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LONDON -- A trove of documents about the life, loves and losses of Britain’s royals –- including a letter of condolence from Abraham Lincoln to Queen Victoria –- go on display for the first time Saturday.
The collection, held by Britain's Royal Archive and never before seen in public, also includes an 18th century note from a young Bonnie Prince Charlie to his father.
The documents are part of an exhibition to mark the centenary of the archive's establishment in Windsor Castle's Round Tower.
The letter sent by Lincoln in February 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, is particularly interesting.
“But I would fain have Your Majesty apprehend, on this occasion, that real sympathy can exist as real truthfulness can be practised in the intercourse of nations,” the war-time president wrote to Britain’s monarch after the death of her husband, Prince Albert.
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There is also a love letter from Albert to Victoria, written during their engagement. “Dearest deeply loved Victoria,” it begins, written in Albert’s native German. “Your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth."
An even older letter is from 7-year-old Bonnie Prince Charlie, who wrote in reply to this father, James I, while in exile in Rome, Italy in 1728.
"Dear Papa, I thank you mightily for your kind letter,” it says. “I shall strive to obey you in all things. I will be very Dutifull to Mamma, and not jump too near her..."
The exhibition's curator, Lauren Porter, described the prince's letter as a vivid message from an exuberant child.
"It also shows how interested our monarchy was in recording their own history,” she said. “What comes across from these eye-witness accounts is the private person behind the public image."
Besides affairs of the heart, the exhibition includes affairs of state. Title deeds dating from April 20, 1863 to Buckingham House -- later Buckingham Palace -- show it was purchased by King George III for $45,000. At today's equivalent of $3.75 million it appear to have been a shrewd investment.