The signed Christmas cards from the royal family span 25 years and are now up for auction

By Stephanie Petit
December 05, 2019 02:46 PM

Royal Christmas cards are an annual tradition, but Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip made their notes for staff extra special.

A married couple who worked at the Queen’s summer retreat of Balmoral Castle in Scotland — the wife working in the house and the husband on the estate — received a quarter century’s worth of royal Christmas cards, and those cards are now going up for auction.

“The Royal family must have regarded the couple in high esteem and each is signed in ink — ‘Elizabeth R’ and ‘Philip’ — part from the earliest which is signed by King George,” said Roddy Lloyd of Rowley’s Antiques and Fine Art Auctioneers.

The earliest photo, from 1947, shows King George and the Queen Mother with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, who is playing piano.

Credit: Rowleys/BNPS
Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, King George and Princess Elizabeth in 1947’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS

The photos show the family grow (and grow up!) in the coming years — Elizabeth and Philip welcomed Prince Charles and Princess Anne, followed years later by Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne in 1955’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS
Princess Anne, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in 1959’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS

“This really is a wonderful piece of history, showing as it does the growth of the royal family,” said Lloyd. “You can see the children grow up through these photographs. It also shows them smiling and enjoying themselves just like any other family. They will appeal to collectors of royal memorabilia.”

Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne in 1957’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS

Though they would alternate between color and black and white, the first Christmas card in color is from 1957, showing the then-family of our enjoying the outdoors. Prince Charles kneels down on the ground to play with two of the Queen’s trusty dogs.

Princess Anne, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in 1960’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS
Prince Philip, Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Charles in 1968’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS

The photos, going under the hammer on Saturday morning, are expected to fetch between $130 and $200 each.

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip in 1969’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS
Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1972’s Christmas card
| Credit: Rowleys/BNPS

Last year saw holiday photos from three branches within the royal family — Kate Middleton and Prince William with their brood (including Prince LouisChristmas card debut!), Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as well as Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. This year, fans hope to see Archie make his own first Christmas card appearance!

Each year, members of the royal family join Queen Elizabeth at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England, for Christmas. Guests usually arrive in the early afternoon on Christmas Eve. (The family opens their presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day.) After their church outing on the big day, the royal family heads back to Sandringham House for a lunch of Norfolk turkey and other festivities.