The 60th wedding anniversary letter from the Queen started in 1917 by King George V of England when he sent congratulatory messages to his subjects who were celebrating their 100th birthdays and their 60th wedding anniversaries. The tradition lived on as succeeding monarch, the latest of them Queen Elizabeth II, held on to the tradition. A diamond wedding anniversary letter from the queen is a more of a greeting card than a letter.
The congratulatory letter initially did not come from the reigning monarch but from the Private Secretary of the time in behalf of the Sovereign. A sample congratulatory message during the reign of King George V read:
His Majesty's hope that the blessings of good health and prosperity may attend you during the remainder of your days.
The congratulatory messages were sent as telegrams by the Royal Mail's Inland Telegram Service. In the 1940s the messages were renamed as Royal Court Telegrams with a Royal Crest evident on the top page.
At the start of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, colorful templates were designed and used changing every so often to keep up with new fashion and tastes. This was discontinued in the 1980s and was replaced by a combination telegram and message sent through by British Telecom. From then on, all congratulatory messages were in the form of a special card stamped with the Royal Coat of Arms and the Royal Mail Coach.
The Queen sends out 60th wedding anniversary letters to couples celebrating such an occasion. Greetings are also sent out on a couple's 65th and 70th wedding anniversary and every year after. The card's design and format are changed every 5 years in case there are repeat recipients.
Congratulatory messages are also sent out to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthdays and every year thereafter. The current message printed on the card is generally not publicized to keep the element of surprise. Since 1999, the Queen's signature appeared on every card sent out. Even the Queen's mother (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) received her 100th birthday congratulatory card from her daughter Elizabeth, the Queen, in 2000.
Only citizens of HRM the Queen of England's Realms and UK Overseas Territories are entitled to receive such cards including 60th wedding anniversary letter from the queen. The Realms are: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and The Bahamas and UK and Northern Ireland. The UK Overseas Territories are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena and St Helena Dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and The Turks & Caicos Islands.
To receive a 60th wedding anniversary letter from the queen or a 100th birthday greeting from the queen download a form online and submit the application at least 21 days before the occasion to designated offices. Photocopy of marriage certificate or birth certificate is needed for authentication. If you live in UK, you can submit the application form directly to the Anniversaries Office at Buckingham Palace. Once you have applied, acknowledgement receipt will be issued in confirmation that you will receive a message from the queen and your documents returned.
If you live in the United States and are a citizen, the White House issues out congratulatory cards to those celebrating important occasions. Write to the White House Greetings Office to make your request.
It is worth noting that the Greetings Card office is swamped at the moment and they are promsing that the cards will arrive eventually! It will be best to send your request as soon as possible, several months in advance to hopefully receive your card on time.