Queen's adorable childhood letters to only friend Sonia Hodgson reveal her fascination with toy horses and 'naughty' pony
LONDON, ENGLAND: Childhood letters of young Princess Elizabeth, also known as "Lilibet," to her best friend have been discovered and revealed that "they got on really well." The letters Princess Elizabeth wrote to Sonia Graham-Hodgson, the only childhood friend she chose herself, and some adorable and candid pictures from the 1930s are now treasured family mementos.
Princess Elizabeth, as she was known at the age of five, formed a bond with Sonia Graham-Hodgson. Their friendship lasted for many years, and they remained in touch until Sonia's tragic death in 2012. The Queen and Sonia's mother caught up as frequently as time permitted, according to Sonia's daughter Victoria d'Anyers Willis.
Sonia's daughter Victoria told Daily Mail, "They would often visit each others' homes, and the Queen would even attend some of her mother's dinner parties. They got on really well and seemed to just click." She added, "They saw each other as much as they could and they corresponded right until my mother died."
The girls' extraordinary friendship, which would last for decades, started when they were playing hide-and-seek and hopscotch in a private park close to their homes in Central London. Young Princess Elizabeth, also known as "Lilibet," kept up vibrant connections with her close friend whenever she visited one of the country's royal residences. Her letters to her friend revealed her early fascination with horses, even toy horses.
When Lillibet was ten years old, she wrote a letter expressing concern for "Ben," her favorite toy pony, which she had left with Sonia as the family had moved into Buckingham Palace after her uncle Edward VIII stepped down and her father George VI became King. She thanked Sonia for taking care of Ben in the letter that she wrote on Palace-branded notepaper on March 7 of 1937. Also, inviting Sonia to the Palace for tea, she wrote, "Please, do you think you could bring Ben with you? Could you bear it? I am sure he enjoyed staying with you."
On September 14, 1934, when the princess was eight years old, she wrote to Sonia from Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate, where she was staying with her parents and sister Margaret. In the letter, the Princess told her best friend about her new "naughty" pony named Pixie and going on picnics with her mother. But not everything was happy in Royal Deeside, as Elizabeth mentioned in her letter that she'd held a funeral for a dead robin discovered on the property. The future Queen wrote, "We dug a hole and filled it with rose petals and flowers and covered him and put round the grave blue flowers."
Willis recalled that as a child, the Queen frequently paid a visit to their home, and told Daily Mail, "As we grew older, she would sometimes come to dinner parties too but I didn't go to those as they were for my mother's friends only. Instead, I'd have my supper with the detective in the kitchen. Thanks to my mother's lifelong friendship with her, we were fortunate to see a more relaxed side of the Queen. My mother was a kind, generous person and a stickler for manners, similar to Her Majesty."