British Royal FAQs


Q: I want to write to a member of the royal family. What is their address?

A: See below for the main addresses, but bear in mind that they will rarely write you back personally. Usually, letters to the royal family are opened and answered by their staff! According to etiquette, the letters should be addressed to the Private Secretary of the member of the royal family you wish to write.

Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
United Kingdom

TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
Clarence House
London SW1A 1BA
United Kingdom

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
HRH Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales

Kensington Palace
London W8 4PU
United Kingdom

HRH The Duke of York
HRH Princess Beatrice of York
HRH Princess Eugenie of York

Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
United Kingdom

TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex
Bagshot Park
Bagshot GU19 5PL
United Kingdom

HRH The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
United Kingdom

HRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
Kensington Palace
London W8 4PU
United Kingdom

HRH The Duke of Kent
St. James’s Palace
London SW1A 1BQ

HRH The Duchess of Kent
Wren House
Palace Green
London W8 4PY
United Kingdom

HRH Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA
United Kingdom


Q: I want to ask the Queen to send a telegram to somebody I know who is celebrating their birthday/ wedding anniversary. What should I do?

A: The Queen sends a congratulatory message to British Nationals, or people from a Commonwealth realm, who are celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday, and each year after that. Congratulatory messages are also sent to couples celebrating their 60th, 65th & 70th wedding anniversary and every year after the 70th wedding anniversary. You may request an application form by writing to: Anniversaries Office, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom.


Q: What does ‘Annus Horribilis’ refer to?

A: Queen Elizabeth II used this term, Latin for ‘horrible year’, in a speech in November 1992. She was referring to all the horrible things that had happened to the royal family that year, like Princess Anne’s divorce, the separation of Andrew & Sarah, the fire at Windsor Castle, the Andrew Morton book about Diana etc.


Q: Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

A: The Queen was actually born on 21 April 1926, but it has long been customary to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday on a day during the summer. Since 1805, the Sovereign’s ‘official’ birthday has been marked by the ‘Trooping the Colour’ ceremony, normally held on the second Saturday in June.

This is a ceremony which originated when it was essential for soldiers to recognize the flag or ‘Colour’ of their regiment so that they could follow it into battle. Each year one of the five regiments of the foot guards (Grenadiers, Coldstream Guards, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards) take turns to display their colour in the ceremony. The ceremony begins with the Queen leaving Buckingham Palace escorted by the Household Cavalry. She rides down The Mall to Horse Guards Parade and inspects 500 guardsmen. The Colour is trooped by being carried along the ranks of guardsmen, and the Colour party then leads the guards on a march past The Queen, accompanied by the massed bands of the foot guards.

No particular ceremony is held on The Queen’s true birthday, although the Union Flag is flown on public buildings and the national anthem is sung.



Q: What is the last name of the royal family?

A: The British royal family changed their last name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917. The reason? World War One broke out in 1914 and the anti-German sentiment was its height in 1917. In protest, King George V renounced all the German titles belonging to him and his family and adopted the name of his castle, Windsor.

The royal family name of Windsor was confirmed by Queen Elizabeth II after her accession in 1952 as follows: “The Queen today declared in Council her will and pleasure that she and her children shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that her descendants, other than female descendants who marry and their descendants, shall bear the name of Windsor.”

In 1960 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh decided they wanted their direct descendants to be distinguished from the rest of the royal family (without changing the name of the royal house) as Windsor is the surname used by all the male and unmarried female descendants of King George V. They officially stated on 8 February 1960 that all The Queen’s descendants who did not bear the “style, title or attribute of HRH, and the titular dignity of Prince or Princess” shall bear the name of Mountbatten-Windsor.


Q: When was the first Christmas Speech held?

A: The Christmas broadcast dates back to 1932, when King George V spoke on the ‘wireless’ to the Empire from a small office at Sandringham. The time chosen was 3 pm – the best time for reaching most of the countries in the Empire. The first broadcast lasted 2.5 minutes and included the King’s reflections on the closer relationships made possible by such wondrous technology:

“To men and women so cut off by the snows, the deserts, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them: to those cut off from fuller life by blindness, sickness, or infirmity; and to those who are celebrating this day with their children and grandchildren. To all – to each – I wish a Happy Christmas. God bless you.”

The broadcast made a huge impact on its audience of 20 million, and the tradition has continued almost without interruption ever since. Queen Elizabeth II made her first Christmas speech on live radio in 1952. The first televised message, in 1957, was also live. From 1960 however, the messages were pre-recorded so that the tapes could be sent across the Commonwealth for transmission at convenient times. From 1999 it has been possible to watch and listen to the broadcast on the internet.


Q: Why is Prince Philip not King Philip?

A: In terms of precedence a King is higher than a Queen, which means that in every case where there is a King and a Queen, the King would outrank the Queen. When it is a Queen who holds the throne in her own right (a Queen Regnant, like the present Queen Elizabeth II), her consort has been referred to as a Price to make the point that it is she that takes precedence. Therefore, the Queen Mother was Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (Queen to King George VI), but Queen Victoria’s husband was Prince Albert and Queen Elizabeth II’s husband is Prince Philip.

The only example where both a King and a Queen have held the throne is with King William and Queen Mary at the end of the 17th century. This was because they held the throne jointly.


Q: What does Knight of the Garter, CVO, CGB, MVO, CBE etc. mean?

A: There are orders of chivalry, which are awarded by the Monarch on the advice of the prime minister. In order of importance (highest first), they are:

  1. The Most Noble Order of the Garter: Knight of the Garter (KG), Lady of the Garter (LG)

  2. The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle: Knight of the Thistle (KT)

  3. The Most Honourable Order of the Bath: Knight or Dame Grand Cross (CGB), Knight Commander (KCB), Dame Commander (DCB), Companion (CB)

  4. The Order of Merit (OM)

  5. The Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George: Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GCMG), Knight Commander (KCMG), Dame Commander (DCMG), Companion (CMG)

  6. The Royal Victorian Order: Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GCVO), Knight Commander (KCVO), Dame Commander (DCVO), Commander (CVO), Lieutenant (LVO), Member (MVO)

  7. The Royal Victorian Chain

  8. The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight Commander (KBE), Dame Commander (DBE), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), Member (MBE)

  9. The Order of the Companions of Honour (CH)

  10. The Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem


Q. How should I address The Queen, Prince Charles, etc?

Who

First address After first address
HM Queen Elizabeth II Your Majesty Ma’am
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Charles, etc. Your Royal Highness Sir
HRH Princess Anne Your Royal Highness Ma’am

Q. How tall is HM Queen Elizabeth II?

A. HM Queen Elizabeth II is 5’4″ (160cm) tall


Q. What does the Queen keep in her handbag?

A. The Queen carries a comb, a handkerchief, a small gold compact, and a tube of lipstick on her handbag. Most people think that the Queen never carries money. This is not true… The Queen does carry money on Sunday’s – a folded note of unknown denomination, which she discretely places in the collection plate when she goes to church.


Q. What do the two bags the Queen hands out at Maundy Thursday contain?

A. The red purse contains – in ordinary coinage – money in lieu of food and clothing; the other, a white purse, contains silver Maundy coins consisting of the same number of pence as the years of the sovereign’s age.

This answer is a part quote taken from a page The British Royal Mint explaining all about Maundy Money. Click on the link to go to that page.


Q. How is Queen Elizabeth related to other European monarchs?

A:

Belgium: Queen Elizabeth II and King Philippe are third cousins once removed. They are descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Denmark: Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Margrethe II are third cousins, through both King Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Greece: Queen Elizabeth II and King Constantine II are third cousins, through their descent from King Christian IX of Denmark.

Liechtenstein: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Hans Adam II are seventh cousins, once removed. They are descendants of John William Friso, Prince of Orange.

Luxembourg: Queen Elizabeth II and Grand Duke Henri are third cousins, once removed. They are descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark.

Monaco: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Albert II are 7th cousins, twice removed. They are descendants of John William Friso, Prince of Orange.

The Netherlands: Queen Elizabeth II and King Willem-Alexander are 5th cousins once removed. They are descendants of Friedrich II of W├╝rttemberg.

Norway: Queen Elizabeth II and King Harald V are second cousins. They are descendants of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and King Christian IX of Denmark.

Spain: Queen Elizabeth II and King Felipe VI are third cousins, once removed. They are descendants of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Sweden: Queen Elizabeth II and King Carl XVI Gustaf are third cousins. They are descendants of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.