Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays Every Year?

Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays Every Year?
(Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth II turned 96 years old on April 21.

The event, which is usually celebrated privately with family, save for a few gun salutes in London at midday, was observed with the release of an official photo.

While the past couple of birthdays for the Queen have been quieter than usual, it’s actually not unusual that the Queen’s actual birthday does not receive all that much attention (compared to other Royal events, I mean).

This date is always a more understated event because the festivities are reserved for the Queen’s “official” birthday, which falls in June. This is the date most of us are familiar with because it lands many of us a public holiday. Thanks, Queenie!

This year, that public holiday will fall on Monday, June 13 for all states and territories except for Queensland and Western Australia. Queensland gets its public holiday in October, and WA in September.

How the heck does that work?

The Queen birthday
(Photo by Ben Stansall – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

If you’re confused, you are not alone. Seeing as Queen Elizabeth is the only British monarch many of us have ever known, it’s often assumed that the June public holiday is her actual birthday.

In truth, the event, which falls on the second Saturday of June, is celebrated on this date because the weather is more pleasant.

The tradition of choosing a public birthday date in the summer dates back to the likes of King Edward VII. It’s expected that Prince Charles will have the same sitch once he becomes king.

How is the Queen’s public birthday celebrated?

Part of the reason for choosing a summer birthday date is because it makes hosting a parade that much easier. The Sovereigns’ Birthday Parade, or Trooping the Colour, has been part of British tradition for over 260 years.

As the Royal website states, the parade usually features over 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians. The Queen and other members of the Royal Family travel in the parade either on horseback or in carriages, working their way from Buckingham Palace down The Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade and back. Crowds line the streets, looking to wish the Queen a happy (non) birthday.

The display ends with a fly-past by the Royal Air Force, which is observed by the Royal Family from the Buckingham Palace balcony. A 41-gun salute is also fired in Green Park.

Royal fans all over tend to tune into the event which is broadcast live by the BBC.

In 2021, the event was cancelled because of COVID. Instead, there was a small ceremony at Windsor Castle featuring Welsh Guardsmen and military musicians.

In 2022, there will be a Platinum Jubilee celebration for the Queen – celebrating 70 years of service.

The UK will have a four day bank holiday between June 2 and 5 to mark the event, which will be commemorated with the following events: The Queen’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour), Platinum Jubilee Beacons, a Service of Thanksgiving, The Derby at Epsom Downs, a Platinum Party at the Palace, The Big Jubilee Lunch and The Platinum Jubilee Pageant.

Odd as it is, I’m not exactly mad at the idea of choosing a birthday in a month that’s more convenient for your party style of choice. In fact, I might go ahead and move my August birthday to February next year.

This article has been updated since its original publish date. 

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