Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth
Image courtesy of www.royal.gov.uk
Many will be happy to see another long weekend closely approaching with a public holiday in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Birthday, but is it even her real birthday?
On Monday 11 June 2018, all of Australian, except Western Australia (WA) and Queensland, celebrate the Queen's 92nd birthday, the second Monday of June. However, the Queen's real birthday is actually 21 April.
The date of the Queen's Birthday celebration and public holiday, if there is one, varies depending on location, season and from a practical perspective just simply to avoid overcrowding the calendar with events and holidays. For example, WA celebrates Western Australia Day, the commemoration of the founding of the Swan River Colony in 1829, on the first Monday in June. This is a week before the Queen's Birthday public holiday for most of the rest of Australia. So, celebration of the Queen's Birthday has changed to the end of September or early October for WA, depending on school terms and the Perth Royal Show.
Across the other side of the world, Canada celebrate the Queen's Birthday with a public holiday in May. But, they call it Victoria Day and although thought of as the celebration of the present Queen, the day is named in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday. The day has become more of a celebration of the end of winter and start of summer with parades and fireworks in many cities.
Our close neighbours New Zealand, also celebrate the Queen's Birthday with a public holiday, but on the first Monday of June. For them it also marks the official start of the ski season.
While at the epicentre of the old British Empire, in England they usually have their Queen's Birthday celebration on the second Saturday of June to coincide with good weather. There is actually no public holiday for the celebration, but the Trooping the Colour parade takes place between Buckingham Palace, The Mall and Horseguards' Parade.
Evidently the 52 Commonwealth countries celebrate the Queen's Birthday differently, in many cases if at all. It all depends on the evolution of their relationship with the Queen and British Empire. The Queen is still the monarch of 16 Commonwealth countries, which includes Australia, New Zealand, Canada and England. These 16 countries are called Commonwealth realms and most of these countries at least mark the Queen's Birthday with the Queen's Birthday Honours list. 31 Commonwealth countries are republics and five Commonwealth countries are monarchies with a different monarch.
A Commonwealth realm is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the monarch exercise their power and authority within limits set up by legal framework, essentially the monarch is just a ceremonial role. This is different to an absolute monarchy like United Arab Emirates, Brunei and Swaziland in which the monarch is not restrained by any legal framework.
Inevitably, the upcoming Queen's Birthday public holiday tends to bring up the republic debate. To be a monarchy or not to be?
There are advantages to the constitutional monarchy, in the ability it has in developing strong connections to other countries in the same monarch. As an Australian one might feel a stronger connection to Canada as opposed to the United States of America due to our history and common connection with the British Empire. Others are pro-monarchy simply for the tradition, history and fascination of the monarch. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married it was anticipated and celebrated by people around the world. Being a monarch we have a sense of ownership of these types of royal events and can create conversation and unify us.
On the other hand, pro-republic oppose the monarchy and favour elected representatives because the position of the monarch can't be removed. An individual who may be unworthy or unable to fill the monarchy role properly will remain in a role which demands respect and represents authority. A monarchy tends to promote class privilege, that success is gained through social status as opposed to time, effort and hard work.
If Australia did become a republic, would we lose the Queen's Birthday public holiday? If there was any change of Australia losing a long weekend, we're sure to stay a constitutional monarch for a long time to come! So whatever your plans are for the Queen's Birthday, enjoy the day while we still celebrate it.