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Teen shares 'lockdown' with future queen during WWII in unseen diaries

by Adrianna Genovese (2020-05-22)

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Previously unseen diaries penned by a teenager who spent six years 'on lockdown' with Princess Elizabeth during the Second World War offer an extraordinary insight into the future queen.

Alathea Fitzalan Howard kept a diligent journal of her six year stint in Windsor with young Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret, beginning on the eve of her arrival there on January 1, 1940.

They paint a portrait of the young queen, who enjoyed washing up but loathed needlework, and kept a pet chameleon which she and her sister fed on a diet of flies, reports The Telegraph.

Alathea was born in Sheffield on November 24, 1923 to Henry Fitzalan-Howard, later 2nd Viscount Fitzalan of Derwent, and his wife Joyce Langdale. 






Alathea Fitzalan Howard (pictured) kept a diligent journal of her six year stint at Windsor with young Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret







The diaries paint a portrait of the young queen, who enjoyed washing up but loathed needlework, and kept a pet chameleon which she and her sister Princess Margaret (pictured together knitting for the Forces in the grounds of Royal Lodge in Windsor in 1940) fed on a diet of flies


The aristocratic family's royal connection was through their relation to the Dukes of Norfolk's hereditary appointment as Earl Marshall, responsible for organising significant ceremonial events including coronations and royal funerals. 

Alathea spent much of her childhood in London and was friends with the princesses prior to the outbreak of the war. Like Elizabeth and Margaret, she was a member of the Buckingham Palace company of Girl Guides.






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Alathea's grandfather Lord Fitzalan, then 75 and a widow, lived at Cumberland Lodge in Great Windsor Park from 1924, after he retired as the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

She was sent there on the outbreak of WWII, and told how the household was old-fashioned and very strict Catholic, describing her mindset there as 'a sad and lonely feeling'.






The previously unseen diaries offer an extraordinary insight into the future queen - pictured learning to tie a knot with the girl guides in Frogmore, Windsor in 1942







Queen Elizabeth with, on the left, her daughter Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) and on the right Princess Margaret in the garden at Windsor Castle in July 1941


Her time spent with the princesses was evidently a very welcome break. 

The diaries she wrote paint an idyllic picture of days spent drinking ginger beer 'from the bottle', punting along the river and staging festive productions, in which Elizabeth and Margaret played the starring roles - with the future queen always taking the principal boy part.

Alathea enjoyed drawing, cookery and dancing lessons with the royal sisters, though her academic classes were taught separately in Cumberland Lodge.

She affectionately referred to the future queen as 'L', short for Lilibet, and du lịch hồ ba bể described her as 'v matter of fact, uncurious and above all untemperamental'.






Alathea told how the royal sisters used nets to protect their homegrown vegetables in the garden from rabbits. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret on their allotment in the grounds of Windsor Castle in 1943, taking part in the government's 'Dig For Victory' campaign







In between lessons, which took place from 9:30am until 11am and 2pm until 4:30pm, the girls enjoyed riding and lunches served by the nursery footman Cyril Dickman - and often dined outside on sunny days. Pictured: the royal sisters sunbathing outside Windsor Castle in 1941


Writing about her time spent within the royal household, she wrote in capital letters for emphasis: 'I am REALLY HAPPY WITH THEM ALL.'   

In between lessons, which took place from 9:30am until 11am and 2pm until 4:30pm, the girls enjoyed riding and lunches served by the nursery footman Cyril Dickman - and often dined outside on sunny days.

Alathea discussed making bread pudding while Princess Elizabeth perfected her shortbread recipe, and talked about the royal sisters using nets to protect their homegrown vegetables in the garden from rabbits.






Writing about her time spent within the royal household, Alathea wrote in capital letters for emphasis: 'I am REALLY HAPPY WITH THEM ALL'. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret with their mother in 1940


In her diaries, Alathea also references Princess Elizabeth's parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (who later became known as the Queen Mother) as well as 'Crawfie', the princess' Scottish governess Marion Crawford.

Their French governess Mrs Montaudon-Smith, aka 'Monty' also features - though was 'less fun' than Crawfie - along with Bobo MacDonald, who was a nursery maid to Elizabeth as a baby and later became her closest confidante outside The Firm. 






This autumn extracts will be published for the first time in a book entitled The Windsor Diaries 1940-45


Alathea began her journals on New Year's Eve in 1939, shortly after her 16th birthday, and continued writing them until her death in 2001, aged 77, by which point she'd penned 64 volumes.

This autumn extracts will be published for the first time in a book entitled The Windsor Diaries 1940-45.

After leaving Windsor, Alathea remained a close friend of the Queen, attending her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947 - six years before her own nuptials to the Hon. Edward Ward.

The couple moved to Lausanne, but had no children. 

She left her precious diaries, along with an archive of letters, photographs and invitations, to her nephew Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland's wife, Lady Isabella Naylor-Leyland. 

The Windsor Diaries 1940-45, by Alathea Fitzalan Howard, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton in October 2020.



Read more:

Inside the diary of the teenager who spent the war in lockdown with the future Queen

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