Special centenarian’s royal connection

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
4:46 PM

A WOMAN who grew up with royalty celebrated her 100th birthday this week. Elsie Hollingsworth, who has lived in Bickley for the last 40 years, toasted becoming a Centenarian last Tuesday. Born in Windsor, where her father was a coachman for the Royal Ho

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A WOMAN who grew up with royalty celebrated her 100th birthday this week.

Elsie Hollingsworth, who has lived in Bickley for the last 40 years, toasted becoming a Centenarian last Tuesday.

Born in Windsor, where her father was a coachman for the Royal Household, she was brought up at the royal castle.

Aged eight, her family moved to Sandringham in Norfolk when her father was appointed coachman for Prince John, where she lived until she was 20.

Now Mrs Hollingsworth is thrilled to be receiving a letter from the current monarch.

She said: "It is amazing. I am excited about my birthday and the cakes. It will be a lovely party."

Last year she appeared in a documentary Channel 4 called Prince John: The Windsor's Tragic Secret, about King George V's youngest son, who died aged just 13 in 1919 after a fit. Little was written about the boy who had epilepsy and who some historians believe was autistic.

Mrs Hollingsworth said: "I can remember playing with Prince John. He was often ill but he was a very pleasant and nice boy. He had a teacher and a nurse who loved him very much. I can remember him perfectly."

She went on to become governess to the children of Noel Gay, born Reginald Armitage, who penned the music for the 1937 hit musical Me and My Girl.

Visitors to their homes in Kensington and later on in the Chelsea Embankment included Noel Coward.

She said: "Noel Coward was nice, of course. He talked about plays he composed.

"Mr Armitage could play any type of music. He was very musical and composed The Lambeth Walk and The Sun Has Got His Hat On."

During World War Two, Mrs Hollingsworth was called up to work as a nursery nurse for the children of mothers who worked in the ammunition factory in the mining village of Maltby in South Yorkshire.

She said: "It was quite a change for me because I was in lodgings so there was lots of company."

Now, the separated mum lives with her 62-year-old daughter Francis.

The family were due to celebrate on Tuesday with a special party at their home with family and friends.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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