Thursday, January 30, 2020

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden - Christmas/ Sofia's Brithday Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived today from Sweden. I had written to Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia to wish them a Merry Christmas.

This reply is pretty exciting to receive as the Swedish Royals don't always reply. I first wrote to the Swedish Royals in 2015 and this is my 6th reply from them. Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia seem to be better at responding than the other Swedish royals. 4 out of my 6 replies have been from them. But they don't reply to everyone for every event.

I have written to Prince Carl Philip & Princess Sofia a few times for Christmas/Sofia's birthday and this the first time I've gotten a reply for this event.

The envelope is the usual from the Swedish Royals. The top left corner features the Swedish Royal Coat of Arms, with Royal Court and the partial address written underneath.  The back of the envelope is blank.

This is the 2nd letter I've received from the Swedish Royals over the years and is pretty similar to the first. Both of my letters have been written by Anita Söderlind, who is currently a secretary for Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip. She used to work for Princess Madeleine.

I had mainly written for Christmas but had also mentioned Princess Sofia's birthday in my letter. 

The letter reads: 
Royal Palace, Stockholm
20 January 2020
Dear Miss Daly,  
I am asked by Her Royal Highness Princess Sofia to thank you for the kind greeting on the occasion of her Birthday together with the Christmas wishes.  

Yours Sincerely,  
Anita SöderlindSecretary to HRH Princess Sofia

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Grand Duke Henri & Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg - Christmas Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived yesterday from Luxembourg. I had written to Grand Duke Henri & Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg to wish them a Merry Christmas. 

The envelope is the same as usual from the Luxembourg Royals. The postmark says "Our Heart for Cancer Children." 

The four stamps of Grand Duke Henri are from a set released in 2010. It's kind of interesting that these stamps are a decade old now. And these are actually the old kind that you have to lick or get wet to stick. Countries stopped making this kinds of stamps a number of years ago, so, it interesting to see this still in use. I assume the Royal Family is just trying to use up the old stamps. Looking at other envelopes from the Luxembourg Royal Family, those with multiple stamps use 1,40€ in postage. So, they actually could have used only 3 of these stamps here. 

The back features a blue crown. The crowns used on Royal Stationery are never just random. This crown is the same one used on the Luxembourg Royal's Coat of Arms. 

The flat card features the same crown along with a typed message. This is pretty identical to last year's Christmas reply, although the wording has been changed. 

Luxembourg January 2020 
Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg wish to thank you for your so kind greetings and send you their best wishes for Christmas and a prosperous Year 2020. 

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Mary of Denmark - Christmas Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived this week from Denmark. I had written to Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Mary for Christmas. 

The envelope is the usual from the couple. 

The flat card is the exact same as last year. And almost identical to all the other Christmas Replies I have received from them over the years. 

The card says:
Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark have asked me to thank you for your Season's Greetings.  

Chief of the Court of   
Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark

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Monday, January 27, 2020

King Albert & Queen Paola of Belgium - Christmas Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived today from Belgium. I had written to King Albert and Queen Paola to wish them a very Merry Christmas.

The envelope is the usual from the couple, with a plain front.

The back of the envelope features a purple crown. What is interesting is there is a little half-circle taken out of the bottom of the back of the envelope. I've seen little nicks like this on a number of envelopes from King Albert and Queen Paola. I probably comes from the machine they use to stamp the postmark on the front of the envelopes.

Inside is a flat card featuring a photo on the front and typed message on the back.

The photo is from King Albert & Queen Paola's 60th Wedding Anniversary party. For a list of who is who on the card see the 60th Wedding Anniversary reply.

You can see in the bottom right corner of the card is a half-circle that's been worn away like the envelope.

The back of the card features the message "Best Wishes for the New Year" in Belgium's 3 official languages (French, Dutch, and German) and Paola's native language, Italian. The signatures are printed on and the same as past years.

Printed on the side of the card is "Color Impact" the name of the Belgium company that prints the cards.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sarah, Duchess of York - Christmas Reply (2019)

Another Christmas reply arrived this week, this time from the UK. I had written to Duchess Sarah to wish her a Merry Christmas.

The envelope is usual for Sarah's Christmas replies. You will notice there is no EIIR or Circle postmark with the date. This is because her mail isn't processed through the Court Post Office at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

I have always found it interesting that Duchess Sarah uses the Royal's Printed Postage Impressions (PPI) number, W4047. But, it is extra interesting now, post-Andrew stepping down, that she still uses it. The Sovereign Grant (i.e. Tax payer funds) pays for the Royal's postage. (Before 2001, it was provided for free by the Royal Mail.)

So, it's interesting that even though Sarah is not a Royal any more and her ex-husband has stepped down from official duties, her postage is still be charged to the royal's account. (Years ago she did have her own PPI number that she used, but I haven't gotten a reply with that since 2017.)

The back of the envelope features Prince Andrew's badge. The reply Duchess Sarah send out for Christmas is actually the York Family's personal Christmas card that they send to family, friends, etc. Sarah then takes any leftovers and uses them as replies to well-wishers. That is why the envelope & card feature Prince Andrew's badge.

The York's change up their Christmas card every year, with different sizes and some changes in the style. This year's card is the tallest card out of the 4 years I've received this as a reply from Sarah. It also has the thickest cardstock and the glossiest finish. So, it is the nicest of the 4 in terms of paper quality. Although this is a bi-fold card, not a tri-fold card.

The York's Christmas cards often have a touch of humor to them. And although this year's card gives a somber appearance, there are touches of humor.

The front of the card features Prince Andrew's badge, along with a photo of a country road heading off into the mountains. It is unclear where these photos were taken, but it seems likely this is at Balmoral, in Scotland. There is a simple message, "We look to the Road Ahead." 2019 obviously ended in a bit of a mess for the York Family as the Epstein scandal finally forced Prince Andrew to step down from official duties. The roads are a metaphor for moving on and past the scandal that blew up last year.

The inside left side of the card features more photos of country roads.

The inside Right of the card features a message from the family.
We are united with gratitude for your support and kindness. Thank you.  

Andrew, Sarah, Beatrice, Eugenie and Jack.
The signatures are printed on and are the same ones used in past years. I think it is interesting that Edo's name doesn't appear on the card. But, I guess since he isn't married into the family yet, his name isn't included.

The bottom of the pannel features a deer and a thistle (One during winter when it isn't bloomed.) The deer is possibly a reference to the Family's home the Royal Lodge. The Royal Lodge is built on the Windsor Great Park which was originally created as and still is a deer park. Or a reference to Balmoral which has a large herd of red deer.

The thistle appears on Duchess Sarah's coat of arms & is the national flower of Scotland.

What is most interesting about this panel, is Prince Andrew's badge. If you examine it closely and compare it with the other badges, you will see that it has actually been altered. Normally, Prince Andrew's badge features the Coronet of the son of the sovereign, with the York Rose surrounded by the Order of Garter Belt with its motto. Prince Andrew has been a member of the Order of Garter, the UK's highest honor, since 2006. 

Back of Envelope (Also featured on front of card)

For the inside of the card, the Yorks have altered the Order of Garter belt and removed its motto. The motto is in Middle French, "Honi soit qui mal y pense." This translates to "Shame on him who thinks this evil."  Instead, the York Family has replaced the motto of The UK's highest honor with the phrase, "Royal York Rose Familyhood."

I understand that they wanted to do something cute. But, I am not sure it is all that appropriate to keep the belt, but change the motto. It seems like an insult towards the order and what it stands for. I think it would have been more appropriate to remove the belt and if they wanted to put the phrase in a new circle. (There is no reason that Coronet, the rose, and belt need to be kept together. They all symbolize separate things.)
Inside Card

The back of the card features a photo of the butt of one of the York Family dogs, along with the words, Say Goodbye to 2019. It's supposed to be funny. But, it seems to me they are laughing at 2019 (& the alligations) as they turn their back on it and walk away. 

Obviously, this year's card would have been very difficult to design. But, I think it would have been better to highlight the good things that happened this year like Beatrice's Engagement, The York Princesses charity work, etc. instead of laughing off the scandal by saying goodbye to 2019. 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

King Felipe and Queen Letizia - Christmas Card (2019)

A lovely reply arrived today from Spain. I had written to King Felipe and Queen Letizia for Christmas. This reply was very exciting to open because I know the Spain Royals don't reply to everyone. (I've polled Gert's Royals readers for the last four or five Christmases, and it's consistently about 50% get a reply from Felipe & Letizia and 50% don't. And I haven't always gotten a reply.)

But this year is extra special because this reply is more than just their usual Christmas Card. 

The envelope is the usual from the Spain royals. It is just a basic, business envelope. The blue circle, which says "Household of HM The King - Protocol," is printed with normally printer ink. I do like that they choose to make it blue instead of black, which makes it more elegant. 

What is interesting is the back of the envelope is blank. My past Christmas replies from the couple have always featured King Felipe's Coat of Arms on the back. I don't know if they just ran out of those envelopes this year. Or, if because I got a letter with my card, the reply was handled by someone different, who uses different envelopes.  

Inside is two things, the royal family's Christmas card and a letter!

The front of the card features the King's Coat of Arms in red. 

The inside of the card features a lovely photo of the family during their visit to Asiegu, Spain, which is apart of the Principality of Asturias. The family was there to award the city with Exemplary Town of Asturias Award. The Award honors a town in the Principality of Asturias that stands out in "defense of their noblest values, their natural or ecological environment, their historical, cultural or artistic heritage." The award is part of the Princess of Asturias Awards. 

This was a very big week for the Royal Family as Princess Leonor holds the title Princess of Asturias and was participating in the Princess of Asturias Awards for the first time. 

(L-R: King Felipe, Princess Leonor, Princess Sofia, Queen Letizia.) 

The caption under the card says, "Asiegu [City], Cabrales [Municipality], Exemplary Towns of Asturias Award 2019" in Spanish. 

The right inside of the card features a lovely message from the family. The family have at least two versions of their Christmas Card: a Spanish and English version. Both are the exact same except for the hand-written message printed on the card. The signatures, like the message, are also printed on. One thing I especially love is the family uses new signatures each year. 

The card reads: 
Thank you very much for your Xmas Wishes, 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2020 
We also wish you the best with great affectction, 
Felipe R.     Letizia R. 
Leonore, Princessa de Asturias    Sofia, Infanta De Espana

The back of the reply features the couple's joint monogram.

With the card is an extra special surprise. A lovely letter from Alfredo Martinez Serrano. This is the 2nd reply I have received from Serrano. The first was even more surprising, a TELEGRAM from Queen Sofia for her 79th Birthday.

In my Christmas letter to the family, I had, of course, mentioned the family's trip to the Principality of Asturias as this was a very big event and an important moment for the heir to the throne. And I talked about how proud I was of Leonore and Sofia. 

The letter reads: 
Household of His Majesty the King
Chief of Protocol 
Zarzuela Palace
December, 31st 2019
Miss Gertrude A. Daly[My Address] 

Dear Madam,  

Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain are very grateful for the kind letter and for the warm words you have addressed to them and to Her Royal Highness The Princess of Asturias after her first public speeches as well as to Her Royal Highness Infanta Sofia of Spain.  

Their Majesties have instructed me to convey to you their kindest regards and very best wishes for the New Year. I am delighted to enclose the Season's Greetings from the Royal Family.  

I take this opportunity to send you my very best wishes.  
Yours Faithfully,  
Alfredo Martinez Serrano

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Prince Albert & Princess Charlene of Monaco - Christmas Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived today from Monaco. I had written to Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco in December to wish them a Merry Christmas.

The envelope is the usual sort from the Monaco Royals. The postmark says "Happy Holidays" in French and was used on all outgoing mail in Monaco, December 23rd-31st. The stamp features Ferdinand Magellan and was issued in 2019 to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the first person to circumnavigate the globe.

The back of the envelope features the couple's joint monogram.

The Christmas card is the same format as past years. The Monaco Royals have some of the nicest replies in terms of quality.

The front features a red border with the couple's joint monogram. It's embossed (raised), so it gives it a lovely feel. In the center is a photo of the Twins. What is especially lovely is the photo is printed on photo paper and then attached to the front of the card, which makes this really high quality.

The photo features the Monaco twins, Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. This is their 2nd time appearing solo on the Monaco Royal Family's Christmas Card. One interesting thing this year is the photo has been heavily photoshopped. Personally, I don't feel like the sparkles and little dots of snow really add to the photo. This year's photo was taken by Eric Mathon, a photographer who works for the Palace.

Inside there is another photo, this time by Vanessa Von Zitzewitz. This photo was from last year's Christmas Card. And again has been very heavily photoshopped. As this photo was printed directly on the paper, it isn't as good quality as the front photo. If you look closely around the photo you can see the lines where the cover of the card is embossed. 

The other side of the card features a message from the couple along with printed on signatures. The message is written in 3 languages: French, English, and Monégasque.  

The card reads: 
May the peace and joy of the holidays be with you every day in the New Year! We wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2020.  
Albert de Monaco       Charlene de Monaco  

The paper has a nice weight to it. And you can't tell from the above photos, but the envelope and card have little sparkles in them.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella of Monaco - 5th Birthday Reply

A lovely reply arrived last week from Monaco. I had written to Prince Albert & Princess Charlene to wish their twins a happy 5th birthday.

This year I decided to write separate letters for Christmas and the Twin's birthdays. Last year, I wrote one letter to cover both events and just received the Christmas reply. Years previous, I had received two replies: one for Christmas and one for the Twin's birthday.

The envelope is the usual for the Twin's birthday reply. The circle in the top left corner says "Service of HSH The Princess of Monaco," in French. This would indicate that Princess Charlene's office is the one sending out the birthday reply.

The back of the envelope is blank.

Inside is the usual flat card for the Twin's birthday. Embossed on the top of the card is the Coat of Arms of Monaco and Jacques & Gabriella's monograms. The card is bi-lingual, written in English and French.  

The card reads: 
Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charléne would like to extend Their most sincere thanks for your kind wishes on the occasion of the fifth birthday of Their Serene Highnesses Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. 
The Twin's birthday reply is pretty identical year to year.  The one distinguishing feature is the twins' age.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Prince Charles - Birthday Reply (2019)

A lovely reply arrived last week from the UK. I had written to Prince Charles in November for his birthday.

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

The back of the envelope features the Prince of Wales Feathers.

The photo is from Prince Charles's visit to the Hayley Hanson in Wales in July. Hayley Hanson is part of The Prince's Countryside Fund Farm Resilience Programme. The photo was taken by Chris Jackson, who is one of Prince Charles & his family's favorite photographers.

The back of the card features a typed message. 

The card reads: 
The Prince of Wales was so very touched you took the trouble to write as you did on the occasion of his 71st birthday.  
It really was greatly appreciated and His Royal Highness sends you his warmest thanks and very best wishes. 

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