Since 1917, England’s reigning monarch has been sending congratulatory messages to subjects who attain the age of 100, 105, and beyond, or celebrate their 60th, 65th, and 75th and beyond wedding anniversaries. And there have been some impressive ‘beyonds’, with the oldest recipient of a royal birthday greeting being a Canadian man of 116, and the longest period of marriage being 83 years.
Congratulatory royal messages originally came in the form of telegrams. When telegram delivery came to an end in 1982 the royal telegram was replaced by a royal telemessage (a telegram/letter combination). Messages now come in a special card with the Royal Coat of Arms and a cover image that is changed every five years so that those who manage to receive more than one card don’t get duplicates. Nowadays, multiple cards are not uncommon. The year the current monarch, Elizabeth II, came to the throne, there were only 255 recipients for 100th birthday messages but by 2011, there were 9,736, reflecting increasing longevity in her subjects, and 30,359 couples received cards acknowledging their 60th wedding anniversaries.
All current citizens of the queen’s realms (Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, St. Christopher & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) or the UK’s Overseas Territories (Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Group of Islands, St. Helena and its dependencies, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign Base areas of Cyprus, Turks and Caicos Islands) are eligible to receive royal messages. Relatives can apply to the Anniversaries Office at Buckingham Palace three weeks before the ‘big day’. Copies of birth or marriage certificates are required, and, for overseas recipients, proof of citizenship.

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