Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Prime Minister John Howard of Australia became the 44th world leader to honor my request and one of the few to include a real actual signature.

As you surely know, New York and Australia are practically at opposite ends of the world which could, in part, explain the late response. Australia is, of course, its own continent. Nevertheless, I not only received an apology for the delayed response but was informed that "the Prime Minister was more than happy" to agree to my request.

The apology, though, is not entirely out of place. After all, the postmark indicates the correspondence was only mailed six days ago. Hence geographic distance does not seem to have played a role in the delay. What then was the reason for the delay you ask? Well, the answer to that was conveniently left out of the letter...

The Prime Minister also becomes one of the few leaders to send me his "best wishes." This thought is very kind of him and I appreciate the gesture...

United States of America

President George W Bush of the United States of America became the 43rd world leader to respond to my request.

The enclosed letter was printed on White House stationary of high grade 100% cotton paper. Overall, it's message conveyed a feeling of warmth and blessing and ended with best wishes from both the President and the First Lady.

Many will notice, that of all the letters I sent out across the world, the one sent to President Bush certainly traveled the least distance. After all, Washington is a mere 230 miles from Brooklyn, New York. However, despite the fact that the letters were mailed out a little under two months ago, due to stringent screening and security procedures, "items sent to the White House often experience a significant delivery delay."

Isn't it ironic that the letter that traveled the least most likely took the longest time to arrive? Its a new world we live in...

Monday, February 27, 2006


King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV of the kingdom of Tonga became the 42nd world leader to respond to my letter. More importantly, however, he became the first leader to outright reject my request as a matter of policy.

The letter reads: Thank you for your letter and your interest in Tonga. We regret, however, to inform you that the Palace Office does not distribute stamps or photographs and that it is not customary for his majesty to sign autographs.

I cannot help but wonder why Tonga has such policies and customs. What could be so wrong with a signed photo? Is it a cultural issue? It is especially puzzling considering that Tonga's main source of hard currency is from tourism.

I did notice that while the postmark is mostly illegible, there is an official Tonga government seal in the lower left area of the envelope. This seal has a date with an actual signature. The signature is the same as the one on the envelope and thus we can assume it belongs to the 'Private Secretary to His Majesty'. However, neither the envelope nor the letter gives us this person's name.

For more on Tonga see its Wikipedia entry here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


President Paul Kagame of Rwanda became the 41st leader to honor my request and one of the few to send me a personally inscribed hand-signed photograph. He is also the first leader to include a gift with the correspondence.

The gift he sent was a beautifully illustrated coffee table book on Rwanda. Though it is in French, it is full of fascinating photographs and will definitely enhance and enrich my personal library. The book's back flap has a wonderful explanation in English as you can see in the scan below. (Those wishing to purchase the book for themselves and/or wish to see the front cover can do so by clicking here.)

The book's title, Rwanda Nziza, is the same as Rwanda's relatively new national anthem and portrays a pleasant side to a country often associated with conflict and genocide. The book itself is heavy and large and the envelope provided for it was woefully inadequate. By the time the parcel arrived it's packaging was in tatters and held in place over the book by a rubber band placed there by the postal service. Nevertheless, I am humbled, Grateful, and extremely pleased to be the recipient of this gift.

I'm not familiar with postal delivery times from Central Africa but from the postmark it is apparent that the correspondence took a full month to arrive from Rwanda. I will therefor assume that my correspondence to President Kagame took a month to arrive to him as well. My point is that we must not be displeased by the late response as, seemingly, it is normal.

However I am curious to know what route the letter took from Rwanda. Are anyone of you familiar with the logistics of international mail delivery? Can you hazard a guess as to which countries the letter passed through before it arrived in the US?

Also, can anyone figure out what book the President is reading in the photo?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Prince Albert II of Monaco became the 40th world leader to honor my request. The correspondence consisted of the envelope and photo only. There was no letter.

Looking at the stamps you'll notice that pictured on each are two images. I first thought they were of the same person, at two different life periods. However, a quick internet search reveals that they are the images of two famous composers, sisters in fact, Nadia and Lili Boulanger. This is the first time I have seen two people pictured on one postage stamp. I wonder how rare this is.

The envelope is also stamped "Service de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco." Does anyone know what the abbreviation S.A.S. stands for?

The photo itself was very nice. The palace in the background was fitting and well placed. Can you tell what time it is in the clock in the background? Did the Prince pose for the photo in the morning or afternoon?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Germany # 2

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany became the first world leader to send me two responses to my letter. The first response, which arrived over six weeks ago, was a letter thanking me for congratulating her on recently becoming Chancellor. At the time I expressed disappointment that I did not receive a photograph from her.

Well, apparently someone must have alerted her to this site because she went ahead and sent me a photograph which arrived today. The correspondence also included a card that bears her real actual signature.

I would like to publicly thank her for making amends and express my appreciation for her taking my quest seriously.

One more thing: I noticed that the back of the envelope bears a stamp indicating it was made from 100% recycled paper. I admire her for setting an example and conserving our earth's natural resources. She may only be two months into her Chancellor-ship but she is definitely off to a good start...

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of Malta became the 39th world leader to honor my request.

The photograph came enclosed in an elaborate cardboard frame that gives the photo a regal look to it.

The envelope was clearly marked "photos do not bend." Yet, the envelope (and photo) nevertheless was bent so that it could fit into the post office box.

The stamps are nice too. I like the one boasting membership in Rotary International...

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Prime Minister Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi of the Independent State of Samoa (not to be confused with American Samoa) became the 38th world leader to honor my request and the first to personally sign the back of the photo instead of signing the front.

He also returned to me the original letter I sent to him. They did add a notation or two on the letter but I could not figure out what they meant to say (the signature was removed by myself). Many have asked to see the letter I sent out to all the world leaders. Well, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

The Samoan postage stamps depict lovely scenery. Though, only one of them has a caption (east coast road)...

You'll recall that my original letter to Samoa was returned by the post office because, apparently, they were unable to identify Samoa as a country. I resent the envelope addressed by it's former name, Western Samoa, and seemingly that went through without a hitch. I would think the post office would be more on top of these things. I would also imagine that most people sending mail to Samoa would have no idea they have to address the letter by the country's former name...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


President General Emile Lahoud of Lebanon became the 37th world leader to honor my request.

The correspondence arrived in a presidential envelope (not shown) which was enclosed in a larger manila envelope. Interestingly, it was actually mailed from within the United States by the Lebanese consulate here in New York. Could they have wanted to save on international postage? If so they would be happy to know that the stamps weren't even canceled by the post office...

Most people in the West believe that Syria essentially controls and dominates Lebanese politics and its leaders. In fact, recently they assasinated the Lebanese Prime Minister because they didn't like the guy. I can't help but wonder if the Syrians had to approve of this correspondence.

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