The papers of James Watt, tutor to Princes Edward and Albert

Item author: James Watt
Grant Value: Gift via FNL
Item cost: Gift via FNL
Item date acquired: 2016
Item institution: Royal Library, Windsor Castle
Town/City: Windsor
County: Berkshire

In 2016, a collection of the papers of James Watt was donated by the Watt family to the Royal Library, Windsor Castle.  The donation was made through Friends of the National Libraries.

Watt was a master at the Royal Naval College at Osborne, and tutored the two eldest sons of George V and Queen Mary, both future Kings. 

The collection includes Royal Naval College reports for the Prince of Wales, autograph letters from the Princes, and about 75 letters from Henry Hansell (tutor to the royal children) to Watt with drafts of his own letters to Hansell.

Watt spent the summer of 1909 in charge of the Princes at Altnaguithsach, on the Balmoral estate.  The collection includes a series of snapshots recording this happy summer, and a selection of letters from the future Edward VIII, George VI, Prince Henry (later Duke of Gloucester), Prince George (Duke of Kent) and Princess Mary. 

The warmth and humour of the letters to Watt reveal the close relationship they developed with him.  When Watt died in 1929 the Royal Family sent telegrams to his brother, the literary agent A. S. Watt, with Albert, the Duke of York, remembering ‘your brother, my old friend.’  

The Collection was presented to the Royal Librarian, Oliver Urquart Irvine, at a FNL reception at John Murray in October 2016.

Images by kind permission of the Royal Archives / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

Summer 1909: Watt was in charge of the Princes at Altnaguithsach, on the Balmoral estate
Letter to James Watt from King George V. Images by kind permission of the Royal Archives / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017.