Park River, ND, woman has exchanged birthday cards with Queen Elizabeth II for 67 years

This story was written in 2020. Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8, 2022.

Queen Elizabeth
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Editor's note: This story was written in 2020. Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8, 2022.

PARK RIVER, N.D. -- For 67 straight years, Adele Hankey has received the royal treatment on her birthday.

The Park River native, who turned 94 on Tuesday, April 21, has received a birthday card from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II every year since 1952. Hankey received her first from the queen of England and its commonwealths after sending her one to congratulate her on becoming reigning monarch and to wish her happy birthday.

Elizabeth officially became queen in 1952, though she wasn’t crowned until June 1953. Hankey’s grandmother helped her craft her initial birthday greeting to the queen, Hankey said.

“I lived with my grandmother at the time. Grandmother was a teacher and she could word everything just right,” said Hankey, adding she sent the queen a card because she felt she merited a card on her birthday, not expecting to receive one in return.


“You don’t look for that,” Hankey said. “I thought she deserves a card.”

The queen apparently thought Hankey warranted one in return.

“She sent me one back. I was very surprised,” Hankey said.

Throughout the years since, the two women annually have exchanged cards. Meanwhile, Hankey has researched and collected information, including a book, about Queen Elizabeth, saving all of the royal memorabilia in a cedar chest.

Hankey also has received several photographs from the queen. The latest is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth on her 90th birthday, dressed in pink.

Hankey noted that the queen is not appearing in public on her birthday this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hankey will miss watching the appearance of the queen, who always wears a hat in public, on television.

“The only reason she has never changed the style of her hat is that, when she’s out in public and you wonder where she is, you can find the hat,” Hankey said.

“I would like to get a hat of hers,” she said, with a giggle. In the meantime, Hankey is looking forward to receiving this year’s card.


“I am anxiously waiting,” she said.

She understands if this year’s card is late because the royal monarch, like other leaders around the world, is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and she also receives a lot of cards so has many greetings to return.

“If she gets 777, I know her card will be late,” Hankey said.

She’s not jealous of Elizabeth for receiving more birthday greetings than she does, though. After all, Hankey, who lives in a North Dakota town of 1,345 residents, received more than 100 cards on her 90th.

“I think 128 is a lot, don’t you?” Hankey asked.

Adele Hankey

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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