Thursday, 20 July 2017

Prince William - Birthday Reply (2017)

Another piece of Royal Mail arrived earlier this week! This time from the UK. 

The envelope is standard for the UK Royals. What is interesting is this envelope has two postmarks. 

The red postmark is the iconic one from the Court Post Office at Buckingham Palace. This is where all of the London Royal office's have their mail franked (i.e. stamped with postage and postmark). 

The black postmark was added when the mail was taken to the Mount Pleasant Post Office in London. The postmarks reads: "Royal Mail proudly supports 30 years of Payroll Giving." This was a special week only (July 10-15th) postmark to celebrate the 30th anniversary. 

 "Payroll Giving allows employees to give to charity straight from their wages or pension without paying tax on it. [...] Over the years, Royal Mail employees have raised over £58 million supporting over 1,400 charities." - Royal Mail in press releases on the 30th Anniversary Postmark 

Inside the envelope is a reply to the letter I sent to Prince William for his birthday. I received both the typical postcard size photo and a letter. 

The letter is written by Claudia Spens, who is head of the correspondence section at Clarence House. The stationary says Kensington Palace, which is the name of William, Kate & Harry's office. But their mail from the public is handled by Clarence House. 

The letter is dated June 29th, but the envelope is postmarked July 11th, two weeks later. So, this was either mistaken dated, or it accidentally sat around for 2 weeks, which happens. Prince Andrew's office is particularly prone to letting stuff sit around for a few days before being sent out.  

I always find it very touching to get a personal letter in reply. It's clear Miss Spens had read my letter.

This also mark's the 1st anniversary of the Black Kensington Palace Stationary. I first saw it with  William's birthday reply last year. I'm not a huge fan, but it is likely much easier on Clarence House to have one stationary for William, Kate and Harry, then 3 personal ones. I have even seen letters from the Private Secretaries at Kensington Palace use this. 

This reply came a little later than last years, but 3 months earlier than 2015's. So a good response time.

The photo card is the normal size, but it what is interesting is it has a white border around the picture. We've seen this before with Camilla's large photo cards, and more recently on the normal size Christmas reply from Charles & Camilla. I understand why on the large cards you want a bit of a border, and it works well. But on such a small picture as this, I see why it is needed.

The photo was taken in April by Norman Jean Roy for British GQ. You can read Prince William's British GQ interview here.

The back of the card has the same sort of message as usual. But it is nice to see new wording.  I particularly like it when the card mentions which birthday. Because it doesn't have a date on it, it could be hard a few years from now to just look at the picture and tell which birthday this was from. 

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Duchess of Gloucester Birthday & Denmark Anniversary Reply (2017)

Two Royal replies to share.

Duchess of Gloucester

This first one is from the UK! I had written to the Duchess of Gloucester last month for her 71st Birthday. This reply came last week, a little less than a month after her birthday, which is a good response time. My replies from the two previous years came a little earlier, but I think I had written a little earlier then.

The envelope is the standard one from the Gloucesters. Unlike the other British Royal, the Gloucesters doesn't have a monogrammed envelope. Instead, they stamp their envelope to mark where it came from. Part of this decision is likely because they get their envelopes from a different supplier than most of the other British royals. The Gloucesters use Conqueror by Arjowiggins. Most of the other Royals use Wren Press, which holds a royal warrant from the Queen & Prince Charles.

The Duke and Duchess share an office, so the Duchess doesn't have a separate stamp.

The card has a simple, generic pre-typed message, that could be used for a lot of different things. The monogram is a crown with an intertwined R & B, the Duke & Duchess's initials (Richard & Birgitte). We don't see the British Royals use joint monograms often, so this is nice. This is the first reply I have gotten from the Gloucesters with their joint monogram.

It's interesting to compare the different birthday replies from the Duchess over the years. In 2015, I got a personal letter in reply. In 2016, I got a form letter about her birthday. And this year a generic "thank you" card. 

It is not unusual to see Royal send out both personal and generic replies.They get so much mail they can't send out a personal reply to everyone who writes, so most get a generic form reply. But many Royal offices do try to send out a few personal replies to some of the more touching letters and cards. 

The card's text & monogram are embossed (raised), which is lovely! It gives the card a very nice feel. I think it is an especially nice touch that the message is the same font as the monogram.

Queen Margrethe & 
Prince Henrik of Denmark

I got this reply at the beginning of the month. Sorry, I've been a bit lazy about making a post. I had written to Queen Margrethe & Prince Henrik for their 50th wedding anniversary, last month. 

It's a typical reply from Queen Margrethe. It's a form letter. They filled in my name, and which ever aide-de-camp was working that day signed it. 

Obviously, Prince Henrik is in our thoughts right now as he was hospitalized on Thursday with a leg infection from a wound. Henrik had Angioplasty surgery on Monday. The surgery helped clear a blocked artery, which was probably making the infection a lot worse. Prince Henrik is expected to be released tomorrow (Wednesday).

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Monday, 3 July 2017

Cambridge - Poland & Germany Tour (2017)

Prince William & Duchess Kate are going on a tour of Germany & Poland later this month. Prince George & Princess Charlotte will accompany them!

Day 1 (July 17th) - Warsaw, Poland
  • (Arrive mid-day)
  • Meet President Duda and the First Lady at the Presidential Palace
    • Photo op in Garden
  • Visit Warsaw Rising Museum
    • Meet veterans
    • Light a candle in memory of those who died in the 1944 uprising 
  • Attend a tech event at the Heart,  a business incubator, in the Warsaw Spire building
  • Attend Queen's Birthday party, hosted by British Ambassador, at Orangery in Łazienki Park

Day 2 (18th) - Sztutowo & Gdansk,  Poland
  • Visit former Nazi Germany Concentration Camp, Stutthof
    • Meet 5 former prisoners
  • Attend Street Fair
  • Visit Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre
  • Visit European Solidarity Centre
    • Tour museum
    • Meet founding members of Solidarity
  • (Travel back to Warsaw)

Day 3 (19th) - Berlin & Marzahn, Germany
  • (Travel to Germany)
  • Private meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Visit the Brandenburg Gate
    • Walkabout on Pariser Platz 
  • Visit Holocaust Memorial
    • Tour Museum 
  • Visit Strassenkinder, a children's charity
    • Meet some of the children
  •  Meet with President Steinmeier at the Bellevue Palace
  • Attend Queen's Birthday party, hosted by British Ambassador at his home

Day 4 (20th) Heidelberg, Germany
  • Visit German Cancer Research Centre
    • Meet researchers 
    • Visit the stem cell research lab
  • Visit central market square
  • Row Boat competition on River Neckar
  • Attend a reception at Clärchens Ballhaus

Day 5 (21st) Hamburg, Germany
  • Visit Maritime Museum on the bank of the river Elbe
    • celebrate the joint UK-German year of science, which focused on oceans this year
  • Visit the Elbphilharmonie, one of the largest concert halls in the world
    • Listen to performance by Hamburg Symphony Orchestra with local children
  • Travel by boat down the River Elbe 
  • Visit production, maintenance and training facilities of Airbus, makers of civil aircraft
    • Tour the complex 
    • Meet apprentices

Sunday, 2 July 2017

July Q&A (2017)

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

Question 1: Do you know exactly at what time Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will start their royal tour in Warsaw? I have to know at what time to appearance there.

Answer: All we have been told is they arrive mid-day. Usually, shortly beforehand local media and officials announce a good time & place to spot the royals during the visit. So I would look out for that. 

Question 2: I will be meeting Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I want to give them an interesting and unique present, but I have no idea whatI should give them. Do you have any ideas? 

Answer: That is a difficult question. What do you give people who have everything?

You can read the Royals policy on gifts here

As a basic rule, the gift should cost less than £150 (170, $190, etc.). They get so many gifts, so it's good to give them something personal & memorable.

I assume your meeting the Duke & Duchess in an official way. So something connected to the work you are doing could be nice: maybe a t-shirt from your organization, or a small scrapbook of photos and press clippings from your project. 

Or something connected to your visit: an ornament of your city's landmark, or a picture frame with your city's name on it. 

Flowers are also always good, teddy bear, a nice letter (include your return address on the letter & you likely will get a thank you from a member of staff), etc.

Question 3: Would it be a good idea to write to Prince George for his first day of school?  

Answer: Sure! You could write to Prince George, or Will & Kate, for Geroge's 1st day of school. George's 1st day will be in early September.

You could send your letter before his 1st day to wish him good luck. Or you could write after to congratulate him on it and wish him a happy school year.   

I'm probably going to write after his 1st day, because I feel like I will have more to say. 

I feel like if you write before hand, sending it in late August, you might of well just said what you wanted to in a birthday letter to George. I see little point in sending two letters to the same person is the space of a month if you don't need to. 

Question 4: What is your favourite Royal Reply from this year? 

Answer: That is a difficult question.

I would have to say either the hand-written note by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex's private secretary, because who doesn't love a hand-written, personal note. 

Or the Thank You card for my condolences for Prince Richard von Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg's passing. Obviously it is a sad piece of mail. But it also feels like a piece of history and will be a very lovely piece to remember Prince Richard by. 

Question 5: Do you know the protocol for Prince Philip when he is meeting King? During the Spanish State Visit, I saw Prince Charles bow to King Felipe, but I didn't catch Prince Philip meeting him. I also noticed that Queen Letizia didn't curtsey to the Queen, but wondered if the age of Elizabeth and/or Philip played any part of proper greetings.

Answer: Monarchs don't normally bow to each other, and when both have their spouse I think the spouse sort of takes on the Monarch's level. I didn't really see much difference between how one greets Monarch vs. the spouse. But there can be a bit. 

A lot of it depends on how friendly the Royals are, have they met before, are they related, gender of the two people, etc. Age plays a part a bit, but it's more their history and relationship. Also height difference makes things awkward, if I have to bend down to kiss your cheek does it count as a bow/curtsy. 

Also how formal the greeting depends on the type of event. Tiaras and ball gowns are going to be a lot more formal than day-time events. Also, it depends on if they have met earlier that day or visit. 2nd greetings are often less formal. The location also plays a part, who is the guest vs. host, who is arriving and who is already there, etc. 

But I don't think there is a very strict way of greeting, we've seen a lot of combinations of hand shakes, kisses, hugs, head nods, bows, etc. But obviously, the Monarch ranks above Royal.

Looking back at some videos, this is what I noticed: 

Meeting King Felipe:

  • Queen
    • House Guards Arrival: kissed cheek, Felipe kissed Queen's hand, hand shake
    • Buckingham Palace Departure: kiss cheeks, half hug, Felipe kissed Queen's hand
  • Philip
    • House Guards Arrival: hand shake, You could call it mutual head nods, or just say Philip nodded at Felipe
    • Buckingham Palace Departure: kiss cheeks, Philip bows
  • Charles 
    • Hotel Arrival: handshake, kissed cheeks and bowed
    • Clarence House Arrival: Felipe gave him a head nod. There was sort of an awkward moment, with Letizia and Camilla between them so Charles and Felipe didn't get to shake hands before they headed inside. (Felipe had greeted Camilla 1st, then Letizia moved into greet Camilla, preventing the Charles and Felipe from greeting)
  • Camilla 
    • Hotel Arrival: hug, kissed cheeks, curtsy, Felipe kissed her hand 
    • Clarence House Arrival: kissed cheeks, held hands, Camilla head nod
  • Anne
    • Guild Hall Arrival: handshake, kiss cheeks, Felipe kisses hand, Anne curtsys deep. 
  • Tim
    • Guild Hall Arrival: handshake, Tim bows. 
  • Teresa May:
    • 10 Downing Arrival: Handshake, May head nods/bows
Meeting Queen Letizia
  • Queen
    • House Guards Arrival: hand shakemutual head nods
    • Buckingham Palace Departure: kiss cheeks, half hug, Letizia head nods
  • Philip
    • House Guards Arrival: hand shake, mutual head nods
    • Buckingham Palace Departure: kiss cheeks, half hug, Letizia head nods
  • Charles
    • Hotel Arrival: Hug, handshake, kissed cheeks, something that could be considered a head nod, kissed her hand, 
    • Clarence House Arrival: Hug, handshake, kissed cheeks, Charles kissed her hand, something that could be considered a head nod
  • Camilla
    • Hotel Arrival: hug, kiss cheeks, curtsy
    • Clarence House Arrival: kiss cheeks, curtsy
  • Anne:
    • Guild Hall Arrival: Anne curtsy deep, kisses cheeks, half hung 
  • Tim:
    • Guild Hall Arrival: Video cut off their greeting
Question 6: How can you tell the difference between auto-penned vs. printed vs. handwritten signatures on letters?

Answer: I went into the differences about this in the February 2017 Q&A, Question #4.

It can be difficult at times. Most anything from a royal is going to be printed or auto-penned. If it's staff writing it's likely handwritten. Although I have seen auto-penned and printed signatures for staff. 

The only signed replies I've gotten are Duchess Camilla and the Liechtenstein Royals. Hand-signing things are just sort of how they normally handle mail.