In late May, 1940, officials at Buckingham Palace heard reports from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who had escaped to London from her conquered country a week earlier, of the frightening efficiency with which the Germans used paratroopers.
They immediately drew up "provisional arrangements" to spirit the two princesses to Madresfield Court, just outside Malvern. There, they would be kept in the home of the Earl and Countess Beauchamp until King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, their parents, joined them from Buckingham Palace.
Details of the evacuation are given for the first time in documents disclosed today at the National Archives in Kew.
The princesses would truly have been secreted in a Brideshead Revisited world, because the Beauchamps were the models for the Flyte family of Evelyn Waugh's novel and he had spent many months there as a guest in the early and mid-1930s.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
The planned war-time refuge for the English princesses had a Brideshead Revisited connection: