Auctions | March 21, 2023

Royal Letters, Christmas Cards, and Memorabilia to Auction


Christmas cards from the Royal Family

A collection of personal correspondence from various members of the Royal Family along with other Royal Memorabilia is coming up for sale on April 18 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.

Among the highlights 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.'

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. 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 the then Prince Charles. 

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.