Yesterday, as you might have seen in the news, was Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. Meeting a whole new benchmark, she turned 90 years old.

2016 Jo-Ann and Richard Queen's Birthday Drive
Queen Elizabeth II making her way down the street from Windsor to greet the people on her 90th birthday. Photo credit: Jo-Ann and Richard Sun.

England was in frenzy yesterday over the event: you barely heard anything else on the radio (save for at the end of the day when Prince’s death was announced…rest in power). But for the whole morning and afternoon, the radios, TV, and Internet were filled with stories on Queen E. She even has a website up detailing the celebratory show designed to honour her life story which will be held in May.

Growing up in a former colony (aka Canada), interest in the English monarchy kind of splits 50-50 between the opinions of absolute adoration and absolute obliviousness to the whole thing. It’s not quite the same in the UK. Here, general opinions split 50-50 too, but half adoration and pride, and the other half angry and indignant that so much tax money is going to their upkeep.

That said, the debate was mostly put aside yesterday. What you heard wasn’t griping or moaning, but a laying down of opinion in favour of simply paying tribute to a pretty amazing historical figure – a fact that can’t be denied either way.

2016 BBC Photo Queen taking flowers 90th birthday
Queen Elizabeth receives flowers and cards on her 90th birthday. Photo credit: BBC.

A series of over 900 beacons were lit across the UK in honour of Her Majesty. Hundreds of people lined up to give cards, bouquets, and congratulations, which she accepted happily. Needless to say, she heard many a chorus of “Happy Birthday” that day.

To be alive during her reign is an amazing slice of history to have been part of, whether or not you’re directly affected. I was thinking the other day how weird it’s going to be when she’s gone and the next head of state is a King instead of a Queen. At the very least, she’s an amazing woman who’s seen (and helped) the world change.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how the UK celebrated, this BBC article covers the lot including who made her birthday cake, a Shakespearean tribute by the Prince of Wales, and (my favourite for being so endearing) some interviews with other 90-year-olds who have literally grown up in parallel to her.

Also fun fact: the Queen has two birthdays. April 21st is her actual birthday, but her “official” state birthday which is in June, a day put aside for the country to generically celebrate the monarch’s birthday. The reason why this is dates back to George II in 1748 whose November birthday was deemed too cold for his birthday parade. Therefore the more weather-friendly month of June was chosen, and has been tradition ever since. For more details, check out this Telegraph article.

So happy birthday, You Majesty – or as the Twitter hashtag says, #happybirthdayyourmajesty.

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