Today the Queen turns 94. But why does she celebrate a ‘second’ birthday – and when is it?
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in London on 21st April 1926 and was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York – who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
On 6th February 1952 Elizabeth became queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, following the death of her father.
Twice the celebrations!
The Queen, in fact, has two birthdays. April 21st marks the date she was actually born, while she also celebrates her birthday later in the year too.
A monarch’s birthday has been celebrated since 1788, when Governor Arthur Phillip declared a holiday to mark the birthday of the King of Great Britain. Up until 1936, celebrations were held on the actual birthday of the monarch. However, after the death of King George V, it was decided that her official birthday would be held on (usually) the second Saturday in June.
Tradition would normally see 21st April 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. However, in light of current economic circumstances, a Buckingham Palace official said the monarch had decided it would not be appropriate at this time for this to go ahead. It is thought that this will be the first time in her 68-year reign that there will be no such salute.
The Queen does not own a passport:
When travelling overseas, the Queen does not require a British passport. Why? Well, British passports are issued in the name of Her Majesty, so it’s not necessary for her to have one!
However, all other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh, have passports.
The Queen does not have a driving license:
As part of the “royal prerogative” – powers and rights that the sovereign alone possesses – the Queen is the only person in the UK who can drive without a license as these are also issued in her name. She has never needed to take a driving test and is allowed to drive without a number plate on her state car too.
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