A CHILDHOOD letter from King Charles to his poorly granny, found in a south Warwickshire loft, has sold for thousands.
The letter written by a six-year-old Charles on Buckingham Palace notepaper, and dated March 15, 1955, reads,’Dear Granny, I am sorry that you are ill. I hope you will be better soon’. The flip-side of the page reads,’Lots of love from Charles’. Underneath the large, neat handwriting is a childlike mixture of colourful doodle art and kisses.
The letter was offered in Hansons Auctioneers’ March 7 Library Auction with a guide price of £2,000 to £3,000. However a bidding battle saw the hammer fall at £7,000.
The extraordinary find was made during a clear-out by a couple who live near Stratford. They had no idea the royal letter existed.
The seller, a 49-year-old farm manager, said: “We finally had the time to look through a big box file that my mother had given to us. It originally belonged to my late grandad Roland Stockdale.
“It contained lots of royal memorabilia, including a letter from Prince Charles to his grandmother. My wife said ‘wow, look at that.’ We were pretty gobsmacked but we weren’t sure whether anyone would be interested in it.
“My grandad passed away in his 70s in 1983 and the folder was inherited by my dad, who subsequently passed it to my mum over ten years ago. She never had chance to look through it and gave it to my wife and I.
“Finally, at Christmas, we had a bit of time to look through grandad’s folder. For the last 30 to 40 years it’s been gathering dust inside various lofts.
“The royal memorabilia was a surprise but there is a simple explanation. My grandad, originally a farm worker from Carlisle, moved to London to find work and got a job with the Metropolitan Police. He went on to work for the Queen’s personal protection force during the 1950s. The file includes pictures of him in the Information Room in Scotland Yard in 1952.
“I was told he was originally involved in helping to protect the Queen Mother but he probably worked with several royals over time.”
Roland was also highly regarded by William Tallon, or ‘Backstairs Billy’, the Queen Mother’s devoted servant as there was correspondence in the collection from him. It included a postcard sent to Roland in January, 1983 from Sandringham which begins ‘Dear Sarg, Queen Elizabeth told me this morning that you are not well…’
The seller said: “My grandad was a man of few words and never really spoke about his time working with the royal family but he was clearly well thought of.
“I have absolutely no idea how he came to have the letter written by King Charles when he was a boy. It’s one of many things he kept. The file includes royal menus, an invitation to a dance at Balmoral Castle for his wife Audrey Stockdale, a note signed by the Queen Mother and a George VI Memorial Westminster booklet from October 21, 1955.”
Another surprising discovery was a copy of the Queen’s 1956 Christmas broadcast speech which sold for £300. In addition, three small gift tags signed by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, circa 1960, achieved £1,250. A note card signed by the Queen Mother made £150, two Backstairs Billy letters sold for £50 and an archive of police and royal memorabilia achieved £320. The entire collection sold for more than £9,000 – twice its overall estimate.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “I was not at all surprised by the strong demand for these remarkable royal finds. Mr Stockdale was clearly a devoted royal servant who treasured any snippet of royal memorabilia offered to him. It is clear from the tone of the correspondence that the royal family held him in high regard for his kindness.
“It has long been normal practice for members of the royal family to gave away small keepsakes and personal mementos to valued servants. Such was the warmth felt for Roland, it appears he was allowed to keep one or two special items.
“The childhood letter from King Charles, written with painstaking care on lined paper, is heart-warming. Amid recent royal family rifts it was lovely to see a simple demonstration of affection sent from a boy to his granny.”