Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

It is the Queen’s 94th birthday on Tuesday but she actually has two birthdays.

– When are they?

The Queen was born on April 21 1926, but she also has an official birthday in June – this year it falls on Saturday June 13.

– Is this just a ploy to get extra presents?

No. It’s all down to the British weather. Since 1748, the monarch’s official birthday has been marked by the parade known as Trooping the Colour – usually held on the king or queen’s actual birthday.

The Queen
The Queen, under her umbrella, has two birthdays because of the British weather (Suzanne Plunkett/PA)

Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910, was born in November. He celebrated officially in May or June because there was less chance of it being cold and drizzly during the outdoor event.

– What about the next monarch?

The monarch after Edward VII – George V – helpfully had a birthday in June, but the Queen’s father, George VI, whose birthday was in December, reintroduced the tradition of an official birthday, which Elizabeth II has continued.

– Is the Queen’s official birthday always on a Saturday?

It is now. George VI had his official birthday on the second Thursday of June. In 1959, after several years on the throne, the Queen decided to change it to, usually, the second Saturday for convenience.

The Queen in 1960
The Queen, riding her police horse Imperial, on The Mall during Trooping the Colour in June 1960 (PA)

It is marked by the Trooping the Colour carriage and horse procession in central London and a flypast over Buckingham Palace.

– What about this year?

Trooping, which attracts huge crowds, will not go ahead in its traditional form because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Options are being considered but no further details have been released.

– What does the Queen usually do on her actual birthday?

She gets to spend it privately – except when duty beckons or it is a milestone celebration.

The Queen at 80
The Queen at Buckingham Palace looks at some of her 80th birthday cards in 2006 (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Aides do try to give the Queen a break on her birthday from the famous red boxes containing state papers.

– And this year?

With the country in lockdown, the Queen’s actual birthday is a low-key, no fuss affair.

She is staying at Windsor Castle with the Duke of Edinburgh, away from their family, but the royals will be telephoning and video-calling the monarch.

The Queen at Windsor
The Queen speaking to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Windsor Castle in March (Buckingham Palace/PA)

– Does the Queen actually have more than two birthdays?

Technically yes. A number of Commonwealth realms celebrate the occasion at different times of the year.

In the majority of Australia, where the Queen is head of state, there is a public holiday on the second Monday in June, but Western Australia celebrates in September or October. In New Zealand, it is the first Monday in June, and in Canada, it is in May.

Charities Forum event – London
The Duke of Cambridge watches as his wife the Duchess of Cambridge dances with a costumed figure of Paddington bear (Jonathan Brady/PA)

– Who else has two birthdays?

Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru – on June 25 and December 25.

His adopted family the Browns agreed that bears, “just like the Queen”, have two birthdays every year.

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