This post is also available in: Vietnamese
A Vietnamese friend recently asked me, why is the Queen’s Birthday on a different day each year? And it is true: Britain’s National Day is called “The Queen’s Birthday”, but is never held on the Queen’s actual birthday, which is on 21 April. Instead we celebrate at some other time, depending on the year and the place.
My instinctive response is, what do you expect from a country like Britain, where creativity often trumps conformity?
The straightforward answer is that in London, at least since 1748, our monarch’s birthday has been an excuse for a party, and a big parade known as “Trooping the Colour”. This tends to work best in summer sunshine. So if his or her real birthday falls at some other time of year, we shift it to June when good weather seems more likely (although frankly in London, who knows?).
On the whole British Embassies around the world are faithful to this tradition (although in some Commonwealth countries the official birthday is on yet another date). So here in Hanoi, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City, we also hold our National Day reception in June.
The irony is that whilst Hanoi can be beautiful in April, when my lovely coral tree flowers, by June it is often far too hot for a formal outside party. So we have to abandon the beautiful Residence courtyard and move to a hotel with air conditioning.
This year was special anyway. We were able to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s coronation as well as forty years of diplomatic relations, and the event, which we held last night, was splendid. But maybe next year I should ask for permission to celebrate the official birthday on the real one.