Merry Christmas Mr. Kelly from Buckingham Palace

Tue Dec 23, 2008 6:46pm EST
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Ever wonder what Britain's royal family write on their Christmas cards? Australian Tim Kelly knows, as he receives one from the Queen every year.

Each Christmas time, Kelly's Sydney mailbox is packed with greeting cards from celebrities and household names including Queen Elizabeth, pop star Kylie Minogue, former South African President Nelson Mandela and U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong.

"The royal family are sensational, they are always very prompt in their Christmas greetings," the 39-year-old Kelly said.

"And the card that comes from No. 10 Downing Street, is a nice card," he said, referring to the residence of the British prime minister. "Tony Blair was always very prompt in his reply. I haven't received one from Gordon Brown yet," he told Reuters.

Kelly's Christmas card tradition started when he wrote to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as a 12 year old, and she responded. That set him on a path to sending -- and receiving -- greetings from all over the world.

Over the years he has received cards from former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman, singer Elton John, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Britain's Prince William.

"The Queen and Prince Philip would like to thank you Mr. Kelly for your Christmas wishes and trust that you have a lovely Christmas," reads the message in Kelly's Christmas card each year from Buckingham Palace.

Each year Kelly tries to find new people to write to, but admits with tighter privacy laws it's getting tougher to track celebrities down.   Continued...

<p>Australian Tim Kelly holds an envelope from Britain's Queen Elizabeth in Sydney December 23, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>