Why does the Queen have two birthdays — and how is she spending them this year?

Anyone unlucky enough to have their birthday fall in the middle of a global pandemic may be planning two big days this year — one on the actual date, and another when they can finally celebrate with friends.

On that front, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is well ahead of the curve.

The monarch has enjoyed two birthdays a year since she ascended the throne, and the tradition actually started a lot further back than that.

The Queen’s real birthday is April 21, meaning she turns 94 on Tuesday.

But she reaches for her party hat again in June. British monarchs have doubled up on the festivities since the 18th century, holding an “official” birthday each year for a public celebration, and tending to celebrate more privately on the real date.

Both events are significantly scaled back this year, meaning the Queen’s birthdays will look very different.

But why does she have two? It’s pretty simple — no-one wants to celebrate their birthday in the rain, and so, ever since the 1740s, monarchs have enjoyed a second birthday, with far more pomp, in the summer.

How the British monarch got a second birthday

The tradition is believed to have started with the party-loving King George II in 1748. That is the year that Britain’s annual Trooping the Colour celebration was first associated with the sovereign’s birthday. George’s real birthday was in November, when British weather is often far from ideal.

Trooping the Colour — a military parade in London — previously existed as a standalone event. It was officially and permanently re-purposed as a birthday celebration after George III became King in 1760.

Edward VII, who succeeded Queen Victoria and ruled the United Kingdom through the first decade of the 20th century, is believed to have been the first monarch to receive the annual salute in person.


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