Why Does Queen Elizabeth Have Two Birthdays?

Just another perk of being Queen of the United Kingdom.

You may be aware that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was born in April, and you also may have heard about a birthday celebration in June. It would also be remiss not to mention that the royal family (and the rest of the world) is toasting the Queen’s historic reign with the Platinum Jubilee beginning on June 2, 2022, to celebrate 70 years on the throne—and we all know the queen won’t be stepping down from the throne anytime soon. So why does the queen have two birthdays?

Why does Queen Elizabeth have two birthdays?

Like many British monarchs before her, the Queen likes to commemorate the occasion on two separate days—once on the actual anniversary of the day she was born (April 21) and again on a Saturday in June (dubbed the “official celebration”). Given all Queen Elizabeth’s power, she definitely deserves two days of celebration. 

Why is the Queen’s official birthday in June?

The reason is rather simple and owes its origins to the timeless dilemma of fickle British weather.

The established tradition of celebrating two birthdays dates back to 1748 and King George II (not to be confused with Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George IV), who was born in November. The royals (as expected) like to dabble in lavish outdoor festivities for large gatherings, so the frosty chill was rather inconvenient. Because King George didn’t want to put his subjects at risk of catching colds, his birthday celebration was merged with the annual Trooping the Colour parade. Before that, Trooping the Colour was strictly a military event in which regiments would display their flags, or “colors,” so that soldiers could familiarize themselves.

This concept became a habit that continues to this day, and all British sovereigns are granted the option of inheriting an “official” birthday. The spring day of April 21 was deemed too chilly for Queen Elizabeth’s opulent bash, so it was decided to adhere to a safer (and warmer) June alternative. Although the date is technically associated with the Trooping the Colour in the U.K., commonwealth nations around the world mandate its recognition as a public holiday.

As for the Saturday element, the royals decided to set the date so that more members of the public could enjoy the jubilee without having to worry about their conflicting work schedules. This was a change from the Thursdays that had been established during the earlier part of her reign.

What happens during Queen Elizabeth’s June birthday?

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh wave to guests attending "The Patron's Lunch" celebrations for The Queen's 90th birthday on The Mall on June 12, 2016 in London, England.WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Queen usually spends her actual birthday in April privately, but the day is certainly not what we would call a clandestine occasion. The anniversary is still commemorated with a round of 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.

This year’s June celebration will be combined with the Platinum Jubilee. The royal family (including Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren and Prince Charles) will attend the Epsom Derby horse race, and when the sun goes down, Buckingham Palace will transform into a concert venue for the Party at the Palace.

Clearly, the Queen’s fashion statements are not the only conspicuous things about her lifestyle. Next, don’t miss the times the royals broke their own protocol.

Sources:

  • BBC: “The Queen: Why does she have two birthdays?”
  • Royal.uk: “The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend 2022”
Princess Elizabeth At WindsorLisa Sheridan/Getty Images

Photos of Young Queen Elizabeth

Hana Hong
Hana Hong is a journalist/storyteller who writes for Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus, and The Fashion Network, among other publications. She hails from the midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast.