Monumental! Queen Elizabeth II celebrated two birthdays every year
Monumental! Queen Elizabeth II celebrated two birthdays every year
Updated on September 09, 2022 17:55 PM by Andrew Koschiev
Her Majesty had it all
A Queen is a Queen - so obviously, she had enjoyed the crown jewels, a magnificent palace, several majestic castles and crowds of adoring fans and devotees. However, these were a fair set of privileges Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed as England's Monarch.
Afterall, she becomes the Queen at 25 years old, and a Queen must get what she desires. So, adding to this list of generosity, another perk added is the celebration of two birthdays the Queen enjoyed every year.
Every human being on Earth has a day for a birthday celebration, even those born on February 29. But Her Majesty used to get the privilege of celebrating her Birthday on two specific days.
In 2022 coincidentally, the two birthday celebrations of Her Majesty fell in the same month as the government declared an extra bank holiday for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebration.
The official Birthday of the Majesty
Her Majesty's official Birthday used to be marked with the Trooping the Color parade - a tradition that has been going on for the last four centuries; it sees members of the British armed services come together in a special military ceremony. It’s a parade and is considered the official birthday celebration of the sovereign.
The custom for monarchs to have the Trooping of Color Parade dates back to King Charles II, who started it in the 17th Century and no doubt has remained similarly for all these years. The Trooping of Color parade was celebrated as the official Birthday of whoever the royal ascended the throne. Other Kings and Queens who have ascended the royal line of succession got the reverence of the Trooping of the Color Parade.
Even King Charles III will receive the Trooping of the Color parade next year as his official birthday celebration.
Not many know, but Queen Elizabeth II has celebrated two birthdays over the last seven decades. Ironically her actual Birthday was in April, and an official one was celebrated on the second Saturday in June.
The history behind the official birthday celebration
However, making the Trooping of the Colour parade an official birthday tradition for monarchs began with King George II in 1748.
King George II was born in November, during the colder months of England. So, the King desired a birthday celebration to enjoy outdoor celebrations with his people when the season was warmer and brighter.
So, as the King desired, it was granted, and the Trooping of Color Parade was officially declared as the birthday celebration of His/Her Majesty. King George II wanted an official celebration showing the Majesty of the power and enigma of the Kingdom’s military.
So, King George II started celebrating his second Birthday with the annual military parade known as Trooping of the Color. Since then, every sovereign has maintained the day as their official birthday celebration day. And this is why the Queen's authorised Birthday and occasion exist on the same day.
Her Majesty's second Birthday fell on a Saturday; it wasn't always the same custom. Previously, Queen Elizabeth II marked her official Birthday on the second Thursday of June. It followed the tradition of Elizabeth’s father and King George VI, whose official Birthday was the same day as her father's. However, in 1959, after reigning for seven years on the British throne, Queen Elizabeth II changed her official birthday celebration to the second Saturday in June.
Now that Queen Elizabeth II is no more, it is thought that King Charles III will stick to the tradition. Unless he wants to change the day in June like his late Queen Mother, King Charles III’s official birthday celebration will be on the second Saturday in June.
The birth of the little princess
Queen Elizabeth II was born little Princess Lillibet at 2:40 am on April 21 1926, in Mayfair, London. She was officially named Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary and was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. It was a great day for the Duke and the Duchess. Little did anybody know then that little Princess Lilibet would be the reigning Monarch of Britain.
The Duke of York later became King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth became the Queen Mother. However, Queen Mother never sat on the throne. So, after Queen Elizabeth I, in the house of Tudors, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary is considered the second Queen with the name ascending to the throne from the house of Windsor.
A rather very unusual birth, Her Majesty was not born in a palace or hospital, which is usually the case with royals. Instead, the Queen's parents, the Duke and Duchess of York had just moved into the house on 17 Bruton Street, and the house belonged to her Scottish grandparents: the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. The Duchess of York faced certain complications during pregnancy, so little Princess Lilibet arrived via cesarean.
The Queen was named Elizabeth after her mother, while her middle name was a homage to King George VI's grandmother and Queen's Great-Grandmother Alexandra - who died just six months before Her Majesty's birth. Queen's second middle name Mary is the name of King George VI's mother and Elizabeth's grandmother.
There is a reason behind naming the Queen back then, Princess Lilibet. The story goes something like that as a toddler; Queen Elizabeth could not pronounce her first name properly. So, Lilibet was one attempt that her grandfather King George V picked up on her and used the name to make her imitate and even call his beloved granddaughter.
The official celebration of the Birthday
After the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, every year, this special day marked her official Birthday in June with a special 41-gun salute. The gun salute takes place in London’s Green Park; hopefully, next year, it will take place for King Charles III. For seven decades, Queen Elizabeth II has been saluted for her sovereignty.
The gun salute marked the start of the ceremony, followed by a military affair known as the Trooping the Color; every year, it celebrates the Monarch’s Birthday and contribution to the country.
Trooping of Colors has been a long-held tradition which commemorates the official birthdays of all the British Kings and Queens since King George II.
Every year, several royal family members and the firm joined Her Majesty for the occasion, which took place in and around Buckingham Palace. From 2023, it would be King Charles III who would receive the tribute.
The significance of the ceremony
Trooping the Colour is an exclusive military ceremony which involves the parade and marching of members of the British and Commonwealth armies. The event usually goes on in June every year since King Charles II started it and King George II officiated it. The ceremony includes - one thousand four hundred soldiers, two hundred horses and four hundred musicians involved in the official birthday celebration to honour the head of state.
British commoners formed a long line at The Mall in London to view the amazing parade, whereas the Queen and her Royal Family members travelled from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade.
Traditionally, the Queen would make this journey on horseback behind her soldiers. But, after several decades on her throne, she changed the custom and had travelled by horse and carriage for all these years.
When the Queen reached Horse Guards Parade, Her Majesty would be greeted by a Royal salute. She would inspect her troops’ uniforms, whether they were smartly dressed in their red ceremonial uniform and bearskin hats.
Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, used to follow almost the same rules and regulations as his predecessors followed them before him.
A special musical performance from the military bands followed as the ceremony started. Then, they passed the escorted Regimental Color or flag down the ranks of soldiers. The process has been going on for decades, and even in future, it will be going on to show gratitude to His Majesty.
The ceremony got its name, Trooping of the Colors, where senior officers march in front of troops and wave their regimental flag known as ‘colours’. It is an iconic moment captured in various photographs and videos after the invention of the camera and the introduction of digital technology.
However, there is diversity in the Trooping of Colors; each year, a different flag represents a different regiment.
All these decades, the Queen returned to Buckingham Palace with her family. Then, the royals would gather on the balcony with the Queen beside them to watch a fly-past by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows.
Australian culture and custom
However, the Queen’s Birthday was celebrated differently in Australia, which fell on the second Monday of June, after the Queen's official Birthday in the United Kingdom.
It was because Australia is a constitutional monarchy, falling under the Commonwealth realm with the English Monarch as head of state. As a result, the Queen's Birthday was a public bank holiday where many Australians used to have a day off from work.
The Monarch’s Birthday was first celebrated in Australia in 1788, going back in time. That year, King George III was on the throne, and on that day, Governor Arthur Phillip declared a holiday to mark his birthday celebration. That tradition is still going on and will be going on with the upcoming generations.