On April 21, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will turn 91 years old. To mark the occasion, there are usually a series of gun salutes around London: 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. For the most part, the monarch celebrates her big day privately. But on June 17, Her Majesty will parade through London as part of an opulent birthday celebration known as Trooping the Colour.
Queen Elizabeth, like many British monarchs before her, has two birthdays: the actual anniversary of the day she was born, and a separate day set for a Saturday in late May or June that is labeled her “official” birthday. Why? Because April 21 is usually too cold for a proper parade.
The tradition started in 1748 with King George II, who had the misfortune of being born in chilly November. Rather than have his subjects risk catching colds, he combined his birthday celebration with the annual spring parade known as Trooping the Colour.
The parade itself had been part of British culture for almost a century by…
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