Queen's Young Love Revealed in Royal Letter

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II talks with Prince Philip in Tweedbank on the Scottish Borders on September 9. A rare handwritten letter detailing how the royal pair fell in love will be sold at auction on April 23. Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

A rare, two-page, handwritten letter written by the Queen divulges how she and Prince Philip fell in love - going right back to the first day they met—is to be sold at auction on April 23.

The then Princess first met Philip in Dartmouth at the Royal Naval College in July 1939: "I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave - I suppose about twice in three years. Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor. Then he went to the Pacific and Far East for two years," she writes.

Addressed to the author Betty Shew in 1947, mere months before the royal couple were due to tie the knot, the letter recounts the couple's early courtship. At the time, Princess Elizabeth had agreed to disclose details of her relationship to Shew, who was writing a book on the royal wedding.

The letter describes the adventures the young pair embarked on together. While in Prince Philip's sports car, they were chased by paparazzi through post-war London's streets. "Philip enjoys driving and does it fast! He has his own tiny M.G which he is very proud of – he has taken me about in it, once up to London, which was great fun, only it was like sitting on the road, and the wheels are almost as high as one's head. On that one and only occasion we were chased by a photographer which was disappointing," she writes.

They also enjoyed going out dancing to nightclub hotspots Quaglino's and Ciro's.

The 21-year-old shares an explanation of her engagement and wedding rings:

"The wedding ring will be made of Welsh gold, but not from the Craigwen mine. The engagement ring was made by Antrobus. Princess Alice took it in as Philip obviously couldn't but he designed the ring. I don't know the history of the stone, except that it is a very fine old cutting. It was given to me not long before the engagement was announced."

Richard Edmonds is principal auctioneer at Chippenham Auction Rooms in Wiltshire, where the letter will go under the hammer:

"This is a wonderfully well-preserved letter written in the Queen's hand," he said. "It gives a fascinating glimpse into the life of the then Princess Elizabeth at what was such a significant time in her life. The price of a letter like this is very difficult to predict but it could be in the region of £800 to £1,200." Other royal memorabilia on sale in the auction include a life-size waxwork of Queen Victoria.