December 13 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Long-lost photographs of the Royal Family in the 1930s have been uncovered in a Norfolk home.
It was supposed to be a day for sorting through a late uncle’s possessions which had been sat in a dark cupboard for years.
But when Roy and Shirley Fleming started sifting through forgotten photo albums they were shocked to discover a set of intimate photographs of the Queen aboard a cruise liner in 1939.
The pictures, showing the Queen with her parents and sister, were taken by Mrs Fleming’s uncle, Leslie Willoughby, during his time as a musician on the Empress of Britain.
Mr and Mrs Fleming, from Watton, knew nothing of the photographs of the royals taken aboard the luxury liner on the eve of the second world war.
The ship, which was renowned for its speed, luxury and leisure, was eventually sunk by German U-Boats during the war.
The Queen, then a 13-year-old princess, and her sister Princess Margaret, had been taken aboard the ship which was returning their parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth from their trip to Canada and the United States.
One of the photographs captured the royals with the Canadian prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, and others showed the King and Queen relaxed on their trip.
Mrs Fleming. 79, said her mother’s brother was a saxophone player and had travelled the world with his band, often returning with exotic gifts for the family.
From Athens, Naples, Cairo, Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai and many more, Mr Willoughby had seen a lot of the world early in his life.
From Southbourne, near Bournemouth, he was from a musical family and played in bands on the luxury liners throughout his 20s.
He married Eve, but the pair never had children, so when he died Mrs Fleming, his niece, was left with much of his possessions, many of which she and her husband have only just looked through.
But she said now she has discovered the photographs, they will be treasured.
“I am just so glad he kept them”, she said.
“It’s really so lovely to look back on and see what he did and who he saw.
“Some people might have thrown their old pictures away but he kept them and they really are treasures.”
Mr Fleming, 76, said it looked as though the amateur photographer had walked up to the Royal Family and asked if he could take their photograph.
“They are so informal so it seems as though he was walking around the ship and causally asked them to take their picture,” he said.
“They are a piece of history and really very special. I am sure the Queen herself would be interested in them, and other people too.”
Along with the photographs of the Queen, Mr Willoughby also kept pamphlets from the cruise, as well as documents showing destinations they reached.