In celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s 96th birthday today, 21 April 22, Royal Gun Salutes have been fired across London and the United Kingdom.
It is traditional for The Queen to celebrate her birthday privately with family. However, as a public acknowledgement, Royal Gun Salutes are fired at saluting stations in key locations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Her Majesty’s special day began with a performance of Happy Birthday by the Band of the Coldstream Guards at Windsor Castle. They played beneath the castle battlements as the regiment took up their duties as the new Windsor Castle Guard.
Coldstream Guardsmen are dual role infantry soldiers: as well as ceremonial duties protecting the Monarch, which date back almost four centuries, they specialise in light role operations: performing reconnaissance, operating machine guns and mortars, and engaging enemy troops on foot and in light armoured vehicles.
Royal Gun Salutes
Hyde Park: At 1200hrs The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery (KTRHA) fired 41 rounds from six First World War era 13-pounder Field Guns, each pulled into position by teams of six colour matched Irish Draught horses. After which, the Band of the Scots Guards performed Happy Birthday. It is the first time in three years that the Gun salute for the Queen's birthday has been able to be held in such a public location, due to Coronavirus restrictions.
Major Fran Sykes, Commanding Officer KTRHA said: “We are fortunate enough to have a special relationship with Her Majesty The Queen and very much look forward to participating in such a wide range of parades and pageants to mark her special jubilee”.
Tower of London: The Honourable Artillery Company fired a 62 Royal Gun Salute from Tower Wharf at 1300hrs - 41 rounds as per the normal salute from a Royal Palace, then the Tower’s City of London status adds an extra 21 rounds.
York: At noon at Museum Gardens, York, 3 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (3 RHA) conducted the 21 Royal Gun Salute on behalf of York Garrison, using Light Guns to perform the task. British Army Band Catterick also provided musical accompaniment to mark the occasion.
Scotland: The Monarch’s special day was marked with Royal Gun Salutes at Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle at 1200hrs. In Edinburgh, the noon firing by 19 Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) was reviewed by Peter Sawkins, the youngest winner of Great British Bake-Off (2020). Peter was joined by guests representing theatre, arts, entertainment and tourism across Scotland.
Wales: The salutes were held at Cardiff Castle and Caernarfon Castle. 104 Regiment Royal Artillery fired the 21 Royal Gun Salute from Cardiff Castle at noon, while 103 Regiment Royal Artillery fired from Caernarfon Castle at 1100hrs.
Northern Ireland: 206 Battery of 105 Regiment Royal Artillery fired their midday Royal Gun Salute from Hillsborough Castle, Her Majesty’s royal residence in Northern Ireland, County Down.
Elsewhere, Royal Gun Salutes were fired at saluting stations in Portsmouth and Plymouth by Navy personnel.
Seventy years a monarch
Princess Elizabeth was born on this day in 1926 in London, to the Duke and Duchess of York, who would later become King George IV and Queen Mary. Ten years later when George’s brother King Edward VIII abdicated, Princess Elizabeth became the heir presumptive, meaning she was directly in line to succeed her father King George.
When the king died in 1952, the young princess acceded the throne as Queen Elizabeth II. She has ruled the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for 70 years, longer than any other Monarch in British history, and this year is her Platinum Jubilee.
Find out more about the history of gun salutes