The Royalist

12.03.13

Seven Amazing Pictures of Future Queen Cross-Dressing in Teenage Pantomime Role

Pictures of queen performing in teenage panto go on the block

It's pantomime season in the UK - so the timing is just right for a hitherto unseen collection of photographs showing the queen cross-dressing in a series of pantomimes as a child. The stage shows were put on in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor castle in front of an audience of family, friends and military personnel in the early 1940s.

In 1942, the production was Sleeping Beauty with 'Princess Elizabeth' playing Prince Salvador and Princess Margaret Fairy Thistledown, in 1943 the future Queen again dressed up as a boy to play Aladdin but in 1944, for Old Mother Red Riding Boots, the future queen played a woman.

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Elizabeth and Margaret make up the chorus line (Copyright Ben Cavanna)
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Margaret's jewelry, one presumes, is 'actor's own' (Copyright Ben Cavanna)


The collection was put together by a childhood friend, Cyril Woods, who was a pupil at the Royal School in Windsor (and played the Dame). Mr. Woods subsequently became officer manager in the Crown Estate Office at Windsor, and in 1990 The Queen asked Mr Woods to write his memoirs of 'The Royal Pantomimes' and a copy of his work is now in the Royal Archives.

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Elizabeth (seated) and Margaret perform in the Royal pantomime (Copyright Ben Cavanna)

He died in 2001, and the pictures have only recently been discovered. The collection of 60 pictures, is expected to fetch around £16,000 when they go under the hammer at Dominic Winter's Gloucestershire auction next week.

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Elizabeth and Margaret in wigs (Copyright Ben Cavanna)
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The royal princesses dress up for their roles (Copyright Ben Cavanna)

Unsurprisingly, the future Queen received favourable notices:

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Elizabeth and Margaret read through their lines (Copyright Ben Cavanna)

"The princess made an excellent principal boy and cut a dashing figure in her tights," said a report in the Daily Mirror of the Aladdin panto, which is included in the sale. A Grenadier Guards sergeant who was among the audience told the paper, "It was really tip-top."