Lifestyle & Human Interest

Queen Elizabeth Celebrates First of Two 96th Birthdays


The queen of England is revered by those near and far for her royal status and impressive lifespan. Born on April 21, 1926, she turned 96 on Thursday.

Despite the date, the real public festivities won’t be held until June thanks to a longstanding tradition the royal family observes.

While the rest of us commoners have to make do with private celebrations — maybe a dinner out or having friends over, or even an elaborate party — parades, public appearances and large displays are more suited to the birthday of a queen.

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But in England, there are certain times of the year when the weather just doesn’t cooperate with that vision, which means something’s gotta give. Edward VII, king from 1901 to 1910, decided to do something about it.

According to the BBC, Edward wanted grand public parties to celebrate his special day. Sadly, his birthday was in November and rarely resulted in weather nice enough to be outdoors.

Since a parade was non-negotiable for him, he decided he would hold his birthday celebration in style in the summer. That would guarantee fanfare and a better shot at nice weather.

While Elizabeth prefers to spend her actual birthday surrounded by family (what mother or grandmother doesn’t?), the second Saturday in June has been set as the day on which her birthday is publicly celebrated — though this year it will be on June 2, so that it will coincide with her Platinum Jubilee celebration, according to the BBC.

And if anyone knows how to celebrate, it’s the royals.

There is a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park, a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London.

A parade will be held as well, featuring over 1,400 soldiers, 400 musicians and 200 horses, to mark the queen’s impressive milestone.

Royal Air Force planes also traditionally perform a show for the special day, flying over the heads of attendees after the parade.

But on Thursday, Elizabeth headed to Wood Farm at her Norfolk estate, traveling in style by helicopter, where she will celebrate privately with family and close friends.

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A special photo of the queen with two of her beloved ponies as well as a photo of Her Majesty at age 2 was shared with the public to mark the important, if somewhat quieter, first of two birthdays.

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