Garden party for the Queen

The British Embassy in Vienna helped to celebrate the official birthday of Queen Elisabeth II with a garden party at the official residence of the British ambassador Simon Smith this week.This year was the Queen’s 84th official birthday which is celebrated throughout the Commonwealth often on slightly different days – and is not to be confused with her actual birthday which is on 21 April and is celebrated in private.Her official birthday is 12 June and the Garden Party at the residence took place on the 15th.The tradition of two birthdays began with King Edward VII, born in November, who decided to celebrate a second birthday in June. Queen Elizabeth’s official birthdays were on the second Thursday of June for the first seven years of her reign.It is now normally celebrated on Saturday. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor’s arrival in the world – officially timed at 0240 GMT on 21 April, 1926 – is toasted at parties in British embassies around the globe, usually at some time in June, as it was in Vienna.Unveiling the garden party in Vienna, Smith said it symbolised the cultural diversity of Great Britain as well as good business and economic opportunities.Music was provided by the multicultural “BT Melodians Steel Orchester” and there was a display of pictures by Peter Sanders showing the country’s religious diversity.But the celebration also remained true to its traditions from local customs through to traditional food and drink like Scottish whiskey and British cheese or fish and chips.The event this year in Vienna was sponsored by RBS Coutts, BT Austria and Holmes Place and took place after the weekend’s event in London with the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in Horseguards’ Parade. For many years the Queen arrived at the party side-saddle on her favourite horse, Burmese. Now the 84-year-old monarch is driven past the guard of honour in a horse-drawn carriage.Her official birthday is also marked by the flying of the Union flag on government buildings, a 42-gun salute and the publication of the birthday honours list.