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“Once a Grenadier, always a Grenadier” – Goodbye to one of The Queen’s Own

“George A. Mills was a man like no other, with a story unlike most. A proud Grenadier
Guardsman, a loving husband, and an adored adopted father and grandfather with countless
Royal stories and experiences. George was the “royal” education behind our favourite
celebrity royal expert and historian, Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, his beloved adopted
grandson. Learning of the passing of George Albert Mills in late August, our Magazine
contacted the Mace-Archer-Mills family to extend our deepest sympathies on such a
profound loss. In speaking with Thomas, we were able to learn about the extraordinary life of
one of The Queen’s dutiful and loyal Grenadier Guards.

Out of respect for the passing of Her Late Majesty, Royal Court Mourning, as well as the 3
October burial of George A. Mills, our publication has waited to release this article in memoriam.
Born in London within the reign of George V on 31 March 1935 to a vibrant read-headed
Romani mother, Hannah O’Leigh Sullen, a Cockney speaking East-End Costermonger and
Pearly Queen with high Ostrich plumes, a cart and bells, and George Charles Mills, an
English soldier in the Machine Gun Company and “Black Hand Gang” who transferred into
the Grenadiers, George and his family were bombed across London no less than six times
during the throws of WWII. One of thousands of railroad children, George, his twin brother
and his sisters were sent to the country for their own safety where he was later joined in
Letchworth Garden City by his mother.

After the death of his father, George was removed from primary education to assist his
widowed mother provide for his family, by picking seasonal fruits and vegetables on the
Hertfordshire Estate of the Bowes-Lyons Family of The Queen Mother. He knew nothing in
his early years but war, hardship, loss, and work, but this did not detour George from seeing
the good in life. In fact, his younger life set the stage for his no nonsense, honest, yet fun
loving way in which he lived his life. Duty and honor were his calling cards.
1952 was the year which showed George the direction his life was to take in Her Majesty’s
Armed Forces. Benefiting from the lessons and direction of the Cadets, George helped to
form part of the Guard of Honor for the late King George VI on the platform at Letchworth
Garden City. He was no stranger to the theme of Royalty from a young age due to his father’s
stories of service under George V, which impressed upon George that being in the service of
the Monarch was deemed a great honor and a respectable living. It was also a way to honor
the legacy of his late father, who was a luxury cabinet maker by trade, a talented woodcrafter
who helped to build the wooden airplanes of the Royal Air Force, before suddenly passing
from a brain hemorrhage due to the movement of shrapnel to the brain which he acquired
during his service within the Great War.

Proud of his participation to honor his King when the Royal train passed, George would
always explain in fine detail that, “The special train, pulled by No. 70000 Britannia, was
made up of no less than nine carriages to which he [George] was dressed in his military
finery along with other Cadets from the city. The train departed Wolferton Norfolk at 12.05
p.m., and arrived Kings Cross at 1445h, passing through Letchworth Garden City shortly before 1400h, to which George and his fellow Cadets performed the Royal Salute until the
Royal train had disappeared down the tracks.”

George was always destined to follow in his father footsteps and join the forces, however he
was unable to fully join the Regiment as his inability to properly read and write forced him to
take lessons before the Regimental Sergeant would approve his commission. Once he became
a Grenadier, his then first official duty for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was as a
Guardsman at the south gate of Buckingham Palace on her Coronation Day in 1953. Taking
on the less ceremonial and more combat duties of a Guardsman, George was called for Suez,
but by the time he was to receive his orders, the conflict was resolved.

He carried on with the Grenadiers and spent a lot of time at the Guards Depot in Caterham
before being called upon to guard Her Majesty, The Queen Mother, and Her Royal Highness,
Princess Margaret, before ending up a Regimental Chef to which he specialized in food
preparation and decoration. George and his work were so highly regarded within the regiment
that he was brought in specially to prepare the salmon(s) to be decorated with all of the
vegetables, creams, and sauces for presentation during State Banquets held by Her Majesty
early on during her reign.

In our desire to honor George A. Mills, his service to Her Majesty, and extend our
condolences to the Mills family, our Magazine was granted a more than generous
amount of time during this trying period with a “stiff-upper-lipped”, yet sorrowful, and at
times emotional grandson, Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills:
Our magazine added: Thomas, we are so sorry for your loss. Words cannot express how sorry we are.

You have never kept it a secret that you were adopted as a grandson by George and his late
wife Betty. Could you elaborate on how such a strong bond and the building of your family
came to be?

Thomas: “Thank you kindly for your words. My grandfather George and granny
Betty were and are very dear to me, they have both been with me since 1998 – more
than half of my life. Unfortunately, we lost my granny to breast cancer in 2011. I first
met my Grandfather George and Granny Betty on one of my many visits to England
with family, which happened to be in front of Buckingham Palace of all places – it
was destiny. I was there watching the Changing of the Guard. On guard was a
regiment I was not familiar with and noticing a smartly dressed man with regimental
markings with a medal standing not far from me, I begged his pardon and asked if he
could assist me with my query about the markings of the regiment in question. After
our initial introductions I received a beyond in-depth answer to my question, which
was typical of my grandfather. There was never a short or abridged version of an
answer when it came to questions about the Guards or the Royal family.
From that encounter we went for lunch at his favourite pub, The Bag O’ Nails on
Buckingham Palace Road, which he frequented as a Guardsman. We then exchanged
telephone numbers and addresses to write to each other (we did not have smart
phones, WhatsApp, or any of the modern communications then that we have today),
and a long and lasting friendship and family unit was to be built and last. I continued
to visit England regularly and would let George and Betty know my movements in
and around the country, to which they invited me to spend a fortnight with them upon
my next lengthy visit to the UK. My bedroom was not always available then as

Grandfather had a hobby for trains and the guest room at that time was a model train
hobby and craft “workshop”.
Eventually they made space for me in their home little by little, until I was completely
set up in what was to resume being their guest room, before becoming my bedroom.
Years of letter writing, phone calls, and visits transpired between us before they made
the biggest decision of their lives – to visit me for nearly three weeks whilst I was
attending my third University in Carolina, America. It was during this visit, several
years after our initial meeting that they conveyed how much they thought of me and
seeing that they did not have any children or grandchildren, that it would be nice to
consider me as such. I felt the same way and we went on to adopt each other as a true
and proper family, including the approved addition of Mills to my surname”.

Magazine: You are one of the foremost Royal experts and historians with your knowledge of
the British Royal Family. You have built an international organization dedicated to education
about The Crown and you have attributed that to your late grandfather. Would you share
with us how this all came to be?

Thomas: “I blame my grandfather haha. The British Monarchists Society and all that
comes with it, from the membership to our radio station, to all of the media I have
done over the years, this was a shared dream between my grandfather and me. I was
disgusted that so many British people that I came across as a young impressionable
American visiting England in the 90’s as much as I did, did not know about, or
understand how the Crown worked, how the Royal family was funded, and even what
the regiments were and how they were identified. I was just as perplexed as my
grandparents. I could not fathom how or why so many people did not know, or just
did not take an interest in such subjects, considering how interested I was in these
themes. After many discussions and years of frustration with the lack of Royal
education readily available to the general public, I wanted to educate people, and my
grandfather not only suggested to me, but urged me to create a community
organization for that purpose which eventually grew into the educational Society we
have today. The Society started as a modest group of likeminded people both online
and off, who could support The Crown through education. Hence forth, I started the
British Monarchists Society, that has grown from that humble and small group, into to
a proper international membership-based company which is now known as The

Magazine: You have mentioned that your grandfather’s love of history mirrored that of your
own, but in different areas. What is it that he was able to share with you that prepared you to
become the Royal expert and historian that you are?
Thomas: “There is a lot more to becoming a historian and expert in any field,
especially where being in front of the camera, being interviews for television and
documentaries, and speaking to countless people from behind the microphone come
into play. Nothing can truly prepare you for that expect the experience of it. As for the
knowledge aspect of who I am, I have loved history and education from an early age,
especially hailing from Bolton Landing on Lake George, which lays at the heart of
British colonial history and conflict. As my town was founded on land grants from the
King and is nestled next to a 32-mile lake named after King George II, my
grandfather and I were nuts about anything historic and nostalgic. Knowing my

interests and considering his own interactions and history with the Royal family, his
service, and his own knowledge of British history, my grandfather George shared with
me countless lessons, experiences, and a plethora of information about the Royal
family, The Crown, the regiments and their history, and the place he occupied at the
heart of it all guarding and serving the Monarch and her family. He was a lover of
history, but where my interest lay in British Royal history, his lay in the history and
stories of Ancient Egypt and Native Americans. What I was given by my grandfather
was an education that is not only a first-hand account, but a very exclusive curriculum
that most people would have to study decades to obtain the knowledge I garnered in a
few short years. Although he was the serving Grenadier, it was my granny Betty who
was more of a Royalist, and she would also share her Royal knowledge, and interests
with me”.

Magazine: Thomas, you shared with us that your grandfather was taken poorly towards the
end of the Covid pandemic, and due to your mother’s own battle with breast cancer during
that time, that you were unable to see George as you had previously. How did this affect you
and your grandfather as you were so close?

Thomas: “Until his mobility issues took hold just before the Covid outbreak,
grandfather was with me a lot of the time in London, especially around the Royal
calendar to which we spent the better part of 16 years attending Trooping the Colour,
Beating the Retreat, Garter Day and plenty of other military events. I often would visit
Canterbury on weekends and take him to our favourite restaurants and take day trips
around the area. We always had the best times together. Covid really took its toll on a
lot of elderly around the nation, especially those that have counted on social
interaction, their clubs and associations, and just general conversation to keep their
minds and bodies fit. Grandfather often complained that he would be “sitting looking
at the four walls with nothing on television”. He was a very social man and looked
forward to attending and having visits from the East Kent Branch of the Grenadier
Guards Association as well as the Royal Navy Association. Despite his hobbies such
as embroidery and taking photos, there is only so much thread and so many patterns
that once can complete over the course of nearly two-years. Like many other families
across the UK, Covid kept us apart due to lockdowns, government rules, and the
mandate to protect the vulnerable and elderly. Every time I would put the phone down
from a conversation with him, it would make me sad and aggravated that I was
watching the eventual decline of such a strong and confident man who was always
very proud of the way he could still stand at guard without so much as a blink or
tremble well into his upper 70’s. This time period of mass isolation truly saw him
suffer without accessibility to the very things that kept his mind sharp and his body as
fit as he could be”.

Magazine: Thomas, you will carryon not only George’s surname, but also his legacy of
knowledge, service, and duty with the Royal themed organization you have created and the
many projects you take part in. What is it that will mean the most to you looking back on your
relationship with this very special guardsman?

What I know in my Royal career has mostly certainly been the result of George taking
me under his wing and sharing extraordinary teachings, stories, examples etc. It is this
very education that will not just mean the most but will serve as the reminder of how
and why we became a family, and the things that drew us together. His teachings of the Guards, what they meant, the place they hold, and what they did for him – he was
always grateful, and this is something I will take forward in my life and cherish for
the rest of my years. My grandfather made all of us around him grateful for the part
the Guards played in his life and the development into the man he is. He learned how
to properly read and write in the guards after a very difficult childhood, and it was the
guards that truly made him the man he was. Many of the lessons he learned, he taught
me, which have made me the man I am. He was always one to be proud to serve his
Monarch and his nation – things that seem to be lost on the younger generations.

Magazine: Now with the loss of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, your grandfather George,
and the previous loss to you both of Betty, you have personally been through a lot over the
past few months, especially with the loss of your dear grandmother Marjorie Althea Duggan
earlier this year. How is it that you will carryon with everything you have built with the
Queen in mind, and with George helping to guide and teach you over the past 24 years?
Thomas: “Part of life is, “Getting on with it”, that is what my grandfather used to say
to me when I might be a bit melancholy or down. So, I shall take this advice and do
my best to get on with the tasks at hand and complete the projects that so many are
counting on me for. I will of course carryon to honor Her Majesty through my
works, but now my allegiance is to her son, King Charles III. George and Betty will
always be in my mind and in my heart with everything I do and undertake that is
Royal related, as well as personal decision in which they helped to shape my life
outside of my profession. Life will no longer be the same for me, but all of the
memories we made and the photos we took will help to soften the blow of this loss.
Though I have trouble accepting these losses so quickly, one right after the other, I am
glad that my grandfather expired before Her Late Majesty, as that truly would have
been a serious blow to what remained of his health and mental well-being. The Queen
meant the world to him, as she does me, and he often would remark how well she has
done all these years. George was truly upset with the passing of The Duke of
Edinburgh but knowing that Her Majesty was “getting on with the job”, this made
him feel secure, stable, and constant in his last days.

After Betty’s passing, it was just the two of us really and George did suffer with his
health for a while during his grieving process, but it was his own advice that I echoed
back to him that helped to give him the peace and strength he needed to carry on. He
would be visited by his most familiar nephew and his wife from time to time, and he
would speak with Uncle Henry out in the Westcountry, but it was the time we spent
together which he counted on – there was always something exciting we would get up
to with the Society, or the Royal Calendar, or the Associations he was a part of. I
would attend Grenadier Guard Day with him, as well as Tea Parties at Buckingham
Palace, and other Guards events that we could get him to. If he had one story to share
about his time in the guards, he had a thousand and one more… I shall miss those
stories more than I ever thought I would”.

Magazin: Thank you Thomas for spending this time with us and treating us to the memories of
a fantastic life that has meant so much not only to you, but all that George touched. They
truly don’t make men like him anymore and we are extremely sorry for not only this most
recent loss, but all your losses this past year.

Predeceased by his father, George Charles Mills, and mother, Hannah, Sullen O’Leigh, his
wife Betty Mills, and his sisters Betty, Louisa, and Margaret, George is survived by his twin
brother Henry Mills and sister-in-law Barbara, adopted daughter Dot Poole-Jones and her two
daughters, and his adopted grandson Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills. George further leaves
behind nieces and nephews that he held in high regard.


Dr. Prince Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe
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