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Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

The Queen smiloing as she opens Flanders Field WW1 Memorial Garden
The Queen celebrated her 95th birthday back in April (Picture: Getty)

The Queen celebrates her birthday twice every year, with celebrations being significantly smaller this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

This is the Queen’s first year marking both birthdays without her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, by her side – the late Duke died aged 99 on Friday, April 9, 2021.

But the Queen has welcomed a new great-grandchild recently ahead of her second birthday celebrations, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announcing the birth of their daughter, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Queen’s two birthdays are her actual date of birth, (April 21), and her ‘official’ birthday celebration, which takes place every year on the second Saturday of June, which falls on June 12 this year.

But why does she celebrate twice a year?

Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

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Lorraine Kelly defends Meghan and Harry's baby name tribute

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The royal tradition of celebrating the monarch’s birthday twice in one year was started in 1748 by the Queen’s distant relative King George II.

King George II wished to throw a public celebration, with a parade and plenty of pomp and circumstance to mark the occasion of his birthday.

However, having been born in November, the odds on the weather holding out for a huge outdoor bash in the UK were pretty slim.

Instead, the monarch decided to use the UK’s annual military parade held in the summer as his official birthday celebration, meaning that he would mark his birthday twice – once for the public in the summer and once in private in November.

This tradition has continued for over 250 years, with Queen Elizabeth now also celebrating two birthdays a year with one celebration in April and a public, official event in June.

The official event in June, known as Trooping the Colour, has been cancelled for a second year in a row this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Queen was born in 1926, meaning she celebrated her 95th birthday back in April this year.

King George II of Great Britain.
King George II of Great Britain by artist Thomas Hudson (Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

She normally celebrates her actual birthday in private, although it is marked publicly.

‘The occasion is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday: 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,’ states the official Royal website.

MORE : Harry and Meghan hit back at Palace’s claim Queen ‘wasn’t asked’ about Lilibet

MORE : Oxford students vote to remove portrait of Queen as she is ‘colonial’ symbol

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