When you’re a royal, everything is twice as nice — but that’s not why Queen Elizabeth celebrates two birthdays. Actually, for hundreds of years, it’s been a tradition for the British monarch to celebrate their birthday once on, well, the day they were born, and again on a day for the public to enjoy. The reason? The crappy weather in the UK!
Despite the fact that the Queen was born in the spring on April 21, many of her predecessors weren’t blessed with such a warm and sunny birthday month. Back in 1748, King George II, who was born in cold, drizzly November, decided to move his “public” birthday to April when there’s a much higher chance of comfy temperatures. And instead of holding a parade strictly for his birthday, George decided to combine it with the annual spring military parade known as Trooping the Color. So, why is Queen Elizabeth’s actual birthday in April and her official birthday in June? Quite simply because she wanted it that way!
Queen Elizabeth at Trooping the Color in 2016. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Basically, every monarch has the opportunity to choose an official birthday, which is typically marked with a big parade in Central London, a sea of waving Union Jack flags, and gun salutes at noon — 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. Queen Elizabeth chose June, so she can celebrate her real birthday privately and then again with the people of Britain at Trooping the Color. Earlier on in her reign, the Queen’s official birthday was celebrated on a Thursday in June, but some time ago, she decided to switch it to Saturday, so more people could enjoy the festivities with her. Clearly, this is a woman who loves a good party.
Last year, the Queen’s official birthday was held on an especially hot June day. In fact, five guardsmen wound up fainting and needing medical attention while the parade was underway. Fortunately, everyone was OK, and little Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their annual appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, making everyone smile and giving an overall sweet, family-oriented feel to the day.
While it’s obviously important for the Queen to celebrate her real birthday in the privacy of her home with family and close friends, it sounds like King George II may have been on to something — there’s no better time for a parade than when it’s warm out!
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