ELKADER, Iowa (AP) — When Elkader couple Gerald and Dorothy Beck married 70 years ago, they knew they shared their wedding date with British royalty.
That Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip also married Nov. 20, 1947, was a topic that periodically arose in conversation over the years during the Becks' anniversary celebrations, according to their son, Loren Beck.
He sent a letter in October to Buckingham Palace, requesting that a note of congratulations be sent to Gerald and Dorothy, the Telegraph Herald reported .
"My parents have always been proud to tell their family and friends of the special day they share with Her Majesty and His Royal Highness," Loren wrote in the letter.
Dorothy and Gerald were surprised to hear at their recent anniversary celebration — organized by their daughter, Karen Beck, and daughter-in-law, Cynthia Beck — Loren read aloud the letter he had received the day before.
It was signed by Queen Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, Annabel Whitehead.
The "queen was interested" to learn of the coincidence, she wrote.
"Although unable to do as you ask, Her Majesty hopes they have a very happy time at the special party being held in their honour to mark this milestone," the letter stated.
Gerald, 91, and Dorothy, 88, knew that Loren wrote the letter, but they had not expected a response.
"I think that it's pretty great that something like that occurred, especially for us," Gerald said.
Dorothy added, "We're just plain old country people."
Gerald was born and raised in Littleport. Dorothy is from Clayton Center.
They married in Elkader in 1947 when Gerald completed his service in the U.S. Army.
From news accounts at the time of their wedding, Dorothy said they learned that then-Princess Elizabeth would marry on the same day.
"They picked our day," Dorothy said jokingly.
Gerald and Dorothy farmed until 1969 while raising their two children. He later worked at a modular home manufacturer and she at a speaker company.
Upon their retirement in the early 1990s, both worked as night-shift custodians in Elkader.
Gerald said there is no magic formula for maintaining a marriage for 70 years.
"You have got to be kind to one another," he said.
Loren said he thought it would be nice to surprise his parents on their anniversary with a letter from Queen Elizabeth.
However, Dorothy said she "simply hates surprises."
"I would have walked out or something had this whole deal been a surprise," she said.
Gerald anticipated Loren would receive, if anything, a form letter.
"But it was very personal," Gerald said.
Gerald and Dorothy will keep the letter as a family heirloom.
Although they do not intend to send a letter of their own to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, they said that if they could tell the Royal Family anything, they would thank them.
"I wish them a lot of good health and happiness," Gerald said.
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com
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