Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

The benefits of being Queen
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Queen Elizabeth II enjoys a number of privileges as the Queen of England, with two birthdays a year just one jewel in her crown.

    Her Majesty turns an incredible 95-years-old in 2021, with the milestone marked by a special 95th birthday coin released this year. Family celebrations will likely be low-key however, especially as this is the Queen’s first birthday since the death of Prince Philip, her beloved husband of 73 years.

    The Queen’s official birthday is also usually marked with the Trooping the Colour, as is tradition, however the event has been cancelled for the second year in a row this year because of the pandemic.

    The custom for Kings and Queens to have two birthdays dates back over 250 years and will remain in place for the UK’s future Kings and Queens too.

    Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

    This is a tradition that dates back to 1748 and the reason is to make sure the weather is better for outdoor celebrations.

    The double birthday tradition was started more than 250 years ago by King George II in 1748. He was born in November, which is typically a cold month. But King George wanted it to be possible to have a big public celebration outdoors to mark his special day.

    So he decided to combine it with an annual military parade in the summer, when the weather would be warmer.

    Because of this, the Queen celebrates her official on the second Saturday in June every year.

    When was the Queen born?

    Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926 and named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

    She was born in Mayfair, London, and was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York – who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

    Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Princess Margaret pose for a family portrait with their parents.

    Credit: Getty

    Unlike modern royal children who go to school, Elizabeth was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War.

    In 1947, she married Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark.

    Together they have four children: Charles, Prince of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.

    When the Queen’s father died in February 1952, Elizabeth became head of the Commonwealth at just 25 years of age.

    She also became queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon.

    She is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, having served 69 years on the throne this year.

    How does the Queen celebrate her birthday?

    A number of special military salutes mark the Queen’s actual birthday on 21 April.

    In the capital, there is a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London. Whilst in Windsor, a 21-gun salute is carried out in Windsor Great Park, near the castle. Aside from the gun salute, the Queen’s birthday is quite a modest affair.

    According to the Royal Family’s website, the Monarch likes to celebrate her actual birthday privately.

    Queen Elizabeth II meets the public on her 90th Birthday Walkabout on April 21, 2016 in Windsor, England.

    Credit: Getty

    However, on big birthdays such as her 90th in 2016, the Queen has celebrated with a walkabout on the streets outside Windsor Castle. This saw her greet fans and receive a birthday cake from GBBO star Nadiya Hussain.

    Special photographs are additionally released by Buckingham Palace to commemorate the Queen’s bigger birthdays. In 2016, three photos were shared to mark her 90th. Captured by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, the pictures showed the Queen posing with family members and her beloved pet dogs.

     

    How does the Queen celebrate her official birthday?

    The Queen’s second birthday in June is a public affair to celebrate the Monarch.

    Every year on her official birthday, the Queen and royal family members attend a military parade held in her honour.

    It is called Trooping the Colour and is a tradition that has marked the official birthdays of British Kings and Queens for over 260 years.

    Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a fly-past of aircraft by the Royal Air Force, in London on June 8, 2019.

    The royal family turns out in force for Trooping the Colour every year. (Credit: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

    What is Trooping the Colour?

    Trooping the Colour is a special military ceremony involving members of the British and Commonwealth armies.

    The event usually takes place in June every year. 1400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians are all involved in the celebration to honour the head of state.

    Members of the public line The Mall in London to see the parade, the Queen and Royal Family members travel from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guard’s Parade.

    Traditionally, the Queen would make this journey on horseback behind her soldiers. However, she has travelled by horse and carriage in recent years.

    At Horse Guard’s Parade, Her Majesty is greeted by a Royal salute. She then goes on to inspect her troops dressed smartly in their red ceremonial uniform and bearskin hats.

    A special musical performance from the military bands follows. Then the escorted Regimental Colour (or flag) is passed down the ranks of soldiers.

    This is where the ceremony gets its name from, with senior officers marching in front of troops (known as trooping) and waving their regimental flag (known as ‘colours’).

    Each year a different flag representing a different regiment is waved.

    The Queen at Trooping the Colour with the royal family on the balcony of buckingham palace

    (Credit: Getty)

    The Queen then returns to Buckingham Palace with her family. The royals gather on the balcony to watch a fly-past by the Red Arrows of the Royal Air Force.

    A special 41-gun salute is also fired in London’s Green Park to mark the occasion.

    Why is the Queen’s birthday in Australia different?

    The Queen might have two birthdays in the UK, but in Australia the Queen’s birthday is celebrated on a different date again. The Queen’s birthday is celebrated as a public holiday Down Under, with the date falling on the second Monday of June – after the Queen’s official birthday in the UK.

    This is because Australia is a constitutional monarchy, with the English monarch as head of state. As a result, many Australians have a day off work on the Queen’s Birthday.

    The Monarch’s Birthday was first celebrated in Australia in 1788. In that year, King George III was the Monarch and Governor Arthur Phillip declared a holiday to mark his birthday.

    Queensland Premier Anna Bligh shows Queen Elizabeth II a koala.

    Credit: Getty

    Originally, the Monarch’s birthday was celebrated on their actual date of birth.

    However, after the death of King George V in 1936, the date remained close to his birthday, which was June 3.

    The Queen has visited Australia an incredible 16 times during her reign – with her last trip in 2011.

    Latest Stories