By Laura Waayers, Reference Archivsist, and Lisa Crunk, Lead Photo Archivist, Naval History and Heritage Command
In celebration of the recent royal birth, and in honor of the cherished Anglo-American relationship (as exemplified in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex), we would like to highlight some of the “royal babies” from our collections! There are a number of letters between the British royals and Admiral Harold Stark that have been preserved in his personal papers. Admiral Stark was based in London during World War I on the staff of Admiral William Sims, and later in World War II as Commander, Naval Forces Europe. During his time in London, he became acquainted with the royal family as well as other British dignitaries.
In November 1942, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Baby Sussex’s great-great-grandparents) invited Admiral Stark, along with other American officers, to a Thanksgiving reception at Buckingham Palace. (Read his description of the day’s events in his diary here: https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/nhhc/research/archives/royal-letters/diary-thanksgiving.pdf
Nov. 16, 1942
Dear Admiral Stark,
The King and Queen are giving an afternoon party at Buckingham Palace on November 26th for American officers, on the occasion of Thanksgiving Day, and would be very pleased if you could find it convenient to be present.
The guests are invited for 3.15 p.m.
[Sir Piers W. Legh – Master of the Household]
Admiral Stark regularly sent birthday greetings to members of the royal family. In 1945, he sent a gift of maple sugar for Princess Elizabeth’s 19th birthday, which she lovingly shared with her younger sister, Princess Margaret. Princess Elizabeth (the current Queen, and Baby Sussex’s great-grandmother) sent this reply:
27th April 1945
Dear Admiral Stark,
I was so delighted to receive your letter of good wishes for my birthday, sent from yourself and the American Navy over here, and also the maple sugar which is much appreciated by my sister and myself.
I send you all my most grateful thanks for your kind thought, which has touched me very much.
Lord Louis “Dickie” Mountbatten (uncle to Prince Philip and Baby Sussex’s great-great-great-uncle) corresponded regularly with Admiral Stark. Serving as the last Viceroy of India, Mountbatten sent this letter to Admiral Stark in the midst of momentous events occurring in world history, where he provides some insight into his state of mind at the time.
14th May, 1947.
My dear Admiral,
The Lifesavers sent to me through the good offices of Connolly have just reached me, and I am writing straight away to send you my sincere thanks, not only for them but also for the charming little note of good wishes enclosed.
We are now approaching a crucial stage of events in the negotiations in regard to the transfer of power to Indian hands, and I am up here in Simla, 7,000 feet above sea level, having a week’s rest in a really cool temperature, before the next round of talks begins in Delhi. This is certainly the most difficult assignment I have ever had, but I am retaining my enthusiasm and optimism.
Best wishes to you from us both.
Yours very sincerely,
To see more of our “royal babies,” visit our page on Royal Letters: A Selection from the Harold Stark Papers.
The archive also contains an outstanding photographic history of the goodwill between both the US Navy and the British royals through visits to the United States and aboard US Navy ships. Please see below for some of the royal visits the US Navy has had the pleasure of hosting.