We all know that the Queen celebrates two birthdays, but not everyone knows why. It’s actually a very royal tradition that started back in 1748.
King George II was born in November, and as it’s usually a very cold month, he decided to combine his birthday with the annual spring parade Trooping the Colour.
Since then, it’s always been common for the monarch to celebrate a second birthday in summer – so that the entire country can celebrate when it’s warmer, too.
The Queen usually celebrates her actual birthday, on 21st April, privately, with the occasion being marked by gun salutes in the capital at midday – including 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. So it’s quite the celebration!
For her official birthday in June, various members of the royal family accompany Her Majesty to the annual Trooping the Colour parade. It’s a much-loved ceremony that involves over 1,400 officers, 200 horses and over 400 musicians – an even bigger celebration.
Some members of the royal family including Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince William have participated on horseback too. The ceremony has marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years.
The most well known part of Trooping the Colour is the RAF flypast, where the royal family watch from the balcony. This is also an opportunity for younger members of the family to make an appearance, as they don’t take part in the carriage procession.
As well as celebrating the monarch, the widely broadcast event pays respect to everyone involved in armed forces, both past and present. A regiment’s colours embody spirit and service, as well as fallen soldiers.
Battalions would “troop” or march the colours through the ranks to show that the colours were intact. This was done before and after every battle.
So whilst we’d all love to have two birthdays a year, it actually makes perfect sense for the Queen to honour this tradition with a celebration every year.