“The Prince of Wales, soon to become King Edward VIII”

(Inamidst.com): “There were, according to Bexley Council Strategic Planning and Regeneration Department, 271 letter boxes made during the short reign of Edward VIII. Of these, “161 were pillar boxes, 6 were wall boxes and the remaining 104 were Ludlow boxes for use at sub-post offices. All except 76 of the Ludlow boxes bore the cipher of Edward VIII.” It concludes that “only about 130 letter boxes cast in 1936 still bear the cipher of Edward VIII, all being pillar boxes”.” The one pictured above is in Egerton Road, Twickenham, ten minutes’ walk from Twickenham Stadium.

Richard Seeckts wrote for the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network:

“Date/Time: Jan 4, 1936 Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London

England 13 – 0 New ZealandAttendance: 73000 Half-time: 6-0

Tries: Obolensky 2, Sever
Drops: Cranmer

England’s first victory over the New Zealand All Blacks was as emphatic as it was surprising. In what has passed into rugby folklore as ‘Obolensky’s Match’, New Zealand were outplayed as well as beaten in the 28th, and last, match of their tour. In 91 matches over three tours before World War II, this was only their fourth defeat.

Few observers gave England much chance of victory before the game, but England had a debutant on each wing, Hal Sever on the left and 19-year-old Prince Alexander Obolensky on the right. Sever had the more glittering career of the two, being England’s premier wing in the pre-war years, and he scored the third try in this match, but he is a forgotten man in comparison to his Russian born counterpart.

Obolensky’s family had fled Russia after the 1917 Revolution and settled in Muswell Hill, London. ‘The Prince’, as he was widely known, was by now at Brasenose College, Oxford studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics, in which he eventually achieved a rare fourth class degree. His selection for England was slightly contentious and said to be dependent upon his assurance that he would become a British Citizen, a process that was completed a few weeks after the match.

The Prince of Wales, soon to become King Edward VIII, greeted Obolensky before the match with, “By what right do you play for England?” Obolensky replied “I attend Oxford University….Sir”, so putting the future monarch firmly in his place. England’s South African fullback, Tuppy Owen-Smith, had already played Test cricket for South Africa against England, so may have encountered similar royal frostiness.

The Times reported the reasons for England’s victory “were crushingly simple. England had the weight, developed the teamwork and possessed, where it was most wanted, the quality of swiftness too”. It is perhaps ironic that a team selected the day before the match after one “close to farcical” training session at the Honourable Artillery Company Ground in the City demonstrated greater teamwork than a touring party that had been together for 27 games…

Obolensky’s name and reputation were made; he and Wavell Wakefield of pre-World War II players have hospitality suites named in their honour at the modern Twickenham. He played the remaining three internationals in 1936 but barely received a pass and didn’t score a try. He continued to play at Oxford and for Rosslyn Park when he came down, but was never picked for England again.

Obolensky became a Pilot Officer with the RAF and was the first of 14 England players killed in World War II when his Hawker Hurricane crashed in training at Martlesham Heath Air Base in Suffolk on March 29 1940. He was 24.”

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