Queen's Birthday: George III edition
October 10, 2018 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, was born in May, but celebrated her official birthday on January 18 as Queen of GB/the UK. Simple question: Was this date picked for a particular reason? And if so, cite please?
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I found this on GoogleBooks. It's pretty neat.

I was surprised to discover that many British monarchs celebrate two birthdays. Sometimes it's to align with a military event or to improve the chances of having better weather for the celebrations. In Charlotte's case, January 18 was a particularly good time to encourage trade.
posted by mochapickle at 9:25 PM on October 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Notes & Queries was always my favourite journal for random stuff like this.

This is a fun question. We know that it was in place as early as 1764-5 because Leopold Mozart dedicated six sonatas from his prodigious son for Queen Charlotte's birthday in 1765. And we also know that it was celebrated in 1762, only 132 days after her marriage to George III. I don't see anything in the London Gazette during that time period that looks like an official proclamation.
posted by holgate at 10:22 PM on October 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

The "change of style" referenced in mochapickle's link is the switch from Julian to Gregorian calendars which happened in 1752 in the UK (the switch over was uncoordinated and took 300 years for every country to switch) and in the UK's case meant a year to year difference of 11 days that had to be made up. This change also often coincided with a switch of new years day from March 1 to January 1st which can mess with what year a person was born.
posted by Mitheral at 11:29 PM on October 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not to add onto the question that isn't even mine, but I'm gonna: though I have theories, I'm interested to see why celebrating a queen's birthday would encourage trade. Is it more than just 18th century royal knickknacks?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:14 AM on October 11, 2018

Just guessing here, but: Royal birthdays in the 18th century would have been celebrated in great style. Music, masques, dancing, feasting. In addition to the court's official celebration, anyone who wanted to gain or keep the Queen's patronage or favour would be sure to offer some tribute. Commission a piece of music or a play; find her worthy gifts from the best makers; give a free dinner to the poor of your parish in her name. Then as now, pubs, coffee houses and restaurants would host local celebrations. It would be a public holiday, so people would spend money on leisure activities, food, drink and treats.

Late January is a lull in trade after everyone has spent their money on Christmas and New Year's. The Queen's birthday would make sure that people with money kept spending it, employing craftspeople, people in the food industry, artists and more. People and goods would have to be moved in large quantities; boatmen, porters, hostlers and carriage hire companies would all be busy.

Here's an account of Queen Charlotte's last birthday in 1818, when she was 74.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:46 AM on October 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

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