Sunday, February 25, 2018

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle - Christmas/ Engagement Reply (2017)

A reply arrived over the weekend from the UK. It's from Prince Harry & Meghan Markle thanking me for my Christmas and Engagement letters. It's a pretty exciting and special reply, as this is the first reply I've gotten from Meghan and is for such an important milestone in the young couple's life.

The reply is actually in response to two letters that I wrote. One to Prince Harry which I wrote on November 26th wishing him a very Merry Christmas and New Years. And then a letter I wrote the next day, when Surprise!!!, Prince Harry & Meghan Markle announced their engagement.

The reply came in 3 parts: a letter and two photo cards.

The letter is from Claudia Spens, thanking me for my two letters. Claudia Spens is Head of the Correspondence Section at Clarence House. I think it is really cool that despite the thousands of letters Clarence House has received over the last few months for Harry's Engagement, Christmas, Charles and Kate's Birthday, etc. that they were able to figure out I wrote two letters to Harry and sent one lovely reply for both. This is the first time I've received 1 reply for 2 letters.

The letter says:
"Dear Miss Daly,  
Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have asked me to thank you for your letter of 26th November and 27th November, and for your very kind message sent at Christmas and very thoughtful message of congratulations. I sincerely apologise for the extensive delay in replying to your letters. We have been overwhelmed by the thousands of letters and cards received recently.  
His Royal Highness and Ms.  Markle are most grateful to you for taking the trouble to write as you did and much appreciated your kind words of support.  
It is a very happy time for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle, and indeed for us all, and your message of congratulations was much appreciated. 
His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle have asked me to send you the enclosed special cards along with their warmest thanks and very best wishes for the New Year.  
Yours Sincerely,
Claudia Spens" 

I think it is So Cute! that Claudia said in the letter that it's a happy time for Harry & Meghan "and indeed for us all." I'm sure the Royal Staff are just as excited about the engagement as we all are. It reminds me of when in a reply from the Queen, one of her Ladies-in-Waiting wrote, "the arrival of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge has given much pleasure to the whole Royal Family."

The first photo card is for Christmas. The front of the card features the couple in Nottingham, on their first official engagement together a few days after the announcement.

The message is slightly different from past years, and obvious Meghan has been added to the message. It's exciting that from now on we will be writing to the couple for Christmas, not just Harry. And hopefully, over the next few years, we will be seeing some more additions to the family. 

The message reads:
"Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful Christmas message. 
His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle send you their warmest thanks and with very best wishes for a Happy New Year." 
This Christmas Reply is extra special as it will be the only one that says "Prince Harry & Ms. Meghan Markle," as future Christmas replies will use their new title. 

The 2nd card is for the couple's engagement. The front features the couple during their engagement photocall in the garden at Kensington Palace. 

The back features a lovely message from the couple.

The message reads:
"Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle were incredibly touched that you took the trouble to write as you did in connection with their forthcoming Wedding.  
It really was most thoughtful of you and greatly appreciated. His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle send you their warmest thanks and very best wishes." 
The envelope is the usual from the British Royals, but it was a little extra thick this time. This was the first time I've gotten a letter and two cards in a reply.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Prince Gabriel of Sweden - Christening Reply (2017)

A reply arrived this week from Sweden. I have written to the Sweden Royals so many times over the years, for Births, Christenings, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, Illness, Death, etc. And have only ever gotten 2 replies before. So, this reply is pretty special.

I had written in December to Prince Carl Philip & Princess Sofia for their son, Prince Gabriel's Christening. (I of course also sent them my best wishes for Christmas and wished Princess Sofia a Happy Birthday in the letter).

The envelope is the same as the other Swedish Royal replies. The left side of the envelope features the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Sweden with"Royal Court of Sweden," and the address written underneath.

Inside is lovely thank you card. It's the same size as the photo cards we see from the Clarence House. The front of the card features Prince Gabriel's monogram.

Inside is a note from the couple written in Swedish and English. The two signatures are printed on and are the same ones used on the couple's wedding reply in 2015.

The message says:
For all the kindness and consideration shown to us on the occasion of the Christening of our son, Prince Gabriel, we wish to extend our warmest thanks and sincere gratitude. 

Carl Philip   Sofia 

The inside also features a lovely photo of Prince Gabriel taken after his christening. He was 3 months old when the photo was taken.

It's a bit strange writing for so many Swedish Royal Christening and never getting a reply, and then finally getting one. I was quite surprised to get this. And hopefully, I won't have to wait 3 more years for another reply from Sweden. 

King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofia - Christmas (2017)/Kings 80th Birthday (2018)

Two replies arrived today from Spain. They are for the Christmas letter I sent King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofia in December, and the Birthday letter I sent King Juan Carlos in January. It is interesting to see the replies arrive on the same day given they were dated a week apart.

The two envelopes are identical from the front.

However, what is interesting is the two envelopes are different brands. 

First is the couple's Christmas reply.

The top of the letter features King Juan Carlos' coat of arms in purple with "Household of H.M. The King. The Head Secretariat of H.M. King Juan Carlos" written underneath. Last year's Christmas reply had this in more of a blue color. I'm not sure this was a conscious color change or just something with the ink.

The letter is in Spanish and translates to:

Palace of Zarzuela (The couple's official residence)
January 30th, 2018

Ms. Gertrude Alexandra Daly
(My Address)

The Head Secretariat of H.M. King Juan Carlos

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, have received with great pleasure the best wishes that you have sent them for Christmas and New Years and they have asked me to convey their most sincere gratitude to you, as well as their best wishes for you this new year.

I take this opportunity to send a cordial greeting,

Alfonso Sanz Portolés

I'm still waiting on a few more Christmas replies, mainly from the UK (Queen & Philip, The Cambridges, and Harry).

Juan Carlos' Birthday 
The 2nd letter for is King Juan Carlos' 80th Birthday.

The letter is in Spanish and translates to:

Palace of Zarzuela (The couple's official residence)
February 5th, 2018

Ms. Gertrude Alexandra Daly
(My Address)

The Head Secretariat of H.M. King Juan Carlos

His Majesty The King has asked me, in his name, to send his sincere thanks, together with his affectionate greetings,  for the warm wishes that, on the occasion of his Birthday, you have been kind enough to send.

Upon fulfilling this request, I send a cordial greeting,

Alfonso Sanz Portolés

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank - Engagement Reply (2018)

I received a lovely reply from Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. I had written to them last month to send them my congratulation on their engagement. 

The reply came in a large envelope with the typical British Royal Postmark. 

However, the back of the envelope is pretty special. It features Princess Eugenie's monogram. I have written to Princess Eugenie a few times over the years, mainly for her birthday. The replies have always had Prince Andrew's badge on the envelope and letter since her mail is answered by her father's office.

So, this is the first time I've gotten mail with Princess Eugenie's monogram on it. Prince Eugenie has used this monogram for many years. We often see it on invitations for charity events she's hosting or letters for her patronages. You may notice the crown on Princess Eugenie's monogram is the same one used on Prince Andrew's badge.

Inside is a large card. The card is the same style as the York's Christmas Cards I've received, although this is much larger. It is the same size as the large photo cards Duchess Camilla sends. Although Camilla sends a flat card, and this opens up.

The photo on the front of the card is from the set of official photos taken at Buckingham Palace on the day of the announcement. The photos were taken by Jonathan Brady in the Picture Gallery.

The inside of the card features a lovely hand-written note by Princess Eugenie that has been printed on the card. The signatures are also printed on. I think a printed on, hand-written note is a really lovely way of giving a very personal reply when you can't actually personally reply to everyone.  

The monogram is engraved (indented), which is interesting. The other British royals normally use an embossed (raised) monogram.

The message reads: 

We are so grateful for the lovely message congratulating us on our engagement. 
We are so happy and excited and look forward to 2018 being a very special year for us. 
Thank you for thinking of us. 
Eugenie & Jack 

This is a really lovely card and is something I will definitely treasure as it is so beautiful and marks such an important moment in this young couple's life. I can not wait for their wedding in October. 

Princess Charlene of Monaco - Birthday Reply (2018)

A lovely reply arrived from Monaco for the 40th birthday letter I send Princess Charlene. 

The front of the envelope is the usual from the Monaco Royals. 

The back of the envelope features Princess Charlene's monogram. You can't tell from the photos, but the envelope and card are both sparkly and iridescent. It reminds me of mother of pearl. One of the really nice things the Monaco royals often do it match the card with the envelope.

Princess Charlene's birthday reply is pretty much the same year after year. The message is changed up slightly. And you will also often see a slight difference in font or an embossed vs. engraved monogram, etc. The signature is printed on and is the same one used for years. 

The card says:
Monaco Palace
January 2018 
Very touched by your thoughtfulness and your kind wishes on the occasion of my birthday, I would like to sincerely thank you for that. 
Charlene de Monaco
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Crown Prince Couple of Denmark - Christmas Reply (2017)

I had written to the Crown Prince Couple to wish them a very Merry Christmas. As you may know, Frederik and Mary like to send out the exact same reply year after year. I have a number of replies from them that are absolutely identical. Although, sometimes, there are little differences like a slight change in the color of the paper, or the message being on 2 lines instead of 3.

Here is one of their old Christmas replies. This is what I expected to get.

Christmas 2014

But this year, the couple changed up their reply.....

When I first opened it, I knew immediately something about this is different. First off, it just felt a little different. This reply is on a different kind of paper that is slightly heavier. You will also probably notice the lovely textured edge. (This is similar to the edges used in Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik's replies.) The old and new reply from the Crown Prince Couple are basically the same size, but the new reply is slightly wider by a 1/2 cm.

The old and new reply both feature the same Crown, that is used in the couple's monograms and coat of arms. The old reply has a more detailed version of the crown. The new reply has a simpler, bolder version. I haven't decided which I like better. 

The card also features a new message.

"On behalf of Their Royal Highness, The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark, I would like to thank you for your Season's Greetings." 
"Their Royal Highness The Crown Prince and Crown Princess asked me to thank you for your Season's Greetings."
While not a big change, it is certainly refreshing to see something new after the same message year after year. I think the new message is a bit more personal than the old one. It also closer to the message used on the birthday replies.

But I think the most striking difference between the old and new reply is the address at the bottom. It has been changed from Christain VIII Palace at Amalienborg to Frederik VIII Palace at Amalienborg.

Amalienborg is a complex of 4 different Palaces: Christian VII Palace, Christian VIII Palace, Frederick VIII Palace and Christian IX Palace. The Palaces are all arranged in a square with an octagonal courtyard in the middle.

I don't know exactly why we are seeing this change in address now. The Crown Prince Couple have lived at Frederick VIII Palace and had their office there since 2010. They did previously live at Christian VII Palace during the earlier years of their marriage while Frederik VIII was being renovated. Today, Christian VII Palace is a Museum as well as the home of Prince Joachim & Princess Marie and Princess Benedikte.

It could just be over the last 8 years they never bothered to update their Card with their new office address. Or maybe something else.

Either way, this change of address doesn't affect where you should address your letters. Mail to the couple and the other members of the Denmark Royal Family should still be sent to their PO Box: 

Postboks 2143
1015 København K

I hope you like their new reply because I have a feeling we will be seeing this year after year. The couple very likely won't change up their reply again until Frederik becomes Monarch.

King Michael of Romania - Condolence Reply (2017)

Today, I received a piece of mail from Romania. I had written to the Romanian Royal Family a few times over the years, (including sending my condolences for Queen Anne's passing,) but never received a reply.... until now.

I had written in December to express my condolences for the passing of King Michael I of Romania. He reigned from (1927-1930) and (1940-1947) before the monarchy was abolished. King Michael passed away on December 5th in Switzerland at the age of 96 after a long period of illness.

The front of the envelope features the Royal Coat of Arms, along with two stamps. The purple stamps feature King Carol II, Michael's father. It is interesting to see the Royal Family use a stamp of King Carol, as King Michael really disliked his father and spent over a decade refusing to speak to him.

The green stamp features a young King Michael.

The back of the envelope has the address of Elisabeta Palace, which was King Michael's official residence in Romania. Now that King Michael has passed, the Royal family is paying monthly rent for Elisabeta Palace while they are in talks with the government about their continued use of the Palace. 

Inside is a card from Her Majesty Margareta, Custodian of the Crown. She is King Michael's eldest child, and would-be Monarch should Romania ever become a Monarchy again. The card is very lovely, with a nice long message and Margreta's signature printed on.

The cards reads:
Thank you for the words of comfort and the thoughts of sympathy that you send to me and my family, on the sad occasion of the passing away of my father.  

King Michael was a wonderful father, a model of morality and a pillar of our country's contemporary history. Loyal and generous, His Late Majesty proved an unwavering commitment to the Crown and Nation.  

The outpouring of love, respect and admiration that Romanians showed on his last journey touched us deeply.  


Custodian of the Crown of Romania
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Monday, February 5, 2018

King Albert and Queen Paola - Christmas Reply (2017)

Another Christmas reply arrived in the mail today! This time from Belgium, from King Albert and Queen Paola.

The envelope is extra-large, and features a red crown on the back. 

Their reply is very similar to last year, except it is much bigger. This reply is about the same size as Queen Paola's 80th Birthday reply.

The front of the card features a lovely photo of the couple.

On the back is the couple's joint monogram and a short message.

The message is in 4 languages: Belgium's 3 official languages (French, Dutch, German) and Italian (which is Queen Paola's native language, as she was born and raised in Italy). The message says, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Years 2018."

The two signatures are printed on and are the same used on past replies.

Sadly, the reply got badly bend in the mail. I straightened it out by laying it under some heavy books. But it still has a crease in it. Luckily you can't really tell from the photos.

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Queen Margrethe & Prince Henrik - Christmas Reply (2017)

A lovely reply arrived today from Denmark. I had also written to Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik for Christmas.

They replied with a form letter, which sadly does not acknowledge I had addressed my Christmas letter to both Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik.

The letter is their usual with lovely textured edges.

The reply is from Johnnie Korsholm, one of the Queen's Aides-de-Camp.

The letter reads:
Dear Miss Daly,
Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to thank You for Your kind Christmas and New Year's greetings.  
Sincerely yours,  
Johnnie Karsholm

You will notice that the message has "You" and "Yours" capitalized. There is this old rule that any pronoun (I, You, Yours, His, Her, Their, Them, He, She, etc.) referring to a royal should be capitalized. Occasionally, we see this rule used in Royal replies, but even those that use it, don't use it consistently. However, this reply has misapplied this rule and capitalized the pronouns referring to me, a non-Royal. This is incorrect.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Grand Duke Henri & Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg - Christmas Reply 2018

Today I received a reply from Luxembourg for the Christmas letter I sent Grand Duke Henri & Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

The envelope is the usual and features a lovely Christmas Stamp from 2016.

The card on the inside is the usual reply from Luxembourg. It seems like no two replies from Luxembourg are ever exactly the same. There is always a little difference in terms of font, font color, font size, spacing, alignment, date placement, crown placement, style of title, etc.

While I certainly appreciate them being the opposite of Crown Prince Couple of Denmark, whose replies are identical year after year, not having a set form has lead to some sloppiness or awkwardness over the years. For example, here you will notice they mistakenly wrote January 2017, instead of 2018.

The message reads:
Luxembourg, January 2017 
Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, very touched by your kind greetings, send you their most heartfelt wishes for the New Year. 

Should you wish to see the Christmas Reply from the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess from last year, that I actually received in January 2017, you can find it here. 

King Felipe & Queen Letizia of Spain - Christmas Reply (2017)

I was very surprised to receive this reply. I have written to King Felipe and Queen Letizia a number of times over the past few years (for Birthdays, Christmas, Daugther's 1st Communion, etc) and never received a reply from them. 

I did a survey of Gert's Royals readers last year and about half of them who wrote to King Felipe and Queen Letizia for Christmas in 2016 received a reply, and half didn't. And that always seems to be the case, with the couple. They send replies, but they don't send it to everyone. I don't understand why.  

(I have written to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia a few times over the years. I'm not 100% sure, but I think I've always gotten a reply from them.)

But finally, after 3 years of writing to King Felipe and Queen Letizia for Christmas, a Christmas reply finally came! 

The envelope is pretty simple. The envelope is franked with a generic blue "Franqueo Pagado, Cartas/ Postage Paid, Letter."

The blue stamp "Casa De S.M. El Rey - Protocolo/ Household of H.M. The King - Protocol" is printed on the envelope, not actually stamped.

The back of the envelope features the King's Coat of Arms. What is interesting about the envelope is it has a little thing to tear the envelope open, which is nice because it helps keep the envelope in nice condition. I haven't seen any other royals use envelopes like this.

Inside is the family's Christmas Card. It's the largest Christmas reply I've received so far, slightly larger than the Monaco Christmas Card. The front of the card features King Felipe and Queen Letizia's joint monogram, an intertwined L, under a crown.

The simple, rounded ends monogram is certainly a bit unique. A lot of the other royals use either block letters, very curly and twirly letters, or things with lots of flourishes.

The inside of the Card features a photo of the family taken during Spain's National Day celebration in October. Princess Leonor (12) is in red, and Sofia (10) is in pink. It's a very lovely photo. But because the photo is printed right the paper, which is textured, and it isn't photo paper, the photo isn't the best quality. One thing I always love about the Monaco Christmas Card is the photo is printed on photo paper, which is attached to the card, so it's very lovely and high quality. 

The inside of the card features a typed message, as well as a hand-written message from King Felipe that is printed on the card. This handwritten message is printed on all the English language cards. King Felipe undoubtedly wrote versions of the message in a few different languages.

The message reads:
Thank you so much for your Christmas Card. We also send you our best wishes with our warmest regards. 

I sort of laughed when I read the message from King Felipe because I sent a letter, not a card. But I like it. The handwritten message is a great way to make the card feel very personal, even though it's being sent to everyone.

The family signatures are also printed on the card. What is very lovely is that they have new signatures each year. So if you look back at past cards you can see the changes in title and the little girls growing up and changing their signature. 

The back of the card features the King's Coat of Arms.  

It is very interesting to compare the King's Coat of Arms on the envelope and the card. They are both the same coat of arms but are represented differently.

With a coat of arms, the thing that is registered and protected is the written description, also known as the blazon. A coat of arms can have different versions of it, that are all corrects, as long as they all follow the same description. For example, the lion in the 2nd quarter could be drawn differently each time, so long as it is always a lion and always in the 2nd quarter.

You will notice the collar around the Coat of Arms. That is the Collar of the Golden Fleece. Princess Leonor was officially presented with her Collar of the Golden Fleece earlier this week on the King's 50th Birthday. So, her coat of arms now features the Collar of the Golden Fleece as well.

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