Monday, January 30, 2017

King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofia of Spain - Christmas Reply (2016)

I don't like to pick favorites, but this is one of my favorite recent replies. 

WHY? Because this is my first reply from Spain!!! 

First replies are very exciting! I'm always very intrigued by how they respond, what the reply looks like, the envelope, etc. (Sorry, I always get really nerdy about envelopes!) This is extra special because I've written to the Spain Royals a handful of times since 2015, and no response, until today! I had wondered if one would ever come. (Although I had only ever written to King Felipe and Queen Letizia before this.)

This reply is from King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. They are King Felipe's parents. King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014.

Quite easy to tell the reply is from Spain by the envelope. They are after all the only Current European Monarchy whose official language is Spanish.

Correos Espana is Spain's national postal service. The postmark with the date reads "E.O. Jefatura de Estado, Madrid." Not sure what E.O. stands for, but the rest says Head of State, Madrid.

The postmark on the right, "Paquete Azul, Paquete a Domicilio" (Package Blue, Package at Home), is a marking for the Correos service they used.

What is very interesting is the Blue Stamp "Casa De S.M. El Rey - Protocolo" (Household of H.M. The King - Protocol) is printed on, not actually stamped.

The letter is written by Alfanso Sanz Portoles, Secretary-General of King Juan Carlos's Household. And is sent from the Palace of Zarzuela, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia's home.

Translated the message reads:
Household of HM The King
Secretary-General of HM King Juan Carlos
Palace of  Zarzuela 
18th January 2017

Ms. Gertrude Alexandra Daly  
[My Address] 

From Secretary-General of H.M. King Juan Carlos 

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia charged me, in their name, to send their most sincere gratefulness for the kind greeting that you sent to them on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, as well as your best wishes for 2017.
I take the opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous year. 

Alfanso Sanz Portoles

It's a very lovely reply. And I am very excited to add a new section to my binders for Spain, and of course to add the 1st Spain reply on our blog!

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Prince Harry - Christmas Reply (2016)

This week, I received a reply from the UK.

I received together, in one envelope, both a letter and Prince Harry's usual photo Christmas reply. This is the first time that has happened to me. I have occasionally received a letter, instead of the usual Christmas or Birthday reply, but have never been sent both.

The Christmas photo reply is the same as last year, except the wording on the back is slightly different. Prince Harry's birthday replies for 2015 & 2016 used the same photo as well.

The card reads:
Prince Harry is most grateful to you for the kind message you sent at Christmas and sends you his very best wishes for the New Year. 
They are obviously making up new cards each year, for each event, as the messages are slightly different. Personally, I do find it a little annoying they don't switch the photo up if they are printing off new cards. I could understand if they had extras from last year they were continuing to use, but that is not the case here.

Now on to the letter! It was written, like usually, by Claudia Spens, whose actual title is Head of the Correspondence Section at Clarence House. The Correspondence Section answers all of Charles, Camilla, Harry, and the Cambridges mail. (And YES, you really should be sending your mail for Harry & the Cambridges to Clarence House, not Kensington Palace.)

The Correspondence Section is mainly made up of part-time staff, which explains why it can take forever to receive a reply. Last year, the annual reports said the Correspondence Section had the equivalent of 2.8 full-time staff members. But over the last 5 years, the correspondence section staff has averaged the equivalent of 3.4 full-time staff members. Claudia Spens is full-time and there is possibly another full-time staff member, and the rest are part-time.

The letter reads:
Dear Miss Daly, 
 Prince Harry has asked me to thank you for your letter of 10th November and I do apologise for the delay in replying to you.  
His Royal Highness was so grateful that you should take the trouble to write as you did. It really was most thoughtful of you and Prince Harry was immensely touched by your wonderful words of support. 
His Royal Highness thoroughly enjoyed his recent tour of the Caribbean. He very much looks forward to the opportunity to return in the future and he appreciated your good wishes. 
Although unfortunately unable to reply to you personally, Prince Harry has asked me to send you his warmest thanks for your kind letter and his sincerest best wishes.  
Yours sincerely, 
Claudia Spens
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Prince Charles & Duchess Camilla - Christmas Reply (2016)

A lovely reply arrived from the UK from Charles & Camilla. It's the couples usual Christmas reply. Which is the same thing (& size) as the Cambridges and Harry's. Don't let the white border, fool you. It's not one of those big picture replies Camilla uses when she send a signed reply. (Not sure why they choose to put the white border on such a small picture.)

The photo is from Charles and Camilla's tour of the Western Balkans, take on 14th March 2016, by Chris Jackson. The couple was in Croatia on their 1st of 2 days in the country and are on the balcony at the National Theatre.

The message is the same as last year's reply.

The message reads:
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall would like to thank you so much for the kind message you sent at Christmas. It was very much appreciated by them. Their Royal Highnesses send you their warmest best wishes for a very Happy New Year. 
It must have been a very memorable time in Croatia. The couple used a photo taken the very next day, in their official Christmas card, that was sent to family and friends. (Photo was taken March 15th, 2016 by Chris Jackson.)

I've gotten replies for about 60% of my Christmas Letters so far. Which is a good amount given I only expect to get replies from 85% percent of my letters.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Princess Alexandra - Birthday (2016)

I received my first reply from Princess Alexandra, the Queen's Cousin.

It was a little confusing because the reply came in an envelope with the Queen's coat of arms on it. (Although the coat of arms here is a little different color of red, and smaller than the one on the envelopes from the Queen.) Princess Alexandra's coat of arms is similar to this, but different. Most noticeably the shield on Alexandra's is diamond shaped, and the crown on top is different, with no lion or feathers.

So when I saw this envelope, I was expecting to find a Christmas reply from the Queen. But instead was surprised with a lovely rely from Princess Alexandra.

I had written to Princess Alexandra for her 80th birthday last month (25th December), and also to wish her a very Merry Christmas. She was the only one of the Queen's cousins I wrote to this Christmas.

This very lovely reply was sent by her Private Secretary, Mrs. Diane Duke. The top of the page features Alexandra's monogram, which is a crown with two intersecting A underneath.

The letter reads: 
Dear Miss Daly, 
Princess Alexandra has asked me to write and thank you for your kind wishes on the occasion of her 80th Birthday.  
Her Royal Highness was touched that you had thought of her and taken the trouble to write. This was greatly appreciated and the Princess has asked me to pass on her thanks and good wishes for the New Year to you.  
Yours sincerely, Mrs. Diane A Duke LVO DLPrivate Secretary and Comptroller to HRH PRincess Alexandra
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Duchess Sarah - Christmas Reply (2016)

Today's reply came from the UK.

This is the 2nd Christmas reply I have received from the Yorks this year. I had written two Christmas letter (one to Andrew, and one to Sarah) because the couple is divorced. I received my reply from Prince Andrew last week.

The second reply was also marked with Prince Andrew's Cypher, but it comes from Duchess Sarah. Yes, Andrew and Sarah are the most bazaar divorced couple I know. I love that they are still great friends, and do a joint Christmas Card.

The reply is a rather lovely tri-fold card, with the Duke of York's cypher on the front.

The 1st side of the card features a private photo of Prince Andrew, Princess Eugenie, and Princess Beatrice on the Queen's estate at Balmoral (Summer).

There is also a photo of Princess Eugenie, Duchess Sarah and Princess Beatrice in London attending the wedding of Petra Palumbo and Lord Lovat (May 14th).

The other side of the card also features a private photo of Eugenie, Beatrice, and Andrew at Balmoral (Summer).

A handwritten note is printed on the card. It looks like it was written by Duchess Sarah.
The four signatures are also printed on.

The message reads:
A Thought, A Word, A Deed. ~Nothing is More SpecialA Warm Embrace,A Smile that goes the Extra Mile, Somebody, Somewhere to heed.  
Andrew, Sarah, Beatrice, Eugenie

The two dogies may be the same ones featured on the Family's 2014 Christmas card.

The final photos show Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice doing charity work.

Princess Eugenie attending a service at Westminster Abbey to commemorate William Wilberforce for his work combating Modern Slavery (October 12th).

Princess Beatrice during the Virgin Strive Challenge triathlon in Italy in support of her charity, Big Change (September 29th).

This reply is the first I have received with the Windsor Castle postmarked, where the letter was franked and processed. This wasn't actually sent from Windsor Castle; it would have been sent from Prince Andrew's home, the Royal Lodge, which sits on the Windsor Great Park. Duchess Sarah currently lives in Switzerland, but has a place at the Royal Lodge for when she is in England.

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The Cambridges - Christmas Reply (2016)

A lovely reply came from the Cambridges. It's the typical reply from the Cambridges. The photo on the front of the card was from the Cambridges trip to Canada (attending Children's party at Government House in Victoria, September 29th).

The photo was taken by Royal Photographer, Chris Jackson. Although it is miscaptioned on the back of the card.

The typed message on the back is the exact same as their card last year.

The message reads: 
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are so grateful to you for the kind message you sent at Christmas and send you their best wishes for a very Happy New Year. 

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

King Philippe & Queen Mathilde - Christmas Reply (2016)

I received a reply from Belgium, while I was away on holiday.

The envelope features King Philippe & Queen Mathilde's joint monogram.

Inside the envelope is a card. The front of the card is the exact same as last year. For more on the monogram, check out the post on their Christmas reply from last year.

The inside of the card has a family photo and message. (L-R: 1st row- Gabriel, Mathilde, Philippe, Elisabeth. 2nd row- Emmanuel, Eleonore)

The message, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, is the exact same as last year, except the date has obviously been changed. The message is in Dutch, French, German, and English.

The King and Queen's signatures are printed onto the card, with their 4 children's names typed below (in order of age).  

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Prince Albert & Princess Charlene of Monaco - Christmas Reply (2016)

A reply arrived today, while I was away on holiday. The reply is similar to their previous Christmas replies. They did get this out faster than previous years, by 1-2 weeks.  

One thing I have always said is Monaco has the nicest quality replies. You can't see it in the picture, but this envelope is actually sparkly if you hold it to the light just right. The Monaco Royals have very beautiful envelopes, in a variety of colors and textures. Usually, they pick an envelope that matches the color and texture of the letter or card they are sending. 

The stamp on this reply is of Enrico Caruso, a famous Italian opera singer  (1873 – 1921). Enrico Caruso performed all over the world, including Monaco. The stamp was released in March 2016. The Postmark says "Joyeuses Fetes," which is French for "Happy Holidays." 

Inside is a card. The front features the couple's joint monogram in red and a lovely family photo that was taken in early December at the palace.

And again it's really nice quality. It is heavy paper, that sparkles in the light. The photo isn't printed on, rather it glued onto the front. This allows them to have the heavy paper, while also have a very nice quality photo. 

On the inside of the card is a message, in 3 languages: French, English and Monegasque. They change up the message each year. At the bottom of the card is Albert and Charlene's signatures. They are printed on, and the same ones they have been using for years.  


The card reads: 
May the joy and peace of the holiday season be with you in this New Year 2017.
Albert de Monaco                   Charlene de Monaco