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Before Queen Elizabeth died at 96, she had a birthday pen pal with whom she’d been exchanging correspondence for 70 years. Read on to learn more about their relationship and who else the late monarch regularly wrote letters to in her youth.

Queen Elizabeth II, pictured signing a guestbook in 2022, had a pen pal for 70 years
Queen Elizabeth II | Kirsty O’Connor/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth had a birthday pen pal for 70 years

Adele Hankey of Park River, North Dakota reported to KFYR that she and Queen Elizabeth had been exchanging birthday cards and letters for 70 years.

Hankey explained she was born on the queen’s birthday, April 21, 1926, so she sent her a letter upon her coronation. But she was surprised when she received one back. “I could have jumped out of my shoes,” she shared.

After that, it became a birthday tradition for the two to exchange correspondence. “I asked her for a hat. I was hoping she would send me one,” Hankey said. “But she sent a lovely picture on her birthday.”

Though the pen pals never got the chance to meet, they had more than their birthdays in common. Hankey offered, “The recipes the queen liked were with marmalade. And so do I. How about that?”

When asked if she would miss communicating with the queen, Hankey responded, “Oh absolutely. You miss your pen pals.”

Queen Elizabeth was once pen pals with her husband, Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth met the future Prince Philip when she was a 13-year-old princess. He was 18 and a naval cadet, and she supposedly became smitten right away. But, at their ages, the two didn’t begin a courtship immediately, instead becoming pen pals.

Their relationship blossomed when Elizabeth was around 20, though it was met with some initial resistance from the royal family. But the young princess insisted she wanted to marry Philip. The announcement came in July 1947, and he renounced claims to the Greek and Danish thrones to be with her (per Vogue).


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Prince Philip’s alleged pen pal

The late queen might not have been the only royal family member with a longstanding pen pal. Her husband, Philip, allegedly had an acquaintance he met in the ’70s and corresponded with up until he died in 2021.

Liona Boyd revealed to the Mirror that Philip was “the most wonderful, kind and humorous man.” She claimed they hit it off at a private event and exchanged hundreds of letters through the years.

According to Boyd, the late Duke of Edinburgh personally flew her from Manchester to Norfolk in 1995. “I was so shocked when he took the controls himself,” she shared, adding, “It was a bit bumpy.”

Boyd wrote a book, In My Own Key, and said she “chatted with the crew, sat in the Queen’s chair, tested out her ‘loo’ and nibbled on crustless cucumber sandwiches.”

After they landed from the flight, Philip gave her “a quick kiss on the cheek and vanished into the morning rain,” she claimed.

“He always wrote back right away,” Boyd told the Mirror of their pen pal exchanges. “He was very prompt. I sent him poetry — he said my lyrics were brilliant. I was thrilled and never took it for granted.”