Why Does the Queen Have Two Birthdays?

Queen Elizabeth II has two birthdays: her real birthday in April and her official birthday in June, known as the Trooping the Colour. Find out everything you need to know about it here.

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It's not uncommon for the royals to celebrate their birthday multiple times per year. Take, for example, Prince Charles who had his 70th birthday patronage event last year...six months ahead of his birthday on November 14. Prince Harry addressed this jokingly in his speech about his father at Buckingham Palace.

Aside from the bi-yearly celebrations, there is one person who actually has two birthdays on the calendar: none other than Queen Elizabeth II. She has a real birthday and official birthday. (Same.) The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, but her official birthday is in June, recognized with a celebration known as the Trooping the Colour.

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What is Trooping the Colour and how did it begin?

The British monarchy began the double birthday tradition more than 250 years ago with King George II. His November birthday often saw rain, so he decided to have a big celebration with the public in the summer. Enter: Trooping the Colour.

The official parade includes over 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians, per Kensington Palace. The immediate members of the royal family are typically in attendance, including Prince William, Kate Middleton, their children, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Duchess Camilla. Even Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (the daughters of Prince Andrew, the Queen's second son) make an appearance.

Last year, Meghan Markle participated in the festivities for the first time with Prince Harry, though it's unlikely we'll see her at the event his year (she's still on maternity leave!). It's unclear whether Prince Louis will be there with his siblings, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, or if he'll stay home with a caregiver so Kate and Wills can enjoy the day. The entire family travels in multiple carriages around Buckingham Palace and then they make their way to the balcony to greet the crowd.

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When is this year's Trooping the Colour?

Mark your calendars: This year's celebration is June 8. The parade will be broadcast on BBC and, of course, will be livestreamed. Apparently there are very strict rules about wearing denim to the parade, clearly not approved by the Queen. (A concept: the Queen in a denim jacket.)

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What does the Queen do on her actual birthday?

When she's not being celebrated by an entire kingdom, the Queen typically spends her birthday with her family in private. There's also 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 to honor her.

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Until June 8.

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Rachel Epstein
Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.