Royal History Royal News

Orders, Medals and Decorations of Martin Charteris to be auctioned

Many important Orders, Medals and Decorations awarded to Lieutenant Colonel the Right Honourable Martin Michael Charles, Baron Charteris of Amisfield are to be auctioned at specialist auctioneers, Morton and Eden, in London on June 28th.

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Martin Charteris was Private Secretary to Princess Elizabeth from 1950 until her Accession in 1952. From 1952 until 1972, Charteris served as Queen Elizabeth II’s Assistant Private Secretary. On the retirement of Sir Michael Adeane, Charteris was promoted to Private Secretary, a post which he held until 1977.

The lot that is up for auction includes the following; the Queen’s Service Order, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence and War Medals, General Service Medal, Coronation Medal 1953, Jubilee Medal 1977 as well as the Most Excellent Order of the Bath, the Royal Victorian Order and France’s Legion d’Honneur. The lot is expected to fetch between £10,000-£15,000.

Though Martin Charteris is perhaps best remembered as the Private Secretary of Queen Elizabeth II, he did have a distinguished Army career before his work with The Royal Family begun.

After leaving Eton, Charteris attend the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and received a Commission as Second Lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 31st August 1933. Martin Charteris was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant.

Soon after the outbreak of war in 1939, Charteris was left temporarily paralysed by a tropical virus and on his return to Britain from Gibraltar, the hospital ship he was on board was torpedoed in the Bay of Biscay. Charteris narrowly escaped death and was eventually picked up by an American vessel.

Colonel Charteris recovered and returned to active service in 1941 in North Africa. His Battalion saw intense action against Rommel’s famous Africa Corps in and around Tobruk, el-Alamein, and at the Battle of Gazala. By 1945, Charteris had been promoted to Acting Brigadier.

Martin Charteris was appointed as Private Secretary to Princess Elizabeth (then Duchess of Edinburgh) in 1950. In an official visit to Kenya in 1952, Charteris was the first to hear the news that King George VI had died and that subsequently, Princess Elizabeth was now Queen Elizabeth II.

Though it has been argued that Charteris was The Queen’s favourite Courtier, the protocol was followed and Colonel Charteris served as Assistant Private Secretary under Sir Michael Adeane for the next 20 years until he was promoted to Private Secretary.

Charteris spent five years in the post and the culmination of his time as Private Secretary came in 1977 and his central involvement with The Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. His organisation of the celebrations were considered his finest hour.

Martin Charteris died on 23rd December 1999 at Wood Stanway, Gloucestershire, at the age of 86.

Martin’s son, Harry Charteris, commented on the upcoming auction, “Our father was hugely proud and honoured to have received these awards in his lifetime but we know he would approve of our decision. We sincerely hope that his medals might appeal to a collector who loves The Royal Family and British History.”

“Our Monarchy is the best in the world. It’s better run than the others, does a better job and it’s a lot more fun.” (Baron Charteris of Amisfield)

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