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Q & A: Why the Queen has two birthdays

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/06/2016
Queen Elizabeth II shouldn't be excited for presents today. © Getty Images Queen Elizabeth II shouldn't be excited for presents today.


* Hasn't the Queen already celebrated her 90th?

The Queen turned 90 on April 21, but she also has an official birthday in June - this year it falls on Saturday June 11.

* 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.

But 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.

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 her 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 changed it to the second Saturday for convenience.

The Queen and Prince Phillip, who only gets one birthday a year. © IBT Australia The Queen and Prince Phillip, who only gets one birthday a year.

* What does she usually do on her official birthday?

It's a busy affair this year. There is a weekend of special events, starting with a service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on Friday June 10, Trooping the Colour on Saturday June 11 and a street party on The Mall on Sunday June 12.

* 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. Most of Australia, where the Queen is head of state, has a public holiday on the second Monday in June to mark her birthday, while in western Australia it is celebrated at the end of September or beginning of October. In New Zealand, it's the first Monday in June.

In Canada, the Queen's official birthday is on Victoria Day - the Monday before May 25 - the day after Queen Victoria was born.

* What will happen in the future?

The Prince of Wales's birthday is in November, so he is likely to continue the tradition when he is king. As is the Duke of Cambridge - even though he was born on June 21.

* 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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