Last week I told my students that today was a public holiday. One student said ‘Is it Queen Elizabeth’s birthday?’. I said ‘No, it the Queen’s Birthday’. Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is 21 April. The Queen’s Birthday is today. The June date (the second Monday in June) is a holdover from George V, whose birthday was 3 June. The short-reigned Edward VIII’s birthday was 23 June, but George IV’s was 14 December (too close to Christmas/New Year and Elizabeth II’s is too close to Easter and Anzac Day (25 April). (If George V’s birthday was 3 June, why didn’t they settle on the first Monday in June?)
In Australia, there is very little, if any, official commemoration of the day. (It’s not even celebrated on the same day in each state.) Previously, awards in the Imperial honours systems (for example, MBE, OBE, KBE) were announced on the Queen’s Birthday. Apparently, awards in the Order of Australia still are; if so, it is a much smaller event that the announcement on Australia Day.
In New South Wales, all but one of the public holidays fall in a span of less than six months, between 25 December and the second Monday in June. After this, we have only Labour Day (the first Monday in October).