To enter Buckingham Palace.
We were naive in thinking it was a straightforward operation for a letter to just find its way into Buckingham Palace and be presented to the Queen.
I had not properly taken into account the implications of sending this letter from the UAE.
And so, I was crestfallen when I received a call asking whether they should “return this letter to sender?”.
“No no, please don’t do that!” I said hurriedly. I asked for a few minutes and considered our options.
I found out there are a few security measures in place that mean any post from outside the UK will be rejected on the spot if it reaches the Palace without prior approval.
So… at the first instance, Uncle Len’s letter had hit a brick wall.
It felt like a shadow fell over me.
But then I remembered: this is the King of Bounce Back.
And so must his letter be.
This letter had got to find its way to the Queen.
Sunlight shooed away the shadow, and I considered again how challenges provide an opportunity to step up and think creatively.
I probed a little more and found out that if the letter was sent from a UK address, it would be accepted as part of the UK nation's regular post permitted inside Buckingham Palace.
💡Enter heroine #3: Uncle’s second daughter who happens to live in the UK. 🇬🇧
After enlisting her on project #Lettertothequeen, we arranged to redirect the letter to her address first.
Once received, she put the letter as it was into another envelope, then sent it off again, this time from her UK address with a UK stamp and into a UK post box.
There shall be no rejecting it this time, we thought.
After this flurry of coordinated international problem solving & expansion of the team, the letter went off on its second attempt to reach the Queen.
At this point, everything went silent.
A few weeks later, an envelope with a curious red emblem was sent to Uncle Len's daughters' home. Under the emblem were the words:
🏰✨ Windsor Castle.
You can imagine our excitement!
We wanted to open it instantly!
But since this was Uncle Len’s letter, addressed to him, he must be the one to open it.
And that is why this next part had me feeling rather apprehensive:
I had lost several cards in transit over the years. I was worried, given that we don’t have post boxes here.
How would we ensure it arrived in the UAE safely...?
💡Enter hero #4: Al Salam Private School & Nursery❤️. A school where our hero was known & loved by all as 'Grandad'. And, importantly for our letter, one that had a post box with a proven track record of receiving letters.✅
To those who work at this school, did you know your post box was the very one that quietly received Uncle Len’s letter from Windsor Castle?✨💛
What do you think it said?
We talked a lot about it. And my favourite speculation was this:
“After all this, it had better be an invitation to tea at the castle!”.