We all know how the Royal Family celebrate a Royal Wedding, but with three imminent Royal birthdays; Princess Alexandra of Kent, born on 25th December 1936, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, born 9th January 1982 and Sophie, Countess of Wessex born 20th January 1965, we started wondering how the British Royal Family celebrate their big day and what we could find out about Royal birthday celebrations in general.
According to some sources, traditionally the Royal Family have no public engagements or meetings on their birthdays and they get the day off in private! It is widely known that the Sovereign has two birthdays – her actual birthday on 21st April and her official birthday (as Head of State) on usually the second Saturday in June. On 21st April, if it’s not a milestone birthday, the Queen spends her birthday privately, although the occasion is marked publicly by a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London and a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park at midday.
However on her official birthday, Her Majesty famously appears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with other members of the Royal Family at the Trooping the Colour parade which moves between Buckingham Palace to The Mall and Horseguards’ Parade. This tradition was started by King George II born whose 9th November birthday was always beset with bad weather, so he chose to celebrate his birthday with the Trooping the Colour street parade in the summer. The Queen followed this tradition where 200 horses, 400 musicians and 1400 armed forces personnel create one of our greatest military spectaculars of precision, fanfare and horsemanship.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has said before that often her and her husband have quiet celebrations at home. It doesn’t always follow suit that the Royal Family follows that tradition of having a day off and low-key celebration as on 4th August 2018 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, spent her birthday celebrating at Prince Harry’s close friend Charlie van Straubenzee’s wedding. Similarly on 21st June 2018 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened Northampton’s Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre on his birthday. It is also reported in 2016 that he was at a football match in France. We hope they both had special cakes waiting for them at home!
You can hardly blame him, being further down the pecking order of succession, but Prince Harry’s birthdays, pre marriage, have been reportedly less restrained with a long night of partying at private members’ clubs.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge release official photographs (mostly taken by Kate) of the children on their birthdays and host small children’s parties for them with friends and family, similar to most children. However on Prince George’s fifth birthday there was even a £5 commemorative coin issued by the Royal Mint for the future king!
Milestone birthdays, like Prince Charles’ 70th this year, saw him host a garden party at Buckingham Palace six months earlier than his 14th November birthday, plus many dinners and occasions throughout the year. We concluded that Gibson Hall’s magnificent neo-classical splendour and central location would perfectly suit a milestone Royal birthday, where the bespoke food and a special show-stopping cake could take centre stage of the celebration.