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Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

Sabrina Barr
·3-min read
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh sit in a carriage during the Trooping the Colour parade, 11 June 2016 (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh sit in a carriage during the Trooping the Colour parade, 11 June 2016 (Getty Images)

On, Saturday 12 June, Queen Elizabeth II will mark her “official” birthday.

While the Queen receives plenty of messages of goodwill from well-wishers across the globe, for some, her birthday can be a source of confusion.

This is due to the fact that the monarch’s birthday is celebrated on her actual date of birth in April, and also later on in the summer with a grand parade by Buckingham Palace.

However, this year the Trooping the Colour parade will not be going ahead in a “traditional” manner.

So why does the Queen celebrate two birthdays every year? Here’s everything you need to know:

Read more:

When is the Queen’s actual birthday?

The Queen was born on 21 April 1926.

She was delivered at 2.40am by Caesarean section, at her maternal grandparents’ house in Mayfair.

How does the Queen celebrate her birthday?

The Queen usually celebrates her birthday privately, the royal family’s official website states.

However, the occasion is also marked with a series of gun salutes – a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

While the gun salutes usually occur on the day of the monarch’s birthday, last year, due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the salute did not take place.

Why does the Queen have a second birthday?

The tradition of the British monarch celebrating two birthdays stems back to 1748, during the reign of King George II.

As the king’s birthday fell in late autumn, the weather wasn’t suitable for a large, public celebration in honour of his birthday.

Therefore, the monarch’s official birthday celebrations were combined with the Trooping the Colour parade in summer, a ceremony which had previously been a predominantly military affair.

When is the Queen’s second birthday?

The Queen’s second birthday, described as being her “official birthday”, usually takes place on the second Saturday of June.

The Queen used to mark her official birthday on the second Thursday of June, the same day her father, King George VI, used to celebrate his birthday during his reign.

However, this tradition was changed in 1959, seven years after the Queen ascended to the throne.

How does the Queen celebrate her official birthday?

The main event of the Queen’s official birthday in June is the Trooping the Colour parade.

However, last year the ceremony did not take place “in its traditional form” due to the pandemic and was instead took place in a much smaller version.

The Trooping the Colour procession, which usually consists of more than 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians, traditionally moves from Buckingham Palace down The Mall towards the Horse Guard’s Parade.

Members of the royal family ride either on horseback or in carriages as part of the proceedings.

The parade ends with a fly-past by the RAF, which the Queen watches with the royal family from the Buckingham Palace balcony.

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