Queen Elizabeth's wartime photos and 1945 driving licence up for auction in UK

Rare collection given guide price of between £1,000 to £2,000

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A private collection of items related to Queen Elizabeth II's work as a mechanic during the Second World War have gone up for auction in the UK.

The lot includes wartime pictures and a 1945 driving licence belonging to then-Princess Elizabeth while she was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS).

The rare collection belonged to her driving instructor Maj Violet Wellesley, who previously stipulated the documents only be sold after the queen's death.

The items are part of the Royalty, Fine Arts and Antiques sale at Reeman Dansie in Colchester, taking place on November 8 and 9.

Reedman Dansie managing director James Grinter said Wellesley's archive was “very special”.

The sale estimate was put on for £1,000 ($1,100) to £2,000 ($2,300) but auctioneers expected it to “absolutely fly”.

“The driving licence is totally unique because I believe she never had a licence apart from this one, she didn't need one, hence her cars didn't need registration plates,” Mr Grinter said.

The collection also includes a handwritten letter from Wellesley in which she wrote that the princess “insisted in fact on being treated as an ordinary ATS”.

She also said that the future queen was “outstanding for a beginner”.

“She was a quick learner in everything and delightful to teach as a result. I was very struck by her remarkable eye for detail — and her sense of humour, which is unfailing.”

Also on sale are plaster life casts of Sir Winston Churchill's and Princess Diana's hands, which are expected to fetch between £30,000 ($35,000) to £40,000 ($46,000).

Updated: November 08, 2022, 9:15 PM
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