December 23, 2008 / 4:09 AM / 10 years ago

Merry Christmas Mr. Kelly from Buckingham Palace

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.

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

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.

“I tried to send a card to Fidel Castro a few years ago, but the Cuban Embassy thought I was mad, and I never got a response from him either,” he said, referring to the Cuban leader.

Kelly, who comes from an Irish Catholic background, admits his most cherished greeting was from the late Pope John Paul because he imparted a Papal blessing with the card.

“I was pretty impressed as he’s gone now and it’s another piece of history. Pope Benedict still sends little holy cards with a letter,” he added.

Kelly also treasures cards from those who have passed on, and, despite their potential value, he says he has no plans to sell them.

“A couple of years I moved house and forgot to write to the Queen and I still got a card. I must be on their database,” he said with a laugh.

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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