Young children making birthday cards


Learn about the origins of greeting cards, and discover how Queen Victoria liked to spend her birthdays, then get creative and design a card fit for a queen!

Painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their children


The year 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of both Queen Victoria (24 May, 1819) and also her husband Prince Albert (26 August, 1819).

We know a lot about how Queen Victoria celebrated her birthday from her journal entries and from illustrations made at the time.  She usually spent her birthdays at Osborne, her house on the Isle of Wight.  A band serenaded the queen when she woke up, rooms were decorated with flower and paper garlands and a ‘present table’ was laid out with gifts. 

A Victorian Christmas card

Many happy returns

The idea of a greeting card dates back to the ancient Chinese, who sent messages to each at New Year, and early Egyptians who used papyrus scrolls to exchange greetings. 

By the 15th century, paper greeting cards were becoming popular in Europe, but they really took off in the 1850s, during Victoria’s reign.  This is because modern methods of printing, plus the introduction of postage stamps, meant it became much more affordable to buy and send a greeting card.

Today in the UK, it’s estimated that we spend £1 billion a year on sending greetings cards!

A young boy cutting coloured paper

Design a birthday card for the queen

Now it's time to get creative and design a greeting card you think Queen Victoria would like, to wish her many happy returns on her birthday.

You can use any medium to design your card, such as coloured pencils, crayons, paint or collage, and it can be any size or shape – it just needs to be fit for a queen!

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