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AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

The Queen's Birthday

You may have noticed that there are two different dates to celebrate the Queen's Birthday in Australia. Most of Australia celebrates in June, however, Western Australia has chosen to celebrate it on the Monday nearest September 30th. Queensland has moved the Queen's Birthday celebration.

Around the world other Commonwealth countries celebrate the Queen's Birthday on a variety of dates. In England it's the first Saturday in June. In New Zealand it's the first Monday in June and in Canada it's in the middle of May.

Australian Post issues a Queen’s Birthday stamp every year. The 12 April 2001 issue (shown below) commemorates the Queen's 75th birthday and featured a photo of the Queen from her trip to Glasgow, Scotland in 1999.

Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was actually born at 2:40 am on April 21, 1926. Official birthdays became separated from actual birthdays when King Edward VII decided to celebrate his in the summer instead of his true November birthday.

Although you can't pick or change the date you were born, it does appear that when it's celebrated can be changed.

Why does Australia celebrate the Queen's Birthday?

Australia is a member of the Commonwealth Realms. It is an organisation of mostly former British colonies that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. Australia achieved legislative independence after the Australian parliament ratified the Statute of Westminster in 1942, back-dated to 1939.

Queen's annual Australian birthday stamp 2001However, the Queen is still the monarch of Australia. The Queen does not usually act as the political Head of State nor perform ceremonial duties, except on occasions of significant historical or political importance. Day-to-day political and ceremonial duties are performed by the Governor-General.

The Governor-General is appointed by the Queen to act as her vice-regal representative in Australia. Her selection is based on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia.

Australia has debated the continuing practice of having the Queen as its monarch. A referendum held in 1999 to change this was defeated and it continues to be debated by the public and both Australian political parties.

A question from a Canadian reader

Question from Andrew... "I noticed that your site says Canada celebrates the Queens Birthday in the middle of May. What you might not know it is Queen Victoria and not Queen Elizabeth. I assume the one we celebrate here in Australia is for Queen Elizabeth II?"

Answer ... Andrew, you're almost right. The Canadian celebration is called Victoria Day because it was created to honour the late Queen Victoria. However, over the years the Canadian holiday has changed to include the reigning sovereign's birthday as well.

The Queen's Birthday in Australia and Victoria Day in Canada are basically the same even if it's on a different date. So we both celebrated the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II again in 2012.

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