A series of letters sent between the then 18-year-old Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later The Queen Mother) and a wounded Australian Army officer called Lieutenant Rupert Dent have recently come to light after they were found in a chest of drawers in Sydney.
During the First World War, Elizabeth’s home, Glamis Castle was transformed into a convalescent home for wounded servicemen (much like during series 2 of Downton Abbey). The Lieutenant was wounded during the Battle of the Somme and was admitted to Glamis Castle (which is in Scotland) to recover from his battle injuries.
After he left the convalescent home and returned to Australia, the two kept in touch and their letters have recently been rediscovered and some extracts published.
In one letter dated December 9, 1918, Elizabeth wrote: ‘I still laugh out loud when I think of that evening.’
Also, Elizabeth added: ‘Can you tell people’s character by their ears?… If they are large it means brains, doesn’t it?
‘I must then be in the unfortunate position of having NO BRAIN as my ears are very small!’
In another letter to Dent in 1919, when she was 19, she wrote: ”I haven’t been driving the horses this year, but I now drive the Wolseley. It is great fun and usually quite exciting …
”The first time I drove I ran into a wall which was very silly, the other day I got dazzled by a car’s powerful electric headlights and did my best to run into it but the chauffeur seized the wheel and saved us! And yesterday a drunk farmer going very fast made for me, but I escaped him by going into the ditch! Even then he missed me by only a hair’s breadth.
”It’s really very amusing, but I’m sure you’d be much more frightened in the motor than when I conducted the ‘osses.”
Lt Dent’s daughter, Judy Fydler, 90, said Elizabeth escorted Dent to the theatre in London on several occasions. Elizabeth later married Prince Albert, who would become King George VI on the abdication of his brother Edward.
The letters are now due to be auctioned by the owner; Judy Fydler who is the daughter of Lieutenant Dent. Initially, she the owner thought that the letters were too personal so didn’t want them to be publicised.
As a point of clarification, the letters are not owned by Judy Fydler or any member of the Dent family. They are being auctioned by the person who found them hidden in an old chest of drawers that he bought at an auction. We believe that these were a packet of letters stolen from Rupert by a cleaner back in the 1930’s. If the letters were still in the possession of our family this relationship would have been kept private as per Rupert Dent’s wishes. I am his youngest Grandson.
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