Heartfelt letters from Prince Charles to a trusted royal maid are to be sold at auction.

Marjorie Dawson, who grew up in a terraced house in Bolton and was orphaned aged 12, served as a personal maid to Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin, from 1954 until her retirement in 1990. 

She travelled the world with the royals, was whisked round the dance floor by Prince Philip, attended royal weddings, became a firm friend and supporter of Prince Charles and stayed in every royal residence from Buckingham Palace to Balmoral.

Now her vast collection of memorabilia, which includes letters and cards hand-signed by Princess Alexandra of Kent, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, is expected to fetch more than £10,000 when it goes under the hammer on October 13 at Hansons Auctioneers, Derby. 

Among them is a note written following the broadcast of his explosive 1994 documentary in which he admitted his infidelity. Writing to Marjorie afterwards, he said: ‘I suspect it was what is called “living dangerously”, but it seems difficult to avoid nowadays!’ 

In another letter following his wedding to the Duchess of Cornwall, he wrote ‘you can have no idea how lucky I am to have my Darling Camilla’. 

Heartfelt letters from Prince Charles to a trusted royal maid are to be sold at auction. Among them is this letter he wrote after the death of his grandmother the Queen Mother

Heartfelt letters from Prince Charles to a trusted royal maid are to be sold at auction. Among them is this letter he wrote after the death of his grandmother the Queen Mother

Following the birth of Prince William in 1982, Charles wrote on Buckingham Palace notepaper to Marjorie Dawson, who worked as a royal maid for 36 years until her retirement in 1990

Following the birth of Prince William in 1982, Charles wrote on Buckingham Palace notepaper to Marjorie Dawson, who worked as a royal maid for 36 years until her retirement in 1990

Marjorie Dawson (pictured), who grew up in a terraced house in Bolton and was orphaned aged 12, served as a personal maid to Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen's first cousin, from 1954

Princess Alexandra of Kent in 2018

Marjorie Dawson (left), who grew up in a terraced house in Bolton and was orphaned aged 12, served as a personal maid to Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin (right)

Marjorie was so highly regarded by Princess Alexandra that the royal personally visited her Bolton care home to deliver a birthday card from the Queen on her 100th birthday, pictured

Marjorie was so highly regarded by Princess Alexandra that the royal personally visited her Bolton care home to deliver a birthday card from the Queen on her 100th birthday, pictured

Prince Charles’ heartfelt letters 

ON HIS WEDDING TO DIANA, 1981

Included is an invitation to Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981, and a letter, dated July 8, 1981, which reads: ‘Dear Marjorie, Thank you so much for your letter. I am so touched that there was such a nice reaction to your wedding invitation. I couldn’t be more delighted that it has given so many people such pleasure. Don’t forget to go to the loo before the wedding – it could be a very long wait in the cathedral! With my love, Charles’.

ON THE BIRTH OF PRINCE WILLIAM, 1982

Following the birth of Prince William in 1982, Charles wrote on Buckingham Palace notepaper: ‘My Dear Marjorie, We were enormously touched to receive your very kind letter following the birth of our son. The reaction to the news has been overwhelming and thoroughly heart-warming and we are rapidly discovering what it is to be proud parents! With our very best wishes and apologies for having to send a typed letter – and with love from Charles’. 

ON THE DEATH OF THE QUEEN MOTHER, 2002

‘Dear Marjorie, I was so touched that you should have written as you did about my beloved grandmother. I have dreaded her eventual departure and now she leaves behind an enormous chasm in my life… Such vital and extraordinary spirits are rare and I feel profoundly blessed that the Good Lord allowed me to have such a heavenly grandmother who taught me so many of the most valuable things in life. Oh, how we shall all miss her and everything she stood for. Bless you for your dear letter, with much affection, Charles.’

ON HIS MARRIAGE TO CAMILLA, 2005

After Marjorie wrote to Charles in 2005 to congratulate him on marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles replied: ‘Bless you for writing, so generous, we were both so touched. And you can have no idea how lucky I am to have my Darling Camilla. All love Charles.’ 

It was discovered ‘mostly untouched’ by her family following Marjorie’s death last year at the age of 104.

Among the letters is one from Prince Charles written following the death of his beloved grandmother, the Queen Mother. 

He wrote: ‘Dear Marjorie, I was so touched that you should have written as you did about my beloved grandmother. I have dreaded her eventual departure and now she leaves behind an enormous chasm in my life. 

‘However, she also leaves behind the most wonderful legacy of unbelievably happy memories of fun, laughter and an atmosphere of constant affection and interest in everything. 

‘Such vital and extraordinary spirits are rare and I feel profoundly blessed that the Good Lord allowed me to have such a heavenly grandmother who taught me so many of the most valuable things in life. Oh, how we shall all miss her and everything she stood for. Bless you for your dear letter, with much affection, Charles.’   

Prince Charles enjoyed a good relationship with Marjorie and wrote to her on a number of occasions over the years. Pictured, a note he wrote following the two-and-a-half hour TV documentary in which he publicly admitted for the first time that he had been unfaithful

Prince Charles enjoyed a good relationship with Marjorie and wrote to her on a number of occasions over the years. Pictured, a note he wrote following the two-and-a-half hour TV documentary in which he publicly admitted for the first time that he had been unfaithful

After Marjorie wrote to Charles in 2005 to congratulate him on marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles replied: 'Bless you for writing, so generous, we were both so touched. And you can have no idea how lucky I am to have my Darling Camilla. All love Charles.' (pictured)

After Marjorie wrote to Charles in 2005 to congratulate him on marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles replied: ‘Bless you for writing, so generous, we were both so touched. And you can have no idea how lucky I am to have my Darling Camilla. All love Charles.’ (pictured)

Marjorie's invitation to Prince Charles and Diana's 1981 wedding is part of the collection

Marjorie’s invitation to Prince Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding is part of the collection 

And after Marjorie wrote to Charles in 2005 to congratulate him on marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles replied: ‘Bless you for writing, so generous, we were both so touched. And you can have no idea how lucky I am to have my Darling Camilla. All love Charles.’

After she died, Marjorie’s family was stunned to discover she had kept virtually everything from her time as a royal servant, including letters, notes, Easter, Christmas and birthday cards, even the gift tags from presents given to her during an extraordinary life.

She was so highly thought of by Princess Alexandra that the royal personally delivered a birthday card from the Queen to Marjorie on her 100th birthday. By that time Marjorie was living in a Bolton care home. 

Though unable to attend Marjorie’s funeral due to prior commitments, Princess Alexandra sent a card of condolence.

A Christmas card sent to Marjorie from Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981

A Christmas card sent to Marjorie from Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981

A Christmas card from the Queen's cousin, the Duke of Kent, and his wife the Duchess

A Christmas card from the Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Kent, and his wife the Duchess 

Jim Spencer, head of Hansons’ library department, said: ‘I spent a few late nights going through packets and piles of papers, but I carried out my work with excitement and intrigue.

‘This is such an important collection, much of it untouched. Marjorie must’ve cherished her career because she kept every little thing. I found envelopes stuffed full of postcards, programmes, menus, brochures, and countless notes on headed paper from houses, castles and palaces around the world.

‘I found myself reading a reference letter from 1941 recommending Marjorie to future employers, and realised how much she’d achieved, how much she’d lived – really lived. I saw the endless stamps in her passports, and photographs of her dancing in her youth – full of smiles and vitality.

‘I find it very moving to think of Marjorie travelling the world, getting so much out of life, from those humble and tragic beginnings. She was clearly a steadfast, treasured, loyal and devoted royal servant who gained the affection of the family she served.’ 

Marjorie’s cousin David Knibb, 69, a retired carpenter from Jersey, said: ‘Marjorie was born in Bolton, Greater Manchester, in 1915. Her father died in the First World War and she lost her mother when she was 12, we think to Spanish flu. Luckily, family members took her in.

A thank you letter from the Queen Mother sent to Marjorie in December 1998

A thank you letter from the Queen Mother sent to Marjorie in December 1998

‘As a small child she lived in Sapling Road, Bolton, but later moved to Morecambe in Lancashire. She went into service and initially worked for Lady Clark in Ireland before being appointed as Princess Alexandra’s maid.

‘Her first job in the morning was to wake her up with a cup of tea and open the curtains. On one occasion at Buckingham Palace she accidentally went into the wrong bedroom and woke up Princess Margaret.

‘It was Marjorie’s job to arrange all the clothing and accessories needed for the princess on a day to day basis and also pack for royal visits which demanded two outfits a day. She also looked after the princess’s jewellery collection.

‘In her youth, Marjorie loved amateur dramatics and was a keen dancer. She danced on several occasions with the Duke of Edinburgh and became good friends with the entertainer Lionel Blair and actress Thora Hird.

Marjorie Dawson's personal effects also included her passport, pictured

Marjorie Dawson’s personal effects also included her passport, pictured

‘She married later in life to a royal butler, Willoughby Wood Barnard, but it was a single person’s job. She never had any children.

‘It’s been a long process sorting through all the memorabilia. We’ve found Easter messages from the Queen Mother and a letter from Princess Alexandra saying she missed Marjorie when she was on holiday. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are five diaries each documenting five years of royal service and we’ve found cine film and slides in the attic.’

Mr Spencer added: ‘Marjorie claimed the secret of her long and successful life was a regular glass of whisky and a portion of fish and chips. Perhaps that’s why the royals liked her so much.’



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