Monday, 31 October 2016

Christmas 2016 - Main Page




Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! And of course, it is a very exciting time for Royal Watchers. There is plenty going on with Speeches, Concerts, Holiday Events, Christmas Cards, Official Photos, etc. 
2016 Christmas Royal Replies
2016 Christmas/New Years Speeches
Most of European Monarchs give a speech sometime during the holiday season. We will link them here when they get posted, with English Translations, if they are not in English or subtitled. 

(All times are Local/London.) 

Christmas Eve Speeches
Christmas Day Speeches 
New Years Eve Speeches

Writing to the Royals for Christmas! (2016)



The Royals absolutely love to get letters and cards from the public, and Christmas time is no different.

What do I need to know about Writing to the Royals:
If you are new to writing to the Royals, or need some help, we have a lovely section on everything you need to know about writing to the royals. You can find it here.

Addresses:

Note:  A lot of Monarchies outside Europe are not Christian and don't celebrate Christmas. If you wanted to write to them, I would figure out what it is they are celebrating this time of year, or just send them good wishes for the season/new years.

Send By Date: 
Send by dates vary from country to country, and depend on where you are sending it to, the type of mail (economy, standard, first class, priority, etc.) and if it is in a standard size envelope.

We recommend you send your letters/cards by December 5th!

We recommend December 5th, because it should cover most situations where you are mailing a letter internationally, by standard mail, and want it there by Christmas. To find the exact "send by date" for your situation, check out your national postal service's website. Some of you may need to send your letter in November, while others will have 2 more weeks in December.

Remember during the Christmas season, it often takes longer for mail to arrive. Feel free to continue sending your letters after December 5th.

If you are sending your letter after Christmas, I would re-focus it a little and wish them a Happy New Year and 2017.

What if I don't celebrate Christmas? 
Don't worry! You can still send the royals a Holiday/ Winter Season/ New Years letter or card, what ever it is you are celebrating this season. Be aware however most royals send out pre-made cards, that aren't personalize for each person, so their reply may thanks you for your Christmas wishes.

What to expect? 
Royals get thousands of Christmas cards and letters each year, full of well-wishes and hopes for the coming year. Unfortunately most are unable to send out personal responses. Responses vary greatly across the different royals. Most usually respond with a pre-made thank you, and the response will usually be sent sometime in January, or February. There are some royals who sadly don't send replies. If you write early, you make get a response in December.

You can check out our replies from last year here.

A photo posted by Gert's Royals (@gertsroyals) on

Is there anything different about writing for Christmas?
Not really. The letter will take longer in the mail. The Royals may take longer to reply. And many send nicer replies than usual.

Since there are so many letters and cards sent and received at Christmas, do try to make yours personal, so it will stand out.

What should I write? 
I very often get asked this question. The answer is, write whatever you feel like writing about. There is no one right answer. As long as you are being respectful and thoughtful, it is hard to go wrong.

Letter or Card?
Either one is fine. It doesn't matter if the card is homemade or store bought. If you send a store bought card, you can make it more personal by handwriting a little note in it.

For Christmas you could Mention Things Like: 
  • Some event in 2016 that was particularly meaningful to you 
    • or a cause, royal visit or tour, etc. 
    • 2016 Calendar can be found here.
  • What you are excited for in 2017 
  • How this royal has inspired you 
  • What you admire about the royal family 
  • etc. 

Royal Birthdays in December & January:

3rd Dec Prince Sverre Magnus of Norway (Age 11)
6th         Princess Sofia of Sweden (32) 
7th         Princess Catharina-Amalia of Netherlands (13) 
10th       Princess Gabriella of Monaco (2) 
10th       Prince Jacques of Monaco (2) 
18th       Viscount James (Wessex) of UK (9) 
23rd       Queen Silvia of Sweden (73) 
23rd       Emperor Akihito of Japan (83)
25th       Princess Alexandra of Kent (80) 

5th Dec  Juan Carlos I of Spain (79)
8th         Prince Vincent of Denmark (6)
8th         Princess Josephine of Denmark (6)
9th         Duchess Catherine of UK (35)
15th       Princess Michael of Kent (UK)(72)
20th       Queen Mathilde of Belgium (44)
20th       Countess Sophie of Wessex (52)
21st        Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway (13)
25th       Princess Charlene of Monaco (39)
30th       King Felipe VI of Spain (49)
30th       King Abdullah II of Jordan (55)
31st        Princess Beatrix of Netherlands (79)

Some of the Big Events in early 2017:

January 
Queen Margrethe of Denmark's 45th Anniversary of Succession

February 
King Willem-Alexander of Netherlands' 15th Wedding Anniversary to Queen Maxima
Queen Elizabeth of UK's 65th Anniversary of Succession
King Harald of Norway's 80th Birthday

April 
King Willem-Alexander of Netherlands' 50th Birthday

May 
King Juan Carlos of Spain's 55th Wedding Anniversary to Queen Sofia

Full 2017 Calendar can be found here.

Back to Christmas 2016 - Main Page

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Bhutan Royal Wedding Review (Day 2)

Following King Jigme and Queen Jetsun's Royal Wedding in 2011, the couple went on a working Honeymoon.


Their first stop was India, where they spent 9 days. During their stay they met with the Prime Minister and President of India.

Honeymoon in India (2 Mins)


During the visit to India they attend a book release party for King Jigme's book of photographs, Bhutan Through the Lens of the King.


The couple then made a 4 day visit to Singapore, where they met the President and Prime Minister.

Visit Singapore (1 Min)


The couple next made a 5 day visit to Japan. The couple were the first State guests to visit Japan since their deadly earthquake earlier that year. They met with the Japanese Royal Family and attended a banquet held in their honor. The visit also coincided with the Japan & Bhutan's 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations.


The couple ended their working honeymoon in UK. During there visit the couple met with Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla at Clarence House. They also visited King Jigme's alma mater Magdalen College, at Oxford University.


Since then the couple have been busy with royal duties. They have made numerous trips to Bhutan's neighboring countries and have done a lot of charity work, focusing on youth, the environment, health, art, etc.

On November 11, 2015, the King and Queen of Bhutan announced they were expecting their first child, a son, in early 2016.


On February 5th, 2016 the little Baby Prince was born! He brought the country much happiness.


Later that year, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a high profile visit to Bhutan, and were welcomed by the Royal Family.

Cambridge Visit to Bhutan (2 Mins)

The little prince wasn't given a name until a official naming ceremony in late April. His name is HRH Gyalsey (Dragon Prince) Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck



In June there was another royal visit to Bhutan, this time by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.

King Jigme and Queen Jetsun celebrated their 5th Wedding Anniversary, yesterday (October 13th, 2016)

Their anniversary was saddened by the death of the King of Thailand, who was a good friend of the Bhutanese people. Today, Bhutan will have a national day of morning, to allow the Bhutan people to visit temples and offer prayers.


Bhutan Royal Wedding Review - Main Page

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Bhutan Royal Wedding Review (Day 1)



The King and Queen of Bhutan were thrust into the spotlight this year with the birth of their first child, Prince Jigme Namgyel, and two royal visits to their country (Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and King Carl Gustaf & Queen Silvia of Sweden).

While King Jigme and Queen Jetsun may be new to you, Bhutan has a long history. Bhutan was first united as a country in 1634. That is about 200 years before the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was united as one country.

Bhutan is a small country tucked away in the Himalayan Mountains between China and India.



Bhutan - the Happiest Place on Earth (6 Mins)


The Couple's Early Life:

Jigme and Jetsun were childhood friends, as well distant relatives by marriage. They first met at age 17 (Jigme) and 7 (Jetsun).

Jigme studied in the USA for high school & college. He spent two years studying Constitutional History, English and Economics at Magdalen College at Oxford University in England.



Jigme began Royal Duties shortly after graduating from University. As a part of his duties he traveled extensively to Bhutan's neighboring countries.

In 2002, Prince Jigme made his first official intentional appearance representing Bhutan at the 27th UN General Assembly. He made first international speech there, talking about children's welfare.


In 2006, Prince Jigme attended the King of Thailand's 60th Anniversary of Accession celebration.

The event was attended by Royals from around the world including: Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Spain, Sweden, & UK. It was one of Jigme's first big international royal events. And it was a success, not only did Jigme mingle gracefully with the other royals, but the single Prince's good looks caught the eye of the Thailand Media.

In December 2006, Jigme's father, King Jigme Singye, abdicated. Jigme ascended to the throne and immediately became the world youngest current monarch.


The official coronation was held two years latter in 2008, to coincide with the 100 anniversary of the Royal House of Wangchuck, which was formed when the country was reunited.

"Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children; I have no personal goals other than to fulfill your hopes and aspirations. I shall always serve you, day and night, in the spirit of kindness, justice and equality." King Jigme during his coronation speech

King Jigme celebrate's his 10th anniversary on the throne, this December.

The first general elections for the National Assembly was held in March 2008.

Election (2 Mins)


Jetsun went to high school in India, before studying at Regent's University in London. She graduated in 2008.


In May 2011, King Jigme announced his engagement during the 7th Session of Parliament. King Jigme said in his speech:

"As King, it is now time for me to marry. After much thought I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year.

Now, many will have their own idea of what a Queen should be like – that she should be uniquely beautiful, intelligent and graceful. I think with experience and time, one can grow into a dynamic person in any walk of life with the right effort. For the Queen, what is most important is that at all times, as an individual she must be a good human being, and as Queen, she must be unwavering in her commitment to serve the People and Country.

As my queen, I have found such a person and her name is Jetsun Pema. While she is young, she is warm and kind in heart and character. These qualities together with the wisdom that will come with age and experience will make her a great servant to the nation."



Wedding Preparations (2 mins)


Jigme and Jetsun were married on 13 October 2011 in Punakha Dzong. The royal wedding was Bhutan's largest media event in history. Following the royal wedding ceremony the couple made formal visits to different parts of the country.

Royal Wedding (2 mins)



Royal Wedding (2 Mins)


Day 2 of Bhutan Royal Wedding Review will look at their honeymoon to present day.

Bhutan Royal Wedding Review - Main Page

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nobel Prize - Main Page (2016)



The Annual Nobel Prize Ceremonies, Banquets, & Concerts, in December, are the highlight of the Sweden & Norway Royal Calendar each year.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway each year by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of King Harald V of Norway, and Royal Family.

While the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden by King Carl XVI Gustaf, in the presence of the Royal Family.

Schedule: (All times are local Stockhom/Oslo GMT+1)
  • 10th
    • Norway 
      • Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony/ Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (1:00- 2:40 PM)
      • Nobel Peace Prize Banquet (7:30 PM)
        • No Live Stream
    • Sweden 
      • Nobel Prize Ceremony (4:30 - 6:00 PM)
      • Nobel Prize Banquet (7:00 PM)
  • 11th 
    • Norway 
      • Nobel Peace Prize Concert
    • Sweden 
      • King's Banquet for the Nobel Laureates at Palace

The 6 Awards & their 2016 Laureates are:

Physiology or Medicine


Awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan for "his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy."
The Prize is awarded by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute.

Physics

Awarded to David Thouless (1/2 share), Duncan Haldane (1/4), Michael Kosterlitz (1/4) of UK (Currently working in the USA) for "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter,”
The Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Chemistry

Awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage of France (1/3 share), Sir Fraser Stoddart of UK (working in USA) (1/3) and Bernard Feringa of the Netherlands (1/3) for "the design and synthesis of molecular machines."
 The Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Economic Sciences

Awarded to Oliver Hart of UK (1/2 share) (working in USA) and Bengt Holmström of Finland  (1/2)(working in USA) for "their contributions to contract theory"

The Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Literature 

Awarded to Bob Dylan of USA for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

 The Prize is awarded by the Swedish Institute.

Peace

Awarded to President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia for "his resolute efforts to bring the country's more than 50-year-long civil war to an end."
The Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Queen Paola of Belgium - Birthday Reply (2016)



This arrived yesterday from Belgium. I had written to Queen Paola (King Philippe's mother) last month for her 79th birthday.

The reply came in a very beautiful envelope. The back has her address on the sides in French and Dutch, and the name of the Castle where she lives with her husband, Chateau du Belvedere.




What is most special about the envelope is the inside has this purple tissue paper. I think this is definitely one of my favorite envelopes.

Purple as you know is the color of royalty (in certain parts of the world) and Paola uses it for her Royal Cypher.

Some of you will complain that this color isn't purple, it's too red. But did you know that the color purple is different in various parts of the world. In some parts of the world (e.g. USA & UK) purple has less red and more blue than this.




Inside is a typed note, in French. The message translates to:
Thank you for your kind wishes sent on the occasion of my birthday. Your attention really touched me. Paola 11.10.2016

The signature and date are printed on. Queen Paola would have hand-signed one copy, that was then scanned and printed on all the cards. The date is her birthday, September 11th.



For those of you who haven't been following Queen Paola since her health scare last year, she is doing well. In August 2015, it was announced she was taking a period of total rest on doctors orders. It was latter announced she was being treated for a Cardiac Arrhythmia. She has been doing well since then, has done occasional royal duty, and made trips abroad to her native Italy. 



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Saturday, 1 October 2016

October Q&A (2016)

As always, post your Royal Questions & I will get to them as soon as possible. 

Question 1: Do you expect the Cambridges to attend the Colombia State Banquet, next month?

Short answer: 
Who knows. They don't have to, but they can. There are reasons why the Cambridges might attend and why they might not.

I do however expect we will see the Cambridges participate in some part of the visit.

Long answer:
Do they have to attend?
No. There is no reason the Cambridges have to attend this banquet. They could skip it. The Royal don't attend every banquet (except for the Queen, obviously since she is the hostess). Although most royals do attend at least 1 of the 2 banquets each year. (This year's 1st State Visit & Banquet was canceled due to Spain's election crisis, so there will only be one in 2016. But that doesn't change anything).

Can they attend?
Yes, there is no rule saying the Cambridges can't attend banquets. (In fact they attended their 1st last year.) The question is will/should they attend this State Banquet.

Reasons to attend:
The Cambridges have to attend the occasional Banquet. It is part of being a British royal. They have already attended their 1st, so why not their 2nd.

The Cambridges are the future King and Queen. Part of preparing for the role, is learning the rope of events like this, mingling with foreign dignitaries, etc.

Another part is perception. The public wants to see their future King and Queen are ready to handle the role. The Cambridges attending events like this help build the public's confidence in them.

In terms of Cambridges overshadowing the event, it doesn't matter anyways. Since Charles and Camilla will be attending, the Cambridges are going to be seated off to the side, so we won't get any pictures of them anyways (except in the car arriving). For the most part the only photos we get from state banquets are Queen and Head of State's speeches, the toast and group pic of Queen, Philip, Head of State & Spouse. (There usually is some video, so we will catch a glimpse of the Cambridges.)( At China State Banquet last year, Charles and Camilla did not attend. So Catherine, as the most senior female royal and was seated next to the President of China, which is why we got pictures of her.)

Reasons not to attend:

One of the problems the royals are all too aware of is Catherine & the media's love for her. Catherine wearing a Tiara is going to dominate the headlines and stories. While every banquet is extremely important, the Colombian Government just signed this amazing historical Peace Agreement with FARC (a Guerrilla group) that ended a 50 year war in the county. This visit is going to be largely about celebrating that, and UK roles in helping Colombia reach that agreement. And you don't want to pull focus from a amazing historical Peace Agreement that ended a 50 year war.

There is also a good chance we won't see Charles & Camilla and William & Catherine attend the same banquets. I think they will try to alternate like they do a number of annual events. This lets them both have a turn being the senior couple at the event and prevents the Charles & Camilla vs. William & Catherine problems where C&C are the more senior royals, but W&C are more popular. Charles and Camilla are definitely attending the Colombia State Banquet. They visited Colombia a few years ago on a Royal Tour & Charles has meet with the President at Clarence House a number of times over the years. Charles has also played a bit of a part in the UK's part in the Colombian peace agreement.

Prince Harry's first banquet appearance?! While there is no reason Harry and the Cambridges couldn't both attend, Harry attending sort of makes up for the Cambridges not being there. The Cambridges & Harry could totally start alternating banquets, so neither has to attend all of them, but you still are guaranteed a cool royal at each.

Question 2a: Will the Duchess of Cambridge receive the Royal Family Order this year? 

Answer: That's up to the Queen, she will give Catherine the order when the time is right. This will be a private occasion, so we won't know Catherine has received it till she wears it at a formal event. The Royal Family Order is a personal honor which the Queen gives out to female members of the Royal Family.

This is something special. You don't just hand it out. It means something special and you give it out when the time is right. Neither Sarah, Duchess of York or Princess Michael of Kent ever received the order. None of the Queen's Granddaughters have received it either as far as we know, but they don't attend formal events where you would wear it.

I think Catherine will definitely get one from the Queen. The Royal Family Orders are worn even after the monarch has dead, so it would just be awkward if in 20 years everyone else is wearing both Charles and Elizabeth's order, and Catherine just has Charles.

Question 2a: I don't think it would be awkward if years from now everyone else is wearing both QEII and Charles' RFO and Catherine only has Charles. I think Harry's wife probably won't ever receive a RFO from QEII (just given the timeline), so if it's awkward for Catherine not to have QEII's then why wouldn't it be awkward for Harry's wife not to have it? I don't think it would be awkward for either of them not to have it. It's just how things go.

Answer: With Harry's wife everyone is going to understand why she didn't get the Queen's RFO. She wasn't a member of the Royal Family yet, so there was no possible way she could have gotten one.

In the next Generation, I think it will be harder for people to look back and understand why Catherine never got it. She was married to William at the time, so there were 5 1/2+  years where the Queen could have given it her, but choose not to. For some reason Queen Elizabeth never felt like Catherine (who someday will be Queen and have Charles, William, possibly George's RFO) was never worthy of this Royal Family honor. I think people will see it's as a little insulting.

Right now, people understand why Catherine hasn't gotten it yet. They understand it has to be earned, but there is a big difference between hasn't earned it yet, and never earned it.

Question 3a: I'm waiting for a response from Denmark 1,5 month. Is it a normal time? I lost hope that I will get a letter. Is there still a chance for a response? 

Answer: Don't worry. 1-2 months is the average response time for a royal reply, & some times it can take a lot longer. So 1.5 months is nothing to worry about. In fact, the Denmark Royals often send their replies economy, which is really slow. It has taken 1.5 months before for the reply to get to me after they mailed it. So depending on how long economy letters take to get from Denmark to where you live, 1.5 months might even be too early to expect a reply, even if they had send the reply immediately when they got your letter.

We have a list here of average response times.

Question 4: Do you think that if I send a letter to Princess Elisabeth of Belgium for her birthday, I will receive a response and maybe they will send a Picture? And how long should I wait? 

Answer: I've never written for any of the Belgium children's birthdays, so I don't know if they usually send responses for that. But seeing as how I've always gotten response from the Belgiums I think it's likely.

Almost every response I've gotten from Belgium has had a picture so I think it's likely they will send you one.

As for how long to wait: my shortest wait time from Belgium was 2.5 weeks and the longest 3.5 Months. So I would expect somewhere in that range.

Question 5: When did you first write to a Royal and who was it? Can you post the letter or tell us a little about it? 

Answer: The first time I wrote to the Royals was for Prince George's 1st Birthday in 2014.  The reply was the typical photo with typed message one normally sees from the Cambridges. I have a picture of it on the post for George's 2nd birthday reply.

Question 6a:  I wrote to Queen Letizia on 1 September on the occasion of Her birthday. I didn't get the reply yet. Do you think that I will get a reply? Do you know if Spanish court usually respond on the occasion of Queen Letizia Birthday?

Answer: I also wrote for Queen Letizia's birthday last month. I haven't gotten a reply yet. This was the 2nd time I have written to the Spanish Royals. The first time I wrote was for Christmas, and  I didn't get a reply, So I don't know a whole lot about them responding to letters. But I have heard from some other people that the Spanish royal are usually pretty good about sending replies.

1-2 months is the average response time for royals in general. So we are still in that normal 1-2 months range. I would think also that the election drama that is going on in Spain right now, might also make them a bit slower to respond. So be patient and we will see what happens.

Question 6b: I am really courious what is happening on the Spanish court, cause I have received 4 letter from them, they all have come under 3 weeks, the responses were very long, always with photos. And I once received a signed letter from Queen Letizia! So in all they are my Favourite monarchy when it comes to royal responses. I think something is happening so they are responding really slow. 

Answer: 1-2 months is a normal response time, and we haven't hit 2 months yet. So I wouldn't call this particularly slow. It could be you were just lucky and got your responses fast. But there are a lot of things happening in Spain right now.

The big thing is the election drama. They have a deadline of October 30th to form a coalition  government and pick the new prime minister. If they don't by the deadline they will have another election at the end of the year. This will be their 3rd election since this began. So they are very busy with that.

This also caused a bit of drama, because they celebrated their first national day without a elected government.

You also have Catalonia in north/east Spain which is trying to secession from Spain and form it's own country.

Then there is Princess (Infanta) Cristina of Spain's tax fraud verdict which will be announced this week.

Question 7:  I sent a letter to Queen Mathilde of Belgium on 28 June. Do you think its possible, that I will get a response or should I lose hope? 

Answer: Is it too late? No. My longest wait time for the Belgium royals is 3.5 months, which is what you are at right now. So although you've waited a long time, it has not been too long. They have sent replies this late before.

The question is are they going to send a reply? I have always gotten a reply from them, so that is a good sign. Although I've mostly written for Birthdays, Christmas, and stuff where they have a pre-made reply. I've never written for something where they don't have a pre-made reply, so I don't know how they handle that. Some royal families reply to every letter they get, others don't.

3.5 months is definitely long and a little worrying. But things are often very slow over the summer, & combined that with the extra time it takes to send out a personal reply, because they don't have a pre-made one, it's understandable that things could take a bit longer.

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Questions - Main Page