When the Queen was just six years old in 1932, she received a gift from the people of Wales that most little girls could only dream of – a fully functional large Wendy House which included a kitchen, living room, a bedroom and a bathroom that came complete with hot and cold running water, electricity and even a heated towel rail. For entertainment, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were treated to a bookshelf complete with the works of Beatrix Potter, a mini radio and a tea set to play tea parties with.
The Queen and Princess Margaret outside the tiny house
Several archive photos show the young Queen and her little sister, Princess Margaret, enjoying their time playing in the house. In one photo, the pair are stood holding hands and smiling outside of the little cottage, while another snap shows the two girls playing with their pet dogs, with the Queen leaning out of the window to speak to her sister. A later photo also shows the two royals visiting their childhood haunt as adults.
A film from 1932 about the Little House
Although the house was a great success, it wasn't without its drama. After it was inspected by the Queen Mother and King George VI, but before it was presented to Elizabeth for her birthday, it was damaged in a fire in transit. However, the damage was soon repaired and it was reconstructed at Windsor Great Park just in time for the little Princess's birthday celebrations. The house still stands close by on the grounds of the Royal Lodge of Windsor.
The Princess stood outside the cottage
Although a lot is said about members of the royal family not being able to keep gifts received from well-wishers, the Queen was able to use the Wendy House as it was an official gift that came from the people of Wales and as such, doesn't belong to the Royal Collection Trust, but to her, and so will continue to be passed down through the generations. Indeed, her granddaughter, Princess Beatrice, helped to restore the house in 2012, and spoke about growing up playing in it.
The Queen and Margaret visiting the cottage as adults
Chatting to Andrew Marr on the documentary The Diamond Queen, she said: "Granny and her sister played here growing up and we've been lucky enough to play here and cousins and second cousins and it's a big family treat. It's the most glamorous Wendy House ever but it's really beautiful and what you're seeing now is after a year's renovation process." She also revealed that the monarch still enjoys visiting the cottage, explaining: "She still likes to come back and visit... Granny was very clear that for all the fabric she wanted very little designs. It's such a little house that she wanted little flowers and patterns. It's beautiful. I've been lucky enough to play here and now Granny's a great-granny, so now [the great-grandchildren] can enjoy it too." Speaking about renovations, the Princess explained: "It's been completely rethatched, new curtains, new wiring, a bit of a spruce up really! All the little china and glass was created especially for the house."
Constructing the 'Little House'
The royal family's official website confirms that Her Majesty and other members of the royal family, can't usually accept gifts for security reasons, with the site stating: "For security reasons, the Correspondence Team are unable to accept any unsolicited gifts which are sent to The Queen." Gifts are also usually refused if they appear to be with motive, with the guidelines stating: "Gifts offered by private individuals living in the UK not personally known to the Member of the Royal Family should be refused where there are concerns about the propriety or motives of the donor or the gift itself."
The Queen and Princess Margaret playing together
However, on this occasion, the two-thirds sized house was given as a symbol of affection for the Princess, who at that time was third-in-line to the throne, but soon became first-in-line following the death of her grandfather, King George V, and the abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII. Designed by architect Edmund Willmott and titled 'The Little House', it measured at 24-feet long and five-feet high, and another photos shows construction workers perfectly the tiny cottage with a thatched roof.
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