It is common knowledge that here in England, Queen Elizabeth II has two birthday celebrations: one on April 21st and one on the second Saturday in every June (although this year it will fall upon the 17th). However, this hasn’t always been the case, and in certain parts of the world this won’t even be the last time the Queen’s birthday is celebrated this year, but why is this?
The tradition of a royal having multiple birthday celebrations is actually fairly recent in origin, and it is one which dates back to King Edward VII in 1901. Though at first you might think having two birthday’s is greedy (or more likely it’s something you are jealous of), the choice to have a 2nd birthday is something which the royal family has done in the public’s best interest. Put simply it’s all because of the great British weather.
Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘a bit of rain is hardly a good reason to have another birthday’ but when it comes to the Monarchy it’s the only reason they need. This is because the reigning royal’s birthday is always marked by the Trooping the Colour ceremony, where over 1000 officers and men, parade alongside an orchestra consisting of 6 separate bands.
This spectacle is a nationwide event and is always packed to the brim by eager onlooker wishing to celebrate alongside royalty, as well as show their patriotism. However, as much as people wanted to participate, King Edward VII found that during his reign, many people: the sick, the old… the fussy, couldn’t attend the event due to bad weather which was to be expected at that time of the year (November 9th).
As such, it was then decided that if ever the reigning monarch had a birthday which fell outside of summer, they would postpone official celebrations until later on in the year: to ensure optimum conditions. So in actuality, though we say the Queen has two birthdays, she really just has one (which she waits two months to celebrate).
(Photo Credit: Michael Garnett)
You may be wondering then what does the Queen do on her actual birthday? And in truth we don’t know. The Queen was born in April and since her coronation, this date has remained mostly a private affair. There is a 41 gun salute hosted by the military in the morning, but after this short interval, the Queen heads home to spend the day in Buckingham palace.
It’s only when the 2nd Saturday of June comes round, does the royal family visibly celebrate the Queen’s birthday: with the aforementioned Trooping the Colour event. However, as stated at the start of this post, this isn’t the last time the Queen celebrates her birthday in a year.
In Australia, the Queen’s birthday celebration has had to be moved yet again and though you may think this is because our summer is their winter, this is in fact due to the later celebrations colliding with another Australian holiday.
As a result, Australia celebrates the Queen’s 3rd and final birthday in September (a whole 5 months after her original birthday) and the day is usually marked with a firework display and dedicated sports matches.
So that is the reason the Queen has multiple birthdays. We hope we have answered your questions regarding these unique days, and we thank you for reading.
(Photo & Banner Credit: John Pannell)