Each year, thousands of birthday and wedding anniversary cards are sent on behalf of The Queen to people celebrating significant milestones. For many, receiving a congratulatory card from Her Majesty is a very special part of their celebrations. The delivery of these messages is arranged by the Anniversaries Office at Buckingham Palace, continuing a tradition which goes back to 1917
Cards are sent to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year thereafter, and to those celebrating their diamond wedding (60th), 65th, 70th wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter.
The Queen's congratulatory messages consist of a card containing a personalised message and come in a special envelope.
The tradition of sending a message of congratulations to those celebrating their 100th birthday and 60th wedding anniversaries began with King George V. A message from 1917 reads:
'His Majesty's hope that the blessings of good health and prosperity may attend you during the remainder of your days.'
Originally, congratulatory messages were sent as telegrams, though the format of messages has changed over the years, reflecting the developing tastes and fashions of the times, and changes in the postal system.
From time to time, The Queen sends unique anniversary messages to mark special occasions.
For 1997 only, The Queen sent messages of congratulations to all those who were married in the same year as Her Majesty, to mark their golden wedding anniversaries, and in 2007 over 18,000 couples celebrating their diamond wedding anniversaries received a specially-worded joint congratulatory message from The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
Occasionally, messages have been sent to well-known or unusual recipients, perhaps the most famous of which was Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who received an official 100th birthday greeting from her daughter in 2000.
The former ballerina Dame Ninette de Valois received a message wishing her 'a very happy day' in June 1998.
In May 2002, an event in Israel was held to celebrate Israel's 600 centenarians, inspired by the custom of The Queen's birthday messages. A message from The Queen was sent to the guests, saying:
'I am delighted to be able to send my very best wishes on the occasion of this morning's celebration to honour the centenarians of Israel.'
Applying for an anniversary message
To make sure that a message is sent for birthdays and wedding anniversaries, an application needs to be made by a relative or friend in advance of the special day.
You can either apply online at apply.royal.gov.uk OR download a PDF of the relevant form and apply by post:
Please note - unfortunately the Anniversaries Office are unable to accept applications made via courier.
A specially designed frame for anniversary messages is available for purchase. More information can be found on www.royalimages.co.uk.
Who is eligible
Only current citizens of Commonwealth realms (countries where The Queen is Head of State) or UK Overseas Territories are eligible to receive messages.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
- St. Christopher and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
UK Overseas Territories:
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Pitcairn Group of Islands
- St. Helena and its dependencies
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus (air bases)
- Turks and Caicos Islands
Applications for Australian, Canadian or New Zealand residents
Applications for residents of Australia, Canada and New Zealand should be sent to the relevant Governor-General, who, as The Queen's personal representative in these countries, arranges for these messages to be sent. Contact details are as follows:
His Excellency the Governor-General
Australian Capital Territories 2600
Fax: (0061) 2 6281 3760
His Excellency the Governor-General
1 Sussex Drive
Ontario K1A 0A1
Fax: (0016) 1 3990 7636
His Excellency the Governor-General
Fax: (006) 4 4389 5536
Frequently asked questions
1. Which anniversaries/birthdays does The Queen send congratulatory messages for?
The Queen sends messages of congratulations for Diamond (60th), 65th and Platinum (70th) wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter. Her Majesty also arranges messages for 100th, 105th birthdays and every year thereafter.
2. Can a message be sent after the anniversary/birthday has passed?
It is possible to receive a belated message up to six months after the event. Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange a message for an event which took place more than six months previously. However, it may be possible to arrange a message for the anniversary/birthday the following year - an application should be made as usual, three weeks before the next anniversary/birthday.
3. How soon can I apply for a message from The Queen?
The Anniversaries Office accepts postal applications for wedding and birthday messages no sooner than three weeks before the celebration. (A two week extension can be allowed for holiday periods i.e Christmas and Easter). It is possible to apply online up to 5 weeks before.
4. I am applying for an anniversary message and cannot supply a copy of the marriage certificate. Can I still apply without it?
If you cannot supply a copy of the marriage certificate, you must contact the appropriate General Register Office who can search for the marriage details and confirm them directly with the Anniversaries Office. Contact details can be found on the application form.
5. I am applying for a birthday message and cannot supply a copy of the birth certificate. Can I still apply without it?
If you cannot supply a copy of the birth certificate and the celebrant is in receipt of a state pension, you can send the completed form to the Anniversaries Office who will check the details with the Department for Work and Pensions.
6. The celebrant(s) has/have received a message before. Do I need to apply again?
In order for the Anniversaries Office to send a message it is necessary for them to receive a application. You can do this by completing and returning the appropriate application form. If the celebrant(s) has/have received a message before it would not be required to provide documentary evidence on this occasion.
7. Can the message be sent to a different address?
This is a personal message from The Queen and must be sent directly to the celebrant(s) at their home address and not presented. If the celebrant(s) will be away from home, the card may be sent to where they are staying only.
8. How is the message sent and when is it likely to arrive?
Her Majesty’s messages are sent via Royal Mail Special Delivery and are guaranteed to arrive by 1pm on the day of the event. (In the event of the celebration falling on a Sunday, the message will be delivered on Saturday).
9. Can the message be sent to arrive before the anniversary/birthday?
It is possible to request a message be delivered up to a maximum of 5 days before the event.
10. The celebrant(s) live(s) overseas. Can I still apply for a message? (Excluding Australia, Canada and New Zealand)
Her Majesty only sends messages to people who are current citizens of Her Realms and UK Overseas Territories. It would therefore be necessary for you to supply the Anniversaries Office with proof of the celebrant(s) British Nationality (i.e A photocopy of a current or recent British Passport).
11. The celebrant(s) live(s) in Australia, Canada, or New Zealand. What do I need to do?
It may be possible for residents of Australia, Canada or New Zealand to receive a message of congratulations from The Queen. It is necessary for you to arrange this through Her Majesty’s representative, the Governor-General. Please call the Anniversaries Office for contact details.
12. The celebrants now use a different surname to the one stated on the marriage certificate. Do I need to provide proof?
If the couple’s surname has changed since their marriage, is it essential for you to provide proof of their name change. This can be in the form of a copy of the Deed Poll or copy of the London Gazette entry (www.london-gazette.co.uk). If no official documentation can be found to support the name change, a congratulatory message can still be arranged in the name as stated on the marriage certificate.
13. How much does it cost to arrange a message from Her Majesty?
No charge is made by Buckingham Palace to send a message of congratulations from The Queen, however, there may be a fee when applying with the records office.
14. The certificate I have copied is too long for one sheet of A4 paper. Will it be accepted in two halves?
It is acceptable for the Anniversaries Office to receive the certificate copy in two halves or on A3 paper. However, please ensure you have copied the left hand side of the certificate stating the marriage/birth place and date along with the celebrant(s) name(s).
15. Is it possible to arrange an anniversary/birthday message to be sent posthumously?
It would not be appropriate for The Queen to send a congratulatory message when a celebrant has passed away.
16. How will I know if my application has been received?
The Anniversaries Office will send a letter or email confirmation when the application has been processed.
For any further queries not listed above, please call the office on 0207 930 4832.