The Queen's official birthday
Queen Elizabeth II (Copyright: Scanpix)
The Queen of England was born on 21 April 1926, and celebrates her birthday every year with her family and friends. But she also has a birthday on one of the first three Saturdays in June: her official birthday. Why on earth is this? Is it so that she will get two sets of birthday presents each year?
No, there is another reason, and that is that King Edward the Seventh started the official birthday tradition because of the British weather. For hundreds of years the monarch’s birthday had been celebrated in public with a spectacular military parade, but Edward’s birthday was in the winter, and rain and fog can ruin a great parade. So he decided to move the parade to June, and to have another birthday at the same time.
On her official birthday the Queen gives titles like “Sir” and “Lady” and medals like the MBE to people who have served the country in some way. People who receive these honours are invited to Buckingham Palace so that the Queen, or a member of her family, can present them.
Answer these questions:
- How many birthdays does the Queen have?
- When is her real birthday?
- When is her official birthday?
- Who had the idea of having two birthdays?
- How has the monarch’s birthday been celebrated in public for centuries?
- Why is the weather important on this occasion?
- What type of people get a “thank you” on the Queen’s official birthday?
- Why do people who receive honours go to Buckingham Palace?
Activities for the links below
1) The first link includes an introduction to Trooping the Colour – the military event which celebrates the monarch’s official birthday – and a video showing scenes from a recent parade. Read the introduction first to get a general idea of what the ceremony is about.
Then watch the video and make notes on what you see. Mention the people present, what they are wearing, what they are doing, and so on. Afterwards, share your observations with the rest of the class. There may be things you do not understand, so write some questions for other students.
2) The second link contains information on kings and queens. Click on “United Kingdom Monarchs (1603–present)”, and then on “The House of Windsor”. Then you can click on the names of the three kings who reigned before Elizabeth II. Read the questions below first, then read about these kings and, as you do so, answer the questions.
- Which two kings never visited India?
- Which king reigned during World War II?
- Which king gave up the throne?
- Why was George VI so popular in wartime?
- Why can we say that George V was a media pioneer?
- Why can we say that Edward VIII put love before everything else?
- Which of the three kings never had a coronation?
- Which king was most active in politics?