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Queen Mary of Teck

Consort of King George V

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The future Queen Mary asks for help with a garden party for friends and neighbors

Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes, known as Mary of Teck, 1867–1953.  Queen Consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India, 1910–1936.  Autograph letter signed, May, four pages (front and back of front and integral leaves), 4” x 6”, on stationery of White Lodge, Richmond Park, [Richmond Upon Thames, London, England], June 9, [no year].

This is a scarce early letter by Mary, who was living with her parents before her marriage.  She writes to ask “Dear Ella” for help with a garden party.  She writes, in full:  “We hope very much that you will be able to come here on Friday afternoon when we shall have a garden party for our neighbours & Surrey friends and we shall be glad of an extra ‘dame d’honneur’ to help us with the reception.  I suppose it will be possible for you to arrange to stay with your sister or with Lady Wolverton.  I sent the Queen Miss Blennerhasset’s letter, she was much interested & I will give you the letter when we meet.  Yr affect . . . ”

Mary, whom the family called “May” after the month of her birth, distinguishing her from her mother, likely writes to Ella Taylor, who was originally a lady in waiting to her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, the Duchess of Cambridge.  Ella evidently took on a similar role for Mary’s mother, Princes Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the Duchess of Teck (1833–1897), who was was Queen Victoria’s first cousin.

Mary likely wrote this letter while she was a young woman in her 20s.  She was born at Kensington Palace but grew up at White Lodge, which Queen Victoria allowed her parents to use beginning in 1869.  Mary lived at White Lodge until she married Queen Victoria’s grandson, the Duke of York, who later became King George V, on July 6, 1893.  Judging from her handwriting, Mary likely wrote this letter as an adult, and if so the letter would date from sometime between the late 1880s and 1893, when she moved out of White Lodge because of her marriage. 

She was of German descent through her father, Francis, Duke of Teck (1837–1900), who held German and Austrian titles of nobility.  On the British side, through her mother, Mary was King George III’s great-granddaughter and Queen Victoria’s first cousin once removed.  She became the mother of two British kings.  Her oldest son, Edward, known to the family as “David,” acceded to the throne as King Edward VIII upon George V’s death in January 1936 but abdicated the following December to marry an American divorcée, Wallis Warfield Simpson.  He left the throne to his younger brother Albert, who became King George VI. Queen Mary lived to see George VI die in early 1952, although she herself died before her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, was crowned.

This is a very nice letter.  It is clean and bright.  Mary has written and signed it in black steel-nib fountain pen.  There is a single horizontal mailing fold in addition to the vertical fold that separates the integral leaf from the front leaf.  There is also a partially-erased pencil notation in the blank upper right margin on the first page mistakenly identifying this as a letter by Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck.  While the handwriting is similar, it is not hers but instead is that of Mary, who has signed with her nickname “May,” which Princess Mary Adelaide did not use.  Overall, the letter is in very fine condition.


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