Did you know that the Queen has two birthdays? Her ‘official’ one take places in June, while her actual birthday – y’know, the day she was actually born – is on 21st April.
This tradition of monarch’s having two birthdays dates back more than 250 years, when King George II wanted to move his celebrations from November to the summer.
Ever since then, kings and queens have celebrated their big day twice. And while the June birthday is usually the big celebration, the 21st April is still an important day. But what other significant events in history have taken place on 21st April? Well, you’d be surprised.
The founding of Rome
For one of the earliest significant 21st April events, we have to go all the way back to 753 BC, and the founding of Ancient Rome. The exact year of the founding of this ancient civilisation is disputed, but Roman tradition has the date as 21st April.
Legend has it that Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Mars, the God of War, founded Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphans. But the twins eventually fell out, and Romulus killed his brother to become sole ruler of the town – which was named Rome, after him.
King Henry VIII takes to the throne
Long before Queen Elizabeth II came along, one of her most famous ancestors, King Henry VIII, ascended to the throne on 21st April 1509. Though the second-born son in his family, Henry’s older brother died of a sudden illness at 15. That left Henry to become king, and change the course of history forever.
It was Henry’s quest for a son that has made him such a well-known historical figure, breaking from the Catholic Church to set up the Church of England and divorcing his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Five more wives were to follow, some of whom met rather sticky ends.
Charlotte Brontë born
Believe it or not, the Queen shares her birthday with many big names from the world of entertainment and the arts. Iggy Pop, Robert Smith and James McAvoy to name but a few. But perhaps most significant is the novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë, born on this day in 1816.
The oldest of the three literary powerhouses that were the Brontë sisters, Charlotte’s novels have become English literature classics. Most notably Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847.
Heartbreak Hotel goes to number 1
21st April is a significant date for another famous king, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Just as Henry VIII ascended to the throne, Elvis Presley ascended the charts when his first hit record, Heartbreak Hotel, hit number 1 on 21st April 1956.
The song was the first of a string of number 1s for the King, whose music revolutionised the industry, and youth culture in general. Over 600 million record sales later, and Elvis is known as one of the most significant figures of the 20th Century. And it all started on 21st April 1956.
Prince leaves us
Another significant event of the musical royalty kind came on 21st April 2016, when music legend Prince sadly passed away at the age of 57. Widely regarded as a pioneer of the music industry, Prince had a career that spanned some five decades.
We’ve all got our favourite Prince song, haven’t we? His music crossed genres in a way that few others have managed, while his flamboyant live performances and overall mystique cemented him as one of the greatest artists of all time.
The Queen turns 90
Of course, the Queen’s birthday is itself a historical event. And none more so than her 90th birthday in 2016. While big celebrations took place on her ‘official’ birthday, over the second weekend in June, 21st April was also a special day.
The evening before, the Queen lit the first of 900 beacons that would be lit up across the country and around the world. On the day itself, she undertook a walkabout around Windsor, greeting well-wishers and unveiling a plaque commemorating the Queen’s Walkway – a walking trail around the town.
She celebrates her 94th birthday this year. So, from all of us at Mecca Bingo, happy birthday Your Majesty!
What are some of your favourite memories from the Queen’s birthdays and Royal celebrations over the years? Let us know in the comments below.