Queen Elizabeth II turned 95 on April 21 this year. Her birthday was shadowed by the death of her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He passed away just a few weeks away from his 100th birth anniversary at the age of 99. The Queen celebrates two birthdays in a year. She was born on April 21 in 1926 and celebrates her actual birthday on this day. She has another birthday — the official one which is observed on the second Saturday of June.
The Queen usually celebrates her actual birthday with her family. There is usually a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London on April 21. Whereas, on her official birthday, a grand celebration in the nation is marked by the traditional ceremony, the Trooping of Colours parade. The ceremony has been observed for more than 260 years to mark the official birthdays of British Monarchs.
The parade involves more than 1400 soldiers, 200 horses, and 400 musicians. The parade starts from the Queen’s official residence — Buckingham Palace and moves along the Mall to Horse Guards Parade at Whitehall, near Downing Street, and then back again. Later, the royal family travels down the Mall as part of the traditional ceremony and greets people from the balcony of their residence, Buckingham Palace. The parade concludes with RAF planes performing an aerial display for the occasion.
According to the Royal regulations, it is necessary to celebrate the official birthday of the Royal Monarch publically on a day during summer when the weather is pleasant. It is believed that the custom was started by King George II who was born in October.
This year, as the Royal Family has been mourning the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, there was no gun salutes to mark the celebrations publicly and the Queen did not release her official portrait, which is usually done on special occasions.