Queen’s wartime letter in London saleroom

A touching wartime letter written by Queen Elizabeth II as a young princess is among the highlights of the Autographs and Memorabilia sale at Chiswick Auctions.

The letter, written from Windsor Castle on August 26, 1940, to Lady Aston, includes a signed photograph of the castle that the future queen had promised to return to a Canadian soldier in convalescence at Cliveden. 

A letter from Queen Elizabeth II to Lady Astor

It reads: “I am so sorry not to have sent the photograph before but here it is at last. I do hope the soldier has not gone away. It was entirely my fault that the photograph was not returned at once and I do hope he will forgive me.” 

The small black and white photograph showing Buckingham Palace at night is signed to the back for both Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and annotated by Elizabeth, ‘Buckingham Place floodlit, May 1935, given to me by Bobby in London, 1940’. 

The vendor’s father was the recipient of the picture and the letter. A member of the Canadian Army, 1st Division, Signal Corps, he had met both Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret when hospitalised on the Cliveden estate.

The vendor recalled: “My father had some pictures on his bed which included the picture of Buckingham Palace. Princess Elizabeth asked if she could borrow the picture to show her father the King and later returned it with a letter of apology for the delay.”

Offered together with letters from Mary Astor, it is expected to bring £1,500-2,000 when it appears in a timed auction that runs from May 31-June 16.