Monday, 16 June 2008

Princess Diana's notes to butler for auction

Deeply personal letters written by Diana, Princess of Wales to one of the Royal Family's most trusted servants will feature in an auction of his possessions expected to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In one of the most heartfelt letters - written just seven days after the birth of her first son, Prince William - she thanks William Tallon, commonly known as 'Backstairs Billy', for all his "lovely presents" and describes her emotions over the first flush of parenthood.

"We are not sure at the moment what has hit us, except a very strong pair of lungs!," the Princess writes. "Both parents are making little sense, we just seem to spend most of our time gazing at this tiny person!"

The letter is one of eight between the Princess and Mr Tallon which form part of a collection of 694 items expected to fetch more than £200,000 when sold off by auctioneers Reeman Dansie of Colchester, Essex, next month.

William Tallon worked in the Royal household from 1951 to 2002, including 25 years as Steward and Page of the Backstairs.

He never sought to profit from his 51 years' service to the family and took his secrets to the grave. However, it was one of the conditions of his will that the items would be sold after his death and the money passed to the beneficiaries of his estate. He died last November at the age of 72.

Of her first pregnancy Diana wrote: "It goes without saying how delighted we are at the prospect of the PoW [Princess of Wales] expanding in more ways than one! It should make Ascot week exciting."

Auctioneer James Grinter said the letters themselves should fetch between £500 and £1,500.

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