King’s Official Birthday in the British Virgin Islands Date in the current year: June 14, 2024

King’s Official Birthday in the British Virgin Islands In many British Overseas Territories, the official birthday of the monarch of the United Kingdom is a public holiday. However, their dates of celebration may differ from the date in the UK. For example, in the British Virgin Islands, the King’s Official Birthday is typically observed on the Friday before the second Saturday of June.

The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean consisting of four main islands (Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke) and more than 50 smaller islands, of which many are uninhabited. They are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago, which, in turn, is part of the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named after the legend of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. Their original name, Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes, was later shortened to the Virgin Islands for convenience. In the early 16th century, Spain claimed the archipelago by discovery, but never settled the islands.

Over the next century, the archipelago became a notorious haunt for pirates as Denmark, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Spain fought for control of the region. The Dutch were first to establish a permanent settlement on Tortola in 1648, but the British captured Tortola in 1672 and annexed Anegada and Virgin Gorda in 1680. Jost Van Dyke was annexed by the British by 1815, but the exact date of its annexation is unclear.

The British Virgin Islands were governed as part of the British Leeward Islands from 1672 to 1958, except for a period from 1816 to 1833, when the colony was split in two, and the BVI were governed together with Anguilla, Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts), and Navis. The British Virgin Islands officially became a separate crown colony in 1960 and gained autonomy in 1967. Today, they are one of the 14 British Overseas Territories, and as such recognize the monarch of the United Kingdom as their head of state.

Like most Commonwealth realms and British Overseas Territories, the British Virgin Islands celebrate the King’s Official Birthday, also known as the Sovereign’s Birthday, as a public holiday. While in the UK it usually falls on the third Saturday of June (since Charles III’s ascension in 2023), the BVI celebrate the occasion on the Friday before the second Saturday of June.

The highlight of Sovereign’s Day celebrations in the British Virgin Islands is the King’s Birthday Parade in Road Town. Led by police and other uniformed officers from various agencies, the parade includes representatives from the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, the Immigration and Customs departments, the Virgin Islands Prison Service, elected officials, bands, and youth groups (Scouts and school groups). The procession marches along Waterfront Drive from the Police Headquarters to the Queen Elizabeth II Park.

After the parade, the governor of the BVI inspects the ranks, delivers a celebratory speech, and presents various medals to law enforcement officers who have distinguished themselves in their service to the territory.

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