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.
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.
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.
Unsurprisingly, the future Queen received favourable notices:
"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."