Having two birthdays is every child’s dream – and it’s a reality for the Queen. Her Royal Highness’ official birthday is this Saturday, June 9, but the world’s longest living monarch actually turned 92 back in April.
How does this work? Queen Elizabeth II was born on April 21, 1926, but her public birthday is celebrated annually on the second Saturday in June.
The British Royals‘ double birthday tradition began over 250 years ago in 1748 for what is perhaps the most quintessentially British reason: the weather. King George II was a November baby but didn’t want his big day to be plagued by stormy skies. In an effort to keep it from literally raining on his parade, he decided to commemorate the occasion in June. And so the tradition of the public summer birthday for the reigning UK monarch began.
Having two birthdays means that the queen can spend one with her nearest and dearest and the other with the British people. Although her April birthday is not a public holiday, gun salutes are still given in her honour in Hyde Park, Windsor and the Tower of London to mark the day. The real pomp and circumstance is saved for the June event, which features the annual Trooping the Colour Parade, given for the British monarchy for more than 260 years.
The march begins at Buckingham Palace and then proceeds down the Mall to Horse Guards Parade near Downing Street before turning back again. It’s an event fit for a Queen, with over 1400 soldiers, 200 horses, 400 musicians and RAF pilots performing an air show overhead. The star participants, however, are the Royals themselves, who travel down the Mall with the ceremony and in what has become an image synonymous with royal festivities, gather on Buckingham Palace’s balcony to greet their audience.
As the Queen celebrates her second birthday of the year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will make their first appearance on the iconic balcony together as newlyweds.