Read Queen Camilla's Unexpected Reply to Collector Who Tracked Down a Photo of Her Ancestor
Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images; Adam Simpson-York
Queen Camilla traveled back into the past with a little help from a historian — and had something funny to say about it!
The Queen Consort, 75, surprised Adam Simpson-York, who runs the Facebook page Medals Going Home, with a personal thank-you note. Simpson-York had recently mailed Buckingham Palace a photo he found on eBay of Queen Camilla's great-great-grandmother Edrica Faulkner, and he was delighted to receive a reply from the royal.
"Many thanks for the photograph of my great, great-grandmother. It is the first time I have ever seen her picture, I must say she looks a bit sad in it!" the Queen Consort wrote. "With best wishes, Camilla," she signed the note on Clarence House stationery, stamped with her new royal cypher.
Simpson-York now tells PEOPLE he was thrilled to receive such a genuine reply from the royal after mailing in the picture on Jan. 4.
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"As a few weeks had gone by, I was wondering whether I was going to get a reply at all. I would have been happy with just a generic reply as I'm sure they get hundreds of letters a day and can't possibly respond to them all," he says. "But it was pretty special to see that I had received a personal reply and great to know that Camilla actually had a look at the picture and took the time to share her thoughts — especially considering she had never seen a picture of Edrica before."
According to The Times, Edrica was born in 1822 in Florence, Italy, and her grandson Philip was Camilla's grandfather. Simpson-York connected her to the Queen Consort after spotting the sepia-toned photo on eBay and typing her name into an online database.
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"I typed Edrica Faulkner into Ancestry, and that gave me a few hits that made me think I was onto something good," the 37-year-old from Ipswich, Suffolk, tells PEOPLE. "I also had the word 'Shand' on the back, so I started to realize the connection was with Camilla," referring to her birth name.
Simpson-York started Medals Going Home during coronavirus lockdowns two years ago, scouring eBay for war medals, vintage photographs and other items of historic value in hopes of returning the objects to the families of the original owners. He tells PEOPLE that he's reunited over 100 items since starting the project. Sending Queen Camilla the photo of her great-great-grandmother was his first royal encounter — but hopefully not the last.
"There are plenty more items out there for me to research!" he says.
Andrew Milligan/Getty King Charles and Queen Camilla
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Simpson-York tells PEOPLE he plans on framing the letter from the Queen Consort, and that he'll "definitely" watch the coronation of King Charles III on May 6. There, Queen Camilla will also be crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey.