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When was Queen Elizabeth II's birthday?

2-3 minute read

By Niall Cullen

20 March 2023
Official birthday of the queen

Why did the queen have two birthdays? It was a royal tradition dating back to 1748. We've delved into our newspaper archives to bring you the best of the Queen's birthday photos, plus snapshots of her birth and christening.

Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926, but her official birthday was also celebrated on the second Saturday in June each year in the UK. Having two birthdays is just one of the perks of sitting atop the royal family tree. What's more, the date of the Queen's birthday differed in Commonwealth countries around the world.

In Australia, most states celebrated with a bank holiday on the second Monday in June. However, in Western Australia, the Queen's birthday was usually marked in September or October, and in Queensland, it was in October from 2016. In New Zealand, the monarch's official birthday was celebrated on the first Monday in June. While in Canada it was in May.

Where was Queen Elizabeth born?

Her Majesty was born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair in 1926, the London home of her maternal grandparents. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was named for her mother, great-grandmother Queen Alexandra, and grandmother Queen Mary. Though the building is no longer standing, we did spot it in the 1921 Census, where the young princess's cousins were living with several servants.

the queen's christening cake

The showstopper of a cake for Princess Elizabeth's christening, pictured in The Daily Mirror, 28 May 1926.

The infant Princess Elizabeth was christened on 29 May 1926 during a private ceremony in the chapel at Buckingham Palace. She wore a robe made for the christening of Queen Victoria's eldest child in 1841.

princess elizabeth with her parents

Princess Elizabeth with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, pictured in The Sketch, 22 December 1926.

The future queen's godparents were her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary, Prince Arthur of Connaught (son of Queen Victoria), her maternal grandfather Claude Bowes-Lyon, and her aunts Princess Mary and Lady Elphinstone.

Why did the Queen have two birthdays?

In 1748, King George II decided to double his birthday celebrations. Realising his actual birthday in autumn was likely to see unpleasant weather conditions and hamper outdoor events, he also introduced a summer celebration. Ever since there has been two official birthdays for the British monarch.

Photos from the Queen's official birthdays

From Trooping the Colour to the list of Birthday Honours, we've unearthed some amazing snapshots from the Queen's birthday throughout her 70 year reign.

The first salute, 1952

The Queen's first official birthday in 1952

The Sphere, 14 June 1952. View the full page.

Pageantry and parades, 1952

The Queen's birthday parade, 1952

The Sphere, 14 June 1952. View the full page.

On horseback, 1957

The Queen riding a horse, 1957

Illustrated London News, 22 June 1957. View the full page.

Trooping in the rain, 1958

History of the Queen’s birthday

The Sphere, 21 June 1958. View the full page.

Her Majesty's military, 1969

Guards at the Queen's official birthday parade, 1969

Illustrated London News, 10 June 1967. View the full page.

Family fun, 1969

The Royal family in the 1960s

Illustrated London News, 21 June 1969. View the full page.

Prince Edward's interest, 1972

Young Prince Edward and the Queen, 1972

Illustrated London News, 1 February 1977. View the full page.

Prince Charles in uniform, 1978

Prince Charles in the 1970s

Illustrated London News, 2 June 1981. View the full page.

Birthday portrait, 1982

The Queen's birthday portrait, 1982

Illustrated London News, 1 June 1983. View the full page.

Bags of class, 1997

The Queen in 1997

Sunday Mirror, 15 June 1997. View the full page.

The Queen celebrated her official birthday from the day she unexpectedly ascended the throne in 1952 to her passing in 2022. Originally, it was marked on the second Thursday of June, following in the footsteps of her father, King George VI. The date was changed to the second Saturday in June in 1959.

During Queen Elizabeth II's reign, the monarch's official birthday festivities were only cancelled once. In 1955, a national rail strike saw the Queen declare a state of emergency and cancel the Trooping the Colour ceremony. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic made a smaller celebration necessary.

Over the decades, with family members like Prince Philip, Prince Charles (now King Charles III), and Princess Diana by her side, the Queen enjoyed double birthday celebrations each year.

Do you have memories of the Queen's birthday you'd like to share? We love hearing your stories of the past. You can share them with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.