At the christening of HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge yesterday, the Royal baby’s Godparents made news because five of the six were decidedly not Royal. Even the sole Windsor Family representative, Zara Tindall (Prince William’s cousin), doesn’t have a title. The non-Royal Godparents include the Duke and Duchess’s private secretary and a friend of the Duchess from her school years. The Earl Grosvenor is in the mix, but his mother, The Duchess of Westminster, is one of Prince William’s Godparents, so they’re keeping it in the family!
George’s non-Royal godparents contrast with William’s lineup, which includes exiled King Constantine of Greece (William’s second cousin once removed) and Princess Alexandra (William’s second cousin twice removed). Another of William’s Godparents is The Lady Susan Hussey, a lady-in-waiting to The Queen and confidant of Prince Charles. She is the woman behind the Princess of Wales in the photo below.
In 1996 I turned 10 and wrote my first letter to The Queen. When I talked to “20/20” they found this particularly amusing; I find it awfully embarrassing, as I addressed The Queen as “Your Royal Highness”–why did no one correct me?!??!?! Rereading the letter now I cringe at my questions and blatant ignorance of proper titles, but hopefully some people found it endearing.
What “20/20” didn’t tell you is that when I wrote to The Queen, The Queen wrote back. My memory tells me that I was the one who opened the mailbox on this famous day; that my stomach flipped when I saw the front…
… and that I shrieked when I saw the Royal seal on the reverse.
Unfortunately, I butchered the envelope with an ineffective, orca whale-decorated souvenir letter opener from San Juan Island, but the note waiting for me inside was worth the agony.
OK, so The Queen didn’t write back personally; as far as I was concerned, this was a pretty great deal. I couldn’t be sure that Her Majesty had actually seen my letter, but this response delighted me. Even at that age I recognized Lady Susan’s name and easily found her photo in my Prince Charles biography. Once I confirmed that this Lady-in-waiting was the same Godmother to Prince William, I felt accomplished: One degree of separation from the entire Royal Family! I thought.
So what did I do next? I sent another letter to Buckingham Palace–addressed to Lady Susan Hussey. Sadly, I have no record of the outgoing letter; however, I received a prompt reply, this time with the official “Royal Mail” seal.
The letter was not from Lady Susan Hussey, but from another Lady-in-waiting. What made this letter special, though, was that it was not a form letter, but personalized. Apparently I’d addressed several questions to Lady Susan (I can only imagine!) and I received one response: “You are correct in saying that Lady Susan Hussey is Prince William’s Godmother.”
During the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last year I found a book chronicling the daily life of Queen Elizabeth II. I read that one of the tasks of Ladies-in-waiting is selecting a few letters each day for The Queen to read, as well as crafting responses. Thus, seventeen years after I sent it I realized that my letter was most likely actually read by The Queen; Lady Susan’s remark that she was “commanded by The Queen to thank” me could be taken literally. I can die happy.
That said, I intend to write to The Queen again; to tell her about her influence on my life; to apologize for the youthful errors of a letter written nearly two decades ago. I don’t know whether she’ll read it, or if Lady Susan (who was recently appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, The Queen’s highest personal gift) will be able to respond, but I must send some token of my admiration.
Lady Susan Hussey, Baroness Hussey of North Bradley may be Prince William’s Godmother, but she is also my Royal fairy Godmother–and it sure makes one heck of a story!