Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Cambridges - Christmas Reply (2018)

A lovely reply arrived on Saturday from the UK. I had writen to the Cambridges in December to wish them a very Merry Christmas. I've gotten a number of Christmas replies in March over the years. But this is the latest I've ever waited.  And year will likely be the first time I get a Christmas reply in April as I expect at least one more, possibly two.

The envelope features the new postmark for the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. You can read more about it on our post about Kate's birthday reply.


The back of the envelope is the usual for the Cambridges.  



Inside is a pre-made lovely photo card, along with a letter. 

The front of the card features a photo of the Cambridge Family. The photo was taken by Matt Holyoak, and was apart of the official set of photos taken for Prince Louis Christening.


The back of the card features a typed message.


The card reads:
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis thank you for your kind Christmas message.  
Their Royal Highnesses send you their very best wished for Christmas and for the New Year. 
Included with the photo card is a letter from Claudia Spens, the head of the correspondence section at Clarence House. 


The letter reads:
Dear Miss Daly, 
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to thank you for your letter of 15th December and I must sincerely apologise for the time it has taken to respond to you.  
Their Royal Highnesses were most grateful to you for your kind words of support and they greatly appreciated the generous nature of your comments regarding their family and the work they undertake.  
Although unable to reply to you personally, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were immensely touched that you should take the trouble to write as you did. This really was so thoughtful of you and Their Royal Highnesses have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and very best wishes.  
Yours Sincerely, 
Claudia Spens                
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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Duchess Kate - Birthday Reply (2019)

A reply arrived on Friday from the UK. I had written to Duchess Kate in January for her 37th birthday.

At first glance, the front of the envelope looks pretty much the same as always: Red Crown with EIIR, Buckingham Palace circle with date, and 1st class box with the royal's PPI number.

But if you look closely, you will see that the postmark has been redesigned.


The most obvious change to the postmark is the new Red Crown/EIIR. It's a little more detailed, with a larger crown. 

But the real reason for the redesign is the new PPI number. The Royal Mail's PPI (Printed Postage Impressions) program allows you to print your own postage on the envelope and then the Royal Mail can use your PPI number of charge your account. Previously, all the mail from the British Royals was marked with the PPI number, W7047. The number has now changed to W4047. 

I don't know why the royals changed their PPI number. They had their old number since at least the 1990s. 

But, since all the British Royal mail uses the same PPI number we should see all the postmarks change (Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham House, etc.). 

You can learn more about the different postmarks used by the British Royals here
            

Another interesting thing about the redesign is it is much smaller than the old postmark. You can see it in the photo above, compared with the old design as featured in two different sized envelopes.

The back of the envelope is the usual from the Cambridges.



Inside is the usual photocard along with a letter.

The front of the card features a lovely photo of Duchess Kate. The photo was taken by James Whatling during the Cambridges tour of Canada in 2016. This is the 3rd year in a row that Clarence House has used this photo of Kate's birthday reply. It is very common for them to reuse photos for multiple events/years.


The back of the card features the new redesign that was debuted in Janurary 2019. For more on the redesign see our post on the Evolution of Charles & Camilla's photocard. It is basically the same except version #3 features the Prince of Wales feathers instead of the Black Crown/Kensington Palace.



The back of the card says:
It was so kind of you to write to The Duchess of Cambridge on the occasion of her 37th birthday.  
Your thoughtfulness was greatly appreciated by Her Royal Highness who send her warmest thanks and best wishes. 

The letter is from Claudia Spens, head of the correspondence section at Clarence House.


The letter says:
Dear Miss Daly,  
The Duchess of Cambridge has asked me to thank you for your letter of 6th January and I must apologise for the delay in responding to you.  
It was so kind of you to take the trouble to write as you did. Her Royal Highness was immensely touched by your generous words of support for the work she undertakes with young people and mental health. As you know, this is an issue about which The Duchess is passionate and your thoughtful comments were greatly appreciated.  
I regret that Her Royal Highness is unable to reply to you personally, due to the large amount of correspondence she received. The Duchess of Cambridge has, however, asked me to send you her warmest thanks and very best wishes.  
Yours sincerely,  
Claudia Spens
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Official Royal Postmarks - UK Past (W7047 Era)

In March 2019, the Royals switched their PPI number from W7047 to W4047. This forced them to redesign all of their postmarks.

This post covers all the postmarks I received (2014-2019) that feature their old PPI number W7047. These postmarks were last used in 2019.

Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace

There is one main postmark that is stamped on most of the Royal Mail that is processed through the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. This includes letters from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St. James Palace, Kensington Palace, and occasionally other Royal Residences outside of London (Windsor, Birkhall, etc.)

Air Mail Stamped

Air Mail Sticker

Double Postmark

Occasionally, you will get a reply that has the typical Buckingham Palace postmark and another Postmark. This is just accidental and done when the mail is taken to the next post office on its route to you. The Mount Pleasant Mail Centre (as seen on the postmark) is London's largest sorting center and most of London's international mail is sorted through that center before heading to the Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre.

2nd class



Court Post Office at Windsor Castle 

The other year-round Court Post Office is at Windsor Castle, which handles mail for the Royal Residences in that area (Windsor Castle, Royal Lodge, etc.). Although I have seen people get mail from Windsor Castle with the Buckingham Palace Postmark. Windsor Castle is the Queen's weekend residences. She also spends her Easter Holiday there. 


The other Royal Residences don't have their own full-time Post Office. I'm not entirely sure on the details on how their mail is processed. Some of them will just have their mail taken to London and dealt with the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. Others have their own Franking Machine to stamp the envelopes, and then they will just deliver it to their local post office.

Sandringham House
This postmark is used for Sandringham House. The Queen spends Christmas and her Winter holiday at Sandringham House. The Royal Mail sets up a temporary post office on the Sandringham estate when the Queen is in residence.


Other
This postmark is for Bagshot Park, the Wessex's residence and office. It has in the past been used for other royal residences, which is why it is not specific to Bagshot Park.


Official Royal Postmarks - UK Current (W4047 Era)

**Be aware this is all international mail, postmarks may be a little different for mail sent to people inside the UK.**

In March 2019, the Royals switched their PPI number from W7047 to W4047. This forced them to redesign all of their postmarks. 

This blog post covers all the postmarks I received that feature their new PPI number W4047. These postmarks were first used in 2019. 

You can find info on the past postmarks used here


Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace
There is one main postmark that is stamped on all most all of the Royal Mail that is processed through the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. This includes letters from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, St. James Palace, Kensington Palace, and occasionally other Royal Residences outside of London (e.g. Windsor, Birkhall, etc.)

Air Mail Stamped  
(2019-Present)

Air Mail Sticker
(2019-Present)

Double Postmark
(2019- Present)
Occasionally, you will get a reply that has the typical Buckingham Palace postmark and another postmark. This is just accidental and done when the mail is taken to the next post office on its route to you. The Mount Pleasant Mail Centre (as seen on the postmark) is London's largest sorting center and most of London's international mail is sorted through that center before heading to the Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre.



2nd class
I have not yet received this postmark since the redesigned. 

Other
Occasionally, you will see them use a stamp on their envelopes. This is usually done to mark special occasions and is only used on mail sent out during a few days. And I believe only done on mail to people in the UK.

You may also see special postmarks for the organizations that have offices at one of the Royal Buildings, that is being processed through this office.

Court Post Office at Windsor Castle 
The other year-round Court Post Office is at Windsor Castle, which handles mail for the Royal Residences in that area (Windsor Castle, Royal Lodge, etc.). Although I have seen people get mail from Windsor Castle with the Buckingham Palace postmark. Windsor Castle is the Queen's weekend residences. She also spends her Easter Holiday there. 

I have not yet received this postmark since the redesigned. 




The other Royal Residences don't have their own full-time Post Office. I'm not entirely sure on the details on how their mail is processed. Some of them will just have their mail taken to London and dealt with the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. Others have their own Franking Machine to stamp the envelopes, and then they will just deliver it to their local post office.


Sandringham House
This postmark is used for Sandringham House. The Queen spends Christmas and her Winter holiday at Sandringham House. The Royal Mail sets up a temporary post office on the Sandringham estate when the Queen is in residence.

I have not yet received this postmark since the redesigned. 

Other
This postmark is for Bagshot Park, the Wessex's residence and office. It has in the past been used for other royal residences, which is why it is not specific to Bagshot Park.

I have not yet received this postmark since the redesigned. 

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan - Pregnancy Reply (2018)

A lovely reply arrived today from the UK. I had written to Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan back in October to congratulate them on the announcement that they are expecting their 1st child. 

It's been a long wait for a reply, a little over 5 months. But Clarence House has been very busy recently with all the mail that they have received. Their response time is a lot longer than usual.  

The front of the envelope is the usual from the British Royals, with the red postmark from the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace.


The back of the envelope features the usual black crown with Kensington Palace underneath. This crown is featured on both the Cambridges' & Sussexs' Monograms. So, when the Sussexs do get new stationery, there is a good chance it will feature the same crown. 


Inside the envelope is the usual postcard-sized photocard, along with a letter.

The letter is from Claudia Spens, who is head of the Correspondence Section at Clarence House. As Meghan's pregnancy was announced right as the couple was starting their Autumn Tour, I had, of course, mentioned it in my letter. 



The letter reads:
Dear Miss Daly,  
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have asked me to thank you for your letter of 15th October, in which you wrote about their Autumn Tour of Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand. I apologise for the delay in replying to you. We have been overwhelmed by the thousands of letters and cards received recently. 
Their Royal Highnesses are grateful to you for taking the trouble to write as you did. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex very much enjoyed their visit to of Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand and greatly appreciated the warm welcome they received. At the Invictus Games closing ceremony, His Royal Highness said, "These men and women are role models. They are who every child should look up to. In a world where negativity is given too much of a platform, our Invictus competitors – many of whom have been given a second chance at life - are achieving extraordinary things." I am sure you will agree that over the week we saw some truly remarkable achievements.  
The Duke of Sussex and Her Royal Highness thank you for your kind message following the happy news that they are expecting their first child, and they have asked me to send you the enclosed card along with their warmest thanks and very best wishes.  
Yours sincerely,  
Claudia Spens
The letter is wonderful; it is always great to get a personal response. I think it is the longest I've ever received from Claudia Spens. I particularly loved the quote from Prince Harry's speech during the Invictus Games. It's a great quote about the games, but I can't help feel like it has a double meaning, as Harry & Meghan are about to have a child, and there has been so much negativity in the press.

The photocard is the first reply I have gotten to features the new design for the Cambridge/Sussexs, (which I refer to as Version #3).

I did a blog post of the evolution of Prince Charles & Duchess Camilla's postcard-sized photocard. I will do one eventually for the Cambridges/Sussexs, but it's more complicated as they have also changed their stationary over the years. The Cambridge/Sussex photocards have followed the same basic evolution as Charles & Camilla's, except version #3 features the Black Crown/Kensington Palace, instead of the Prince of Wales feathers.  (I expect we will see a Version #4, as the Cambridge/Sussex household is set to split sometime in the next few months. But they may not change their reply right away.)

The front of the card is basically the same as Version #2. The big difference is the photo doesn't feature a glossy finish anymore. The photo is from the couple's Autumn Tour. This was taken on October 17th, 2018 in Dubbo, Australia. Not only is this an adorable photo of the couple, but it was such a memorable moment. I loved the juxtaposition of the downpour of rain as the couple meets with farmers who had been hit hard by persistent drought in the region.


The back of the card features the biggest change from Version #2. This new design now has the black Crown/Kensington Palace at the top. Version #3 is also printed on thinner card stock. 


The card says:
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were touched by your very kind message following the happy news that they are expecting their first child. It really was most thoughtful of you to write as you did and Their Royal Highnesses send you their warmest thanks and best wishes. 

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Grand Duke Jean for Princess Alix's Passing - Condolence Reply (2019)

A reply arrived yesterday from Luxembourg. I had written to Grand Duke Jean last month to send him my condolences for the death of his sister, Princess Alix.

I think it's a really beautiful reply. Around the Victorian Era, there began this custom of using black edged stationary during the period of mourning after someone dies. Traditionally, you would use it throughout the morning period, and the width of the black border would indicate full-morning, half-mourning, etc. This tradition has largely gone away. But, we still see the black edge border used from time to time on condolence messages.

The envelopes is pretty similar to the usual from the Luxembourg Royals, except this features a black border around the edge.


The back of the card also features black edging, and the inside of the envelope is lined with black tissue paper. The crown is the same we normally see on the back of the Luxembourg royal envelopes, but instead of being in blue, it is black. 


The card features the same black edge border. The flat card is similar to the usual from the Luxembourg royals. The big difference is the black crown and black text, opposed to the usual blue.


The card reads: 
Fischbach, February 2019 
Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg very much appreciated your message of sympathy on the passing away of His sister Princess Alix. His Royal Highness would like to convey to you His sincerest thanks. 
If you have ever written to Grand Duke Jean before you may have noticed his replies are a little different than the rest of the family. One of the big distinctions is his envelopes & cards have the name of his residence, Chateau de Fischbach, under the crown.

This envelope and card is more like what the rest of the family normally uses. I think they just have one set of black-edged stationery lying around for everyone to use. As this is only used during mourning or for condolences, there is no need to Grand Duke Jean to have a set of black-edge stationery printed just for him.

Personally, I really like this black-edge stationery. I think it is a really lovely mourning tradition. I've received a number condolence replies over the years and this is the first to have this black edging. (The reply from Princess Benedikt of Denmark for the passing of her husband had a black border, but it's not quite the same.)

So, I think this is one of my new favorites as I think it's just a really lovely piece of mail.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Princess Charlene of Monaco - Birthday Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived from Monaco a little while ago. I had written to Princess Charlene in January to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Prince Albert & Princess Charlene are pretty predictable when it comes to replies. They usually send the same thing year after year, with little different wordings. But this year, Charlene's birthday reply is different than past replies.

The front of the envelope is pretty much the same as always. Except, instead of a normal letter size envelope, they used a smaller one. This reflects the new card size.

The back of Charlene's envelopes usually features her blue/green monogram. But this envelope features a plain back. Charlene's envelopes also usually match the paper used for the card. This year they don't match, but both are still nice quality.


The card is a new size, the same as the twin's birthday reply. It still features Charlene's monogram engraved at the top, along with a bi-lingual message in French & English.


The card reads:
Her Serene Highness Princess Charlène was extremely touched by the kindness shown on the occasion of Her birthday and would like to express Her sincere thanks.
If we compare the card with last year's birthday reply, we will see some striking differences.


The wording of her birthday cards change year to year, but now it is written in the 3rd person, instead of from Charlene personally. They also removed the printed-on signature and the date & place from the top.

I am particularly peeved about them removing the date, as it makes it harder for people to look back and remember which birthday the reply was from.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Queen & Prince Philip - Christmas Reply (2018)

A lovely reply arrived today from the UK. I had written to the Queen & Philip back in December to wish them a Merry Christmas.

This is actually the 3rd year in a row, my Christmas reply from the Queen arrived in March. They are understandably very busy as Christmas is one of the biggest time for writing to the Royals.

The envelope is the usual from the British Royals.





The reply is fairly typical of the Queen. For events like Christmas that we see a range of replies: Some people will get a personal reply from a lady-in-waiting; Others will get a more generic or form letter signed by a lady-in-waiting; And some will get an unsigned form letter like this. 

We tend to see the more personal replies earlier, and then less personal one latter as they are rushing to get everyone's replies out. 


The letter reads:
The Queen thanks you very much for the message you sent for Christmas. Her Majesty is most grateful for your kind words.  
The Queen hopes you too had a happy Christmas and New Year and thanks you for your thoughtfulness in writing as you did at this time.  
2019 
While I understand they are very busy, and using a form letter helps them to reply to people faster, I would have been nice to have some acknowledgment that I had addressed my letter to the Queen & Prince Philip.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Writing to the Royals Q&A - March & April (2019)

As always post your questions about Writing to the Royal, and we will get to them as soon as possible. If you have questions about the royals in general check out our main site.

Question 1:How much in advance do you recommend to send birthday cards? (I'm sorry if you already answered this question!) 

Answer: Short answer. I think about 2 weeks in advance is perfect. 

You can find our longer answer under our Frequently Asked Question

Question 2:I want to send a letter to Meghan for her pregnancy so when could I send it??

Answer: For pregnancies, I usually write when the pregnancy is announced to send my congratulations. And then write again when the baby is born. 

If you want to write for the pregnancy, you can do it at any time. But if you want to send your congratulations on the birth of the little Sussex baby, I would wait till after the baby is born. I usually wait a few days till we find out the baby's name. 

Question 3: I am wondering if it is appropriate to send multiple letters to the Royals in the same envelope? Ex. Sending Prince Louis's birthday card and William and Kate's anniversary card in the same envelope as they both go to the same place? 

Answer: If you are sending a card, I think it is fine to send two cards, for two different events in the same envelope if they are going to the same people.  

If you were writing a letter, I think I would just combine the two events in one letter. 

Question 4: Is it okay to start a letter with ‘Dearest...’ or is it too much? 

Answer: I don't feel like "Dearest" is completely inappropriate, but it does seem like a bit much. I would probably just stick to "Dear."

Question 5: Have you ever written to the BRF for Easter?

Answer: No. I don't write to any royals for Easter. Although it might be something I would mention if I were writing for a person's birthday and it fell on or around Easter. 

Question 6: How does the Correspondence Section at Clarence House feel about a bit longer letters (page and a half)? 

Answer: I would keep your letters to one-page max. Clarence House is super, super busy. They are still sending out replies for events 6+ months ago. The longer the letter, the less likely they are to actually read the whole thing. And anything you can say in a page and a half, you can probably say much better in a page if you do some revising. 

Question 7: I would like to send a card to the Prince of Wales for Easter. Would it be rude or inappropriate to ask for the 70th birthday card, as I was late to send the letter, but would like to get the card? 


Answer: I never ask for anything, because personally, I find it a little rude. But I know other people have written to the British Royals asking for old cards before and they usually get one if there are any left. So, you can ask if you would like. 

Question 8: What do you think, when will the Clarence House finally stop being very behind with replying to the correspondence? and why are they behind?

Answer:  Clarence House is behind becuase they have had a lot of big events close together in the last year. Big events always mean they get a lot of mail, and they haven't been able to keep up.

  • September 2018 - Cambridge pregnancy announcement
  • Nov 2018 - Harry & Meghan's engagement
  • Nov/Dec - Christmas
  • April 2019 - Prince Louis's birth
  • May 2019 - Sussex wedding
  • July 2019 - Prince Louis's christening
  • Oct 2019 - Sussex pregnancy announcement 
  • Nov 2019 - Charles' 70th birthday 
(Plus, with all the new additions to the family, they are covering more events: 10x birthdays, 3 wedding annivs, etc.)

Given that they are still very behind, and we still have the Sussexs babies birth, I would expect Clarence House will continue to be very behind for a while. It usually takes them 6 months to send out all the replies for a royal birth. But it will likely be longer as they are already behind.


Question 9: How do you feel about @sussexroyal at Instagram? 

Answer:  I think it was the right move. I would love to see a twitter account as well. It will be interesting to see what they actually do with the account.