Queen Victoria was a very rotund lady in her old age," says Mrs. Edome Broughton-Adderley of London. "In fact, she was almost square." Mrs. Broughton-Adderley is positive about the royal girth because she recently obtained a pair of the queen's underpants. The billowing garment, which went at public auction for $272, measured a barrel-like 48 inches at the waistline. The drawers, says the new owner, are vintage 1895 or thereafter, one of 36 pairs Her Majesty had custom-made with embroidered crowns. "The stitching is fantastic," Mrs. B-A observes, "but they're very plain. They certainly were not the queen's party drawers."

An avid collector of royal memorabilia, Mrs. Broughton-Adderley says she won't put her latest treasure on display. "They have no particular history," she says. "Victoria used to give things like that to her ladies' maids, and they would hand them down in their own families." Since acquiring the Victorian queen's undies, Mrs. Broughton-Adderley says she has also been offered a pair of Queen Mary's stockings. Does that mean Queen Elizabeth II's unmentionables may someday turn up on the auction block? "I expect," says Mrs. Broughton-Adderley with a wink, "that the present queen is taking care that no one gets her drawers."