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British Royals

101-year-old letter from Queen Mother to go up for auction

To think that a letter from a future queen became a bookmark for a book sold in a second-hand store is remarkable, and now it’s going up for auction.

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon sent a thank you letter to Mrs. Carmichael from Dundee, Scotland, on 27 January 1923, shortly after her engagement to Prince Albert, Duke of York was announced.

It later wound up as a bookmark and was found nestled into a book at a second-hand store, and was passed down by members of a Brighton family for generations afterwards.

On 26 February it will officially go up for sale with Hansons Auctioneers, where it’s estimated to go for between £400-£600.

The letter is mostly typewritten, as the future Queen Mother insisted on writing personal thank you notes after her engagement was announced. She mentions this in the letter, telling Mrs. Carmichael that she asks forgiveness for the short letter since she has so many to write, “And also this typewritten letter, but my hand has almost given out!”

Attached to the letter is a small photograph of the Queen Mother with a woman, who may be Mrs. Carmichael. The envelope is also included in the lot.

A paper specialist with Hansons Auctioneers noted that this was likely a prized possession, and said that the completeness of the lot “suggests it was treasured by Mrs Carmichael. Perhaps she placed it inside a book to keep it flat and, overtime, mislaid it.”

The seller remains anonymous on Hansons Auctioneers’ website, but said the letter “belonged to my grandmother who found it in a second-hand book she had purchased. It was being used as a bookmark. It was passed on to my mum, who sadly died in 2019 whereupon it became mine. It would have been purchased in Aberdeen in the late 1920s I believe. My family originate from there. Having said that, my great grandma was from Dundee where she worked in the jute mills, so that’s also a possible link.”

Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon were married on 26 April 1923 at Westminster Abbey. Their two children were Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. In 1936, following the abdication of King Edward VIII, Albert ascended the throne as George VI and reigned until his death in 1952.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother lived until 2002, dying at the age of 101.

The Queen Mother’s letter lot can be viewed here.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.