King’s Official Birthday in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Date in the current year: June 6, 2024

King’s Official Birthday in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Most Commonwealth realms (sovereign states within the Commonwealth of Nations that recognize the British monarch as their ceremonial head of state) celebrate the King’s Official Birthday as a public holiday. For example, in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, it is celebrated on June 6.

The tradition of celebrating the sovereign’s birthday in Great Britain dates back to the rule of King George II. He ascended the British throne in 1727, and his birthday was first celebrated as a public holiday in 1748. Back then, the festivities were held on or around the monarch’s actual birthday. This changed after the ascension of King Edward VII in 1901. Edward was born in November, so he chose to move his birthday celebrations to June in the hope of good weather.

Edward VII’s successors kept on with the tradition. King George VI, born in December, celebrated his official birthday from June 7 to 12. The official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II was typically celebrated on the second Saturday of June, although it was sometimes moved to the first or third Saturday of the month. Upon his ascension in September 2022, King Charles III chose to celebrate his official birthday on the third Saturday of June.

Most British Overseas Territories, Commonwealth realms and their dependencies also celebrate the King’s Official Birthday; they include the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, a small archipelago consisting of 27 coral islands, of which only two are inhabited by a total population of about 590 people.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are the external territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean, situated roughly midway between Australia and Sri Lanka, and relatively close to the island of Sumatra (Indonesia). The dual name of the territory reflects the fact that archipelago has been known by two names throughout its history. The name “Cocos Islands” refers to coconut palms, which grow there in abundance, and the name “Keeling Islands” is in honor of their discoverer, Captain John Keeling of the East India Company.

The archipelago was annexed by the British Empire in 1857. For the next almost century, the islands were administered from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the Straits Settlement, or Singapore. In 1955, the archipelago was officially transferred from Singapore to Australia; it has been an Australian external territory ever since. It was then that the dual name of the territory was made official. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are administered jointly with Christmas Island as part of the Australian Indian Ocean Territories, an administrative unit created in 1995.

Since Australia is a Commonwealth realm that recognizes the monarch of the United Kingdom (as of 2024, Charles III) as its ceremonial head of state, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, just like the rest of Australia, celebrate the King’s Official Birthday in June, albeit on a different date. In most Australian states and territories, the holiday is observed on the second Monday in June, but in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, it is observed on June 6. Due to the archipelago’s small population, the celebration isn’t particularly pompous.

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