Below are some beautiful examples of vintage ephemera featuring the British Royal family:
The Family of Queen Victoria gathered around her in 1898. Victoria lost her beloved Albert on Dec 14th 1861. Following this sadness she, “felt that her true life has ceased with her husband’s and that the remainder of her days upon earth was of a twilight nature- an epilogue to a drama that was done… With Albert’s death a veil descends. only occasionally, at fitful and disconnected intervals, does it lift for a moment or two.” – Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey, 1921. Those few happy moments often revolved around intimate family moments such as the one pictured below.
As the caption indicates, George VI is the small boy stood in front of his father in the white suit. He was Queen Victoria’s great grandson.
Born as the second son, George VI never expected to inherit the throne, but his older brother Edward VIII abdicated when faced with a choice between keeping the throne and marrying the divorced American lady he was in love with. Edward is pictured below, leaving America on the Queen Mary to attend his brother’s funeral.
George VI’s, “outstanding qualities of kingship,” made my abdication easier. – Edward VIII
George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham on Feb 6, 1952. Prime Minister Churchill wept when he was told the news, and when his staff tried to console him saying he would get on well with the new Queen, he replied that “he did not know her and she was only a child”. Elizabeth, then princess, had left the country on January 31st, never to see her father again. when she returned to the country, she did so as Queen, arriving dressed in black to mourn the passing of her father.
The following is a piece written by the minister pictured above on the occasion of the King’s death:
“A Tribute from Labor’s Attlee to George and the Monarchy
In an article written especially for ‘Life’ the former prime minister says, ‘I can never forget his kindness and consideration to me.’
Of those familiar with King George VI in his official capacity no one currently free of the restraint of public office can speak with as much personal authority about him as Clement Attlee, leader of the British Labor Party. This article was written exclusively for Life by the former prime minister.
It was my privilege for six years to serve King George as First Minister of the Crown and for five years curing the war as Deputy Prime Minister, the longer I served him the greater was my respect and admiration for him. I can never forget his kindness and consideration to me, He had a great sense of duty, high courage, good judgment and warm human sympathy, He was in the fullest sense of the term a good man.
The people of Britain are attached to the conception of constitutional monarchy. It is perhaps not always clear to Americans what is meant by “constitutional monarchy.” It has been said that in Britain the king reigns but does not rule. This is really the essence of the matter. The king, save in a few exceptional circumstances which I mention later on, acts only on the advice of his ministers.
Traditional British respect for monarchy as an institution has been immeasurably reinforced by the attachment of the people to the late king, the queen mother and the royal family. Thus the monarchy is today more strongly established than ever before. It is worth remembering that this was not always so.
If the question had been asked in the days of King George IV whether the monarchy would endure, few people would have given with any confidence an affirmative answer. The character and way of life of King George IV both as regent and as king had not commended him to his people. His successor, William IV, evoked little or no enthusiasm. There was quite a lot of republican sentiment in the country, and but for the fortunate accession of young Queen Victoria the monarchy might well have foundered.
The all too short reign of George VI set a splendid example to his subjects. As prince he showed great interest in the welfare of industrial workers and in boy’s clubs. He had a knowledge of modern conditions and how ordinary people lived and thought that stood him in good stead when he came to the throne. He knew how to be on friendly terms with his people without any sacrifice of dignity. The gracious lady who became his queen was not herself brought up in a court. In the royal family the people saw a picture of the kind of family life that warmly appealed to them.
Throughout the war the king shared the experience of the people. He was in London during the Blitz. He was present when a bomb hit Buckingham Palace. In all the trials of war he showed high courage and a spirit that never failed in the darkest days. I recall too his courage when he had to face an operation. His attitude was “It’s a nuisance. I shall be off duty for a week or so.”
King George had all the qualities of a good constitutional monarch. He showed a readiness to entertain new ideas. He had that complete freedom from political prejudice which is essential to his high office. He had to deal with problems which might have caused great difficulties to a man of less wisdom. There was for instance, the problem of India. The king had inherited the title of emperor of India. When India attained full equality with the other members of the Commonwealth she chose to become a republic. On the other hand, she desired to remain with the Commonwealth.
This raised a problem, because while most of the ties which bind together the members of the Commonwealth are intangible, allegiance to the crown has always been the chief link. The difficulty was overcome by India’s recognizing the king simply as head of the Commonwealth. The king showed great wisdom, a disregard of formalities and a grip on essentials in accepting his position. The advice to the king on this occasion was tendered to him by all the commonwealth prime ministers who were at that time assembled in conference. Though the king thereby lost an imperial title he won, I think, the hearts of the people of India.
I mourn his death, but I believe that in Queen Elizabeth we have a successor who will follow in the fullest degree the example set by her Father. “
“Three days dead, King George VI rested in the little church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham in a plain coffin made for him overnight, out of an old oak in the park, by the carpenters of the royal estate. Among the wreaths was the one at the foot of the coffin reading, ‘to Darling Papa from Elizabeth and Phillip.’ On Febuary 11 the King’s coffin was to be taken to London, there to lie in Westminster Hall until the funeral on February 15th.” – Life Magazine Feb 1952
“Queen Elizabeth II who will become 26 on April 21, has always been ‘Lilibet’ to her family. She is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs about 125 pounds, has bright blue eyes, light brown hair, and a delicately clear, peaches-and-cream complexion. She was educated entirely by governesses and tutors, but during WWII, when she became a junior commander in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, she also got instruction in driving a truck and changing tires. Her cover picture shows her wearing the diamond tiara given to her as a wedding present by her grandmother, pearl tipped earrings, a diamond necklace and a coat of white ermine.” – Life Magazine’s caption to the cover featured below.
Vintage front page of a special issue in Life magazine on the Queen’s coronation, upcycled into a beautiful envelope:
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