Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

Photograph of Queen Elizabeth II. The queen has two birthdays: one public, and one private.
Queen Elizabeth II. Photo credit: Joel Rouse/Ministry of Defence

Written by the Great British Mag content team on 19 January, 2017

This is a good question indeed! And whilst I am green with envy I don’t begrudge the Queen having two birthdays. I just wish I could have two as well.

The tradition of British Monarch’s having two birthdays goes back to 1748 when King George II decided to have an official birthday in the summer. His actual birthday was in November. However he wanted his subjects to enjoy the celebrations, so he decided to have his official birthday in June when the weather was better.

Her Majesty the Queen will celebrate her 90th birthday on 21st April. The celebrations are private so we don’t know what she does. One imagines the family gathers around for cake and to give the Queen presents, but what do you give a queen for her birthday?!

The current Queen, who is the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, has her official birthday every year in June with a grand parade called Trooping the Colour. It is an impressive display involving 1,000 officers and men, together with two hundred horses and over two hundred musicians.

The tickets for the Trooping of the Colour sell out quickly every year, but luckily the event is also televised by the BBC. If you aren’t able to snag a ticket, you can watch from the comfort of your home.

This question was asked by Misha Khan from India. If you have a question for our resident Brit, email us at askabrit@greatbritishmag.co.uk.