King George VI’s Prediction: His Daughter, the Future Queen Elizabeth II, Would Uphold High Ideals and Devote Her Life to “Constant Service” to the Nation

On the responsibilities of the royal family, he writes, “My father set before us and my family a high standard of duty. I am sure that our daughter will always keep King George’s lofty ideals before her and endeavor to follow his example…”.

On her upcoming marriage to Prince Philip:  “I join in the prayer that God will abundantly bless the marriage.”; The only letter of George VI about the characteristics Elizabeth would exhibit as Queen that we have ever seen, or can find; On his own marriage, he states, “Those who, like the Queen...

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King George VI’s Prediction: His Daughter, the Future Queen Elizabeth II, Would Uphold High Ideals and Devote Her Life to “Constant Service” to the Nation

On the responsibilities of the royal family, he writes, “My father set before us and my family a high standard of duty. I am sure that our daughter will always keep King George’s lofty ideals before her and endeavor to follow his example…”.

On her upcoming marriage to Prince Philip:  “I join in the prayer that God will abundantly bless the marriage.”; The only letter of George VI about the characteristics Elizabeth would exhibit as Queen that we have ever seen, or can find; On his own marriage, he states, “Those who, like the Queen and myself, have been happy in their married life, know what a bulwark domestic happiness can be.”

Both Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Greece are great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The pair first met when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18, and it was love at first sight for the young royal. Her nanny, Marion Crawford, remarked that Elizabeth “never took her eyes off him.” The two started corresponding through frequent letters while Philip was in the Navy. “Lilibet took pride in writing to a man who was fighting for our country,” wrote Crawford. “She never looked at anyone else,” Elizabeth’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, told Vanity Fair magazine. Philip proposed in secret to Elizabeth during the summer of 1946, and she immediately accepted without consulting her parents. At first, Elizabeth’s parents and their royal advisors did not approve of Philip. He was, in essence, a prince without a kingdom; moreover his sisters had married German noblemen with Nazi links.

The King and Queen finally consented to the marriage and announced the engagement on July 9, 1947. Elizabeth’s engagement ring included diamonds from a tiara belonging to Philip’s mother. Before the wedding, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles and converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism. He was granted the royal title of Duke of Edinburgh.

Geoffrey Worth-Fisher, Baron Fisher of Lambeth, was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961. He is remembered for his visit to Pope John XXIII in 1960, the first meeting between an Archbishop of Canterbury and a Pope since the Reformation.  He would preside not only at the marriage, but later at her coronation in 1953 as Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the British clergy, he wrote the King giving his congratulations on the wedding announcement.

George responded, giving his view on the responsibility carried by the royal family, and predicting that Elizabeth would spend her life in service to the nation. Letter signed, on his rare embossed King’s letterhead, London, no date but July 1947, to Fisher. “The Queen and I thank Your Grace, the bishops and clergy of the Province of Canterbury in convocation assembled, for your loyal address of congratulation upon the engagement of our dear daughter to Lieutenant Mountbatten. It is on this happy occasion particularly satisfying to us to hear your tribute to the position which Princess Elizabeth has already won for herself in the affections of my people, and to the many and varied services which she and her future husband have already rendered to our country and to the Commonwealth.

“My father set before us and my family a high standard of duty. I am sure that our daughter will always keep King George’s lofty ideals before her and endeavor to follow his example of constant service. Those who, like the Queen and myself, have been happy in their married life, know what a bulwark domestic happiness can be. We wish for our daughter and her husband no less happiness in their home life than it has been our privilege to enjoy. I know that this will be the earnest desire of all my peoples, with whom the Queen and I join in the prayer that God will abundantly bless the marriage.” The letter is apparently unpublished, as we cannot find record of it anywhere.

This is an extraordinary rarity, as we find no other letter of George VI as King relating to his daughter’s future as Queen Elizabeth II, no less one of this significance. Moreover, we can only recall seeing two other letters of any crowned head of Great Britain to his Archbishop of Canterbury reach the market, adding to the uniqueness of this.

The wedding took place on November 20, 1947. The royal parties were brought in large carriage processions. The gala ceremony was recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio around the world, and heard by hundreds of millions of people. As for the marriage, it has lasted 68 years to far, which is the case for about one marriage in a thousand. The couple have four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren so far.

On her husband, Queen Elizabeth II has said: “He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments. But he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.” Philip wrote, “Cherish Lilibet? I wonder if that word is enough to express what is in me.” He remarked that she was “the only ‘thing’ in this world which is absolutely real to me, and my ambition is to weld the two of us into a new combined existence that will not only be able to withstand the shocks directed at us but will also have a positive existence for the good.”

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