Happy Birthday, Your Majesty! Exploring Royal Vocabulary

The Queen's birthdayPatriotic households everywhere will be flying the flag for The Queen on 21st April as Her Majesty celebrates her 92nd birthday. The Queen normally celebrates her special day privately, although the event is marked by gun salutes held at midday in Central London and other gun salutes around the capital at Hyde Park, Windsor Great Park and the Tower of London. This year, there will also be a special musical celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. We’re raising a glass to the Queen as she cuts her birthday cake, so come and join us for some royal vocabulary!


The Queen’s two birthdays

The Queen actually has two birthdays each year. Her real birthday is on 21st April and her official birthday is traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday in June.

This tradition was started by George II in 1748 whose birthday was in November and so, due to winter weather, decided to celebrate officially in the summer.

The Sovereign’s official birthday is when the country marks the event in a spectacular day of celebration, called the Trooping of the Colour. Throughout history this has normally been in the summer to improve the likelihood of good weather.


The Queen’s birthday celebrations

On the 92nd birthday of Elizabeth II royal fans will be celebrating the occasion with street parties and other fun activities to honour one of the most regal events of the year!

The year before last saw a huge celebration as the Queen turned 90. The Queen visited the Royal Mail Windsor delivery office to mark the 500th anniversary of the Postal Service. She also visited Alexandra Gardens later in the day for a ceremony to officially open the new Bandstand.

On her 90th birthday, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh walked from Windsor Castle towards the Statute of Queen Victoria at the foot of Castle Hill, where Her Majesty unveiled a plaque marking the Queen’s Walkway.

The Queen’s Walkway is a special walking route around Windsor. It is four miles long and commemorates the Queen’s long reign.

Queen's Walkway Marker - Royal Vocabulary - Queen's Birthday

Swans inspect the Queen’s Walkway marker by the River Thames

In the evening, the Queen lit a beacon and viewed two further beacons being lit along Long Walk and at Copper Horse. In total, there were an incredible 900 beacons lit across the country to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday with many beacon-lighting events taking place.

The Queen’s birthday this year is set to be a much quieter affair. However, all patriotic people will still enjoy celebrating the special day by having a special meal, going out for a drink or simply singing the national anthem!

There is also set to be an extra special celebration for the Queen’s birthday this year…

Queen Victoria Statue - Castle Hill

Queen Victoria Statue at the foot of Castle Hill, Windsor

A musical celebration at the Royal Albert Hall 

For the Queen’s 92nd birthday this year, plans have been made by the Royal Commonwealth Society for a night of music and song at the Royal Albert Hall.

The evening will showcase contemporary music from artists from the commonwealth, including Sting, Kylie Minogue, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the BBC Concert Orchestra. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.

The special musical celebration will take place following the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which is set to take place in London between 16th and 20th April. The summit will be attended by the leaders of all 53 Commonwealth members to discuss global issues.

The Queen will then host a dinner at Buckingham Palace before the Leaders’ Retreat at Windsor Castle.

The Royal Albert Hall, where the Queen’s birthday musical celebration will take place in 2018

Royal vocabulary for EFL lessons

For all EFL students, the Queen’s birthday is a good time to think about all that royal vocabulary. So settle down onto your throne, grab your crown, crack open a bottle of the most expensive Champagne you can find – and let’s go!

Here is a list of royal vocabulary that will not only be useful for use in EFL discussion classes, but is also an interesting resource and reference guide for those interested in the Royal Court and the British peerage system.


Royal vocabulary and royal-related phrases

Royalty – relating to royalty

Sovereign – the nation’s ruler / head of state

Monarch – the nation’s ruler

Elizabeth II – the current British Queen, daughter of George VI

The Queen on her throne - royal vocabulary

Queen Elizabeth II wearing a crown and sitting on a throne

Duke of Edinburgh – the current Queen’s husband

House of Windsor – the British Royal family since 1917

Your Majesty – title of address for the Queen

Your Highnesstitle of address for a royal person

Reign – royal power

Buckingham Palace – the Queen’s London home

Buckingham Palace - royal vocabulary

Buckingham Palace

Line of succession – the order by which royal people are expected to become Queen or King

Windsor Castle – the royal residence in Windsor, Berkshire

Union Jack – national flag of the United Kingdom

National Anthem – the song adopted as the official anthem for a nation

Corgi – the breed of the Queen’s dogs


Crown  – a special tiara (formal headdress) worn by a monarch

Throne – a large, special chair where a monarch sits on formal occasions

Coronation – the ceremony where a new monarch is crowned

Abdication / to abdicate – to give up power / the throne

The Royal Court – the wider royal household, including family and attendants

British peerage – ranks of British nobility (people connected to the royal family) – hereditary titles

Queen (f) – the nation’s monarch

King (m) – the nation’s monarch

Prince (m) – member of the royal household, often son of the sovereign

Princess (f) – member of the royal household, often daughter of the sovereign

British peerage system

There are 5 hereditary ranks of British peerage, behind the Monarch and the Prince and Princesses of the royal household. These ranks are passed down through the generations and form a hierarchical structure of nobility.

For those who watched Downton Abbey on television, you will remember that Lord Grantham is an Earl and Lady Grantham a Countess.

Lord and Lady Grantham - royal vocabulary

Lord and Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey

Duke (m) / Duchess (f) – highest rank of British peerage

Marquess (m) / Marchioness (f) – 2nd rank of British peerage, ranking above an Earl but below a Duke

Earl (m) / Countess (f) – 3rd rank of British peerage, ranking above a viscount but below a marquess

Viscount (m) / Viscountess (f) – 4th rank of British peerage, ranking above a baron but below an Earl

Baron (m) / Baroness (f) – 5th rank of British peerage, the lowest peer ranking


These ranks all have the right to apply to sit in the House of Lords. There are two more ranks which are not British peers. The Baronet/Baronetess, which is hereditary, and the Knight/Dame which is an honour title and non-hereditary.

Baronet (m) / Baronetess (f) – hereditary title beneath Baron, but not a peer ranking

Knight (m) / Dame (f) – non-hereditary, title bestowed to honour an achievement

All Queen’s honours awards (including Damehoods and Knighthoods) are announced twice a year – in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June and in the New Year’s Honours List on the 1st January.

During the ceremony, the individual is ‘dubbed’ by the Queen, who will lay a sword blade on their right, then left shoulder.

Queen knights Bruce Forsyth - royal vocabulary

The Queen knights the entertainer Bruce Forsyth

Share your thoughts on the Queen’s birthday

What do think about the British royal family?

Do you support the concept of a monarchy in general?

Will you be celebrating the Queen’s birthday this week?

What other royal vocabulary should we include in our Queen’s birthday lesson?

Who is your favourite member of the British royal family?

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