Queen E. II Rocks Out on Her Birthday

Queen's birthday

Image source Reuters

Many Brits love their Queen, and the fact that she has two birthdays regularly gets a spike in news coverage at this time of year. I’ve mentioned this before — the two birthdays for the monarch goes back to 1748 when England’s King George II, born in November, wanted a fair weather birthday celebration. He decided to make his official birthday in June, and the habit stuck.

This year, though, to celebrate her 92nd birthday, Queen Elizabeth II was feted with a star-studded pop concert. We’re talking Sting, Tom Jones… In fact, the opening number for the night was his “It’s Not Unusual,” which I have long loved for the hilarity of the “oonga shaka” chorus.

Shaggy, Kylie Minogue, Shawn Mendes, and Ladysmith Black Mambo were also among those on the bill for the longest-reigning, living monarch’s shindig in London’s Albert Hall. The Queen took the throne, in case you aren’t old enough to remember, in 1952! At the end of the concert, Prince Charles, 70, took the stage to lead a rousing round of cheers for his mother, who at 92 is also the oldest living monarch.

Birthday Fundraising

The concert was a “break in tradition” for the Queen as she usually celebrates more privately (and maybe noshing on jellied corgis, per a previous blog). Many of the Royal family members joined her in the box for this rocking birthday bash, which was also televised and aired on BBC channels.

The Queen’s actual birthday of April 21 was also marked with an honorary gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London and in the town of Windsor.

The concert was also a fundraiser for The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, so she gets to join my list also of people who use their birthdays to raise donations or show generosity to others. The charity, led by her grandson Harry, will “encourage young people to excel in areas like sports, education, health and the environment across the 53 Commonwealth countries.”

Queen's Birthday

Image source Reuters

Birthday Concert Just the Beginning

Of course, the concert is only one of the Queen’s birthday events. I mean, she’s really someone who knows how to keep the birthday going and going, In June, all of London will celebrate her “official” birthday at the Trooping the Colour, an annual military parade which will bring all the royals back to the balcony of the Palace (including, presumably, the by then newly married Henry and Meghan). 

According to the Royal Mint, “during the ceremony, trained and fully operational members of the Household Division greet The Queen with a royal salute. She then inspects the troops, riding past them in a carriage. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop,’ the regimental colour, or flag, is carried down the ranks of troops. Chalk up one more advantage to being Queen — the picture below suggests this pomp and circumstance is probably a bit more exciting than a balloon bouquet!

Queen birthday

Trooping the Colour, from the Royal Mint

The Queen can’t “Pooh Pooh” this gift.

In my diligent following of all things birthday I am often confronted with yet another article about why the Queen has two birthdays. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of year it is, although the coverage does pick up around May when she is feted in several places. (C’mon she already gets to wear a crown AND she gets multiple birthdays?! Must she rub it in?)

Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised when recently the coverage around the Queen and her birthdays informed about a new book featuring Winnie the Pooh and her Royal Majesty. Both celebrate 90 years in 2016. Pooh has many fewer wrinkles though.

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh. I was an avid teddy bear collector for years, and even in college had a Winnie the Pooh key fob. One of our favorite games to play on a bridge when my boy was little was “Pooh sticks” where you throw the stick into the water and run to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick would come out first the other side.

So I am particularly pleased to see Pooh still part of the storytelling fabric of the universe. In this case, he and Piglet want to give the Queen a present. Penned by Jane Riordan, the takes Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin and Eeyore through London in an open top red double decker bus, visiting the lion statues in Trafalgar Square, seeing the Buckingham Palace guards and even encountering Prince George (who is given a balloon by Piglet).

The colourful drawings in the classic EH Shepard style are by illustrator Mark Burgess, who also drew the 2009 pictures for the first authorized Pooh sequel. There’s even an audio video version narrated by the talented Jim Broadbent.

In the spirit of embracing the wonder of Winnie further, though, I share some of the New York Public Library’s fun facts about the beloved bear and his 90-year old friends:

 

  • The curious name of Winnie-the-Pooh came from Christopher Robin, from a combination of the names of a real bear and a pet swan. During the 1920s there was a black bear named “Winnie” in the London Zoo who had been the mascot for the Winnipeg regiment of the Canadian army. “Pooh” was the name of a swan in When We Were Very Young.
  • Pooh was purchased at Harrods department store in London and given by A.A. Milne to his son Christopher Robin on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. He was called Edward (proper form of Teddy) Bear at the time.
  • The rest of the toys were received as gifts by Christopher Robin between 1920 and 1928.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh had adventures with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger in the 100 Aker (Acre) Wood (based on the Ashdown Forest in southern England, located near the Milne family home).
  • The stuffed animals range in height from 25″ (Eeyore, the biggest) to 4 1/2″ (Piglet, the smallest).

You can enjoy the birthday book in full and share it with the kiddos in your life for free from www.Disney.co.uk/WinnieRoyalBirthday.