Annie Hanrahan Celebrates Her 100th Birthday With A Message From King Charles
Written by Selina Hallam
Each year, on behalf of the monarch, the Anniversaries Office at Buckingham Palace sends cards to citizens celebrating their 100th birthday and another card is sent on their 105th birthday and then every year thereafter. They're also sent to those marking their 60th, 65th or 70th wedding anniversary and each subsequent year.
This tradition dates back to 1917 under King George V, and current citizens of His Majesty’s Realms or UK Overseas Territories are all eligible to receive their congratulatory message, consisting of a personalised card which comes in a distinctive envelope.
Very recently, UK resident Annie Hanrahan, née Pattison, who lives in East Riding of Yorkshire in England, received such an envelope postmarked Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA...
... and inside was a very special card to commemorate her milestone 100th birthday...
The card, decorated with a gold tassel and a cheerful photograph of our newly-appointed King Charles III and the Queen Consort, showed their signatures alongside this heartfelt greeting inside:
"My wife and I are so pleased to know that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday on 31st October, 2022. This brings our warmest congratulations and heartfelt good wishes on such a special occasion."
During Queen Elizabeth's official mourning period in September and for some time later, cards were not able to be delivered, and then the new ones needed to be designed and printed. The letter R in the signatures of Charles R and Camilla R in the new cards stand for Rex (King Charles) and Regina (Queen Consort Camilla). The front-cover portrait of the couple, taken in 2018, was approved by Buckingham Palace to appear on the celebratory cards and then the first ones were sent out in late October, so Annie was one of the first-ever recipients.
Unfortunately, however, her card arrived two days late, despite being sent in plenty of time for the big day, but will still surely be a talking point among her family members and friends for a long time to come. Annie's long life and rich history has already been celebrated onstage and even on film, as her granddaughter Claire Spratt has written four plays about her, including the one-act stage play Blitz Bride, which was turned into a full-length stage musical and then a DVD.
Annie remembers the birth of Charles in 1948, him being made Prince of Wales at the age of ten and then the official ceremony in 1969 at Caernarfon Castle, as well as his first wedding to Diana and his second to Camilla. When we asked her if she was disappointed to have missed out on receiving a card from the Queen, she said, "I would have loved one but it was not meant to be - after waiting all that time!"
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth sent around 307,000 congratulatory messages to her subjects who reached the age of 100 and one of her last birthday messages to a centenarian was received by Gwendolyn Hoare, posthumously a day after the Queen's death. As reported in the Express, family member Sue Beckett said, "My aunt, Gwendolyn Betty Hoare, is 100 today. For decades she talked about receiving a telegram from the Queen and was devastated to hear the news... but her telegram arrived and she was ecstatic."
Annie still likes the card she received from the new monarch, though she said that she would have preferred one picturing just the King himself. Recipients such as Annie have been surprised to see the Queen Consort featured alongside Charles on such cards, as the late Queen's birthday messages always pictured her alone, without Prince Philip, and only included her message and signature.
We asked Annie how she celebrated her very special birthday and she told us that she enjoyed a lunch two days prior with family members including her brother Bernard, where she met his great-granddaughter for the first time, followed by an afternoon party with fifty guests in the school room at the local church. A badge showing her age was proudly worn all day and cake number one was served!
The next day at church, they sang her favourite hymn and her daughter Jean was asked to speak about her, and then on Annie's actual birthday (October 31st), she enjoyed cake number two after a family lunch with her daughter and her three grandchildren - Claire, Helen and Nick.
She received a whopping 56 cards in total, including the one from Buckingham Palace. In lieu of gifts, Annie asked for donations to be made to her chosen charity, Little Pearl Education Partnership, which supports children in Uganda, and £400 was raised.
Annie's birthday card from the King now has pride of place on her mantelpiece, so it can be seen each day and by any visitors. It may have arrived a little late but it was certainly a special delivery that she'll never forget.
Photos courtesy of Claire Spratt, Jean Butler and Helen Butler.