Queen's teenage driving hailed as 'outstanding' as rare photos from WW2 military service go on sale

Princess Elizabeth II's former driving instructor praised the young royal's motor skills during her military service in World War II

Queen's teenage driving hailed as 'outstanding' as rare photos from WW2 military service go on sale
(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen's former driving instructor hailed her royal student's motor skills 'extraordinary' as rare wartime photos of a teenage Princess Elizabeth go on sale.  


The Queen's motor skills were 'outstanding' for a beginner, her former driving instructor has revealed. 

Rare photos and documents from teenage Princess Elizabeth's service as a mechanic in World War II have finally been greenlit for auction, after decades of being kept hidden from the public. 

Major Violet Wellesley, the Queen's former driving tutor in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, owned the special pieces until her death in 1971. Shortly before she passed away, she handed them over to a trusted companion and issued strict orders that they should not be sold until after the Queen's death. They have now been consigned for release and will be auctioned by Reeman Dansie (opens in new tab) of Colchester, Essex, on November 8. 

The archive includes a number of photos from Princess Elizabeth II's days as a mechanic in World War II, a 'thoroughly dirty' job that saw her working alongside commoners as she fixed up jeeps, trucks, and ambulances. 

Queen

(Image credit: Getty)

In the collection, the nineteen-year-old royal can be seen smiling in group shots with other ATS members and laboring over the engines of various vehicles. Her parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, are shown visiting her at her training course in Surrey in another photo. 

An image of her war department provisional driving license, signed by the princess herself, has also been included in the lot. 

According to Wellesly, the Queen was an "outstanding" driver for her young age. It's understood that this experience of operating motor vehicles gave the royal, who famously didn't require a driving license as Head of State, her lifelong passion for cars. 

Queen

(Image credit: Getty)

The Queen was even spotted driving around Windsor Estate shortly after her hospital stay in 2021, having reportedly always loved the freedom that the skill gave her. 

Wellesley also revealed that the princess "insisted on being treated as an ordinary ATS subaltern and of receiving no favors whatsoever" during her wartime service, praising her for getting "thoroughly dirty" while on the job. 

Emma is a Lifestyle News Writer for woman&home. Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, she mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

 

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.