The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year – her actual birthday and an ‘official’ birthday.
Born in 1926, the Queen celebrated her 85th birthday on 21 April 2011, at a Maundy Thursday service at Westminster Abbey.
Although Queen Elizabeth normally enjoys a private birthday celebration at home with her family, publicly the occasion is marked with gun salutes both at sea and on shore. In London, a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London and 21 gun salute in the Windsor Great Park, are traditionally held as a mark of respect.
Since 1805, an official birthday for the Sovereign has been held during the summer months. The Queen’s official birthday is normally held on the second Saturday in June and is celebrated with a Trooping the Colour parade. The occasion is also celebrated by several Commonwealth countries. Queen Elizabeth is Head of the Commonwealth.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List is announced at the time of the Queen’s official birthday. People from all walks of life are honoured for their outstanding achievement and service to society. The 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, announced on 11 June, included the Strictly Come Dancing entertainer Bruce Forsyth and actor Colin Firth.
Image: Queen Elizabeth II distributes Maundy Money during the traditional Royal Maundy Service at Westminster Abbey on her 85th birthday on 21 April 2011.