Queen Elizabeth in 1958
Every child's dream of two birthdays is a reality for Queen Elizabeth II. She celebrates her actual birthday on 21 April (1926) and a public birthday, which usually falls on the second Saturday in June. In 2008, the Queen's birthday will be celebrated on Saturday 14 June.
An official birthday for the Sovereign became a tradition for practical reasons. Because monarchs who were born in the winter often encountered weather problems during celebrations, a public holiday was created in the summer when there's a better chance of good weather. King Edward VII, who was born on 9 November 1841, was the first Sovereign to celebrate his official birthday on a separate day than his actual birthday. Festivities were held in either May or June. Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, who was born in mid-December, established the tradition of the official birthday.
Held on the second Saturday of June, the official birthday is marked by the Trooping the Colour ceremony, the flying of the Union flag on government buildings, a 42-gun salute at noon, and the publication of The Queen's Birthday Honours List. Queen Elizabeth II usually spends her actual birthday privately at Windsor with friends and family.
The Queen's birthday is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand as well, where they take two days off from work. Most Australians mark the public holiday on the second Monday in June, although in Western Australia they celebrate on the last Monday in September or the first Monday in October. New Zealanders observe the Queen’s official birthday on the first Monday in June.
Fun Fact: Queen Elizabeth II's birthday was celebrated on the second Thursday of June for the first seven years of her reign. When midweek became inconvenient, it was changed to Saturdays.