Victoria Day: How the Queen gets another official birthday in one of her favourite countries

The Queen has a special relationship with Canada. (Getty Images)

A rare phone call between the Queen and the Canadian prime minister has revealed the monarch’s little-known third birthday.

The Queen spoke to Justin Trudeau on Monday, as she makes her way through a list of countries where she is Queen to catch up with leaders.

She called him on Victoria Day, the day her birthday is celebrated in Canada.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday twice in the UK, with both an official birthday and her real birthday.

The monarch, who has a special relationship with Canada as her most visited Commonwealth nation, has a third birthday marked each year on 18 May.

Called Victoria Day, it was first established to honour Queen Victoria. It has been observed in Canada since 1845, though it was originally celebrated on 24 May, which was her actual birthday.

When she died in 1901, it was decided to keep the day as an official holiday, but it was moved to the Monday preceding 25 May.

Queen Elizabeth II, Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, acceded to the throne in 1952, but Canada did not change its public holiday to match the new monarch’s birthday.

On Victoria Day, many Canadians get the day off and the Royal Union flag is flown along with the National Flag at federal buildings, airports, military bases from sunrise to sunset.

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In regular year there would also be parades or firework displays in some Canadian cities.

But for the Queen, who only has two days off a year, there was no time for rest, as she called Trudeau to talk about “the state of the world”.

Tweeting after the call, the prime minister said: “I spoke on the phone with Queen Elizabeth II today. We talked about the state of the world, COVID-19, and more.

“I also thanked her for the hopeful messages she has sent during these difficult times, and I wished her the very best this Victoria Day.”

The Queen on a lab tour in Canada in 2010. (Getty Images)

As a young child in the 1970s, Mr Trudeau met the Queen several times through his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was one of Canada’s longest-serving prime ministers.

She has visited the country more than 20 times, but hasn’t made any visits abroad in several years.

The Queen’s real birthday is on 21 April, and is usually marked quietly at home. One of her former chefs revealed her favourite chocolate cake recipe, and said she often shares it with a lady in waiting.

Read more: Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

In 2020, she spent her birthday in lockdown in Windsor, with her husband Prince Philip.

She asked the traditional gun salutes which are held across Windsor Great Park, Hyde Park and the Tower of London not go ahead, for the first time in her 68-year reign.

The Queen and Philip marking Canada Day in Ottawa in 2010. (Getty Images)

Her official birthday is marked on the second Saturday in June, and it’s when the Trooping the Colour takes places in London.

Australia and New Zealand also have different days for her official birthday. In most of Australia, it’s marked on the second Monday in June, but some mark it on the first.

In New Zealand, it’s the first Monday in June. In Saint Kitts and Nevis, they move the date each year, while on the Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they have also chosen the second Monday in June.

The tradition of the official birthday started more than 260 years ago with George II. His real birthday was in November, and fed up with bad weather, he decided to combine his birthday with the Trooping the Colour, a military procession which was held every year and already a fixture of the British calendar.

The Queen welcomes Justin Trudeau at Buckingham Palace during the NATO summit. (Getty Images)

Read more: Chocolate cake and gun salutes: How the Royal Family celebrates birthdays

The Queen’s father, King George VI, had his official birthday on the second Thursday in June, and the Queen adopted this for a few years after she acceded.

She continued this for a few years before moving it to the second Saturday in June in 1959.

Buckingham Palace confirmed the Trooping the Colour parade will not go ahead in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of March, the Palace said: “In line with Government advice, it has been agreed that The Queen’s Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour, will not go ahead in its traditional form.”

The replacement plans are not yet known.