Tuesday 24 November 2015

Anniversary & Birthday messages from the Queen

Birthdays and Anniversaries are very special occasions. What you may not know is there is a very special office at Buckingham Palace dedicated to celebrating some very special milestones. For 100th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversaries Queen Elizabeth II send out personal cards to mark these special milestones.

Birthday Messages:
The Queen send out birthday messages for 100th & 105th birthdays and then ever year after 105.

You must apply for the message each appropriate year, however you are not required to resubmit proper documentation (i.e. Birth certificate) a second time.

For information on how to apply:

Wedding Anniversaries:
The Queen sends out messages of congratulations for 60th, 65th, & 70th wedding anniversaries and then every year after the couple's 70th anniversary.

You must apply for the message each appropriate year, however you are not required to resubmit proper documentation (i.e. Marriage certificate) a second time.

For information on how to apply:

Who is entitled?
The Queen only send messages to current British, Commonwealth and UK overseas territories citizens. Unfortunately due to the number of requests each year, the Queen is unable to send congratulations for birthdays and anniversaries not listed above.

For more information on who is entitled:   https://www.royal.uk/anniversary-messages-0

Australia, Canada or New Zealand?
If you live in either Australia, Canada or New Zealand, the completed application form should be sent to your Governor-General, who will then process your request.

(see the appropriate link above for more information.)

What you will receive?
The Queen sends out a personalized card, congratulating the couple or person on their special milestone. The picture on the card is changed every five years to stay current, and to try to prevent people from receiving duplicate pictures.

The Anniversary Office has also been known for changing up the messages slightly, so that twins each receive their own special massages, or people who receive both anniversary and birthday cards.

The message is written in English, but you can request a message in Welsh instead.

Friday 20 November 2015

Spain State Opening of Parliament Speech - English Translation (2016)

I want to begin my speech, in this solemn opening of Parliament, by expressing our (The Queen and mine) respect and recognition to the Cortes Generales (Spain's Parliament). In a Parliamentary Monarchy, the presence of the King in Parliament is a constitutional expression of the bond between you, the guardians of national sovereignty, and the Head of State.
And I also wish to express my deep personal pleasure in addressing this institution, that is and should be, at all times, the common house and meeting place of all Spaniards. Thank you, Madam President, for your kind introduction.
A little more than two years ago I was proclaimed King before the Cortes Generales (The Parliment). This act, which had a profound historical and political significance, was an expression and example of the normal functions of our democratic institutions. And it also meant for me the beginning of a new stage of our Parliamentary Monarchy, which I assumed with responsibility, a sense of duty and a spirit of renewal; A stage full of illusion and a determined desire to lead Spain - from an institution holding on to its history - towards its better future; To contribute, in short, to the modernization and progress of our country.
Today, as on the day I became King, I wish to reaffirm here, before Your Lordships and before all the Spaniards, three commitments of the Monarchy:
- First, is a commitment to our citizens; For they are the reason we have the monarchy, to be in service to all Spaniards and in the exercise of monarchy's constitutional functions, from political neutrality and independence, at all times pursuing the general interest.
- Secondly, is a commitment to our democracy; With the values of freedom, equality, justice and political pluralism (multiple political views); And with the principles that underlie our constitutional regime: national sovereignty, separation of powers and the rule of law.
- And finally, is a commitment to Spain; A great nation enriched by its diversity over the centuries, and of which the King, as Head of State, is a symbol of its unity and permanence.
Ladies and gentlemen,

This path that today calls us also has the greatest political and institutional dimension. The holding of general elections require not only the reaffirmation of our democratic will, but also legitimate representatives election by the citizens, in which, the power of decision on the essential issues of national life resides.
On this occasion, I would like to congratulate the honorable Members of Parliament and Senators on the great honor and responsibility of representing the Spanish people.

I would also like to congratulate Don Mariano Rajoy Brey on having obtained the confidence of the Congress of Deputies and wish him many successes in the exercise of his responsibilities as Prime Minister.

And I would also like to convey my gratitude, respect and consideration to all the representatives of the political groups who have participated in the constitutional consultation process (2016 Election Drama) for their sincere and responsible collaboration in the task entrusted to me by the Constitution.

And now, once the Spanish people have freely expressed themselves at the polls and the Congress of Deputies has agreed upon a Prince Minister, Spain has a working Government ready to carry out its responsibilities. It also puts an end to a complex situation that began after the general elections in December last year.

The constitutional obligation to convene a new general election in the absence of an agreement on a Prime Minister in the last legislature, and the possibility of a new election, certainly generated uneasiness and discomfort in our society, disenchantment and - why not say it - distancing our political life from many citizens, and concern for our partners and allies.

I believe, however, that it is very important to note that the election crisis has finally been resolved through dialogue, responsibility and generosity. There is no doubt that the general interests have been very present in its solution and that, throughout all these months, our Constitution has been fulfilled and the constitutional procedures have been respected.
From now on, as you well know, it is up to you to fulfill the mandate you have received from the citizens. And much of what our citizens are expecting today is the political forces and all its institutions.

It is obvious that after the last election, our political pluralism requires a permanent dialogue and an always constructive debate; Demands that generosity, responsibility, respect and understanding are permanent values ​​in public life; Demands the will and the ability to reach agreements, to achieve greater agreement on the basic issues; And needs the commitment of all with the general interest to solve the problems of citizens.

The Spanish people, who have given an example of maturity, good sense and responsibility over the last few decades - especially during the economic crisis - are asking us, ladies and gentlemen, to dignify public life and give prestige to this institution; That we are, in short, at the height of the transcendence and seriousness of the challenges that Spain has to face.

And for that we have to start from what we have been in the past, and from what - thanks to so many - we are now and together. Almost forty years ago, the Spaniards were able to unite to start together a new path in our history: the path of reconciliation; That of peace and forgiveness; The path of the disappearance forever of hatred, of violence, of imposition ...
But we also begin the path of understanding in democracy, respect for the rights and freedoms of people, Of the recognition, in short, of our political plurality and of our territorial, linguistic and cultural diversity.

We can never appreciate in all its dimension the serenity, the illusion and the hope of the Spanish people at that time; We will never be able to thank the bravery and generosity of those who, with the pain and memory still alive in their souls, put their whole heart, all their strength, to at last achieve reconciliation between Spaniards and democracy in Spain.

A democracy, ladies and gentlemen, for which, over many years, hundreds of Spaniards, victims of terrorism, have given their lives. For this reason, we can never, nor should we, forget the victims and their families, who deserve our memory, all our respect and the highest dignity.
And in that spirit of reconciliation and democracy, again the Spanish people, with much sacrifice and effort - and to this very day - has been the protagonist of the most profound transformation in our history, which has allowed us to achieve what was then unthinkable; Achievements far greater than most could have imagined.

Therefore, the current difficulties - serious and important - can not make anyone forget the terms of freedom, coexistence and progress achieved by the Spanish people ever since. Let us never cease, therefore, to exalt and appreciate the extraordinary legacy - unique in our history - of democratic coexistence in peace and freedom; Nor the immense patrimony of social, economic and cultural advances that, under the leadership of our political representatives, have allowed us to make Spain a much better country: a great country.
And in addition to remembering it, we have, ladies and gentlemen, the responsibility to share it with the younger generations. As I pointed out before this parliament (During his Accession), "But we also owe the duty to them, and to ourselves, to enhance that valuable legacy and to enrich the collective heritage of freedoms and rights that took such hard work to acquire. Because every political time has its own challenges; and because all political projects – like all human projects – inevitably remain unfinished. "
And with that legacy we must approach, step by step, with serenity but with determination, the difficult task and challenges that lie ahead.

Coming together as a society is an essential requirement to improve our common life, since the citizens most affected by the crisis must feel the solidarity of the Nation of which they are a part. And they must feel the presence and support of a State that offers its citizens: credibility to be able to recover their expectations of the future, confidence to give way to their legitimate aspirations, and hope to develop a project of a dignified life.
That is why we must strengthen our welfare state, created over the last decades and which we must be proud of; Because it has been, together with families, a basic pillar for social protection in recent years.

It is clear that the economic crisis has had profound consequences on our productive system; But above all, in people and our social cohesion, depriving many of our citizens of employment, especially the youngest. However, the constant pace of economic recovery, its growth and the new jobs are a true and positive reality that allows us to have well-founded motives in overcoming the imbalances generated by the crisis.

But the cohesion of our society - Ladies and Gentleman - has another aspect, also essential, which we must always keep in mind and which has been highlighted in these Chambers by the debates of its members: the regeneration of our democratic life. Because achieving a coexistence in democracy is a great conquest that does not exhaust itself; Requires care and attention to maintain its vitality; Needs dedication and great effort for its improvement and continuous improvement.

Likewise, the moral regeneration of public life is a matter of principles, of will and decision; Is also a matter of order in the operation of our Rule of Law, and a necessary precedent in order to restore the confidence of citizens.
And in that sense, ethical values should inspire our public life and we must also establish civic references in our social behavior.

And, ladies and gentlemen, corruption, which has outraged public opinion throughout our country and must continue to be fought with force, must become a sad reminder of a scourge that we must overcome. In pursuit of this objective, I want to publicly acknowledge the work being done by the Security Forces and the permanent action of Justice.

As I also want to acknowledge - and thank for their service, devotion and sacrifice - all those who look after our security, inside and outside our country; Those who fight crime and defend our rights and freedoms; And those who in many ways contribute to improving our democratic coexistence.
Ladies and gentlemen,

In my accession speech I stated that "the Constitution recognized our diversity as a defining characteristic of our very identity, in proclaiming the intention to protect all the people of Spain, their cultures and traditions, their languages and institutions. This diversity stems from our history, exalting us and giving strength."

Respect for and observance of the law and the decisions of the Tribunals constitutes an essential guarantee of democracy; Because in a rule of law the primacy of the law eliminates the arbitrariness of public powers and ensures the exercise of rights and freedoms of citizens. Similarly, dialogue and understanding are requirements of any regime of freedoms. For this reason, the dialogue within the respect of the Law is consubstantial to Democracy.

A dialogue that must be sincere and loyal, in which the self-government of our Autonomous Communities preserves the demands of equality among all citizens and solidarity among all the peoples of Spain. A dialogue that is strengthened and promoted by the fraternal spirit among all the Spaniards.

Because Spain can not deny itself as it is; He can not give up his own being; And can not, finally, renounce the common heritage built by all and from which we must continue to build a shared future.
Ladies and gentlemen,

In the international context, we need a committed and firm Spain in the defense and promotion of our interests; That knows how to project its capacities, its advances, its prestige, and even its leadership in all the possible fields.

Today it is clear that the economic and social well-being of our citizens depends to a large extent on our being an active and dynamic country in the world; A Spain with a focus on science, the arts and knowledge, at the forefront of development; As well as sensitive and attentive to the problems of global society, and in solidarity with those who suffer the most. Therefore, there should be no more borders in our external action than those marked by our laws and commitments, and by our resources and capabilities.

And I have the conviction that Europe is the main current and future project for our society. Therefore, in these difficult times for this project, we must reaffirm our faith in Europe, and strengthen our commitment to the Union and the values ​​that inspire it and give it meaning and virtue.

The future of the European Union highlights the need to strengthen our cohesion and a sense of belonging to the same community of interests, with the same model of coexistence, but respectful of our richness and diversity of cultures and identities. Europe has to play a transcendental role in the coming decades; And Spain has to be fully aligned with the concerns of Europeans and with the answers that will be given to them.

On the other hand, I do not want to forget that Spain has the great heritage of belonging to the Ibero-American Community of Nations, which offers an extraordinary potential, based on our common history, the linguistic and cultural identity that we share, in Deep feelings and affections; And also in interests, in the will to influence and contribute together to the great global tendencies. Let's take advantage of it.
Ladies and gentlemen,

We live in times of great uncertainty; But they are certainly new times whose challenges also offer opportunities that we must not let pass; Times, in short, that demand reflection and action, strategic vision and collective ambition.

They are undoubtedly in the international arena: from war conflicts and the fight against terrorism, to the migratory phenomenon or to climate change. They are for the challenges that we have to face in our country. They are also due to the profound social and economic changes that the technological revolution and the scientific advances introduce daily in our lives, in a world already without frontiers.

In the face of this, we can opt for isolation, pessimism, the destructive spirit, the negative vision of our capacity or of everything that surrounds us, as in some dark epochs of our history; By looking only at our past; By looking, in short, only towards ourselves.

Or - in return - we can opt for what has made us great as a Nation: the spirit of improvement, the constructive spirit, the passion to live united to the desire to progress; By looking forward, confident of ourselves, with hope and hope.

Our journey in the most recent history has not been without difficulties. We overcome them and we will overcome them again. I am convinced that in the Spanish people there is a deep desire to open a new stage of prosperity in our history centered on the value of coexistence and understanding and our willingness to progress together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You, ladies and gentlemen deputies and senators, are the voice of our people. And the future of millions of Spaniards depends greatly on their daily tasks.

The task is not easy, no one doubts it, but it is in their hands.

In our hands it is; In everyone's.

Let's get to it.

Spain and the Spaniards of today and the future ask us.

We owe it; But, above all, they deserve it.

Thank you very much.

Moltes grĂ cies / Eskerrik asko / Moitas grazas.

"I declare the twelfth Legislature open."

Monday 9 November 2015

Sarah, Duchess of York Birthday (2015 + 2014)

It was definitely surprising to find this at my front door. An extra large envelope with cardboard back, marked do not bend. The envelope is lacking the usual marking of British Royal Mail, with no Cypher on the back. But the little green S at the bottom clued me in on who this was from, Sarah, Duchess of York.

I wrote to Sarah for her 56th birthday on October 15th. The reply was sent November 2nd and arrived today exactly 1 month after I sent my letter. This is a great response time. Enclosed was a letter from Sarah office, signed by someone. (One of the things that really irked me last year was that the name of the person who wrote the letter wasn't printed on the letter. Usually, they have the Private Secretary's name either on the top or bottom of the letter.)

This letter is quite similar to last years letter (which I have included at the bottom, as I never made a post about it). 

One of the interesting things about this is the paper is different from last year. It is a richer cream color, the picture doesn't really show it accurately. Also, the monogram on top is a different color. It's a black S, and it is printed on with the rest of the text, not embossed like other royal letters. 

The quote at the bottom from Pope Pius XII is the same from past year. It's a really old quote, over half a century. (I wasn't able to figure out when, or where, exactly.) Pope Pius died the year before Sarah was born, so there isn't any personal connection between the two. 

The letter included a photo of Sarah, mounted on cardboard, and with a printed signatures.

The picture is 8 years old, taken from a photoshoot by American photographer Mark Seliger for Vogue Italia in 2007. I would have liked to see a more recent photo, given that Sarah has had tremendous weightless over the last few years, and have very publicly spoken about how she has gotten a lot more confident and healthy recently.  

Below is my letter from last year: 

It had a similar response time. It was folded and put in a normal envelope since there wasn't a photo included. The signatures on the two letters look similar, so I assume they were written by the same person. 

Also Check Out:

Sunday 1 November 2015

November Q&A

As Always, Post your Royal Questions & I will get to them as soon as possible. 

Past Q&As

Question 1: When will we get new Photos of Prince George and Princess Charlotte?

Answer: The Cambridges don't really have a set schedule of when they release photos every year. They try to releases photos a few times a year, so that the media/public has recents photos. Which is important because kids can grow a lot in a given year.

The only thing we have seen consistently, that I would expect to continue, is a new photo released on their birthday.

Leaving Lindo Wing, 1st Official Photo, Christening, are all event that only happen with newborns, so we aren't going to see those again with Charlotte or George.

The Cambridges did release a Family photo for Mothering Sunday in 2014, but that was to prep for their Australia/New Zealand tour. So that as the media was reporting on the upcoming tour, they had a recent photo to use instead of the 5 month old christening photo. When the Cambridges do go on tour again with the kids, I would expect another photo to be released in preparation. 

Last year the Cambridge released an official Christmas Photo for the 1st time in their whole marriage.  The reason was again because the media and public wanted/needed a recent photo of Prince George, the one previous was 5 months old from George's 1st birthday. Given that their aren't any birthdays around Christmas, and it will be 5 months since the last official photos, I think there is a high chance we will  get a set of Official Photos released for Christmas again this year.  And I would expect this to continue ever year. One of the reasons we didn't see any official photos for George's 1st christmas was because we had just had Prince George's Christening in late October. We had a recent photo, so there wasn't a need for new photos.

Question 2: How far along is Princess Victoria?

Answer: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is due in March 2016, that would make her 4-5 months along right now. 

Her sister-in-law Princess Sofia is due month latter in April. 

Question 3: Do we have any new information about Prince Harry's South Africa Trip?

Answer: No, just the date November 26th - December 4th. We do know, that during the visit Harry will be stoping in Lesotho to open Sentebale's new centre.

Question 4: Do you have an address for the King and Queen of Bhutan?

Answer: YES!!! I'm really proud of myself for finding this!!! The royals don't have an official website, so it was really hard to track down this information. Especially since I can't really google translate myself to the answer either by trying to search for things in Dzongkha (their Official Language) either.

HM King of Bhutan,
Royal Secretariat,
Tashichho Dzong,
Thimphu, Bhutan

You could also address the letter to Their Majesties the King and Queen. This is the kind of occasion where you want to be more formal. My rule of thumb is write in the level of formality you would use if you were talking to them. 

With Heads of State your going to be more formal out of respect, "Your Majesty". But with some of the younger royals like Prince Harry, he might insist you call him "Harry" instead of "Your Royal Highness" if your were talking to him.

I have never written to any of the royals of Bhutan. So, I have no idea what kind of response, if any, you will get. 

Question 5: My grandparents 52nd wedding anniversary is fast approaching and as a gift I was planning on writing to either The Queen or Will & Kate to see if they could send a letter back wishing my grandparents a happy anniversary. 

Answer: If you write to either the Queen or Will and Kate you will get some sort of response, their offices responds to pretty much all the letters they receive. 

Your response will most likely be from either one of the Queen’s lady-in-waiting or someone from the communications section at Clarence House. It will be something like “Unfortunately the Royal gets to many requests for anniversary message that they can not responded to all of them…. etc.” The Queen gets over 300 letters every single day and the Cambridges get thousands a year. They are unable to send out personal responses. 

The Queen does send out congratulations for 60th, 65th, 70th anniversaries, and then every year after that. (as well as 100 birthdays, 105th and then every birthday after that) To receive this special message you have to apply for it, it is not automatic and is only open to British Citizens and people from commonwealth countries.


Question 6: If Monaco uses HSH instead of HRH, why is Princess Caroline a HRH?

Answer: Princess Caroline is styled Her Royal Highness because that is the style used by the defunct House of Hanover. She married the now head, HRH Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover in 1999. This is also why only her children from this marriage, Princess Alexandra, is given the title of Princess.

You see a similar thing with Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein. Born a Princess of Batavia she used the style HRH. When she married into the Liechtenstein royal family she continued to be referred to as HRH, even though the Liechtenstein royals use HSH.

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