King Juan Carlos & Queen Sofia of Spain
I don't like to often pick favorites, but this first reply was definitely the most exciting of the three!
WHY? Because this is my first reply from Spain!!!
This reply is from King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. They are Felipe's parents. King Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014.
Quite easy to tell the reply is from Spain by the envelope. They are after all the only Current European Monarchy whose official language is Spanish.
Correos Espana is Spain's national postal service. The postmark with the date reads "E.O. Jefatura de Estado, Madrid." Not sure what E.O. means, the rest says Head of State, Madrid.
The postmark on the right "Paquete Azul, Paquete a Domicilio" (Package Blue, Package at Home), is a marking for the Correos service they used.
What is very intresting is the Blue Stamp "Casa De S.M. El Rey - Protocolo" (Household of H.M. The King - Protocol) is printed on, not actually stamped.
The letter is written by Alfanso Sanz Portoles, Secretary-General of King Juan Carlos's Household. And is sent from the Palace of Zarzuela, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia's home.
Translated the message reads:
"Palace of Zarzuela
18th January 2017
Gertrude Alexandra Daly
From Secretary-General of H.M. King Juan Carlos
Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia charged me, in their name, to send their most sincere gratefulness for the kind greeting that you sent to them on the occasion of Christmas and New Year, as well as your best wishes for 2017.
I take the opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous year.
Alfanso Sanz Portoles"
It's a very lovely reply. And I am very excited to add a new section in my binder for Spain, and of course to add the 1st reply on our blog!
Prince Harry of UK
The 2nd reply is from Prince Harry! I received together, in one envelope, both a letter and Prince Harry's usual photo Christmas reply. This is the first time that has happened to me. I have occasionally received a letter, instead of the usual Christmas or Birthday reply, but have never been sent both.
The Christmas photo reply is the same as last year, except the wording on the back is slightly different. Prince Harry's birthday replies for 2015 & 2016 used the same photo was well.
They are obviously making up new cards each year, for each event, as the messages are slightly different. Personally, I do find it a little annoying they don't switch the photo up if they are printing off new cards. I could understand if they had extras from last year they were continuing to use, but that is not the case here.
Now on to the letter! It was written, like usually, by Claudia Spens, whose actually title is Head of the Correspondence Section at Clarence House. The Correspondence Section answers all of Charles, Camilla, Harry and the Cambridges mail. (And YES, you really should be sending your mail for Harry & the Cambridges to Clarence House, not Kensington Palace.)
The Correspondence Section is mainly made up of part-time staff, which explains why it can take forever to receive a reply. Claudia Spens is full-time and there is possibly another full time staff member, and the rest are part-time. We don't know the exact number of full-time and part-time staff. My guess there is a bunch of part time staff, who only come in once a week, or something.
Last year, the annual reports said the Correspondence Section had the equivalent of 2.8 full-time staff members. But over the last 5 years, the correspondence section staff has averaged the equivalent of 3.4 full-time staff members.
It's always very interesting when you get a letter instead of the usual photo reply. You usually get a letter because of 1 of 3 reasons:
1) You wrote too early or late, so they didn't have any of the photo replies when they were answering your letter.
2) The photo reply isn't an appropriate reply, given what you sent or wrote about in your letter.
3) They wanted to send a more personal reply, because they think your letter/card was particularly touching and stood out to them. (Of course they would love to write personally to everyone, as you all write great letters full of very kind wishes, but they don't have the time.)
I'm obviously going with option #3 on this. I think I wrote a very personal and heartfelt letter, if I do say so myself. So what made it so personal, and warrant a personal reply? As the reply doesn't mention anything about Christmas, it wasn't my Christmas wishes that stood out.
The reply does mention his tour of the Caribbean. But I only mentioned that in passing at the end of the letter, so it wasn't that. (I usually try to close my letters by looking ahead at the future.)
What I did talk about in two paragraphs was the statement to the public and media by Kensington Palace, which was released two days before I sent my Christmas letter. The statement was, of course, about the harassment of Prince Harry's girlfriend Meghan Markle. (And was also the moment we got official conformation they are a couple!)
And I think it was what I said about that, that stood out to them. They dis say they were, "immensely touched by [my] wonderful words of support."Kensington Palace has issued a statement this morning about the harassment currently being experienced by Meghan Markle and her family. pic.twitter.com/EuFZ4fmUIj— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 8, 2016
In my letter, I had mentioned how I had really taken the letter a few years ago about the Paparazzi intrusion in Prince George’s life to heart, and have tried to stay away from things that intrudes in the Royal's private lives. And I have also tried to extend that same curtesy to all the public figures and celebrities one reads about in the news.
I mentioned I had try to stay out of the conversations on social media about his love life, and all the rumors, speculation, and stories. But that I could see a lot of hateful, hurtful and racist comments around me, that I thought was unacceptable. I said I was sorry for all that the media and public had put Harry, Meghan, her family, friends, etc. thought in the last few week. And I ended the two paragraphs by saying I wish them both a lot of happiness and privacy.
And I think things have definitely cooled down since the initial flurry and chaos over the new couple.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla of UK
With this final reply, I don't have a lot to say. It's the couples usual Christmas reply. Which is the same thing (& size) as the Cambridges and Harry. Don't let the white border, fool you. It's not one of those big picture replies Camilla uses when she send a signed reply. (Not sure why they choose to put the white border on such a small picture.)
The photo is from Charles and Camilla's tour of the Western Balkans, take on 14th March, 2016, by Chris Jackson. The couple were in Croatia on their 1st of 2 days in the country and are on the balcony at the National Theatre.
The message is the same as last year's reply.
It must have been a very memorable time in Croatia. The couple used a photo taken the very next day, in their official Christmas card, that was sent to family and friends. (Photo taken March 15th, 2016 by Chris Jackson)
I've gotten replies for about 60% of my Christmas Letters so far. Which is a good amount given I only expect to get replies from 85% precent of my letters. I not expecting anything from Wessexs, Jordan, Sweden.
Also Check Out:
Christmas 2016 Replies
Writing to the Royals