British Queen Elizabeth II’s was born in April 21, 1926, but in the U.K. and various Commonwealth realms she has another “official” birthday as well. This one is a public day of celebration in honor of the monarch’s actual birthday, and it is called ‘Trooping the Colour’ marked by a a large military parade.
According to the royal family’s official website notes, U.K. celebrations have historically taken place in the summer to make the most of the good weather. The tradition was started in 1748 by King George II, who was born in November.
Newsweek reported that different “colours,” or flags, denote different regiments in the British and Commonwealth armies. “Trooping” refers to the marching of a company’s color past soldiers. It’s thought by some to have its roots in Roman military practice, Encyclopaedia Britannica notes. Ancient companies would march their standard past troops to make sure they recognized it on the battlefield.
British commemorations usually take place on the second Saturday in June. The day, typically, is attended by Queen and other members of the royal family who, eventually, observe a fly-past from the Royal Air Force from the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
The celebration, however, does not have a fixed date in commonwealth countries. For instance, in Canada, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated in conjunction with Victoria Day on the last Monday before May 25th. Over on the southern hemisphere, the Queen’s birthday usually takes place in June, in spite of wintry weather.
In Australia, the event is celebrated on several different dates. Most of the country gets a day off for the second Monday in June. But in Western Australia, the region’s governor announces the date each year. It usually falls on the last Monday of September or the first Monday of October, according to Timeanddate.com.
In New Zealand, a public holiday marks the sovereign’s birthday on the first Monday in June.
Pacific locations including Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands celebrate the official birthday on the second Monday in June. Like the U.K., Polynesian island nation Tuvalu commemorates the monarch’s birthday on the second Saturday in June.
However, the Queen’s real birthday does not go unnoticed in the U.K.. It is marked by a midday gun salute. Forty-one guns fire in Hyde Park in London, 21 in Windsor Great Park in Windsor, and 62 at the Tower of London.
Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and she was educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
When her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth became head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon. She has reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation, and the decolonization of Africa.
The official page of the Royal Family published a video titled the life of the queen in pictures. Watch it here.