LEAVING his Tyneside school at 16, Ian Armstrong went straight to the top in his search for work – writing to Buckingham Palace asking for a job... and getting one.
The boy from Todd’s Nook Junior and Slatyford Secondary schools in Newcastle was taken on in 1974 as a nursery footman to the Queen.
Ian, who was born in Barrington Street in Fenham as one of five children of joiner Walter Armstrong, went on to serve Prince Charles and Prince Michael of Kent in a career of almost 30 years.
He died aged 57 in 2009, and today his personal archive from his royal years will be sold by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson & Garland.
Ian worked for three years as valet to Prince Charles, and the sale includes a letter from the Prince, a seasonal calendar outlining his itinerary, a tentative programme for a visit by the Prince to Canada, and receipts and letters concerning his wardrobe including an order for a kilt and gaiters.
Ian then worked as butler-valet to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. His keepsakes include a picture of him acting as loader for Prince Michael at a shoot, and a large selection of photographs of his visit with the Prince and Princess to Swaziland for the coronation of King Mswati III, and also a Foreign Office briefing on the country.
Ian’s career saw him later working as a butler/valet for the High Commissioner for Australia, the Diplomatic Service in London and the British Ambassador to Norway in Oslo.