A cache of letters coming up for sale at Ewbanks Auctions in Surrey on March 22 reveal how captivated the teenage Princess Margaret was with her baby nephew Prince Charles.
The collection of ten letters to the princesss lifelong friend, the American socialite Sharman Douglas, and her mother Peggy, pre-date others that surfaced four years ago and were written from early 1949 to late 1950, when Margaret was aged between 18 and 20.
Bursting with enthusiasm and gratitude, the letters, all on Buckingham Palace headed notepaper, show the young Princess as self-deprecating, vivacious, full of fun and humour as she writes about a wide range of subjects, from meeting and singing in front of Hollywood stars to visiting a trial at the Old Bailey and watching a young John Profumo pulling faces at a party.
In a letter dated 1st April 1949, the Princess writes to her friend: I still rock with laughter when I think of Jack Profumos face at the other end of the piano with an Annie Get Your Gun gape on his face!
And she continues: In that last fleeting moment in the 400 [the 400 Club in Leicester Square famously patronised by the Princess and her friends] you said youd like to come and see my heavenly nephew [then four months old].
I dont know quite when you stop work but if youd like to drop in about 5.30 on either Wed or Thurs next week, whichever suits, I would adore to show him to you.
A letter to Sharmans mother Peggy, on 12th July 1949 thanks her a thousand times for your magnificent ball last night, before detailing that she was so over-excited by the time our Can-Can was due that I could hardly breathe
and revealing that she had been so ecstatic the following morning that she had dressed up once more and danced the whole thing in front of her mother, the Queen, in her bedroom.
In another letter, dated five days earlier, Margaret admonishes herself for forgetting to fetch her personal bodyguard when she and Sharman decided to go to the cinema on the spur of the moment. Addressing Peggy Douglas, she writes: I must apologise for being such an absolute idiot and forgetting to ask Sharman to tell Sergeant Green to come with us.
Luckily being a sensible man he dashed after us and all was well, but it was stupidly unthinking on my part and I hope it didnt worry you and that you will forgive me.
In March 1949, the Princess bemoans having to leave a fascinating morning at the Old Bailey for lunch in the most exciting bit, while in a letter from 27th June 1949, she delights in meeting Danny Kaye at dinner at the Douglases before confessing I woke up this morning and thought with horror how I could have been brave enough to have sung in front of all those frightfully professional people! But she consoles herself with the memory of Robert Montgomery rolling on the sofa kicking his legs in the air.
The letters also show the quieter side of the Princess. One dated 30th October 1950, in which it is clear that the Royal Family had dined with the Douglases at their Princes Gate home, the Princess writes: It was such fun just being your family and my family! We all loved it, I can assure you, and it was so nice to be able to spend a delicious quiet talky evening with you and Mr Douglas
Auctioneer Chris Ewbank said: Whatever may have come later, these letters show a charming young princess, full of life, thoughtful and with impeccable manners.
While she clearly loved a party and the excitement of the social round, what she has to say here shows that that she was just as susceptible as anyone else to the self-doubts of being a teenager, and valued the friendship of the Douglas family as a whole. The tone and content of the letters recapture not just the vitality and attractiveness of the young Princess on the cusp of adulthood, but also the atmosphere of the times. They are like a time capsule that returns us to the moment.
Offered as individual lots, the letters will appear in Ewbanks Auctions 25th Anniversary Antiques, Clocks & Antique Furniture sale.
Ewbanks will be accepting commission bids as well as live online bidding from all over the world via their website at www.ewbankauctions.co.uk