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Princess Diana letters sell for £15,100 at auction in Cambridge

Royal memorabilia at the Cheffins Connoisseurs Sale, which took place on January 5, 2017
Royal memorabilia at the Cheffins Connoisseurs Sale, which took place on January 5, 2017

Letters written by the late Princess Diana have fetched £15,100 at Cheffins' Auctioneers Connoisseur's Sale in Cambridge.

The six personal letters reveal, among other things, that the young Prince William swamped his baby brother, Harry, with “an endless supply of hugs and kisses, hardly letting the parents near!”

These well-preserved documents, which provide a fascinating insight into Diana’s personal life, came from the estate of the late Cyril Dickman, a former palace steward at Buckingham Palace.

The letters formed part of approximately 40 lots from Mr Dickman’s estate, which sold for a total of £55,000 on Thursday (January 5) – far exceeding the estimate price of £13,000. Bidders came from as far away as Australia, Japan and the US.

Mr Dickman was the head palace steward at Buckingham Palace for more than 50 years, starting his career watching out for fires on the roof during the Blitz. He was a favourite of every member of the royal family and this is evident by the number of cards and letters he received. In 1993, he was also advisor to Sir Anthony Hopkins for his role as a butler in the Merchant Ivory film, The Remains of the Day.

One particularly touching letter from Diana to Mr Dickman, sent following the birth of Prince Harry in 1984, reads: “Dear Cyril, it was so very kind of you to have sent us such a lovely card, on the arrival of our small son – we both were greatly touched by your thoughtfulness and enormously appreciated it. William adores his little brother and spends the entire time swamping Harry with an endless supply of hugs and kisses, hardly letting the parents near!” That letter sold for £3,200, having had an estimated auction price of between £400 and £600.

In another letter, dated October 17 1992, Diana talks of how both princes “are well and enjoying boarding school a lot, although Harry is constantly in trouble!”. This went for £2,400, after an estimate of between £600 and £900.

These intimate letters highlight a time of great joy and happiness, a time shared with Mr Dickman. Some of the other items included letters, cards and photographs from various other members of the Royal family, including Prince Charles and Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth II, who thanked Mr Dickman in a letter written on Windsor Castle headed paper for his “thoughts and sympathy” following the death of the Queen Mother.

An unopened boxed wedding cake from the Queen’s 1947 marriage to Prince Philip also sold for a few hundred pounds.

Lisa Freeman-Bassett of Cheffins commented: “It was quite an amazing sale with some excellent results throughout the whole Cyril Dickman Collection, and of course especially the wonderful handwritten letters from Diana to Cyril.

The letters exceeded their estimates and attracted worldwide attention.

“Cheffins were delighted to be chosen to offer this historically important collection of Royal letters and memorabilia, especially due to their direct connection to a former member of the Royal household staff.”

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