Nice Touches - VII. Letters of Recommndation

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Nice Touches - VII. Letters of Recommendation'

by Angelina Nicollette, Astra Christiana Benedict, and Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme

(NOTE: The following article was written over twenty years ago. These days, many recommendations are simply done via email. In fact, there's a helpful page with links on the Kingdom’s website that makes sending a recommendation to the Crown quite simple: To make a recommendation for a baronial award, email that group’s Baronage directly. Most of the remaining information in this article is still current as of 2022.)

"Your new outfit is quite impressive," I told Lord Calderon on meeting him at Coronation. "Especially the blackwork around the collar -- that's Lady Lithia's work, isn't it?"

"Yes," he agreed, but he didn't seem happy about it. I waited a moment, and he finally burst out, "Lithia's the best embroiderer in Neodymia, and she's never gotten the Order of the Faceted Cabochon."

"Hasn't she? I thought she was admitted to that Order years ago -- "

"Everybody thinks that. But it's not so."

"Oh, Well, what are you going to do about it?"

"Me do about it? What can I do? You're the one with the Baron's ear."

"Everybody thinks that," I mimicked him, "but it's not so." He seemed unconvinced, so I added, "My recommendations carry the same weight as anybody else's, including yours. If you think she should be in the Order, tell Baron Petros. No," I amended, "Write Baron Petros. The man has a memory like a sieve."

Well, that may not be quite fair to the Baron. But it's a good idea nonetheless, and not just for those who live in the Barony of Neodymia.

In Caid, non-royalty outnumbers the royalty by about 500 - 1. Now, their Majesties like a challenge as well as anyone else does, but those odds can daunt even the staunchest monarch. Their Majesties simply cannot know every Caidan intimately; to properly reward those who are deserving, they must rely on recommendations from the populace. If you are a member of the populace, it is your right to petition the Crown. If you are a Landed Baron or Baroness, a Peer, a Seneschal or other officer, it is your responsibility to recommend those members of the populace that you feel are deserving of award.

Verbal recommendations are generally not worth the paper they are written on. At any given event the Crown may receive half a dozen verbal recommendations. These come at times when the Crown may be otherwise occupied, and almost invariably without pencil and paper to make note of what you say.

Infinitely better than verbal recommendations are written ones. These vary from quickly scrawled notes to rather lengthy letters containing several recommendations in preparation for local events. The best letters of recommendation are courteous, well thought-out, and typed or legibly written. In general, we feel that several letters, containing one recommendation each, are better than one letter containing several.

A letter has several advantages over a verbal remark. A letter makes you known to their Majesties, which never hurts. A letter gives their Majesties something tangible to hold, to file, to consult. A letter, best of all, can be passed on to their Majesties' successors if its recommendation can't be acted upon during the present reign. If it is your hope that a recommendation be acted upon at an upcoming event, be sure to give the Crown enough time to give your recommendation due consideration.

So what goes into a letter of recommendation? Begin with a courteous greeting, followed by something like, "I would like to take this opportunity to recommend to You, Your subject, Phelan le Blanc, for membership in the Order of the Faceted Cabochon." (Thus in your first sentence you have stated the whole intent of your letter.) Try to spell the name in question correctly; if possible consult the heralds to find out if that person passed a name through the College of Arms (your spelling is probably going to show up on his promissory scroll). Also include the area in which the person resides: their Majesties will probably decide to give the award at a local event.

Follow your opening with the reasons for your recommendations. Be as specific as possible. "This person has done untold service for our Barony," is not nearly as good as, "This person has autocrated three Baronial events and always cleans up after banquets." The more information you include, the better. In closing, thank their Majesties and offer to answer any questions thy might have. Sign you name. (Have a seal? Use it. This is an official letter to the Crown after all, and we are talking about Nice Touches.)

Send a copy of the letter to each Monarch. Recommendations for Baronial awards should be addressed to the Baron and Baroness. If the recommendation is for elevation to an Order of Peerage, send a copy to the secretary of that Order as well... Letters of recommendation regarding Orders of Peerage should be slightly different than those for other awards. These letters are not just for the edification of the Crown, but also for the information of many individuals who might not be acquainted with the person being recommended. It would not be amiss to include a picture of the person involved, so that those of us with no memory for names can say, "Oh yes, I know who that person is." Include as many tangible examples of that person's skill / expertise / or service as you can, these can be lists of offices held, photos of art objects, copies of articles written, anything else that you deem appropriate.

As stated earlier, it is the right of all subjects to petition the Crown -- in the general sense of the word "petition," which is "to ask a boon." It is, however, best for petitions regarding award recommendations to be personalized. Mass petitions, with many signatures, may have the advantage of indicating to the Monarchs the popular feeling behind an award recommendation; however, the Monarchs know as well as you do that it's easier to get sixty people to sign a petition than to get six people to write recommendation letters.

Mass petitions have unfortunate side-effects. A petition implies that, despite years of letters and votes and recommendations of all sorts, the Monarchs (and the peerage council involved) have spitefully refused to recognize some person as they deserve. The people circulating and signing the petition may well have presumed that such letters and recommendations have been written by others, when in fact, no such letters have been written at all. The greatest disadvantage of mass petitions is that they can create an atmosphere of hostility. where none existed before. If you feel strongly enough about an award to sign a petition, please take the time to write a letter of recommendation first.

Don't be discouraged if you don't get an immediate response to your recommendations. If the reign ends and your recommendations have not been acted on, write another letter. Correspondence is sometimes lost in the cracks between reigns. Remember that a peerage council might not meet more than once per reign. If a candidate is discussed over the course of more that two meetings, a year might pass before a recommendation is considered and passed on to the Crown.

And, oh yes. At Neodymia Anniversary Tourney last week, Lady Lithia was admitted to the Order of the Faceted Cabochon, amid a hearty round of applause. After court, I approached Lord Calderon and said, "Well, I see Lithia's been recognized at last. Aren't you glad you wrote that letter to Petros?"

"Yes, indeed," said Calderon. "In fact, Baron Petros thanked me for writing. He thought Lithia had been admitted years ago, too."