Christmas cards sent by British royals are to be auctioned next week.

A collection of 17 festive notes sent by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip to a member of Buckingham Palace staff from 1981 to 1998 will go under the hammer at Duke's auctioneers in Dorchester, Dorset, south England on December 13 and are expected to fetch at least £600.

Auctioneer Rupert Perry-Warnes told the Daily Mail newspaper: "It's a fascinating collection and includes quite intimate pictures of the royal family.

They are all hand-signed and should be of great interest to anyone who likes the Royal Family.

"You can see how they progress through the years, and how their lives change.

"The cards were collected by a lady who used to work at Buckingham Palace and I understand they were all given to her as a member of staff.

"I believe she has kept them safely at home all these years, and has now chosen to sell part of the collection.

"They are all from either Charles and Diana or the queen and Prince Phillip, and there is one from the Queen Mother.

"Most people don't get to see these images and they give a really interesting insight into the lives of the Royal Family as they grow older.

"They are all hand-signed and should be of great interest to anyone who likes the Royal Family."

The images include Charles and Diana as newlyweds and later posing with their young sons Princes William and Harry - including one of the boys perched on a donkey - while the 1990 card from the queen and Philip featured them posing with one of their beloved corgis.

A 1987 card has the monarch and her husband joined by William and Harry and their daughter Princess Anne's children Zara and Peter Phillips.