Queen Elizabeth as a girl. Image courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

Queen Elizabeth as a girl. Image courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

While those in the Northern hemisphere have started their summer, the Southern hemisphere has gone into winter. In New Zealand this is marked by the public holiday before summer. This day off from school and work is the Queen’s birthday weekend and it’s always the first Monday in June. Growing up, my parents would try to take us away for the long weekend as it was the last chance before my father got busy at work.

As a girl I understood that every country has public holidays, but it was only as I got older that I found out that every country has different public holidays. The Queen‚Äôs birthday isn‚Äôt celebrated everywhere, and where it is, it’s not necessarily¬†celebrated¬†on the same day. The Queen‚Äôs birthday isn‚Äôt even on the Queen‚Äôs real birthday! Queen Elizabeth II was actually born on the 21st of April in 1926, but she didn’t set the date for the public celebration, or even the public celebration of the monarch’s birthday. The first monarch to have a public birthday was King George II in 1748. Today,¬†the monarch‚Äôs birthday is a public holiday in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Norfolk Island, Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha.

While the majority of these countries have this public holiday in June, it also happens in April and May. New Zealand and many of these countries have followed the lead of the UK and fixed the royal birthday to a set day. So why does New Zealand have theirs in their winter? June was picked by the government when they decided to have public holidays more evenly spaced out during the year. However, to most of us, the most interesting fact about the Queen’s birthday is that it can be called the King’s birthday. We have had a Queen for so long that there wouldn’t be many people who remember getting a day off for the King’s birthday. And it will be so strange when we finally do have to change to have a King’s birthday! So all those in New Zealand who recently had a long weekend, I hope you enjoyed your break! And to all those who have or will have a long weekend due to the Queen’s birthday, I hope you learnt a little more.

-Monique Brough
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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