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Duchess of Cambridge visits Imperial War Museum to view family letters

The Duchess of Cambridge paid a surprise visit to the Imperial War Museum in London on Wednesday afternoon, to view letters pertaining to her family’s experiences during the First World War.

Kate’s great-great-grandfather, Francis Martineau Lupton, lost all three of his sons within two years during the First World War: Maurice, who died in 1915; Lionel, who died in 1916; and Francis, who died in 1917. Kate viewed letters from the brothers, as well as a letter on behalf of King George V, written when the last Lupton brother was killed in action.

“I am commanded by His Majesty to convey to you His Majesty’s deep feeing of sympathy with you in the fresh bereavement which has befallen you by the death in battle of your gallant son Major F.A. Lupton.

“The King realises that this is the third beloved son you have given in your Country’s cause, and His Majesty trusts that you may be granted strength and comfort in the further sorrow which you have been called upon to bear,” reads the letter from the Keeper of the Privy Purse at Buckingham Palace.


Major Francis Lupton was killed when a bomb exploded on 19 February 1917. He served with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and was 31-years-old. Lieutenant Lionel Lupton was killed in 1916, having served with the 28th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, and was 24-years-old. Captain Maurice Lupton was killed by a sniper in 1915, having served with the 7th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and on the trenches. He was 28-years-old.

Another telegram Kate viewed was one sent by her great-grandfather, Lieutenant Richard Middleton to her great-grandmother, Olive Lupton, announcing that her brother’s body had been found.

Dated 26 March 1917, the telegram simply reads, “Bad news Francis body found. Killed instantaneously.”

A form postcard Lionel Lupton was dated 16 July 1916, stating that he was “quite well” was especially poignant, as he was killed that day. A letter from Maurice to his father on 24 May 1915 reads, “Lionel was here the day before yesterday for a bit, & I have seen him two or three times in the last few days.”

Kate toured the Imperial War Museum’s Documents Archives as well as the First World War Galleries during her visit. She also met with the historians and curators, and another descendant of a First World War veteran.

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.