Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘very poor’ childhood drawing up for auction

Queen Elizabeth II’s mother described the childhood sketch as ‘very poor’ in a letter

Meredith Clark
New York
Friday 05 January 2024 19:12 GMT
Related: Queen Elizabeth II scolds photographer after being asked to remove crown in resurfaced clip

The late Queen Elizabeth II’s “very poor” childhood drawing, as described by her mother, is up for auction.

An original sketch drawn by a young Princess Elizabeth, when she was around the ages of four and six, is being auctioned by RR Auction with a current bid of $2,600. The sale, which is set to end on 10 January, is part of the auction house’s “Fine Autograph and Artifacts” collection.

In the early 1930s, a then-princess Elizabeth drew a picture in red crayon of a building with a roof, windows, and smoke coming out of the chimney. The image was drawn on an off-white sheet of 145 Piccadilly letterhead – the former London home of Elizabeth’s parents, Prince Albert, the Duke of York, and Elizabeth, Duchess of York, before King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936.

The sketch, which was purportedly Elizabeth’s depiction of a proposed new building at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, was accompanied by a four-page letter from Elizabeth’s mother to Sir James Matthew Barrie, the Scottish novelist and creator of Peter Pan.

In the letter, the Duchess of York tells JM Barrie that she learned he was making a speech about the hospital and her daughter asked her to include the artwork in the letter. The soon-to-be Queen Mother described Princess Elizabeth’s drawing as “very poor”.

“My dear Sir James, I am so sorry that I did not realise that you were making your speech tonight, I am hurriedly sending round a very poor house I fear. Elizabeth insisted on putting in a roof with lots of little windows for the nursery maids,” the letter – which the Duchess of York signed “Elizabeth” – begins.

“Please Sir James, will you not appeal in her name at all, as I have such difficulties over it, and I am not sure what it is that you wish to say. It is not that I would not feel proud to have her name mentioned by you, only I have had trouble keeping her name apart from charities etc. But I expect that you only wish to say that she drew a picture for you of what the hospital should look like,” she continued. “Please forgive me for saying all this, but you can imagine what troubles I get into! However, I hope that this very poor drawing may be of some little use.”

Following the success of Peter Pan, Barrie became close friends with the British royal family and even attended Princess Margaret’s third birthday party in 1933. The Great Ormond Street Hospital, which was described in the letter, operates today as a children’s hospital located in the Bloomsbury area in London, and is known as one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals.

The next bid for Queen Elizabeth II’s childhood drawing starts at $2,860.

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