At ROSL we are keen to celebrate our outstanding members and visitors, as well as our long-established Royal Patronage. Over the years, we have welcomed a number of notable people, and our visitors’ books serve as the primary evidence of that. Today we invite you to have a look at some interesting signatures from the early 20th century that we have found.
In 1922, the clubhouse welcomed Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935), or Lawrence of Arabia, as he was known. During this time Lawrence must have just come to Britain from his wartime duties in the Middle East, having briefly served as an advisor to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office in 1921, perhaps looking to socialise and network with other like-minded servicemen.
Around the same year is when Albert Victor Baillie (1864-1955), the Dean of Windsor at the time, also signed into the Over-Seas Club. He was a godchild of Queen Victoria (rumour has it, the favourite), which certainly continues the pattern of Royal family members being frequent visitors of the club.
ROSL Patron Queen Elizabeth II has visited on several occasions from 1950s onwards, at least once in each decade of her reign, the most recent being in 2010. However, she is far from being the only royal family member whom ROSL has welcomed. In March 1922, King George V and Queen Mary signed the visitor’s book to mark their visit to the Over-Seas Club. Furthermore, the Queen’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, occasionally visited the Over-Seas Club during the 1920s when they were still engaged, signing as Elizabeth and Albert.
In addition, around 1946-47 the visitors’ book of ROSL was signed by Princess Eugénie of Greece and Denmark (1910-1989), the cousin of Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh, and the author of Le Tsarevitch, Enfant Martyr, a biography of the last Tsarevich of Russia, published in 1990. It is possible that she visited the club in preparation for her duties as a leading guest at the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The list of princesses who visited ROSL does not end here, as the signature of Infanta Beatriz of Spain, Princess of Civitella-Cesi marks her visit to the clubhouse in May 1924. The great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and daughter of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, she must have visited the clubhouse during one of her stays with her maternal grandmother at Kensington Palace.
Throughout the years, ROSL sustained its Royal Patronage granted by HRH King George V in 1918 not only on paper, but also through links and association with royal family members, as well as outstanding figures of the British Empire. With our current patron being HM The Queen, and vice-patron HRH Princess Alexandra KG GCVO, we hope to continue and strengthen this tradition in future.