A Fine Collection of Royal Household Awards

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Date of Auction: 4th December 2001

Sold for £620

Estimate: £500 - £600

Four: William George Figg, Chauffeur to Her Majesty Queen Mary

Royal Household Faithful Service Medal, G.V.R., 1st issue, suspension dated ‘1900-1920’, with scroll bar ‘Thirty Years’ (William George Figg); Coronation 1911; Jubilee 1935; The Royal Victorian Medal, G.V.R., Silver, mounted court style as worn, nearly extremely fine (4) £500-600

Footnote

R.V.M. awarded 23 June 1936: Chauffeur.

William George Figg was born at Ashenden, Buckinghamshire, on 31 May 1880. After working as a farmer’s boy in the local village, he left Ashenden and took a job in London as a Stable Boy and entered the Royal service as a Stableman at the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace. He was promoted to the Garages in the Royal Mews when the first electric Broughams came into use. He was taught to drive the electric cars and obtained his driving licence in 1904, becoming a Deputy Chauffeur. On the appointment of Oscar Humphrey as Head Chauffeur to King George V, Figg was appointed official Chauffeur to Queen Mary. He held the position as Chauffeur to Queen Mary until the death of King George V in 1936, although he drove most members of the Royal family including the King on many occasions. He also drove the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, whilst he was courting Mrs Simpson, and was well aware of his clandestine meetings long before they became known to the public. He drove King Edward many times when the abdication crisis was reaching its peak. Figg retired in July 1936 and chose to live at Kennington on an estate belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall rather than one of the grace and favour accommodations at Hampton Court, Windsor, or Frogmore. He died at Kennington in 1966.

Sold with: four original photographs; booklet of Rules and Regulations for King George V Long and Faithful Service Medal, listing the first 23 recipients, Figg being the last; Buckingham Palace letter from the Queen’s Private Secretary thanking Figg for “the fine way you drove the second car on the long trip from Balmoral”, dated 5 October 1919; R.V.M. award certificate, dated 23 June 1936; Invitations for Figg and his wife to Queen Mary’s funeral, 31 March 1953; and a letter from the Financial Secretary to The King concerning Figg’s Retirement Allowance.