Why does Queen Elizabeth celebrate two birthdays a year?

Sometimes one birthday celebration is just not enough. This is exactly why Queen Elizabeth celebrates it twice a year! Her Majesty, who turns 90 this year, gets two big days – her actual birthday on April 21 and her "official" birthday on a Saturday in June – but why is this privilege only reserved for the royal?

Historically, official celebrations to mark a U.K. Sovereign's birthday have often been held on a day other than their actual birthday – something that's usually true when their actual birthday does not land in the summer months. The reason, in typical British fashion, comes down to the weather.

The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year Photo: Getty Images

The tradition started in 1748 with George II, who was born in chilly November. Instead of risking his subjects catching a cold, he combined his birthday celebration with the annual spring parade known as Trooping the Colour.

While the Queen usually spends her actual birthday privately, the occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday: a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, London, a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.


Her Majesty is joined by members of the Royal Family on her official birthday Photo: Getty Images

On her official birthday, Her Majesty is joined by other members of the Royal Family at the annual Trooping the Colour parade, which takes place between Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horseguards’ Parade, in Central London.

This year, the royal will celebrate her milestone birthday in monumental style with four nights of festivities at Windsor Castle. The celebrations, hosted in Windsor's Home Park, will feature 900 horses and 1,500 performers – including dancers, musicians and choirs, along with well-known artists and actors.

The Trooping the Color parade marks the Queen's official birthday Photo: Getty Images

Members of the royal family will attend each night of the celebrations from May 12-15, while the Queen will attend the final show, which will be broadcast live on TV.

The Queen's official birthday will be celebrated on Saturday, June 11. The Monarch will be joined by members of the royal family for the traditional Trooping the Colour parade. Royal watchers will be hoping for a glimpse of Prince George and Princess Charlotte as the royal family gather on the balcony at Buckingham Palace for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

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