Royal family’s private archive on display

LONDON — Official papers recording the purchase of Buckingham Palace — for 28,000 pounds — are going on display for the first time as part of an exhibition of royal archives at Windsor Castle.

Britain’s Royal Archives said on Friday it is releasing a batch of the royal family’s records, private letters and diaries, some for the first time. The documents date back centuries, and curators say they offer a rare, personal insight into the history of British monarchy.

Among the 25 items to go on public display at Windsor is the title deed for Buckingham Palace, dated April 20, 1763. The paper outlined how King George III bought the palace, then known humbly as Buckingham House, from nobleman Charles Sheffield. The organizers of the exhibition say the price paid is roughly 2 million pounds ($3.4 million) in today’s money.

The property was bought by the monarch for his wife, Queen Charlotte, to accommodate the pair’s growing family — 14 of their 15 children were born there. The house was later remodeled, and became an official residence for Britain’s monarchs in 1837.

Some of George III’s personal reflections on the loss of the American colonies are also included in the release, although they are published in book form and will not be shown at the exhibition.

“America is lost!” he wrote following the War of Independence in 1783, and expressed the hope that “we shall reap more advantages from their trade as friends than ever we could derive from them as Colonies.”

Other exhibits give a glimpse of what monarchs were like as children, long before they came to the throne.

One showed what Queen Elizabeth II — as 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth — wrote down after her parents’ coronation in 1937 in Westminster Abbey.

“I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so,” she wrote.

“At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers,” she added.

The exhibition runs from Saturday to Jan. 25 at Windsor Castle.

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