Exciting collection of Royal letters and memorabilia coming up for auction 18th April

Exciting collection of Royal letters and memorabilia coming up for auction 18th April

13th March 2023

A very exciting collection of personal correspondence from various members of the Royal Family along with other Royal Memorabilia is coming up for sale on 18th April with Griffin’s. The letters and cards were sent over many decades to Horace Smith and his daughter Sybil. The Smiths owned a riding school and were the childhood riding instructors to The Queen and Princess Margaret, taking the ponies from their stables up to Buckingham Pace to deliver their lessons. Years later, Sybil also became a riding instructor to the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
Amongst the highlights of the collection are three handwritten letters from the late Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret which show the personal affection and gratitude that they had for the Smith Family.
The first is a letter sent in 1950 to Mr Horace Smith. The Princess Elizabeth was living in Malta while her husband The Duke of Edinburgh was stationed there as a naval officer. The Queen thoroughly enjoyed her days there and this revealing letter gives us a fascinating insight into the period that she herself referred to as some of the happiest days of her life.

The handwritten letter reads 'Dear Mr Smith, I send my sincere thanks to you and Sybil for your message of good wishes for my birthday, which I much appreciate. It is lovely out here, and I have become a great polo fan - I even took it up mildly myself when I was out here last year! It is extremely good for one's riding, I find as all the ponies here are so quick that that unexpected turn which they are inclined to do, has one off in a moment! I hope you and Sybil are both well. Yours sincerely, Elizabeth.'

The Queen’s love of riding is well-known and the vendor, a close friend of the Smith family, was able to share with us a wonderful anecdote told to her by Sybil that really shows the differing personalities of the two princesses. When asked which horse she would like to ride, the young Princess Elizabeth gave a diplomatic and thoughtful response. She said that Sybil should choose for her as she best understood the princesses abilities. When Margaret was asked the same question, the princess immediately pointed to the biggest horse and said, ‘I want to ride THAT one!’.

Princess Margaret clearly never forgot these early riding lessons with Horace and Sybil. This handwritten letter from her shows her deep affection for Sybil. In it the Princess writes ‘Dear Sybil, Many happy returns of the day and congratulations on your 90th birthday. I have never forgotten our happy riding lessons which resulted in many years of enjoyable times in the saddle. Have a lovely time. Love from Margaret."

Another lot in the sale is a sweet handwritten note sending good wishes, written by The Queen on simple lined notepaper.

Other highlights in the collection include some very rare Christmas cards send by the two Princesses in the 1940s. These are signed by both princesses and have the twin E and M monograms on the front cover of the cards.

In fact there are nearly 40 Christmas cards in the sale, dating from between the mid-1940s to the early 1990s. Some are signed by The Duke of Edinburgh as well as by Queen Elizabeth. The earlier cards usually had the royal ciphers on the front of the cards with a black and white photograph to the interior.

Later Royal Christmas cards had a photograph, usually in colour, on the front of the card. They typically show Queen Elizabeth either performing her duties as Queen or in intimate family portraits.

There are also a number of telegrams sent by The Queen and Prince Charles. One example is shown below.

Another fantastic lot on offer is this very charming greetings card sent by Princess Alexandra, Lady Ogilvy who is first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Alexandra also received riding instruction from The Smiths. The card reads 'Dear Miss Smith, This is just to wish you a very happy special birthday. I have so many vivid memories of Holyport Riding Stables in the 1940s. My warmest wishes to you yours ever, Alexandra.' The card is accompanied by a signed Lenare studio photograph of the young Princess.

Sybil was held in such high esteem by The Royal Family that she was invited to many Royal occasions including the marriage of Princess Margaret to Antony Armstrong-Jones, the Thanksgiving service for the 25th wedding anniversary of The Queen and Prince Philip as well as some more intimate occasions such as buffet suppers at Windsor Castle. She obviously treasured these occasions as she carefully kept the invitations, menus and Order of Services as mementos.

The estimate for the Malta letter is £600 to £1000, the Princess Margaret letter is expected to fetch between £100 to £150 and the Christmas Cards are estimated each at £80 to £120.

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