A letter written by Prince Philip to his niece, Princess Margarita of Baden, has been bought at auction for £2,300. The letter details the nightmare week immediately after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The letter reveals Prince Philip’s sadness at the perceptions of the public that The Royal Family were not publicly mourning the loss of Diana, saying that her death was already distressing enough.
The letter, which was written on 5th September 1997, continues, “we have even been criticised for ‘forcing’ the boys to go to church on Sunday, the day of the accident.” Both Prince Philip and Her Majesty The Queen were helping to comfort Princes William and Harry following the news that their mother had died.
The letter was typed up at Balmoral and apparently written on behalf of both Philip and The Queen in a week that the Duke of Edinburgh described as “nightmare” for the Royal Family. The days following Diana’s death saw criticism of The Queen focus on her failure to publicly speak or fly the flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace.
Princess Margarita of Baden was the daughter of Berthold, Margrave of Baden and Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, sister of the Duke of Edinburgh. She came to live in London in 1948 and trained as a nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital and on 5th June 1957, she married Prince Tomislav of Yugoslavia.
The letter, which was from a private royal memorabilia collection, sold for £2,300 at an auction in Colchester and the dealer who bought the correspondence felt it was “historically significant”. The letter is hand-signed “with much love, Philip”.
At the time of Diana’s death, the Royal Family was at their summer residence, Balmoral Castle. Their initial decision not to return to London. The lack of public mourning heavily criticised at the time and their concern for the care of Princes William and Harry was seen as a lack of compassion for the loss of Diana.
Eventually, the Royal Family returned to London, and Her Majesty agreed to a television broadcast to the nation. On the day of Diana’s funeral, after The Queen had left Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey, the Union Flag was flown at half mast.