3ft dolls, their car and a selection from their wardrobe are
now on display at Windsor Castle. The dolls, part of the Royal
Collection, were presented by the French foreign minister,
Georges Bonnet, during a visit intended to consolidate the
alliance of the democracies against the fascist threat.
the time, newspapers eulogised about their significance. "If
their fame has hitherto been a little overshadowed by the
grosser and noisier links that bind the two countries together,
their influence will spread far and wide," wrote The Times.
dolls' 5ft Citroen 7B Traction Avant cabriolet, in French
racing blue, was a symbol of French innovation, being a two-seater
version of the first front-wheel-drive car invented by Citroen
in 1934. It has been kept at the Queen's Norfolk estate at
Sandringham for the past 50 years.
it was the wardrobe that caught the imagination of Princess
Elizabeth, then 12, and her eight-year-old sister. The elaborate
trousseaux included outfits for all occasions - floaty dresses
for garden parties, Ascot gowns, dazzling party frocks, yachting
outfits, negligees and silk mackintoshes - all in different
colours to suit Mlle France, a blonde, and Mlle Marianne,
the dresses were hand-made lingerie, parasols, umbrellas,
raincoats and bathing costumes, as well as 22 pairs of shoes
fashioned from satin, crepe de Chine and gold or silver kid,
matched with handbags and 56 pairs of gloves.
dresses were exact replicas of the Parisian season's biggest
successes. There are outfits by Worth, Lanvin, Rochas, Rouff
and Vionnet Cartier fashioned the jewellery. There are cases
by Vuitton, handbags by Hermes and perfumes by Lancome and
Guerlain.The huge crate in which the dolls were delivered
to Buckingham Palace also included perambulators and a dressing
table set of tortoiseshell and ivory.
Eton, a doll expert who has spent years researching the items,
said: "The Princesses were delighted with their gift, but
did not have much opportunity to play with the dolls as they
immediately went on exhibition for charities."
dolls were commissioned by the Societe Francaise de Fabrication
de Bebes et Joulet. The bodies are wooden and fully jointed,
and the heads are of porcelain. The eyes were specially made
by M Peigne, the Parisian maker of artificial human eyes.