Royal Birthday Traditions, from Lavish Kids' Parties to 21-Gun Salutes and, of Course, Cake!

No birthday — regal or not — is complete without a chance to blow out the candles, but the royals also have a few appropriately grand ways to fête their special days

Queen Elizabeth II looks on as HRH Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Photo: Indigo/Getty
01 of 08


Kate Middleton makes her three children's birthday cakes from scratch — but the Duchess of Cambridge once shared doesn't always get the measurements quite right.

"I love making the cake," the royal mom said. "It's become a bit of a tradition that I stay up 'til midnight with ridiculous amounts of cake mix and icing and I make far too much. But I love it."

02 of 08

Birthday Portraits

Birthdays are often a time to show how much a little prince or princess has grown with a brand new photo. Kate often gets behind the camera for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, putting a personal spin on the fun tradition.

03 of 08

New Toys

Like kids around the world, the little royals receive gifts to celebrate their big days. Prince George's godmother Julia Samuel once shared a tradition she picked up from Princess Diana: "I do to George what [Diana] did to us, which is give impossible toys that are really noisy and take a lot of making."

04 of 08

Social Media Shout-Outs

What's a modern birthday without public acknowledgment from friends and family? The Royal Family, Clarence House and Kensington Royal are known to mark these occasions on Instagram and Twitter by sharing a favorite photos of the birthday boy or girl along with well wishes — and perhaps a red balloon or cake emoji!

05 of 08

Birthday Bashes

While some royals opt to spend their birthdays quietly (and maybe celebrate by taking the day off to relax), others have a party! Twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella of Monaco are known for inviting friends from school to the palace for elaborate themed birthday parties. No big deal, right?

06 of 08

Trooping the Colour

Prince Louis, Prince George, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips and Autumn Phillips
Trooping The Colour 2019. James Devaney/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth's birthday is so special that it's celebrated twice a year: privately in April (her real birthday) and once in June with public festivities known as Trooping the Colour. The royal family enjoys a military parade, takes a horse-drawn carriage ride and gathers on the Buckingham Palace balcony to watch the flypast.

07 of 08

Westminster Abbey Bells

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey. BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty

At Prince William and Kate's wedding location, the bells ring in honor of the senior members of the royal family's birthdays.

08 of 08

Gun Salutes

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
Royal birthday gun salute. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty

On special days like anniversaries and birthdays, royal salutes are fired from various locations across the U.K. In London, salutes are fired both from the Tower of London and either Hyde Park or Green Park, depending upon the occasion. The basic salute is 21 rounds, fired at 10-second intervals, but in Hyde Park an extra 20 shots are fired because it is a Royal Park.

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