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Two Generations of British Royal Children make for Regal Postcard Collectibles

by Bonnie Wilpon (09/10/12).

The Valentine Post Card Company produced many high quality “printed real photo” postcards of the royal family. Their value ranges from $5 for more common, “officially posed” portraits, to $25 for the harder-to-find, more candid shots.

Lots of Americans are confirmed Anglophiles—that is, we’re gaga over British royalty. Maybe it’s our official historical British heritage, or perhaps it’s the magic of having immense power just because of one’s birth. I can’t speak for little boys, but every little girl I’ve ever known has, at least once in her life, dreamed of being a princess.

During the 1960s, both American and British families had children in their “White Houses”—the Kennedys, with Caroline and John-John, and the English Royals, with its brood of four.

Baby Boomers grew up as contemporaries of the children of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. We older Boomers related to Prince Charles (born in 1948) and Princess Anne (born in 1950). Our parents compared us to these young royals, who served as role models—and as proof that kids really can be princes and princesses, just as the storybooks promised. Charles and Anne were born to then-Princess Elizabeth, prior to her 1953 coronation as Queen.

Younger Boomers felt closer to the more free-wheeling sons born afterward—Prince Andrew, who arrived in 1960, and Prince Edward, born in 1964. Andrew and Edward were the first children to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria had her babies in the 1840s and 1850s.

Collecting the stuff of English royalty has long been a favorite American pastime. Souvenirs of coronations and weddings, glassware and furniture decorate many homes in countries all over the world. And since I love books and postcards, I admit to collecting my share of items British.

Many years ago, I chanced upon a copy of the 1950 book “The Little Princesses,” by Marion Crawford, the girls’ governess, affectionately known as “Crawfie.” This unofficial tell-all started my collection of books and postcards about British royal children.

Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21, 1926. Called “Lilibet” by her family, she was named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra for her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra, and Mary after her grandmother, Queen Mary.

Raphael Tuck & Sons were “art publishers to their Majesties the King & Queen.” This real photo postcard #3974B shows the apple-cheeked baby Princess Elizabeth. An uncommon postcard, valued at $15-20.

She was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Elizabeth, Duchess of York. Her father was the second son of King George V and Queen Mary, making her third in the line of succession to the British throne, after her uncle and her father. Of course, it was never expected that she would someday become Queen.

On the stormy night of Aug. 21, 1930, in Scotland’s Glamis Castle, Princess Margaret Rose was born. Margaret was affectionate, outgoing and was a true “Daddy’s girl.” She was musically gifted, thrived on being funny and could mimic anyone. She would often mock Elizabeth’s “a place for everything, and everything in its place” attitude, much to her older sister’s chagrin.

The sisters were very close, though they fought just as most siblings do. The royal princesses were home-schooled by their mother and governess. Both were taught to ride horses by the age of 4. Elizabeth, especially, always loved horses and dogs, and had a large collection of toy horses which she would ride up and down the corridor outside the nursery. She was introverted and orderly, had a strong sense of responsibility and an air of authority.

This Tuck real photo postcard (#3943) shows the Princesses at the home of their maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. Their paternal grandfather, King George V, was very fond of his granddaughters, and wanted them to have as normal a childhood as possible. This candid view, when it can be found, is generally priced from $10-15.

Their world turned upside down in 1936, when King George V died, and their uncle—King Edward VIII—gave up the throne to marry the woman he loved, divorced socialite Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Thus, Prince Albert (Bertie) and his wife became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Always shy, and with a stutter made famous in the movie “The King’s Speech,” his ascent to the throne thrust his daughters (especially Princess Elizabeth) into the limelight.

The royal family of four remained very close, even after their move to Buckingham Palace. This Tuck real photo postcard (#3944) is a lovely portrait. Though Princess Elizabeth is named first, she is at her father’s side, with Margaret on her father’s lap. Value: $15.

Princess Elizabeth met her future husband when she was 13 and he 18. She married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (now Prince Philip) in 1947 and they quickly began a family of their own.
England was recovering from the Second World War, so the wedding was simple and the Princess collected clothing ration coupons for her dress, like any other young bride.

Prince Charles Philip Arthur George came into the world on Nov. 14, 1948, and slept in a cast-iron four-poster crib, used by the King’s family for more than a century. Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born Aug. 15, 1950.

Between 1949 and 1951, Philip was a Navy Officer, stationed in Malta. He and Elizabeth lived there for months at a time, while the children remained in Britain. King George VI’s health was declining rapidly, and Elizabeth often represented him at public events. In February of 1952, while Elizabeth and Philip were visiting Kenya, the King died and Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen.

Here we see two generations, taking the British throne unexpectedly. With an air of déjà vu, each shows a newly crowned monarch, with spouse and two young children. The first postcard, showing little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with Queen Mary behind them, is a Valentine’s Coronation Souvenir real photo.

The second postcard, with little Prince Charles and Princess Anne, is a Tuck real photo. Values range from $12 to 25.

Queen Elizabeth broke tradition and announced that her children need not bow and curtsey to her, and that the palace staff could address them by their first names, without their titles. Charles loved animals, horseback riding and being out in the country. His pet birds, Davy and Annie, were named after Davy Crockett and Annie Oakley. A thoughtful child with good manners, he was very sensitive. He enjoyed history and geography, but hated math lessons.

Anne was outgoing, affectionate and a bit of a tomboy with a stubborn streak. She wasn’t fond of dolls and didn’t name the many she was given. She loved jigsaw puzzles, cutting out shapes and climbing trees. She hated being left out of her big brother’s activities and could be somewhat bossy. Charles loved teaching her to swim and to drive a bubble car along the royal family’s private roads. Anne learned to ride horses at age 2, and her favorite toy was her rocking horse. As she grew up, she loved working in the stables and sailing with her father.

This card shows a young Queen Elizabeth with Charles, age 5. The family resemblance is very strong. Valentine’s real photo, valued at $8-12.

In this card, Princess Elizabeth is holding newborn Princess Anne on a Tuck real photo, valued at $5 to 8.

After Princess Elizabeth became Queen, she had her last two children, Princes Andrew and Edward. Queen Elizabeth tried to make sure that they wouldn’t suffer from the strangulating press coverage that had plagued Charles and Anne. They were rarely photographed as babies, so fewer postcards about them exist, making them more valuable than those of their older siblings.

Being much more experienced and relaxed in her role as Queen, Elizabeth was able to spend much more time with her youngest sons. When Charles and Anne were young, her office was out of bounds, but Andrew and Edward often played there while Elizabeth was working. The boys shared their schoolrooms with cousins and other children.

Born on Feb. 19, 1960, Andrew Albert Christian Edward was fearless and competitive, tempered with a strong sense of humor. He wasn’t allowed to be seen in public until he was 16 months old, and was ferociously protected from reporters. Andrew always slept with two teddy bears (both named Teddy). He enjoyed practical jokes (once pouring bubble bath into the swimming pool), and was deemed by his mother to be “… not always a little ray of sunshine.”

Edward Antony Richard Louis, born March 10, 1964, was a modest, shy child—though not as much so as his older brother Charles, with whom he was especially close. He loved bird-watching and fishing. His school grades were the highest of the royal brothers. Edward loved photography, and had his own darkroom at Buckingham Palace.

These unusual postcards capture a relaxed mother with her two young sons. The clothes show that the photographs were taken on the same day. On this card, Elizabeth shows baby Edward a toy train.

In this card, Andrew holds the same train, and smiles as brother Edward reaches for something distinctly un-toylike. Both of these real photo postcards are from Lansdowne Publishing in London, and are valued at $18-25.

Times have changed since Queen Elizabeth was a child. The monarchy is far less formal, and it’s much more difficult to maintain privacy. Postcards of royal children trace these changes. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild, and I’m already accumulating a nice collection of postcards of the next generation!

The royal family at Balmoral, circa 1973. This continental size postcard can be found at shows in the $3-5 range.

Bonnie Wilpon, the author of “Postcard History of Sarasota and Bradenton, FL,” and “Postcard History of Hollywood, FL.” (published by Arcadia Books), is a Worthologist who specializes in postcards.

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