Queen Elizabeth II personally replied to a series of Christmas cards sent by Andrew Simes and his grandfather during a period that began with her accession in 1952, up until present day, according to a Facebook post by Mr. Simes.
In the post, Mr. Simes explains that his grandfather met the queen in Izmir, Turkey, in 1972. At the time, she recognized his name and personally thanked him for the 20 years of Christmas cards he had sent up to that point.
“So it’s you who keeps sending me those lovely Christmas cards,” she said.
Andrew Simes guesses that because the cards came with a Turkish return address, they stood out in the queen’s mind. She then wrote to Simes’ grandfather on his 100th birthday. Sadly, he passed away in 2011 at the age of 102.
Simes then took up his grandfather’s tradition and sent Queen Elizabeth a Christmas card in 2011, after his grandfather had passed on. Then, in January 2012, he received mail with a Buckingham Palace return address. Perhaps wondering if there was anything wrong with the card — it was a monarch he was writing to, after all — Simes read the queen’s beautiful words.
“When I received a letter from a different Simes this Christmas, I instructed my office to research your grandfather’s whereabouts. Therefore it is with much sadness, I have learned of his passing and extend my condolences to you and your family.”
“I couldn’t fight back the tears then,” Simes writes, “nor can I fight them back every time I remember this story of two people who left a lifelong impression on each other.”
Mr. Simes states that he continues to send the queen a Christmas card each year.
Queen Elizabeth was proclaimed sovereign in declarations throughout the British Commonwealth on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI. Each year, except for one, during her reign as monarch, Queen Elizabeth has addressed the Commonwealth over the radio, as reported by the British Monarchy.
King George V made the first Royal Christmas Broadcast in 1932. The idea for the broadcast was reported to have come from Sir John Reith, who is described as the “visionary” founding member of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Made from Sandringham, the first Christmas address required cables to be run from the royal country retreat to the BBC control room, where they could then be transmitted on the “wireless.”
The first Christmas address read by King George V was written by Rudyard Kipling and was heard on shortwave bands in Commonwealth nations around the globe, including India, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Kenya. George V made annual Christmas broadcasts until his death in 1936.
There were no royal broadcasts in 1936 or 1938. In 1937, King George VI read the Royal Christmas Broadcast, and again in 1939, and each year after, until his death in 1952. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the monarchy felt that the Christmas address helped to reassure people who were justifiably frightened.
“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted,” the 1939 address by King George VI read.
Queen Elizabeth has addressed the nation and world at Christmastime each year since her accession, except in 1969 when a scheduling conflict with a Christmas-airing of a documentary featuring the monarchy caused its cancellation. Britons were so upset that the queen reportedly wrote a letter addressing the lack of a Christmas address and promising a return in 1970. Queen Elizabeth has addressed the Commonwealth each Christmas since then.
Traditionally held at 3 p.m., the broadcast is described as being a “chronicle” of events that have affected the queen throughout the year, as well as being a chance to reflect upon national, global, and personal events, perhaps such as receiving Christmas cards from members of the Simes family for over 50 years.
[Photo by John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images]