May 24, 2024

The Queen’s Birthday

Trooping the Colour for the Queen.

Cruise passengers flying to England to embark on a cruise should plan to spend time in London. This famous capital is rich in culture and historic attractions, and is home to one of the world’s most recognized citizens – Queen Elizabeth.

No one celebrates a birthday with the pomp and pageantry of the reigning British monarch, and festivities this year to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday have been especially ebullient. Londoners showed up in full force to wave the Union Jack at a huge street party and parade along the Mall and to cheer for a woman who has never wavered in her pledge of dedication to the Commonwealth. In a Cape Town radio address made nearly seven decades ago on her 21st birthday while touring South Africa, the young princess declared that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

Well, her life has indeed been long and her birthdays numerous. In fact, the Queen has two birthday celebrations each year – her actual birthday is April 21st and her official birthday is the second Saturday in June when the City of London pulls out all the stops with Trooping the Colour. This is a 200-year-old military ceremony in which the ‘colours’ (flags) of the battalion are ‘trooped’ (carried) down the ranks. After inspecting the troops, the Queen rides in a carriage at the head of her guards back to Buckingham Palace where she and other members of the Royal Family gather on the balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

The Mall, open to pedestrians on Sundays, leads to Buckingham Palace.

Queen Victoria was the first monarch to take up residence in Buckingham Palace and was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch until her great-great-granddaughter surpassed her record of 63 years and 7 months in September 2015. Queen Elizabeth’s style has been markedly different to that of Queen Victoria, who spent much of her reign in mourning after the death of her husband. The current Queen, by contrast, has travelled the globe to meet countless people from all walks of life, and she sports bright colours and fanciful hats when she greets her subjects.

But the current Queen does share her great-great-grandmother’s love of Balmoral, a royal retreat in Scotland where she spends her annual summer holiday. Queen Victoria, who loved all things Scottish, purchased the Balmoral Estate in 1852 and commissioned the existing castle. The estate grounds, gardens and Castle Ballroom are open to visitors from early April to the end of July (visit for ticket information).

When the Queen is vacationing at Balmoral, her London residence is opened to visitors. During the months of August and September, the State Rooms and Garden at Buckingham Palace can be visited on pre-booked tours (visit for ticket information).

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.