“A Wizard is Never Late” to The Queen’s Birthday
As the world continues to gather to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, the celebrations in Mumbai were joined by an unexpected guest.
Joining the British High Commissioner, Dominic Asquith, and the Deputy High Commissioner (and party host), Shekhar Iyer, was acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen, who was reportedly delighted to have been invited to the festivities in honour of Her Majesty by the British Council.
Famed for a number of roles on stage and in film, including Gandalf the Grey (later the White) in Peter Jackon’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, and Magneto in the X-Men films of the 00s, Sir Ian McKellen made a welcome addition and ruefully commented that he had “never been asked [by The Queen] to her birthday party before”.
While apparently never invited to Her Majesty’s birthday parties by her personally, Sir Ian McKellen has made her acquaintance before, having received the Order of the British Empire in 1974, been knighted in 1991, and made a Companion of Honour in 2008 for services to drama and equality.
As well as an event to mark the long life of service that Her Majesty has given to the Commonwealth, this year’s party was also used as an opportunity to celebrate the works of acclaimed Tudor playwright William Shakespeare. Such a theme only made Sir Ian McKellen’s presence all the more appropriate, having a well established history as a Shakespearean actor. He has also used the chance to catch up with other actors within Mumbai’s thriving film industry.
Though Her Majesty’s actual birthday is on April 21st, and already having been celebrated in that respect, it has long since been a British tradition to celebrate a second birthday for The Queen sometime during the summer as well, typically sometime around the 11th-17th of June.
This is to allow celebrations to be hosted when Britain can usually expect fairer weather for parties and parades. Other Commonwealth Realms follow a similar tradition, with birthday celebrations usually being held from the end of April to June. The only notable exception are the Australian states of Western Australia and Queensland, who observe The Queen’s Official Birthday on the first Monday of October. It is often, but not always, a public holiday and may be celebrated alongside other events.