The Queen’s Official Birthday is the day on which the birthday of the monarch of the Commonwealth realms is officially celebrated. The exact date of the celebration varies from country to country, and generally does not fall on the day of the monarch’s actual birthday.
It has been celebrated in the United Kingdom since 1748. In the UK, the Queen’s Official Birthday is now generally celebrated on the first or second Saturday in June. It is marked in London by the ceremony of Trooping the Colour, which is also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
The Queen’s Official Birthday does not coincide with when she was born. Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910, and whose birthday was on November 9, moved the ceremony to summer in the hope of good weather. The Queen celebrates her actual birthday on April 21.
Trooping the Colour, to be held on June 11 this year, is carried out by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, watched by members of the Royal Family, invited guests and members of the public.
This military ceremony dates back to the early eighteenth century or earlier, when the colours (flags) of the battalion were carried (or ‘trooped’) down the ranks so that they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers. This parade has also marked the Sovereign’s official birthday since 1748.
During the ceremony, the Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop’, the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry then march past Her Majesty, and The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, rank past.
The Queen rides in a carriage back to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards, before taking the salute at the Palace from a dais. The troops then return to barracks. Her Majesty then joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force. The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign, except in 1955 when a national rail strike cancelled the event.