Friday, June 11, 1999 Published at 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Queen's birthday message gets personal
The card includes the Queen's signature and a special greeting
The Queen's telemessage congratulating centenarians on hitting 100 years old has been replaced with a laser-printed card featuring a smiling photograph of Her Majesty.
The new card, which will also be sent to couples celebrating their diamond (60th) wedding anniversary, was designed after new technology at Buckingham Palace allowed for a more modern, personalised greeting.
So far, 17 cards have been made, to coincide with the Queen's official birthday on Saturday. The photograph was specially commissioned, and was taken earlier this year at Sandringham House on her Norfolk estate.
The message inside reads: "I am pleased to know that you are celebrating your 100th birthday. I send my congratulations and best wishes to you on such a special occasion."
Thousands of messages
It is held inside the card with a gold tassel, and includes a copy of Her Majesty's signature.
At the beginning of the Queen's reign, a centenarian would receive only a telegram, saying Her Majesty was "much interested to hear that you are celebrating your 100th birthday, and sends you warm congratulations and good wishes".
The first telegram was sent in 1917 during the reign of the Queen's grandfather George V. Telegrams were scrapped by the Post Office in 1982, when the more modern telemessages took their place.
The palace expects to send more than 13,000 of the new cards. Last year a total of 3,521 birthday and 9,416 wedding anniversary messages were sent.
The longest-wed couple to have received a message this year sustained their marriage for 77 years, creeping up on the record of 80 years.
The Queen Mother, 98, is now less than 14 months away from receiving a new-look 100th birthday card from her daughter.
Like other recipients, the royal centenarian would have to wait another five years before she received a second special birthday message, but would then get one every year thereafter.