Never-before-seen photos of the Royal Family to be auctioned

Charles, the cheeky chappy! Snaps of the prince playing dress-up and peering over parapets at Windsor are among never-before-seen snaps of the royals taken by his tutor that are set to be auctioned alongside letters from the Queen

  • An extraordinary collection of never-before-seen photos of the royal family are to be auctioned next month
  • The snaps were taken in the 1950s by Michael Farebrother, a schoolmaster who tutored Prince Charles
  • He had previously served as a Grenadier Guard at Windsor Castle and corresponded with the Queen
  • Letters sent over 40 years reveal how the Queen trusted him with her views on The Troubles, her son’s education and her thoughts on the loss of her father, King George VI  

Candid snaps of a young Prince Charles larking about at Windsor Castle are set to be auctioned next month as part of a collection of never-before-seen photographs of the Royal Family.

The photos were taken by Michael Farebrother, a former Grenadier Guard-turned-schoolmaster who served as a private tutor to Prince Charles in the mid-1950s. 

The happiness Charles felt while spending time with Mr Farebrother shines through in the joyful snaps, including one of the young prince peering over the parapet at Windsor Castle and another of him dressing up in a man’s overcoat. 

Mr Farebrother, who died in 1987 aged 67, had been posted to Windsor Castle during the Second World War and corresponded with the royals for the next 40 years, including several lengthy handwritten letters from the Queen.

His collection of personal photographs, memos and letters were kept in a cloth-bound album which is expected to fetch up to £80,000 when it goes under the hammer at Gorringes auction house in Lewes, East Sussex, on December 7. 

Among the letters is one from the Queen following the death of Louis Mountbatten in which she candidly discusses her feelings on The Troubles, writing: ‘One can only pray that he will not have died in vain and that some good may come of this terrible act of blowing up a family on holiday and will shock people into doing something about Ireland – if only their opinions were not so entrenched.’

In separate notes she delighted in Charles’s ‘friendship’ with Mr Farebrother. For his part, Charles signs his letters to Mr Farebrother ‘your erstwhile pupil’ and uses his nickname, ‘Charlie’.

Precious moments: The Queen Mother, the Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Margaret in one of Mr Farebrother’s photographs, thought to have been taken in the 1950s. It is part of a collection of never-before-seen photos being auctioned

Growing up fast! Prince Charles in an oversized coat and wearing a black bowler hat and carrying an umbrella, with some dogs, during a light-hearted moment with Mr Farebrother. The tutor worked as a schoolmaster and for the royal family


King of the castle! Prince Charles is captured peering over the parapet at Windsor Castle during a study break with his school tutor. Mr Farebrother spent time at Windsor, Sandringham and Buckingham Palace with the family

Look at me! Charles jumps into the air for one candid snap taken by Mr Farebrother in the 1950s at Windsor Castle


Her Majesty’s hors: The Queen with her beloved horse ‘Betsy’ (right). In a letter dated February 10, 1957 (left), the Queen expressed her thanks for Mr Farebrother sending her a photo of Betsy, which she jokingly accepted looked more like a camel

Young gentleman: Prince  Charles larks around for the camera in a photo taken on a country walk with the royals, thought to be in the 1950s. The entire collection of Mr Farebrother’s personal treasures is going under the hammer next month

In one of the earliest letters from the Queen, she expressed her ’emptiness and loneliness’ and ‘unbearable’ sorrow following the death of her father in February 1952.

But she stoically declared ‘I have a job to do’ just days after ascending the throne.

She went on to state that her father’s death was ‘so much worse’ for her mother and younger sister Margaret to be able to look to the future.

Personal collection: The archive belonged to Michael Farebrother, a schoolmaster and royal tutor (pictured)

Grief again gripped the Royal Family 27 years later when Lord Louie Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb at Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland, in August 1979.

In a very rare occurrence of Her Majesty breaking royal protocol around discussing politics, she expressed her doubts that the troubles in Northern Ireland would ever be resolved.

She wrote: ‘One can only pray that he will not have died in vain and that some good may come of this terrible act of blowing up a family on holiday and will shock people into doing something about Ireland – if only their opinions were not so entrenched.’

The late Mr Farebrother kept the letters and photographs for the rest of his life and had them made into a red cloth-bound album.

It is now being sold by a relative with Gorringe’s Auctioneers of Lewes, East Sussex, for a pre-sale estimate of between £50,000 to £80,000.

The black and white photos include several of an eight-year-old Prince Charles playing around in the grounds and parapets of Windsor Castle.

There is one charming image of him dressed in an oversized coat and wearing a black bowler hat and carrying an umbrella.

The little prince: Charles smiles for his private tutor on a day out in the country, thought to have taken place in the 1950s. Even then, the young royal was smartly dressed in a shirt, tie and jacket for his day out. He wrote to Mr Farebrother over the years 


Full of joy: Prince Charles on a horse (left) and peering out of a window (right). The Queen wrote to Mr Farebrother thanking him for ‘winning her son’s friendship’ and Charles continued to write to his former tutor even after he left royal service

Private moments: Prince Charles, Princess Margaret (centre) and the Queen Mother (back turned) on a country walk. Mr Foarebrother wrote to his father about one New Year’s Eve with the Royal Family when he danced with the Queen Mother

Country retreat: Princess Margaret, left, in conversation. The former royal tutor wrote in one letter how Princess Margaret had put on a rock ‘n’ roll record at New Year’s Eve, much to the delight of the children who ran around excitedly 

Starting young: Princess Anne is photographed horse riding. The black-and-white snapped was kept in an album along with Mr Farebrother’s other mementoes, which are now being auctioned with an estimated price of £50,000-£80,000

Family time: Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and the Queen Mother in another of Mr Farebrother’s snaps of the royals

There are also images of Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and the Queen with one of her most favourite horses called Betsy.

In a letter dated February 10, 1957, the Queen expressed her thanks for Mr Farebrother sending her a photo of Betsy, which she reluctantly and jokingly accepted looked more like a camel.

She wrote: ‘It was indeed kind of you to send me the photographs which you took at Sandringham and which I am delighted to have. I am only sorry that the camera proves that my dear Betsy is much more like a camel than a horse, which is what I am always being told and never believe!’

She went on to thank him for tutoring Charles at Sandringham over the Christmas holidays of 1956/57.

She wrote: ‘It made all the difference to him and he so obviously enjoyed you being there and it was so clever of you not to be in best ‘schoolmaster-ish’ with him and win his friendship so quickly.’

Mr Farebrother had spent the previous New Year with the Royal Family and recounted the festivities in a letter home to his father, including dancing with the Queen Mother.

He wrote ‘…dinner with the Duchess of Glos. on my left – a film, and then hot punch and ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at midnight. The Queen Mum then made me dance with her to the wireless and everyone joined in. Princess Margaret puts on a rock ‘n roll record and the children caper all over the place.’

Honest feelings: Following the death of Louis Mountbatten, the Queen wrote to Mr Farebrother and expressed her doubts that the Troubles would ever be resolved. She wrote: ‘One can only pray that he will not have died in vain and that some good may come of this terrible act of blowing up a family on holiday and will shock people into doing something about Ireland’


Generations of memories: The then Princess Elizabeth wrote to Mr Farebrother, or ‘Michael’, in 1947 to thank him for his congratulations on her engagement. In 1982, Prince Charles wrote following the birth of Prince William, signing off ‘Charlie’

Invitation to dinner: Michael Farebrother kept this invitation to dinner with the Queen and Princess Margaret at Windsor


Personal thanks: The Queen also wrote to thank Mr Farebrother for tutoring Charles at Sandringham over the Christmas holidays of 1956/57. She wrote (left and right): ‘It made all the difference to him and he so obviously enjoyed you being there and it was so clever of you not to be in best ‘schoolmaster-ish’ with him and win his friendship so quickly’

School projects: Mr Farebrother also kept hold of work done by his young pupils, including this drawing by Prince Charles


Practice makes perfect! Prince Charles filled out a military-themed sheet for his handwriting lesson with Mr Farebrother (left). Right, Princess Anne produced this sweet painting of a teddy bear for one of her lessons with the tutor

Close to home: Mr Farebrother made Prince Charles practise his handwriting by listing local train times from Sandringham 

The Queen also sent Mr Farebrother letters of thanks for his congratulations following her engagement to Prince Philip and births of Charles and Prince Andrew.

In a letter dated November 28, 1948 – 14 days after the birth of a ‘very sweet’ Prince Charles – the then Princess Elizabeth wrote: ‘We are enormously proud of him.

‘We are also glad that he has given a bit of happiness to so many people besides ourselves. Such a lot has happened since the Windsor days and I find it very hard to believe sometimes that I am married and have a baby of my own.’

On March 6, 1960, 15 days after the arrival of Prince Andrew, she wrote: ‘Charles had the luck to be allowed off for the weekend – he and Anne are completely fascinated by the baby.’

There are four documents relating to the time Mr Farebrother tutored Prince Charles.

Personal touch: A letter from the Queen to Michael Farebrother thanking him for his sympathies one week after the death of her father King George VI, in 1952. It was sent to Mr Farebrother at St Peter’s School, where he was working


Bundle of joy: Mr Farebrother received this thoughtful response from the then Princess Elizabeth following the birth of Prince Charles in 1948. She wrote: ‘We are also glad that he has given a bit of happiness to so many people besides ourselves’

Treasured: Mr Farebrother kept the letters and photographs for the rest of his life and had them made into a red cloth-bound album. The album contains 26 candid photographs, as well as letters sent over 40 years

Married life: Prince Charles signed his name ‘Charlie’ in this letter written following his wedding to Diana in 1981


Personal touch: The Queen wrote to Mr Farebrother about Charles’ experience at school in 1957 (left). Right, a 1979 letter

Carefully preserved: An example of the pages kept by Mr Farebrother, including letters from Princess Margaret (left)


Warm thanks: Princess Anne sent a letter thanking Mr Farebrother for a gift he sent in 1980, signing simply: ‘Anne’

Royal collector’s dream: The album of letters, memos and photographed is steeped in Mr Farebrother’s private history

There include a drawing by him of a rural English landscape with a house and a finger signpost and handwriting practice that involved Charles having to fill in gaps of historical names and events like William I 1066.

The Prince of Wales’ letters to Mr Farebrother includes one following the death Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in the Falklands War.

Mr Farebrother had taught the British army officer at St Peter’s preparatory school in Seaford, East Sussex, and had seemingly told Charles about the officer’s gallant death in an earlier letter.

Writing on July 30, 1982, Charles said he had written a letter of sympathy to Col Jones’ widow Sara.

He said: ‘I had no idea that he had been at your school and that you had his sons there as well. The very least I could do was write to Sara – I only wish I could do more to help. What a brave lady she is and what a real hero ‘H’ is. Your account moved me very deeply.’

Charles signed off ‘with warmest wishes and happy memories of those far-off tutoring days!’

Two years later Charles wrote about a memorial service for Mrs Townend, the former headmistress of Hill House School, in London’s Knightsbridge, where he was a pupil from 1956 to 1958.

He wrote: ‘I shall never forget those acid drops-nor, for that matter, the gym mistress who had large thighs and shouted ‘commence!’ very loudly at the start of each exercise.’

He signed off ‘from your erstwhile pupil. Charles.’

Charles also described the ‘jolly’ Christmas of 1984 at Windsor Castle and how ‘William had a wonderful time pursuing all the other children until he was purple in the face!’.

Mr Farebrother attended Eton College and Oxford University who he played first class cricket for unit, his sporting career was cut short by the Second World War.

He served in the Grenadier Guards and fought in the Italian campaign and was erroneously reported as killed in action in the 1945 edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

After leaving the army he worked as a schoolmaster and in 1956 he was appointed to the post of headmaster at St Peter’s School. He died at Seaford in September 1987 aged 67.

Philip Taylor, of Gorringes, said: ‘We are privileged to have been instructed to offer for sale ‘The Michael Farebrother Collection of Papers Concerning The Queen and her Family’ which are being offered for sale for the first time. It is a unique and historically significant album of candid correspondence, hitherto unpublished photographs, and ephemera.

‘It includes a large selection of manuscript letters from the Queen and Prince Charles on many matters of private and public life. Chronologically collated, the collection reflects the life and career of Michael Farebrother together with an intimate glimpse into day to day life in the Royal household in the early 1950s.’

The album is being sold on December 7.

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