You might already know that the Queen has two birthdays - her ‘official’ birthday on a Saturday in June and her real birthday on 21 April. This year is her 90th birthday, and there are lots of events planned in London to celebrate! Whether you live in London or you’re a tourist planning a visit to the city, we’ve picked out the highlights from the weekend of national events taking place this summer to celebrate this exciting royal birthday.
The Queen’s birthday
The British Monarchy has decided to theme the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations around her life and achievements: the celebrations will focus on her love of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and her strong connections with the Navy, Army and Air Force.
The Queen is expected to spend her real birthday at Windsor Castle on the 21 April, and it is thought she will announce public engagements in the local area, but there are plenty of celebrations in May and June to commemorate her official, public birthday.
During 12-15 May there will be four evenings of 90-minute celebrations in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, including music, song, dance and equestrian displays: each evening will be attended by a member of the Royal Family, and the Queen will attend the final evening. Performers will be coming from countries as diverse as Oman, Chile, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, Canada and Azerbaijan. The Queen’s Mounted Troops and more than 100 pipers will also put on a display.
The national celebrations will tell the story of the Queen’s life, from her birth in 1926 to the present day, pausing on historic moments such as her Coronation in 1953.
The public ballot for tickets to the May celebrations of the Queen’s birthday has now closed. If you weren’t lucky enough to get tickets, fear not: the entire celebration, hosted by Ant and Dec, will be broadcast live on ITV on the final night.
On Friday 10 June, there will be a service at St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. It’s also the date of the Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday: he’ll be turning 95 but has insisted that he doesn’t want any public celebrations. The congregation at the Thanksgiving Service will consist of invited guests only, but the event will be televised.
Trooping the Colour
The Queen will have a birthday procession along Horse Guards Parade on Saturday 11 June, officially known as the Trooping the Colour. The Queen and the rest of the Royal family will travel to and from Buckingham Palace on the day in open carriages, so members of the public who wait by The Mall will be able to spot them. She will also watch a fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace at 1pm. The BBC will televise it live from Whitehall from 10am, so you can watch it on your TV screen if you can’t make it to Whitehall. Our Insider London tip is to watch the rehearsal of the event instead, which usually happens a week before in the area close to The Mall and St James’ Park.
The Patron’s Lunch
A street party for 10,000 guests will be held in central London along the length of the Mall on Sunday 12 June. A hamper-style lunch will be served, and entertainment will be provided in the form of street performers and circus acts. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will sit on a specially-built platform on the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. It is called the ‘Patron’s Lunch’ because it is designed to celebrate the Queen’s patronage of over 600 charities and organisations, who have been allocated 9,000 of the 10,000 tickets. You can register to ballot for one of the 1,000 remaining tickets on the Patron’s Lunch website until the end of March. There will also be ‘live sites’ nearby in Green Park and St James’ Park that members of the public can go to if they don’t get tickets.