One thing’s for sure — the royal family sure knows how to throw a party. And when it comes to birthday celebrations, they know how to pull out all the stops. Here’s a look at some of the most extravagant royal family birthdays over the years. You’re sure to get a kick out of how Princess Diana helped Prince William celebrate this thirteenth birthday (page 8).
1. Prince Harry’s 30th birthday
Back before he was making headlines for marrying American actress Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s biggest claim to fame was his hard-partying lifestyle. And when the red-headed royal turned 30, his family made sure to do it up right. According to Vanity Fair, Pippa Middleton and close friend Guy Pelly organized the celebration, which included a ski resort-themed nightclub complete with snow machines and specialty cocktails. Father Prince Charles reportedly had boxes of champagne sent over to the party as well.
Next: Speaking of Charles …
2. Prince Charles’ 60th birthday
There was no shortage of star power when Prince Charles celebrated his 60th birthday. In addition to a 450-guest affair throne at Buckingham Palace by the queen, the heir to the throne sipped cocktails at Highgrove with the likes of Dame Judy Dench and comedians John Cleese and Joan Rivers. The festivities were highlighted by a raucous performance from late comedian, and Charles’ friend, Robin Williams.
Next: Nothing but the best for Her Majesty …
3. Queen Elizabeth’s 92nd birthday
Let’s be honest. Anything short of extravagant would not have been appropriate for any of Queen Elizabeth’s birthdays. But for her 92nd, the royal family really pulled out all the stops. They paid tribute to the longest-reigning monarch with a huge concert at Royal Albert Hall, complete with a star-studded guest list including Sting and Tom Jones. Before the show, Prince Harry reportedly said to his grandmother: “Your Majesty, if you do not mind me saying, you are not someone who is easy to buy gifts for. But I think we have the perfect present.”
Next: As always, her birthday continues …
4. Trooping the Colour
The reigning monarch celebrates two birthdays: Actual date of birth, and commemoration of the sovereign’s reign. The latter is marked by the annual Trooping the Color festivities, complete with a full military parade and extravagant flyover. Queen Elizabeth has only missed the festivities once during her 60-plus year reign. Festivities are often highlighted by lavish outfits, and classic shots of the royal family watching the flyover from the Buckingham Palace balcony. (The last couple of years, young royals Prince George and Princess Charlotte stole the show.)
Next: While we’re talking about the young Cambridge kids …
5. Prince George’s 1st birthday
Nevermind that Prince William’s eldest son likely doesn’t remember his first birthday celebration. That didn’t stop that royal family from throwing him an excellent birthday bash. Both close and extended members of the royal family — including Queen Elizabeth herself — attended the Peter Rabbit-themed soiree and brought him tons of presents. Additionally, landmarks were lit up in blue to commemorate the occasion.
Next: As for his media-savvy sister …
6. Princess Charlotte’s 3rd birthday
There was speculation Princess Charlotte’s third birthday would be a subdued affair since it fell not long after baby brother Prince Louis was born. However, this was not the case. Us Weekly reports that the tot was surprised at nursery school with a cake to share with her classmates, and was showered with gifts when she returned home around lunchtime. While more specifics of the celebration have not been released — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge try hard to have their children grow up as privately as possible — it’s speculated that Princess Charlotte chose to spend most of her birthday taking care of Prince Louis.
Next: Even Diana’s nemesis gets the royal treatment …
7. Camilla’s 70th birthday
It’s probably no shock that Prince Charles went out of his way to plan a truly lavish birthday fete for the Duchess of Cornwall. (His second wife is thought to be the love of his life, after all.) For Camilla’s 70th birthday, Charles hosted 250 of her close friends and family members at his Highgrove residence. This was reportedly the second party to mark Camilla’s milestone birthday, with a star-studded garden party taking place a couple of days before.
Next: A day Will probably wishes he could forget …
8. Prince William’s 13th birthday
You have to hand it to Princess Diana — she had enough sense of humor to make up for the rest of the royal family. And when it came time to plan son Prince William’s entrance into teen-hood, she certainly made it memorable. Former royal family chef Darren McGrady tells InStyle Diana played on her son’s obsession with supermodels by inviting Christy Turlington and a few other notables over for tea, then serving a birthday cake with fake breasts drawn on it. According to McGrady, William turned bright red, while younger brother Harry asked if he could have the same cake on his birthday.
Next: Mingling with the people …
9. Elizabeth 90th birthday
Since she’s the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth’s birthday celebrations are major events. So when she became the first ruler to reach her 90th birthday, the festivities dragged on past the April 21st date. According to CNN, this particular celebration included a walkabout near Buckingham Palace on her actual birthday where she met with people living around the palace. Later in the summer, her birthday was celebrated again, with a large picnic for 10,000 guests.
Next: The most memorable birthday portrait?
10. Princess Margaret’s 29th birthday
It’s not so much that this birthday was extravagant. More, it’s remembered as an iconic part of Princess Margaret’s legacy. Before her 29th birthday, Margaret began her affair with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, whom she later married. (And had an openly tumultuous relationship with.) Jones infamously photographed Margaret for her birthday portrait that year, in a glamorous shot that made it appear that Margaret with naked. (The second season of “The Crown” explored the story behind the portrait and royal family’s reaction.)
Next: Speaking of stars of stage and screen …
11. Kate Middleton’s 30th birthday
Since becoming both a royal and a mother, Duchess Catherine’s birthday celebrations have understandably become low-key affairs. But when she and Prince William were first a public item, she celebrated in style. Take her 30th birthday, for example. In 2012 — in her first year as a royal — the duchess and her husband attended the premiere of the play “War Horse” alongside actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, as well as director Steven Spielberg.
Next: More fancy affairs …
12. Princess Diana’s 36th birthday
On her last birthday in 1997, the Princess of Wales reportedly celebrated in style. According to Hello Magazine, Diana woke up to 90 bouquets of flowers. She then attended London’s Tate Gallery, where she was the guest of honor at a fancy charity event. Even in the sea of British celebrities and Hollywood socialites, Diana stuck out in a gorgeous black lace gown — which had been gifted to her by couturier Jacques Azagury.
Next: Her sons sure learned how to throw a party …
13. Prince William’s 21st birthday
While he may be known for his regal demeanor now, Will made sure to still get some kicks before he became a husband and father. This included his 21st birthday, when she asked his traditional family — yes, even the queen — to ditch the formalities for an African-themed costume party. While the majority of the details of the party were kept under wraps, some well-known members of the 300-person guest list were seen entering the party in either safari gear or dressed as animals.
Next: Not that long after Will’s party came …
14. Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday
It seems like Princess Beatrice has always had a competitive edge when it comes to her cousin William. So not surprisingly, she followed up his 21st birthday with a bash of her own. Beatrice’s 18th birthday soiree reportedly consisted of 400 bottles of champagne and cost upwards of $500,000 US dollars. (Queen Elizabeth set up the party, but did not attend because of her feud with Beatrice’s mother, Sarah Ferguson.)
Next: Last but certainly not least …
15. Prince Philip’s 96th birthday
At 96 years old, you can’t blame Prince Philip for wanting to have a quiet night at home. Especially since this birthday fell around the time the Duke of Edinburgh retired from public duties. (Except he reportedly was focussing his attention on helping the queen get ready for that year’s Trooping the Color festivities.) However, since Philip holds the record for oldest living member of the British royal family, there was a 41 gun salute in his honor.
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