The King’s Messenger passport of Cyril Fraser

King's Messenger passport
Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Loyd Butler Fraser – The King’s Foreign Service Messenger

The following document came into my collection through a reader’s contact. Paul Murray sent me a message last year and wanted to know more details about this type of passport. King’s Messenger passport

This King’s Messenger passport once belonged to his great uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Loyd Butler Fraser.

Paul sent me some pictures of the document, which was quite worn for such an exclusive travel document. Back then, he wasn’t interested in departing from it, but I was delighted when he contacted me again this year. We found a suitable agreement for both parties, and now the document is on my desk.

King's Messenger passport
“l know for a fact that he was a very flamboyant character and was a frequent visitor to the Ritz Hotel. He lived most of his life in Brighton and Hove when not on duty. The photo shows him with his brother Colonel  P B Fraser D.S.O, O.B.E., who was for a time head of land forces in Gibraltar. My mother is the small child standing next to him.” says Paul.

Of course, it is desirable when relatives have some background information about their family members as this gives us a better picture of the person in question. I found the following records. *FRASER, Cyril Loyd Butler, e. Born 18/2/85-Commissioned 10/10/03. Lt.-Col. {Res. of Off.) 27/4/30 (18/10/35). Lt.-Col. 18/4/31. h.p. late R.A.S.C. 18/4/35. ret. 18/10/35. *National Library of Scotland, British Military Lists. King’s Messenger passport

The National Archive has several entries on Kings Messengers, but they are not accessible online. (service fees) has entries (some military data but mostly ship’s passenger lists). We know Fraser retired from the military in 1935 at the age of 50, but we don’t know when he became a King’s Messenger. This passport, however, was issued in 1942 and expired in 1944. Which makes him 57/59 years old when in service as one of “The King’s Foreign Service Messengers.” Ki

The Passport

King's Messenger passport
Well used King’s Messenger passport 1942-1944


The extra pages make the document “fat”

Robert Anthony Eden, a member of his Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, a member of Parliament. His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs. Request and Require in the name of his Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Loyd Butler Fraser charged with dispatches …to pass freely…Given at the Foreign Office London, 12 November 1942. King’s Messenger passport



Profession: King’s Messenger
POB: Sheerness. DOB: 18 Feb 1885. Height: 5’10. Eyes: Blue. Hair: Brown. Traveling to: British Empire, all allied and neutral countries. First Visa: Colombia issued in Washington, 16 Dec 1942. Last Visa: Colombia 19 May 1944.

Passport No.30 for Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Loyd Butler Fraser.
Profession: King’s Messenger










150+ visas within 16 months of travel to countries like Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, USA, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, The Netherlands (Suriname), El Salvador, Mexico, Ireland (Ireland visa issued in Washington is quite special). King’s Messenger passport

Diplomatic visas of Cuba and Ireland 1944


King's Messenger passport
Here you get some impression of the whole document.

Even when this KING’S MESSENGER PASSPORT is well worn, it is definitely a very desirable passport historical collectible as such documents were only issued to a few dozens of men, never for any woman. I would say this type is the rarest kind of travel document a collector can find of all British Empire passports. Hence, I am delighted that Paul made it possible to get such a passport into my archive.

In a request to the British Parliament in 2015, it was reported that then 16 Queens’s Messengers were in service. King’s Messenger passport




incl. FREE guideline!

FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...