The Queen receives thousands of items of correspondence each year, many from her people in the UK and Commonwealth, but also from across the world. Having just become the longest reigning Monarch in British History, many of you will want to write to Her Majesty to congratulate her, but what things must you do? And what should you avoid? Here’s your guide how to write to the Royal Family.
How should I write my letter?
Firstly you should decide your topic: is it a congratulatory message for an anniversary or birthday? Did you have a question? Or did you just want to show your support for a member of the Royal Family’s work? From this, find three main points you want to cover – this will help with structure and save you from rambling.
If you wish to keep to the correct forms and traditions in your letter, follow these tips. If you do not, that is also perfectly acceptable, and your letter will still be read – this is merely the formal and traditional way of writing to a Royal.
Your address should be in the top right hand corner, followed by the date beneath this, aligned on the right. You may include the address you are sending your letter to on the left, parallel with your own, though this is optional.
The first sentence of your letter should always be indented, roughly to where the comma on the introduction is.
Sign your letter and include both your first and last name at the bottom, as well as your title: Mr, Mrs, Dr. etc. Children should include their age.
When writing to The Queen, tradition dictates you should open with ‘Madam’, and close the letter with ‘I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant’.
For male members of the family, open with ‘Sir’, though you may also use ‘Your Royal Highness’ where appropriate for both men and women.
It is generally good practice to state what you wish to talk about in your letter early on, the first paragraph is preferable, but using ‘I am writing to…’ is considered poor form.
In the body of the letter, when you wish to use the pronoun ‘you’, if writing to The Queen, you should instead write ‘Your Majesty’, and adjust it appropriately for the possessive pronoun: e.g. ‘your work’ becomes ‘Your Majesty’s work’. For any other Royal, it is ‘Your Royal Highness’ work’ etc. Debrett’s recommends you write to the Private Secretary and therefore refer to the Royal as ‘Her Majesty’ or ‘His/Her Royal Highness’ – it is entirely up to you.
N.B. this is not compulsory, just the very traditional way to write, and can sound old fashioned and stilted nowadays; it was once on the British Monarchy website, but has since removed this from their site, likely for this reason.
Try and keep your letter brief, no more than a page if possible.
As the other members of the Royal Family are not the reigning Monarch, there is no need to end it with the ‘obedient servant’ line, as above. You can simply round off with ‘Yours faithfully’, though ‘Yours sincerely’ is also acceptable.
Look what came in the mail ☺️ pic.twitter.com/r30zfiV4nu
— Katie (@Katiemidleton) September 8, 2016
CAN I SEND GIFTS?
It is not recommended that you send any gifts with your letter. Gifts – particularly corporate ones or samples of products – are sometimes returned. If you do include a gift, remember it will likely increase the cost of postage.
Photographs of a Royal that you have taken are normally ok, though bear in mind whether it is appropriate, and if it is the only copy you have.
Children often send drawings to the Palace, and these are perfectly acceptable, just remember you will likely not get it back, so perhaps make a copy of the piece you are sending.
Where should I send my letter?
- Her Majesty The Queen
The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York, The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra all have their offices at Buckingham Palace, so just swap the name to write to them – and remember everyone else is styled as His/Her Royal Highness! Feel free to abbreviate these styles to HM, HRH or TRH.
More rare, letters to Princess Beatrice or Princess Eugenie should also be sent to Buckingham Palace.
- Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
- Their Royal Hignhesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
- His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales
‘Prince Harry’ is also acceptable when writing to Harry.
While Kensington Palace is the official London residence of William, Catherine, and Harry, it is still not clear to us if their offices are located there, since the Clarence House address is still listed on the Royal Family’s official site. Fear not, your letter will be passed on to the correct office if it ends up at the wrong destination!
- Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex
Surrey GU19 5PL
- Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
London W8 4PU
- His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent
St. James’s Palace
London SW1A 1BQ
- Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent
London W8 4PY
Debrett’s recommends you address the Private Secretary on the envelope and also add the most senior appointments the Royal has too, e.g. KG, GCVO, (Knight of the Garter, Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Victorian Order), though neither are strictly necessary.
Don’t forget your stamp!
Will I get a reply?
The vast majority of correspondence is replied to, be it from Britain or abroad, so the chances are, although it will take a while to receive (especially if you have written to a very popular member of the Royal Family or at a busy time), you will almost certainly receive something eventually!
Christmas is perhaps the busiest time of year to send cards and letters, so at this time you may be unfortunate enough to be missed out. (I myself sent five Christmas cards last year and only had three returns.)
Most of the time, the reply will be from a lady-in-waiting, equerry or secretary, so do not be too disheartened if the Royal you have written to is not the one who sent the reply – they lead busy lives, and, sadly do not have the time to reply to everyone. This is the most efficient way of responding to ensure everyone can be responded to.
Occasionally, there will a personally signed response. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall often personally signs her letters, but few other members of the Royal Family do or can.
Don’t wan’t a reply?
If, for whatever reason, you do not wish to receive a reply (but who doesn’t?!), simply leave out your own address from the letter, though this can look a little odd, as this is the correct format for written correspondence. An alternative is to simply state you do not require a response, e.g: ‘I am aware your time is precious, therefore I do not require a response. Thank you.’
You will know instantly when your response comes through the letterbox: letters from the Palace are on thick, cream coloured paper, and the envelope will be franked from Buckingham Palace, also with The Queen’s cypher on it.
The letter will have a letter head from whichever office you sent it to – Prince Charles and his three feathers, Catherine and her ‘C’ monogram. If a letter was written at Balmoral or Sandringham, the relevant stationary will be used.
Have photos of your own Royal letters? Share them with us!
Image: Scot Rocher