Thanks for the birthday cards, Queen Elizabeth II says

Writing out nearly 40,000 thank-you notes might have been a bit much, so on Friday, her 80th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II released one message instead.

"I would like to thank the many thousands of people from this country and overseas who have sent me cards and messages," the queen said in a statement, released by Buckingham Palace. "I have been very touched by what you have written and would like to express my gratitude to you all for making this day such a special one for me."

The palace said the queen, Europe's longest-reigning monarch, had received 20,000 cards and 17,000 e-mail messages.

In a yellow dress, she posed for a photograph surrounded by some of the homemade cards she had received.

On Friday morning, she planned a walkabout in the town of Windsor, 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of London, and was to attend a family dinner in nearby Kew in the evening, reports AP.

O.Ch.