split their time between the famous Glamis Castle in Scotland, St. Paul’s Walden Bury in Hertfordshire, and a series of rented houses in London.

St. Paul’s Walden Bury has been owned by the family since the 1700’s and it is possibly where Elizabeth was born, though there is a degree of mystery around that. Click here or here for a bit more on that if you’re intrigued!

As you can see below, St. Paul’s Walden Bury is an impressive red brick house and it is surrounded by extensive grounds.

A view of the grounds and house at St. Paul's Walden bury (via St. Paul's Walden Bury)
A view of the grounds and house at St. Paul’s Walden bury (via St. Paul’s Walden Bury official site)

The letter below was written from St. Paul’s Walden Bury to The Honourable Fenella Trefusis when Elizabeth was ten years old. She was known in the Strathmore family as ‘Neva’ and married Elizabeth’s brother Hon. John Bowes-Lyon (known by family and friends as ‘Jock’) on September 29, 1914

Nine year old Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother David (via Pinterest)
Nine year old Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon all dressed up for a play of some sort with her brother David (via Pinterest)

16 December, 1910 to Fenella Trefusis from St. Paul’s Walden Bury

My Dear Neva,

Thank you very much for the delicious box of chocolates. You did not put who it was from, but two or three day’s later Rose wrote and told me it was you. Isn’t it awful perhaps we are going to have Xmas in London!!!! Think of it X-mas in London. Yours was the first present I have received. It was most awfully kind of you to think of us. I haven’t the slighted notion of where you are staying so I am going to look in the Red Book. I am afraid you will hardly be able to read my writing as it is nearly tea-time and the lamps have not come on yet. It has been raining and blowing for the last three days. 

David sends his love and wishes me to thank you for the chocolates.

Good-bye with much love from 

Elizabeth

She sounds like a delightful ten year old, right? Oh the horrors of Christmas in London! And I love how the lamps had to be put on.

Jumping ahead five years, the 1915 letter below is to Beryl Poignand, who was hired as Elizabeth’s governess from 1914-17 and became a close confidant. Their relationship continued until Beryl’s death in 1965. As a matter of fact, Beryl helped to organize the exhibition of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding presents and the accompanying catalog in 1947.

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother in 1915 (via Daily Mail)
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon with her brother in 1915 (via Daily Mail)

Something else to remember while reading this (somewhat cheeky!) letter is that Glamis Castle was being used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers and Elizabeth befriended many of them.

Sunday 26 December 1915 to Beryl Poignand 

Glamis Castle

My Dear Silly Ass

Thank you very much for your letter. Always received with grateful thanks. I wonder if you have left London, anyhow I shall send this to Cheltenham. 

Well, I hope you had a very happy Christmas, and nice presents. Would you like to know what I had?

Father gave me a wristwatch, Mother a kettle, Rosie some hankies, Aunti Vava a picture, Grannie a bowl, May a pair of shoe buckles etc. In fact rather nice useful presents. I hope you like the book. […]

The men liked the Tree very much. I think, they each got an electric torch, a shirt, & chocolate & crackers & things.

I believe the noise last night at ‘lights out’ was something appalling, trumpets & squeaky things going like mad etc. Abel said, ‘It’s a funny thing, I wanted a bloomin’ cigarette case, and I wanted a blinkin’ electric torch and I got ’em both’! So he ought to be quite pleased. Pegg asked me if you’d gone to Cheltenham. Ernest was simply delighted with his book. Of course we drank ‘To hell with the b—– Kaiser’ last night and good ‘health to Henry and Larry.” […]

Good-bye, farewell, fare ye well, Tarry not, so long, au devoir, good bye, farewell etc etc etc and so on for 2 pages.

Abel, Pegg, and Ernest were all convalescent soldiers at Glamis during WWI. Ernest Pearce developed a life long relationship with Elizabeth, and eventually became garden at her home, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park until he died in 1969.

Lady Elizabeth at her desk, January 1920 (Getty Images)
Lady Elizabeth at her desk, January 1920 (Getty Images)

Our next Christmas letter was written five years later in 1920. It was on July 8, 1920, that Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon first met Prince Albert at a RAF ball (in a letter dated to just a few days later she wrote to Beryl Poignand “I went to the RAF Ball at the Ritz…I danced with Prince Albert who I hadn’t known before, he is quite a nice youth.” They would have just known each other five months by the time she wrote this note.

23 December 1920 to the Duke of York

St. Paul’s Walden Bury

Dear Prince Albert

Thank you so very much for the lovely little box, which I simply love.

It is so nice of you think of giving it to me, and very many thanks. It is so pretty, and will help to ornament my sitting room in Bruton Street next year. I was so sorry about the dance on Tuesday, but my mother has really been very ill, and I couldn’t leave her.

She is a little better, which is a great relief. Did you enjoy Lady Evelyn’s dance last week? I loved it, tho’ I enjoyed ‘your party’ at Mrs Greville’s even more. I feel I shall not be going to another one for moths, which is dreadfully sad. I lead such a deadly existence here, that there is simply nothing to tell you – oh except that I have just fallen into a pond! The only event which happened for weeks!

I hope you will have a very merry Xmas, & I send you all my best wishes for 1921. I hope it will be a very happy year for you. Thank you again a thousand times for the darling little box – I do love it.

I am Sir,

Yours Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lyon

Things had warmed up a bit by the time Elizabeth wrote a thank you note the next Christmas in 1921. She had moved from calling him ‘Prince Albert’ to ‘Prince Bertie’ after all!

A portrait of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon c.1921 (via Pinterest)
A portrait of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon c.1921 (via Pinterest)

Friday December 21 1921 to the Duke of York

Glamis Castle

Dear Prince Bertie,

Just a line to wish you a happy Xmas, and a wonderful New Year, full of everything delicious & joyful. I am not quite sure where you are, but will send this to York Cottage. Please forgive pencil, but I am writing in bed with a chill or flu or something.

Your delightful present has just arrived as I write!

I simply cannot thank you enough, it is the most darling little clock, and I simply love it. Thank you a million times – you should not give me such a lovely present. It really is too pretty for words, and besides being pretty useful too. I am enchanted with it. Also that is an excellent photograph of you – I wish I had got something to send you too.

All good wishes, & good luck

Yours v sincerely

Elizabeth

Glamis Castle during a warmer time of year (source)
Glamis Castle during a warmer time of year (source)

Over the next two years, Prince Albert proposed several times until she finally accepted during a visit to St. Paul’s Walden Bury in January of 1923, where we will pick up in the next installment.If you’re in the mood for a bit more, check this post out for another charming letter.

A rather somber engagement photograph of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (via Flickr)
A rather somber engagement photograph of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (via Flickr)

What do you think of these letters? We hope they have helped you get into the festive spirit!

The Tiaras Worn by Kate So Far

This past week, a prediction we made on this blog back in October 2011 came true: Kate wore the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara in public. Before we dive further into that momentous occasion in history for royal jewelry watchers, let’s take a look at each of the three tiaras Kate has worn so far.

The Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara (also known as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Scroll Tiara)

Back in April 2011, Kate famously wore a tiara for the first time in public when she chose to wear the Cartier ‘Halo’ Tiara for her wedding day to Prince William. Our original post about that tiara’s history can be found here.

(Via Culture Concept)
The new Duchess of Cambridge, April 2015 (Via Culture Concept)

This tiara first came into the Royal Family’s collection around 1923 when the then Duke of York gave it to the then Duchess of York (later the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother). According to Leslie Field in the The Queen’s Jewels, it was one of half a dozen tiaras that the Duchess of York wore between her marriage in 1923 to her accession to the throne in 1936.  The photograph below of the Duchess of York was taken just before King Edward VIII’s abdication and was likely the last time she wore it in public. After that, she had more ‘Queenly’ tiaras to wear and she wasn’t seen wearing the tiara in public again.

(via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)
The Duke and Duchess of York c. 1936 (via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)

At some point it was passed onto the present Queen, but it seems it wasn’t a great favourite since she has never worn it in public either. Instead, she loaned it to her sister Princess Margaret who wore it on numerous occasions and later to Princess Anne, who wore it frequently in her early tiara wearing years. The classic, low style of this piece makes it a perfect starter tiara!

Princess Anne and Princess Margaret (via Pinterest)
Princess Anne and Princess Margaret (via Pinterest)

Now of course Kate is the most likely member of the royal family to be seen wearing the tiara in future years, and my guess is that Princess Charlotte will be the next royal lady to be seen in it after Kate (Prince Harry’s future wife is going to have to choose something else). What do you think?

Hopefully Kate will dust it off an wear it more in the future. After all, Kate’s parents commissioned diamond earrings from Robinson Pelham that echo the scrolls of the Halo tiara and it would be so much fun to see them worn together again on a night out.

As a side note, around the time of the wedding there were rumours that Kate planned to wear a floral wreath on her head instead of a tiara, in keeping with the ‘language of flowers’ theme of the wedding and all. These earrings shot a hole through that theory; the Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara must have been chosen pretty early on into the engagement to allow time for the earrings to be made with such a similar scroll motif as the ones used in the tiara.

(via The Jewelry Editor)
Kate’s Wedding Day Earrings that Echo the Scrolls of the Cartier Tiara (via The Jewellery Editor)

Kate hasn’t brought out this tiara or the earrings out for a second time yet, but it’s bound to happen in the next few years at least. One possible reason that she hasn’t worn it again yet is because it was loaned to Cartier for the Cartier: Style and History exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris from December 4, 2013 to February 16, 2014, right when her second tiara wearing event came along

 

The Lotus Flower Tiara (also known as the Diamond Fan Motif Tiara)

It was on December 3, 2014 that Kate wore a tiara in public for the second time, and obviously the Halo tiara was unavailable, so the Queen offered up something else. She chose another dainty but pretty ‘starter tiara’ which was appropriate since Kate hadn’t been in the Royal Family very long. Diving right into wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara would have been a heavy weight to carry in more ways than one.

Kate arrives at Buckingham Palace, December 3 2013 (via Royal Fans)
Kate arrives at Buckingham Palace, December 3 2013 (via Royal Fans)

This tiara first came into the royal family in the 1920’s when it was gifted to the Duchess of York. In The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Fields refers to it as having “graduated diamond fan-shaped festoons given height by pearls and collet diamonds on upright spikes.” It actually appears that there is only one pearl and it is at centre front.

As was the fashion, the then Duchess of York wore the tiara across her forehead for this 1929 portrait.

The Stylish Duchess of York photographed in 1929 (via Daily Mail)
The Stylish Duchess of York photographed in 1929 (via Daily Mail)

She later passed the tiara on to Princess Margaret to use, and she wore it in the more traditional style for many tiara occasions, and once for a portrait which is now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Princess Margaret in the Lotus Flower Tiara (via Daily Mail)
Princess Margaret in the Lotus Flower Tiara (via Daily Mail)

As we pointed out in our earlier post,  until Kate wore this tiara in December of 2013, it hadn’t been worn publicly since Serena Stanhope wore it on her October 1993 wedding day when she married Princess Margaret’s son David Linley. That’s a wait of over 20 years!

Serena Stanhope Wore the Tiara on her Wedding Day (Via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)
Serena Stanhope Wore the Tiara on her Wedding Day (Via Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour)

The fact that the Queen appears to own the tiara now implies that Princess Margaret never personally owned the tiara. Or, in the unlikely event that she did, the Queen must have privately bought it back from Princess Margaret’s children so it would not be sold at auction. Princess Margaret’s son and daughter did choose to auction off Princess Margaret’s ‘Poltimore’ wedding tiara back in 2006.

Kate brought out the Lotus Flower tiara for a second time for her third public tiara appearance. It was considered to be something of a diplomatic choice since she chose to wear it for a state banquet given for Chinese President Xi Jinping. In Chinese culture, the lotus flower is considered to be representative of harmony, beauty, and tranquility (source).

Cheers to diplomatic jewelry wearing! (via Daily Mail)
Cheers to diplomatic jewelry wearing! (via Daily Mail)

 

It was Kate’s first state dinner and let’s hope a State dinner will be given for the King and Queen of Spain when they visit England and stay at Windsor Castle in March 2016 and that Kate and William will take part; a Queen Letitia and Duchess of Cambridge photo op would be most welcome!

Our post with more of the history of this tiara can be found here, if you’re in the mood for more.

The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara

We originally wrote about this tiara in October of 2011, and that post can be found here. In that post we spoke about how it makes sense that even thought this tiara is so strongly lined to Diana, Princess of Wales this tiara, it should eventually be passed to Kate to use once she had built up her own royal identity enough. She is after all the Duchess of Cambridge and will eventually be Princess of Wales herself. Wearing significant pieces of jewelry owned by the Royal Family when representing the United Kingdom just goes with the territory!

It was thrilling to see her pull up to Buckingham Palace wearing it. It’s quite fitting that this first outing for the tiara  on Kate was for an event where pictures aren’t released to the public. It’s the perfect warm up for when she next gets it out of the vault for a more public outing with more photo opportunities.

Kate in the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara (via Today)
Kate in the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara (via Today)

In The Queen’s Jewels, Fields gives us much more insight into the history of this tiara:

One of the most charming tributes that Queen Mary ever paid to the maternal side of her family was the tiara that she had made by Gerrard in 1914 to her own design and from pearls and diamonds already in her possession. It was a copy of one owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, who married the first Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III, in 1818. She had been given it by her family prior to her marriage…When the Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest daughter, and namesake, Augusta, married the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1843, she gave her the tiara as a wedding present. The Grand Duchess, in turn, became godmother, and ultimately closest confidante, to her niece, the future Queen Mary, who saw her annually and knew the tiara well. In 1912 she wrote to her aunt:

‘If you have a dinner to celebrate yr birthday you must wear on yr 90th birthday the pearl & diamond diadems &English orders, do please do so for my sake. Think how beautiful you will look with yr white hair and still lovely neck.”

Naturally the tiara was passed along to Queen Mary who wore it often. This portrait of Queen Mary shows her wearing the tiara in 1926 as it was originally designed.

Queen Mary in 1926 (via Tumblr)
Queen Mary in 1926 (via Tumblr)

She removed the upright pearls by 1935 and left the tiara to the present Queen in her will. Queen Elizabeth who wore it on several occasions before passing it on to the Princess of Wales to use.

Queen Elizabeth in 1955 (via Internet Stones)
Queen Elizabeth in 1955 (via Internet Stones)

The Queen lent the tiara to the Princess of Wales to wear when she married Prince Charles in 1981; despite some claims to the contrary, this tiara was never personally owned by Diana.

Diana wore the tiara for the first time in October of 1981 for the opening of Parliament and numerous times after that. She apparently often chose to wear the Spencer tiara instead since the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara is much heavier and she found the swinging pearls distracting.

The Princess of Wales in 1981 (via Pinterest)
The Princess of Wales in 1981 (via Pinterest)

So three tiaras in four years is pretty fantastic and has me wondering if there are any other tiara’s from the Queen’s collection that have been earmarked for Kate to wear in the future before she becomes Queen. On that note, they’ll also have to have a tiara on hand for Prince Harry’s future wife to use, assuming she won’t already have one of her own. Any eagle eyed tiara observers out there with ideas for what Harry’s wife will have? Maybe she and Kate will share the Lotus Flower? Or they will buy her a new one, like they did for Sara, Duchess of York? Or perhaps they will dust off something in the Queen’s Vault that hasn’t been seen publicly in ages, like they did for Sophie, Countess of Wessex?

Royal Passports

Some of the more unique aspects of royal life are what we find so fascinating here at the Royal Post, and one area we haven’t discussed yet is passports. Since they interest us, we thought you’d like to learn more as well so let’s dive in!

Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip (source)
Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip (source)

The British Royals

One of the perks of being The Queen of England is that she  is the only citizen of the United Kingdom who does not need a passport when travelling overseas.

giphy-2

The official website of the British Monarchy explains that the inside of each British passport has this statement:

‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.’

So, since British passports are issued in the name of The Queen, it is unnecessary for her to have one herself. She is the only exception; the rest of her family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports and must carry them when travelling abroad.

Such a great read!
Such a great read!

The fascinating book In Private In Public the Prince and Princess of Wales by Alastair Burnet includes a look at the passports that Diana and Charles carried in the mid ’80’s (such a fun read – you can pick up a copy here.

(source)
(source)

These passports don’t appear to have a special mark showing any special diplomatic status, but if we’re mistaken please let us know in the comments!

(source)
(source)

Here’s an inside look at Diana’s passport as well; it was part of the exhibit on her life at Althorp. No  severe and boring drug store passport photo for the Princess of Wales!

Princess Diana's British passport on exhibit---as we visited the Princess Diana exhibit at the Mall of America fourth floor exhibit space with a group of English-born women that call themselves the English Mums Friday morning February 3, 2012. The exhibit was lent by Princess Diana's family and it features what is considered to be the largest collection of her personal heirlooms extant. The exhibit opens Saturday. (Pioneer Press: John Doman)
A passport photo fit for a princes (source)

Diana’s childhood passport was also included in the exhibit and I remember seeing it there on my visit to Althorp in the summer of 2001. Unfortunately the photo is teeny tiny, but I can just make out that her birthplace is listed as Sandringham, England on on 1-7-61. At this point, she would have been The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer and apparently Diana’s dad took all the photos of the Spencer siblings that were used in their passports.

(source)
So cute! (source)

We also know that William and Kate applied for a passport for Prince George in advance of their trip to Australia in 2013.  Understandably, no pictures have been published of William, Kate, or George’s passports but I do have an anecdote!

Oh, George!
Oh, George!

An acquaintance of mine worked at the Welcome Centre at the Athlete’s Village during the 2012 London Olympics. At all Olympic Athlete’s Villages, the Welcome Centre essentially functions as Customs for the village. Anyone who is not an Olympic athlete must enter through the centre and be on a pre-screened and approved list and, without exception, each visitor must bring their passport with them to be left at the Centre for the duration of their visit. Most people are great about following the rules, but William and Kate sidestepped this and just brought photocopies. The gall! The folks running the centre weren’t pleased but…they let them in.

William & Kate tour the Athlete's Village (source)
William & Kate tour the Athlete’s Village (source)

 

(source)
Kate visiting the Athlete’s Village on Day four of the London 2012 Summer Olympics (source)

The House of Grimaldi

When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier, she became a citizen of Monaco and decided to retain her US citizenship. This photo of her American passport surfaced on the internet – interesting that she calls herself ‘Grace Kelly Grimaldi’, right?

 

(source)
(source)

 

Prince Albert reportedly claimed dual citizenship as well, but gave it up when he turned 21. He is, however, enormously proud to have visited each and every State; he seems to bring that up in every interview with an American reporter.

The Royal Family of Denmark

There is limited information about the passport situation for Denmark’s royal family, however it is widely reported that all members of the Royal Family have diplomatic passports. We also know that when Queen Margarethe’s sons married foreigners Alexandra Manley, Mary Donaldson, and Marie Cavallier they were all given Danish citizenship. Understandably, it caused a bit of a fuss when they got to sidestep the normal channels to receive their passports.

(source)
Princes Alexandra and Prince Joachim with their sons

When  Princess Alexandra and Prince Joachim divorced, she reportedly was allowed to retain her diplomatic passport. The thinking there was that her and Prince Joachim’s sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix would both have diplomatic passports so it would be impractical if their mother didn’t have one as well when travelling.

The extended Danish Royal Family gathered together on Christmas Eve, (source)
The extended Danish Royal Family gathered together on Christmas Eve, 2006 (source)

Also, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece can carry Danish diplomatic passports since they are descended from a Danish King and Queen. Members of their family, like Prince Pavolos and Princess Marie Chantal can also carry Danish passports since they are a Prince and Princess of Denmark. More details about that can be read here if you’re in the mood.

We’ll stick with those three royal families for now, but we’ll keep digging for more information and do feel free to share anything you know in the comments!

September 9th, 2015: The Queen’s Reign is Now Longer than Queen Victoria’s

As of Wednesday September 9, 2015 at 5:30 London time, Queen Elizabeth officially becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history, passing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.

giphy

The Queen has chosen not to greet this milestone with any great fanfare. Can’t really blame her- the rain soaked 2012 River boat cruise marking  the Diamond Jubilee ended with Prince Philip in the hospital for days (when asked if she’d enjoyed the celebrations she said something like “Enjoy isn’t the right word.”). My take is that there’s already so much hoopla around her, she doesn’t feel the need for more.

Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. In honour of the occasion, we’ve rounded up some happily spontaneous quotes and moments from Queen Elizabeth II’s life  and are giving a nod to Queen Victoria as well. Because while we often remember Queen Victoria all somber and serious like this…

(Via Biography)
(Via Biography)

…we have photographic proof that she wasn’t only about black dresses and admonishing looks. She smiled sometimes!  This carriage ride photo was taken in February 1892.

She smiled sometimes! (via Biography)
(via Biography)

We already know that Queen Elizabeth II can be a hoot herself. Photobomb!

(via Daily Mail)
Australian soccer players and the Queen at the Commonwealth Games (via Daily Mail)

She also enjoyed it when something planned goes a little off in her highly scheduled and formal public life, and that’s something that Prince William’s talked about on occasion.

Take, for example, when she was in Canada in April 1982 for the signing of the Constitution Act and then Justice Minister (and later Prime Minister) Jean Chretien had a broken pen. In his words:

“I picked up the pen and I start to try to sign and it was not working and I said to myself ‘merde’ and she had a big, big laugh,” he said. “Everybody was asking me what the hell you told her that she had such a spontaneous laugh and I refused to say so for years.” (source)

Ottawa. April 17, 1982. The Queen is all smiles as Attorney-General Jean Chretien reaches for a pen to sign the Constitution proclamation. Photo by Erik Christensen / The Globe and Mail Orig. Pub. April 19, 1982 (source)
Ottawa. April 17, 1982. The Queen is all smiles as Attorney-General Jean Chretien reaches for a pen to sign the Constitution proclamation. Photo by Erik Christensen / The Globe and Mail
Orig. Pub. April 19, 1982 (source)

More recently, she was totally into partaking in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Sebastian Coe was an instrumental part in helping to make the idea happen, and as he reported in his biography, she had kept it a secret from her family.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AS-dCdYZbo

He said that when the film cut to the back of the Queen, the Prince of Wales had “exactly the same reaction” as the rest of the world, which was to assume it was “the lady who does the impersonations”. 

He added: “But the moment she turned around, and everyone realised, ‘my God! It really is the Queen!’ he began roaring with laughter. As for his sons, they were beside themselves. (source)

Every year she also seems to have a fantastic time watching the Braemar Games underway during her visit to Balmoral, and it always results in photos like this.

(source)
(source)

She was there again this year and it was no different as you can see in the photo below (our post from 2012 on the Games has even more pictures of hooting and hollering at the Games, if you’d like to see).

Braemar Games 2015 (source)
Braemar Games 2015 (source)

And here are a select few quips and quotes:

Also, this:

Here’s to Queen Elizabeth wearing the crown for many years to come.

The Queen adjusts the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara during a photo shoot (via Daily Mail)
Adjusting her headgear during a 2004 photo shoot (via Daily Mail)

 

 

A Royal Family Order for Kate?

A side bar in a Daily Mail article caught my eye earlier today and inspired me to dust off the computer and dive back into the Royal Post, which I’ve been wanting to do for quite sometime!  The article in question is a tidbit about the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.

That is the Order we see Diana wearing pinned to her pink dress in the photo below.

Such a Diana look (source)
So many bows! (source)

Here is the sidebar article in full:

The Queen plans to celebrate her milestone next month – when she becomes the longest-reigning Monarch – by honouring the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate will receive the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II – the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a female member of the family. The 33-year-old Duchess is the only senior member not to wear a family honour. A source said: ‘It is an honour reserved for first division female Royals.’ Sophie Wessex has one, as does the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne. The insignia is a diamond- encrusted brooch featuring an ivory plaque of the Queen wearing the Order of the Garter and bearing the Royal cypher. It is worn on a yellow ribbon. Kate is expected to wear hers to a State dinner when the Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the UK in October. (source)

I’m wondering about the source here. Traditionally this honour isn’t announced in advance – it’s something that only becomes public when the royal in question starts to wear the Order out and about. The Daily Mail isn’t providing anything concrete and a quick Google search shows that this information hasn’t been picked up anywhere else as of yet. That being said, it seems like the Daily Mail does have some reporters in cahoots with legit sources behind palace walls so…could it be true?

The Front and Back of the Royal Family Order (source)
The Front and Back of the Royal Family Order (source)

I think it could be.   Kate and William have been getting criticism lately for being work shy and maybe this is intended to help push things in an another direction.

Let’s look a little more at the history. For the British Monarchy, the Royal Family Order is  a tradition that was formalized by George IV when he became King in 1820. It used to be that both men and women wore Orders, but now it is solely given to female members of the family and is given at the discretion of the sovereign in recognition of service.

The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth is a portrait of the young Queen surrounded by diamonds and on a yellow ribbon. The front and back can be seen in the image above; it comes from the wonderful blog From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.

Each sovereign chooses a different colour for their Order’s ribbon. Queen Elizabeth’s dad George VI chose a pretty pink shade, for example. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret wore theirs to the coronation in 1939. If you look closely, you can see them pinned to their dresses below.

Those mini crowns! (source)
Those mini crowns! (source)

And here’s the Queen wearing it in 1969 with a dress that matches the ribbon perfectly. Below the pink, you can see the light blue order given to her by her grandfather King George V.

The Queen colour coordinates her dress with her order in 1969
The Queen colour coordinates her dress with her order in 1969

For her Order portrait, the Queen chose an image taken during a sitting with Dorothy Wilding in 1952, so it was done before her 1953 coronation. I wonder if the Queen knew she wanted a yellow ribbon and chose her dress for the portrait accordingly?  These are the things I think about!

by Dorothy Wilding, hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson, hand-coloured bromide print, 1952 (Source)
by Dorothy Wilding, hand-coloured by Beatrice Johnson, hand-coloured bromide print, 1952 (Source). This portrait is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Anyway, Princess Anne has worn the Order for decades.

The Queen and Princess Anne at a reception in Vienna (Getty Images)
The Queen and Princess Anne at a reception in Vienna (Getty Images)

We also know that Princess Diana received a Family Order quite early on. Here she is wearing it in 1983.

The Princes & Princess of Wales all dolled up on tour in 1983 (source)
The Princes & Princess of Wales all dolled up on tour in 1983 (source)

It’s a bold piece and doesn’t necessarily always go with the evening gowns it is worn with, but as The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour put it “you’d wear your mother-in-law’s portrait on your best dress because it is considered an honor to do so.”  😉

30 Mar 1983, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia --- Princess Diana wears Spencer family tiara, necklace, and family order of Queen Elizabeth pin. --- Image by © Tim Graham/CORBIS (SOURCE)
30 Mar 1983, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia — Princess Diana wears Spencer family tiara, necklace, and family order of Queen Elizabeth pin. — Image by © Tim Graham/CORBIS (SOURCE)

Sophie and Edward got married in 1999 and Sophie began to be spotted wearing the Order in 2004. Here she is at the May 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson.

Sophie and Edward in 2004 (Getty Images)
Sophie and Edward in 2004 (Getty Images)

Camilla and Prince Charles got married in 2005 and she started being seen with hers in 2008.

Camilla in Sri Lanka, 2013 (source)
Camilla in Sri Lanka, 2013 (source)

So Kate could be receiving the Order in advance of the President of Singapore’s state visit in October, or it’s possible she already has it and just hasn’t been photographed wearing it yet.

It’s also possible that the Queen is holding off on bestowing this honour for awhile yet. Kate is far from a full-time working royal – here is the tally of engagements she’s done each year since her wedding

  • 2011: 34 (granted, the wedding was in April of that year)
  • 2012: 111 (The Queen did 425, Prince Philip 325, Princess Anne did 566, and Prince Charles 592)
  • 2013: 44 (Prince Philip at 92 did 184 and Prince Charles did 537)
  • 2014: 76 (Prince Philip  did 200, Sophie did 307)

The Queen is all about work and duty and might want to see a little more elbow grease first.

Also, I wonder about Beatrice and Eugenie and if  or how they factor into this at all. What with Princes Charles’ plans for a more streamlined monarchy,  they  are not full time working royals though they do the odd engagements here and there and both work for various charities. Will they be left out and all ‘”Hey, Gran where’s my Order? I was born a princess!”

Princess Beatrice & Princess Eugenie (source)
Princess Beatrice & Princess Eugenie (source)

And what about Zara?  I’m thinking since she doesn’t have a title or do charitable engagements on behalf of the Queen, that’s an easy no. She became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to equestrianism back in 2008 so she has her own thing going on.

Zara Philips with her parents and Mike Tindall (source)
Zara Philips Princess Anne,  Timpthy Laurence, and Mike Tindall (source)

All that being said, if this little Daily Mail tidbit turns out to be true, that’ll be very telling as to who their sources are!

So what do you think? Will Kate be picking out a dress that complements the yellow ribbon of the Order for the state visit in October? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

William & Kate seen either leaving or arriving a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace (source)
William & Kate seen either leaving from or arriving at the Queen’s annual diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace in December 2013. To date apart from the wedding, this has been Kate’s only other tiara appearance. From this photo it seems she didn’t have the Order then! (source)

The Devonshire Diamonds: The Coronet, Tiara, & Parure

While not technically royal jewels, the Ducal Devonshire tiaras and parure are, shall we say, significant pieces of jewelry so let’s give attention where attention is due!

#1Devonshire Diamond Coronet

Hello, gorgeous! (via Chartsworth official site)
Hello, gorgeous! (via Chatsworth official site)

Let’s start with the biggest, which is suitably described on the official Chatsworth website as a Diamond Coronet rather than a tiara. In her delightful book Home to Roost, the late Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire (‘Debo’ to family and friends) includes an amusing chapter to tiaras in general. It was originally an article written for The Telegraph in 2002. Here are some excerpts (shown in bold) that highlight this tiara of all tiaras:

My grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire, was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for forty-three years from 1910. Together they weathered long hours of tiara’d evenings, including those during the fabulous Indian Durbar in Delhi in 1911. The magically beautiful but relentless program, carried out in torrid heat, was exhausting for all concerned, and after one particularly lengthy evening Granny Evie was heard to say, ‘The Queen has been complaining about the weight of her Tiara…The Queen doesn’t know what a heavy tiara is.’ 

Evelyn knew what she was talking about. The larger of the two Devonshire diamond tiaras in indeed a whopper.

Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Evelyn Duchess of Devonshire by Bassano, vintage print, 29 April 1920 (via Royal Jewels of the World)

 It was made in 1893 for Louise, the 8th Duke of Devonshire’s wife. She was formerly married to the Duke of Manchester and was known as ‘the Double Duchess.’

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire did wear ‘the big tiara’ on a few occasions. I’ll let her tell the story…

I remember going to…an entertainment in London in the early 1960’s, by myself as Andrew had an engagement elsewhere. With…confidence I wore the big tiara…When I ran out of partners and wanted to go home, I went out to look for a taxi. It never occurred to me that it might not be a good idea to stand alone in the street, long after midnight, with a load of diamonds around my neck and 1,900 more glittering above my head.

One memorable evening we were staying at Windsor Castle for a dance given by the Queen. I came down to dinner, got up as I thought our hostess and the other guests would be, the big tiara firmly in place. To my horror none of the other women wore theirs. It is far worse to be overdressed than underdressed a I sat through dinner wishing I was anywhere else. When the dancing began, I took it off, put it under a chair and enjoyed myself enormously. I suppose Windsor Castle in the only house where you could be sure of finding the blessed thing still there at bedtime.

If only there was a picture of Debo standing there waiting for a taxi to arrive! She perhaps most famously wore the tiara for her 80th birthday party along with the famous House of Worth gown worn by Louise, Duchess of Devonshire for the Diamond Jubilee costume party she threw at Devonshire House in London in 1897.

Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)
Deborah Duchess of Devonshire dressed for her 80th birthday party (via The Telegraph)

This photo shows the Duchess at the 1897 costume ball (on the left) side by side with Debo. It appears that the sleeves of the gown were altered at some point after the ball.

Via Royal Jewels of the World
Via Royal Jewels of the World

Here’s a more relaxed photo. I love how it really shows that Debo didn’t take all the Duchess stuff too seriously,

via Royal Jewels of the World
via Royal Jewels of the World

This photo shows the gown in more detail. It is displayed at Chatsworth.

(via Chatsworth)
(via Chatsworth)

Let’s take another look at the tiara, I can’t resist.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This detailed description comes from the Chatsworth site and is quite illuminating.

The coronet has a row of thirteen scrolled palmettes (a fan- like shape of leaves on a palm tree), alternating with a lotus pattern. The upper section was made around 1893 and was set throughout with cushion-shaped diamonds. The base has a row of lozenge motifs set between two lines of more cushion shaped diamonds and dates from around 1897.It is mounted in silver and gold.

In order to make the coronet the 8th Duke of Devonshire removed the diamonds in the Devonshire Parure and other heirlooms, such as the 6th Duke’s Garter Star. These totalled 1041 diamonds, to which Skinner added another 840.

A.E.Skinner was the jewelry firm that made this historic piece.

#2 The Devonshire Parure

So that brings us to the Devonshire Parure. It really is quite eclectic and wouldn’t go with just any old gown.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

I think Debo agreed with me. Here is her description of it from Home to Roost:

This set consists of seven monumental pieces of jewelry which, until you look closely at them, might have been pulled out of the dressing-up box. They are a bizarre combination of antique  (Greek and Roman) and Renaissance cameos and intaglios carved from emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and semi-previous stones – cornelian, onyx, amethysts and garnets – set in gold and enamel of exquisite workmanship by C.F. Hancock of London. They were commissioned by the dear, old extravagant 6th Duke of Devonshire, ‘the Bachelor Duke’, for his niece, Countess Granville, to wear at the coronation of TsarAlexander II in Moscow in 1856. This tiara and its companion necklace, stomacher, and bracelet are very prickly to wear. I know because I put them all on for a Women’s Institute performance when I was cast as ‘The Oldest Miss World in the Wold.’

Here she is wearing some of the pieces in what appears to be her everyday clothes and in front of the portrait that was done by Lucian Freud when she was 34 years old. There has been some chatter that this was photoshopped. It’s possible, but my guess is that it’s a real photo and she did put it on like this, perhaps for the Women’s Institute event!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

More information on the parure can be found at the official Chatsworth website here, if you’d like to see. This is the most significant (and tiara-like) of the headpieces in my opinion:

A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)
A chatsworth headpiece (via Chatsworth official site)

#3 The Devonshire Diamond Tiara

This is the tiara that Debo was most photographed in and you can see why she would have chosen it over the ‘big one.’ It reminds me a bit of the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara – formal but not too heavy, great upward spires, and lots of breathing room so it’s not a wall of diamonds.

(via Royal Jewels of the World)
(via Royal Jewels of the World)

This portrait was taken of the Duchess around the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. Information on the history of the tiara can’t be found on the Chatsworth site unfortunately, perhaps they will add it at some point.

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)
Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire (via Royal Jewels of the World)

The big tiara was worn by Debo’s mother in law the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire since she assisted the Queen during the Coronation and would have had more eyes on her. It’s been noted that Debo was likely the only Duchess at the Coronation wearing their family’s ‘second best’ tiara.

So regal! (via Chatsworth)
So regal! (via Chatsworth)

This explanation of the peeress robes she is shown wearing for the coronation comes from the Chatsworth site:

Cecil Beaton called Deborah ‘the most beautiful of all’ the peeresses in this off-the-shoulder robe, believed to have been reworked from an original worn by Georgiana, wife of the 5th Duke of Devonshire. In her memoirs, Deborah describes how she came to wear it:

“…Moucher [Mary Devonshire] was to have the robes that had been carefully put away by Granny Evie in 1937 after King George VI’s coronation. Chatsworth, as always, came to the rescue. There were a number of tin boxes…In the vain hope of finding something for me, we started going through them and, lo and behold, from beneath a ton of tissue paper in the box that had held Moucher’s, appeared a second crimson peeress’s robe. The velvet is of exceptional quality, so soft your fingers hardly know they’re touching it, and of such pure brilliant crimson as to make you blink.” 
Deborah Devonshire, Wait for me! (John Murray, 2010)

So, what do you think? I’d take the smaller tiara very happily!

Rarely seen Candid Photos of Charles & Diana

Poking around the internet over the last while, we’ve come across some interesting candid photos we thought you’d enjoy, so let’s dive in!

This carefree photo of Diana (on the right) and a friend may have been taken while she was either finishing up at her boarding school West Heath or while she was Institut Alpin Videmanette, the finishing school in Switzerland she attended for a short while. Do any of you out there know when this was taken?

(source)
(source)

This casual shot was taken of a 17 year old Diana while she was working as a nanny for the daughter of a family friend. The family’s former au pair Marion her Reehorst came for a visit and took this photo.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

When she shared this photograph in 2007, she recalled: “Diana was very sweet and giggly but quite shy and unconfident. I made her laugh when I told her about a very rich man I had been dating that I didn’t want to marry. In return, she told me about her sister, Sarah. She seemed very fond of her but also quite jealous and told me she had dated Prince Charles.” (source)

This next photo was snapped of Princess Diana taking a peak out the window of her Coleherne Court flat when the press was camped outside in 1980 so it is rather eerie. Our post giving some more information on Diana’s flat can be found here, if you’d like to read it.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Moving along, this photo shows Diana and Charles kissing in Buckingham Palace on their wedding day.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This is apparently of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on their 1981 honeymoon. So relaxed and natural, right?!

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This photo must have been taken around the same time.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

And here they are relaxing at polo.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Diana and the Queen appear to be having a little chat in this shot. This is from the era when Diana was regularly wearing the pearl choker her family gave her on her 18th birthday.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

This happy snap of Diana, Charles and Harry in a floaty boat was taken at the Highgrove pool. The photo comes from the 1986 book In Private In Public: The Prince and Princess of Wales. I ordered an old copy off of Amazon (for $4!)  and it just arrived. I’ve just had a quick flip through it so far, and it’s a goldmine! So many photo’s I’ve never seen before. I’m looking forward to sharing more of it soon (have any of you read it already and love it?).

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

As a side note, Diana’s giving me a bit of a Grace Kelly emerging from the water vibe…do you see it?

473_Grace_Kelly_in_the_water_small_

These next photos have a unique provenance. You may recall Diana’s old flatmate and friend Carolyn Bartholemew (she was one of the few friend’s that Diana asked speak to Andrew Morton for her ‘tell al book). In 1989, Carolyn paid a visit to Highgrove with her son Jack and his nanny. Their nanny had brought a camera which Prince Harry and Prince William took over and snapped away.

It seems Harry took this one. That’s such  homey and normal quilt on the bed, right? It must have been one of the guest rooms.

What a cute trio. (via Daily Mail)
What a cute trio. (via Daily Mail)

and perhaps he took this one, too! Diana looks so tanned, happy, and relaxed.

Diana! (via Daily Mail)
Diana! (via Daily Mail)

More information photos of that Highgrove visit can be found here.

Are any of these shots new to you? A lot of them are brand new to me, which is such a treat!

Here are a few of our older posts on rarely seen royal photos if you’d like to keep clicking around:

Some Royal Curtsy Etiquette

Margaret Rhodes, the Queen’s cousin and childhood friend wrote a book chock full of royal tidbits called The Final Curtsy. She served as a Lady in Waiting and explained:

I knew, of course, all about curtseying well before I joined the Royal Household. Some people say that they are not curtseying to the individual Royal, as such, but acknowledging what they represent – the nation.

Personally, I curtsey to the individual. So curtseying on first seeing Queen Elizabeth in the morning, and on saying goodbye or goodnight, was perfectly natural as far as I was concerned. 

Here they are enjoying a relaxed picnic, with the Queen’s beverage at the ready to her right.

The Queen & Margaret Rhodes at Balmoral (via Daily Mail)
The Queen & Margaret Rhodes at Balmoral (via Daily Mail)

As you may recall, there was quite a hullaballoo when Kate joined the Royal Family about how a updated rules were circulated outlining who must curtsy to who and under what situations. Kate was reportedly very happy to have things laid out in black and white which makes sense to me. The last time an update had been made was when Camilla married Charles, reportedly in order to make clear that Princess Anne would not have to curtsey to her new sister-in-law when Prince Charles wasn’t around, thank you very much.

via Zimbio
They do seem to be pals, though (via Zimbio)

Boiled down, the new(ish) rules are that when William is not with Kate (because he’s off in a different room at Balmoral, say) Kate is required to curtsey to the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.  When William is with her, Kate must curtsy only to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and Prince Philip.

Maclean’s made a handy chart to illustrate it all.

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

Meanwhile Sophie, Countess of Wessex must curtsy to Kate, Camilla, and Anne regardless of whether Prince Edward is with her or not since she is lower in the pecking order.

With that in mind,  let’s take a look at some of this curtseying in action through the years.

Here’s Kate at it with William and the Queen during a visit to Nottingham in 2012.

via The Daily Mail
via The Daily Mail

This video shows the arrival of the royals for Prince George’s christening and I love that it gives a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse. We see Camilla giving a formal curtsy to the Queen, and then give a more informal double peck on the cheek and shoulder tap to Prince Philip (telling, right?!). While that is going on we can see Kate in the background curtseying to the Queen.

Moving along, there are all sorts of things to love about this photo of Sophie curtsying to the Queen just the other day at the Windsor. I think it speaks for itself. Suffice to say the Queen seems distracted by something or other.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

Here’s Autumn Philips in a similarly informal setting curtsying it up to the Queen a couple of years ago.

via Pinterest
via Pinterest

Here we have Autumn and Peter Philips with Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend at Ascot curtsying to the Queen.

queen_2257162b

 

 

Sophie and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were further along in the line up.

via Daily Mail
via Daily Mail

Jumping back to the ’80’s Princess Diana would curtsey to foreign royals who ranked above her. Here she is greeting Queen Sofia of Spain

April 22,  1986, London, England, UK --- Princess Diana and Prince Charles greet Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport. --- Image by © Reuters/CORBIS
April 22, 1986, London, England, UK — Princess Diana and Prince Charles greet Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport. — Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

And to the Emperor and Empress of Japan

via tumblr
via tumblr

And here we have a very cute Princess Eugenie with the Queen Mum.

via tumblr
via tumblr

Margaret Thatcher greeting the Queen Mum back in 1980

11 Nov 1980, London, England, UK --- Original caption: 11/11/1980-London, England- Britain's Quen Mother is greeted by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, upon her arrival at 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister hosted an 80th birthday party for the Queen Mother. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
11 Nov 1980, London, England, UK — Original caption: 11/11/1980-London, England- Britain’s Quen Mother is greeted by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, upon her arrival at 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister hosted an 80th birthday party for the Queen Mother. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Next up, some european royals and their dramatic curtseys!

(and thanks for coming back for a visit after our time away from the blog, we hope to be back to a more regular posting schedule now!)

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

Mummy

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?

Christie's

 

 

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.

via

 

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 posten.no)

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 🙂