Arts & Culture

Celebrating the Queen’s Birthday

On April the 21st, Her Majesty the Queen of England reached the ripe old age of 96. To mark this special event, we’re dedicating today’s post to Queen Elizabeth II and her commitment to her country and people.

Although the Queen will be turning 96, the 21st of April isn’t actually her birthday. Or, rather it is, but not officially. Confused? Good! So are we. Let’s talk a little bit about the history of the Queen’s birthday and how she likes to spend it.

Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

Princess Elizabeth was born at 02:40 on the 21st of April 1926. Although she was third in line to the throne, Elizabeth was not expected to become Queen, due to her uncle Edward still being young enough to have children of his own. She was nonetheless crowned on the 2nd of June 1953 in the UK’s first televised coronation ceremony. So this year, we also celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

However, custom dictates that the reigning monarch of England should hold their birthday celebrations on the second Saturday of June each year. This practice goes all the way back to King George II in 1748. King George was born in November and decided that the weather at that time of year wasn’t fit for a royal birthday party. He decided to host his celebration in June, starting a 250-year old tradition.

What is Trooping the Color?

King George matched his chosen birthday date with an established military parade that was held in June. This combined parade and birthday celebration became known as Trooping the Color – the Queen’s official birthday celebration. The name comes from a military practice in which regimental officers would march up and down in front of the troops waving the flags of their regiment. This would help the soldiers to remember which flags belonged to which regiment so they could identify their allies in battle.

Today, the Trooping the Color celebration involves the Queen riding out from Buckingham Palace in her specially designed coach. From there, she will inspect the troops and lead them down the Mall back towards the Palace. Finally, she will stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony with other key members of her family to watch a fly-over from the RAF.

How does the Queen spend her birthday?

Fortunately for the Queen, she is obliged to spend her real birthday – Arpil 21st – in her own special way. She will spend the time with her family in private, most likely at their family home in Windsor or at one of her other royal residences. However, the date will be marked in London with a series of gun salutes in the capital’s most famous locations. Hyde Park will host a 41-gun salute, whilst the Tower of London will see a massive 62-gun salute.

If you’d like to learn more about the Queen and the Royal Family in the UK, check out our fantastic tours of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Historic Royal Palaces. You’ll hear about the secret world of royalty from our expert guides.