In an effort to get to know his blog community better, the author would like to start sharing some of the more amusing pieces of his royal memorabilia collection with his online friends. Given the fact that he’s been an avid student of world royal history since he was nine, his memorabilia trove has over time come to encompass various curiosity pieces. This so called “thank you letter” from King Albert ll of Belgium is definitely among its most curious artifacts. The author suspects this note’s got an interesting back story.
The author recently hit upon the seemingly novel idea, for him anyway, of expanding his collection by sending various royals small presents for their birthdays/ significant life events, and receiving the appropriate letters/cards from the royal gift recipients in gratitude. It’s an exceptionally easy enterprise that anyone can accomplish. One simply looks up a royal they like on Wikipedia, scrolls down to the article’s external links and clicks on it, finds the royal’s official web site, finds the contact section on the website, and records their official mailing address. Most royal websites designate a specific division of the palace staff who receive correspondence from well wishers. As a general rule, the author spends as little money as possible on what is, after all, just a token gesture. Most of the letters he’s received have been generic affairs downloaded and signed by a secretary on behalf of their royal boss. The two lovely cards sent by Prince Albert ll and Princess Charlene of Monaco were exceptions to that, as well as the thoughtful and kind letter Lady Mary Morrison wrote the author on behalf of The Queen. The letter sent on behalf of King Albert ll of Belgium was also exceptional, though not for a particularly flattering reason.
As the Chief of Protocol for the Belgian Royal Court notes in the letter, the author sent the King for his birthday a traveling bag that unbeknownst to His Majesty was an oversized, free gift with purchase the author received when he purchased his most recent bottle of Polo Ralph Lauren cologne. This letter is easily the shittiest example of its kind anyone should hope not to receive as a sign of gratitude!
First of all, why is the author’s last name not noted in this letter’s introduction? This omission suggests the Chief of Protocol did not consider him worthy enough to specify his identity. For that matter, why was this letter folded in a quartered manner that makes it impossible to frame? Most European royal court officials, the ones with class anyway, are cognizant of the fact that the majority of people walking the face of the Earth do not possess among their correspondence a thank you letter from an actual palace, and therefore the courtiers often draft these letters in such a manner so their recipients can hold on to them as keepsakes.
Then, of course, there’s this note’s tremendously cheesy layout. One of the author’s friends pointed out quite accurately that anyone could’ve typed up a letter like this on their laptop and hardly anyone would be able to tell the difference. Is this all the Belgian people can expect from their King when they send him a present? No wonder why their Monarchy’s popularity continues to plummet.
There could, however, be another explanation to this letter other than Albert ll and his senior courtier’s rank arrogance and tackiness. Could he have misinterpreted the author’s gift as an evil joke? At the time he received the author’s traveling bag, and unbeknownst to the author and most of the world at that time, Albert ll was secretly planning to abdicate. He made the announcement about a month after the author received this letter. Could His Majesty have mistaken the author for an investigative journalist who’d been tipped off by a palace source that he was about to give up his throne, and had sent this “gift” as a politely veiled insult to a king he was happy to see abdicate? Therefore, could this letter have been His Majesty’s way of symbolically bitch slapping the gift giver back in the face in the manner he had perceived himself to have been slapped? This scenario might seem Victorian, but the royal courts of Europe still operate on a fundamentally Victorian ethos, and exchanges such as the afore mentioned happen with surprising frequency.
Perhaps the author is just reading too much into this. This was the first letter he’d ever received from a king, and its cheapness rankled him a bit more than it probably should have. Albert ll has certainly proven his sense of entitlement on several occasions throughout his life, most recently by insisting on keeping his monarchical title even after he gave up his throne, making him the only current former hereditary head of state in Europe to have done so. That means that Belgium currently has two Queen dowagers, a King regnant, a King in retirement, and a Queen consort. Only time will reveal what the future holds for Europe’s most top heavy monarchy.