Oxford woman elated over receipt of royal letter

Photo by Chris BarberFrances Ennis holds up the card that was sent to her by England's Royal Family.
Photo by Chris BarberFrances Ennis holds up the card that was sent to her by England's Royal Family.

OXFORD >> Sis Ennis has had a lot of dreams come true in her 95 years, but few experiences rank as high on her scale as the day she got the card from England’s Royal Family on July 29.

Ennis, a former nurse who lives in Ware Presbyterian Village, was born on July 22, 1919, and shares the same birthday as Britain’s Prince George, who celebrated his first birthday just a couple weeks ago.

For most of the world it was a pleasant passing event — something to lift the heart when much of the international news is gloomier. But for Ennis it was cause for celebration.

Ennis, whose full name is Frances Smedley Ennis, is a longtime resident of southern Chester County. She grew up in Delaware County near Media, and her ancestors, including Lenni-Lenape Indians, go back to the 1600s. She claims familial relationships with just about every other Smedley in the area as well as a link by marriage to the famous Phillies Whiz Kid Del Ennis (although the late Tug McGraw was her favorite player).


But unlike the rest of the Smedleys and Ennises, Sis Ennis developed a strong affection and continuing interest in Britain’s Royal Family when she was a young student in her teens.

“Queen Victoria always stirred something in me, and I’ve always been a royal watcher,” she said.

She said she heard in 2013 Prince William and his wife, Kate, were expecting a baby.

“The baby was to be born around the 22nd of July, which was to be my 94th birthday. I prayed to have the baby born on my birthday,” she said.

Coincidentally, her neighbor, Polly Moreland, also shared that birthday, and they talked about it frequently.

As the July days passed, Ennis got more and more excited. “ I never would stop saying my prayers that the baby would be born on the 22nd,” she said.

When what she hoped for came true, she said she “went into orbit,” with happiness.

She spent a good part of the next year basking in the joy, and as spring moved into this summer she decided to write to Will and Kate wishing them and their young son well and happy birthday. She told them she could barely describe the joy she felt, almost as if she were having the little prince and that she shared their son’s birthday.

Then came that response letter on July 29.

“I was sitting by myself and I looked over my mail. I saw the air mail logo and then the royal mail logo. I lost it! I was screaming and hollering!” she said.

She called her next-door neighbor Betsy as well as Polly to come over and open the letter with her.

There inside was a gracious few paragraphs thanking her for her note and wishing her well. On the cover was a candid portrait of George, Kate and William — the same one that is on the People Magazine booklet about the Royals.

She adores it.

She’s keeping it all together now, in her heart and in her desk: the envelope, the royal note and a copy of the letter she sent. She said she wants to put it together for a collage and display it in her cottage where she can look at it every day.

Ennis, a widow, was married to Charles, a land developer, who died in 1999. He built houses on speculation and they settled in one he built in Oxford.

Earlier in life she was a nurse who set up the health program at Thornton Fuller car agency in North Philadelphia. She spent 50 years volunteering at the Coatesville Veterans Hospital and several more at Jennersville Hospital.

Ennis said many of her experiences, decisions and hopes in life were flexible, things she could tolerate or let go. But there are now two that are locked in forever: the decision to marry Charles and that wonderful card from the Royal Family.

About the Author

Chris Barber

Chris Barber is the editor of the Avon Grove Sun. She was previously southern bureau chief of the Daily Local News and editor of the Kennett Paper, earning honors in writing and photography. Reach the author at agsun@kennettpaper.com .