Ethel was born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth's great-grandfather King Edward VII
King Charles isn’t the only one with a crown in his closet!
A lesser-known arm of Buckingham Palace is the Anniversaries Office, which sends thousands of cards a year to people celebrating milestone birthdays and anniversaries. On Friday, courtiers posted an Instagram reel of very special birthday cards making their way to the oldest man and woman in the U.K. — who turned 111 and 114 years old!
In the clip, Royal Mail drove outside Buckingham Palace before the cameras panned to the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside hand-delivering 111-year-old John's card on behalf of King Charles and Queen Camilla. The video then rolled to 114-year-old Ethel opening her card from the royal couple, stylishly accessorizing with a glittering tiara reminiscent of the royal collection!
The Instagram video was overlaid with shots of the Royal Mail being packaged at the Court Post Office and stamped with the Buckingham Palace post seal. The birthday cards opened with a formal portrait of King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 76, taken at the first state banquet of his royal reign in November 2022.
“My wife and I are so pleased to know that you are celebrating your 114th birthday on the 21st August 2023. This brings our warmest congratulations and heartfelt good wishes on such a special occasion,” the correspondence read. The note was signed with the King and Queen’s regal signatures — “Charles R” and “Camilla R,” short for “Rex” and “Regina," which mean King and Queen in Latin. The new signatures came with the change in reign last year, following the death of Queen Elizabeth in September 2022.
“Oh thank you, your Majesty! Thank you very much!" Ethel exclaimed after reading her card.
Sharing more in the caption of the Instagram clip, King Charles’ team explained, “Every year, The King and Queen send around 10,000 congratulatory birthday cards to British citizens aged 100 and over. This August, the country’s oldest man and woman - John, aged 111 and Ethel, aged 114 - celebrated their birthdays with a very special delivery from Their Majesties.”
“💌 We hope you had a wonderful day celebrating with your families,” they added.
The Anniversaries Office at Buckingham Palace is over 100 years old, and the personal cards reach citizens of countries where King Charles is Head of State or U.K. Overseas Territories. Notes are sent to those marking their 100th and 105th birthdays (then each year after!), as well as those celebrating their 60th, 65th and 70th wedding anniversaries as well as each following year.
As seen in the royal family's video, Ethel’s birthday party included a display table where previous birthday cards from Queen Elizabeth were presented. Ethel was born in 1909 during the reign of King Edward VII, while John was born in 1912 during the reign of King George V.
Correspondence from King Charles and Queen Camilla has made a splash on social media since the new reign began. In February, Camilla 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 personal 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 told PEOPLE he was thrilled to receive such a genuine reply after mailing in the picture in January.
"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."
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This week the school received a letter and card from His Majesty King Charles and Queen Camilla, thanking the pupils for writing to them on the occasion of their Coronation. The Head of the Royal Correspondence, Thomas Claridge, wrote the letter on their behalf. How lovely! pic.twitter.com/Bo7RN4jvSm
— Mayfield Preparatory School (@Mayfield_Prep) July 7, 2023
More recently, the King and Queen’s team charmed school children with a thank-you for well-wishes sent for the May coronation day.
"This week the school received a letter and card from His Majesty King Charles and Queen Camilla, thanking the pupils for writing to them on the occasion of their Coronation," Mayfield Preparatory School wrote on X (formerly Twitter) in July. "The Head of the Royal Correspondence, Thomas Claridge, wrote the letter on their behalf. How lovely!"
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