Queen's adorable childhood letters to only friend Sonia Hodgson reveal her fascination with toy horses and 'naughty' pony

'They got on really well and seemed to just click. They saw each other as much as they could and they corresponded right until my mother died,' said Hodgson's daughter Victoria d'Anyers Willis

Queen's adorable childhood letters to only friend Sonia Hodgson reveal her fascination with toy horses and 'naughty' pony
Young Princess Elizabeth remained in touch with her friend Sonia Hodgson (L) until the latter's tragic death in 2012 (BBC One/video screengrab, Terry Fincher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images and The Telegraph/video screengrab)
ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE

Who is Princess Alexandra? Queen Elizabeth's best friend once called Prince Charles a 'gruesome child'

Who was Lady Myra Butter? Queen Elizabeth's childhood pal and closest friend dies at 97

ADVERTISEMENT

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

A toy horse belonging to Queen Elizabeth II is displayed at Buckingham Palace ahead of the Royal Childhood exhibition on April 2, 2014 in London, England. Spanning more than 250 years the exhibition brings together objects from the Royal Collection, the Royal Archives and the private collections of members of the Royal Family, as well as previously unseen photographs and film footage. Royal Childhood is part the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace from July 26, 2014 to September 28, 2014.
A toy horse belonging to Queen Elizabeth II is displayed at Buckingham Palace ahead of the Royal Childhood exhibition on April 2, 2014 in London, England (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: Queen's adorable childhood letters to only friend Sonia Hodgson reveal her fascination with toy horses and 'naughty' pony