Reporting by Peter Anderson
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the Merchant Taylor’s Hall this week to help the Royal Mail celebrate 500 years since their inception. The Prince commented of the valuable service that Royal Mail gives, especially at Valentine’s Day. He did however express concern that the popularity of texting and social media, was affecting people’s ability to construct proper sentences and he enjoyed both reading and writing a good letter. It should be remembered that the Duchess has been a keen supporter and indeed judge of the BBC’s 500 words competition for children.
They were met by Royal Mail’s Chief Executive, Moya Greene, and Chairman Peter Long. Prince Charles was presented with a fountain pen, by Moya Green, and the Duchess received a bouquet from 8-year-old stroke survivor Mason White. Mason suffered a stroke at birth and is now an active fund raiser for the Stroke Association, Royal Mail’s Charity of the Year. He is also the son of a Royal Mail employee at Mount Pleasant sorting office.
The Royal couple were shown a timeline of the history of Royal Mail, from the time in 1516 when Henry VIII first appointed a Master of Posts. This included footage of the recreation of the first airmail flight which occurred a century ago. Following this Prince Charles and Camilla met with a number of long-serving employees, Armed Forces reservists, Royal Mail charity champions and apprentices.
Their Royal Highnesses unveiled a new replica Penfold post box, painted green and gold as these hexagonal-shaped boxes were when they were first introduced 150 years ago. It is the only design of post box named after its designer, John Penfold. The post box will be installed in a permanent location on St Martin’s Le Grand in the City of London, outside the General Post Office (GPO)’s former headquarters
The Royal couple also cut Royal Mail’s 500th birthday cake, specially made by Sergeant Mik Cottingham of the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. His Royal Mail themed cake had previously won Gold in the Celebration Cake Category of the Army’s annual Field Catering and Culinary Arts Competition held in July. He was invited to recreate it for the Royal reception. The cake was given to The Prince’s Trust Morgan Stanley centre in Poplar, East London, to be enjoyed by the young people undertaking Prince’s Trust programme activities there.
Moya Greene, Royal Mail’s Chief Executive, said: “We are honoured and delighted that Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall joined us to celebrate 500 years of the postal service. Royal Mail is incredibly proud of its Royal associations. Even though today’s postal service is very different to the one King Henry VIII founded in 1516, we have never erred from our core aim – to deliver mail safely, swiftly and securely.”