Piece of British Royal history found in Mount Croix home

2016-02-03 06:00
Mario Luiters with the photo album of royals from England who visited South Africa in 1947. He found it in the cellar of his Lorraine home. Photo: DEON FERREIRA

Mario Luiters with the photo album of royals from England who visited South Africa in 1947. He found it in the cellar of his Lorraine home. Photo: DEON FERREIRA

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A PORT Elizabeth resident found a rare item in the cellar of his previous home in Mount Croix  - a photo album that dates back to the royal visit to the city in 1947.

The album features many personal mementos and photographs of King George VI and the current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Mario Luiters found the album by chance while spring cleaning his cellar at his previous home in Mount Croix. He now lives in Lorraine. He has recently sent photos of the items to Sotheby’s in London and he is currently awaiting feedback from them on the value of it.

“I had bought a house from a lady a few years ago with a few outside storage rooms attached. She asked me to throw away the contents but I decided to see if anything could be salvaged,” Luiters said.

“About a year after purchasing the house, I discovered a small crawlspace in one of the rooms with several antiques inside, including a seal ring from the 1930s, gold earrings and this very unusual album. I contacted the original owner to return the items, but she wasn’t interested in keeping them and gifted them to me.”

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to the city as part of a royal tour, along with the two princesses, Elizabeth (the current Queen of England) and Margaret in 1947. More than 26 000 residents of the Bay turned up at St George’s Park to greet them. This was princess Elizabeth’s first official royal tour and she also celebrated her 21st birthday in Cape Town during the trip.

Luiters believes the album had been hidden in the cellar for more than 68 years and belonged to a photographer. There are close-up photographs of the then-princess Elizabeth and her parents on a safari, as well as photos taken during the tour in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal and ot-her stops. There are also signed invitations from various global newspapers.

“Whoever took these photos had official access to the royal family and carefully preserved the mementos. I would love to see it go to a museum or even the Queen herself to bring back beautiful memories,” Luiters said.

The album is made up of original photos, the original menu of the white train, the King and Queen’s suitcase tags and several historically significant signatures.

“I spoke to a gentleman who was in the military at that time who believes that he features in several of the photographs taken. It brought back many memories so I’m sure it’s very special to anyone with an interest in that era or the royal family,” he said.

The album is currently for sale on Gumtree. Luiters said he has no idea of the actual value of the rare find but he will entertain reasonable offers.

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