Royal Roundup: Kids Light Up Buckingham Palace on the Queen’s Birthday

Buckingham Palace, seen in a whole new light. (Stephen Simpson, Rex Features/AP Images)

Hundreds of thousands of Britain’s children helped to turn Buckingham Palace into a gigantic screen, onto which the UK’s largest artwork was projected this past weekend.

The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts collected more than 200,000 self-portraits made by children and fashioned them into huge images of the Queen, which were then displayed on the exterior of the palace at night.

The palace went “a little bit Pyongyang,” wrote The Londonist of the massive projections of “our benevolent leader’s likeness.”

The aim of the project, called Face Britain, is to celebrate children’s creativity and to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Twenty-four projectors were used to cover the palace’s façade, while the portraits were also being shown on large screens all over Britain.

“We had to get the Queen’s approval, of course, because we’re projecting on to the front of her home,” Jeremy Newton of Face Britain told BBC News. “I’m delighted to say Her Majesty loved the idea and loves the imagery.”

In other royal-related news about Queen Elizabeth:

• Saturday, the final day of the projected portraits, was the Queen’s 86th birthday, but, don’t worry, you could easily be forgiven for missing it. Even though it was the Queen’s actual chronological birthday, the occasion is usually publicly celebrated each year in June, when she’s given an elaborate ceremony called Trooping the Colour.

And of course, this year the Queen’s birthday celebrations will take place on the Jubilee weekend itself, with even more pomp and worldwide attention.

But that doesn’t mean that Elizabeth’s birthday passed unnoticed.

It would have been hard to miss the 62-gun salute the monarch received from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment at the Tower of London. According to the Daily Mail, the salute consisted of 21 firings for the Queen’s birthday itself, 20 more because the ceremonial display was taking place in a royal palace and another 21 following an age-old tradition in which ships discharged their canons before entering London to demonstrate a lack of hostile intent.

Another 41 guns were fired in Hyde Park by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. Other 21 gun salutes were fired all around Britain.

• The Queen herself marked the day in a rather quieter fashion. Observers thought that she would spend the day with Prince Philip at Windsor Castle, perhaps visited by some other family members.

“For the Queen, it’s like any other day,” former Palace spokesman Dickie Arbiter told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “She’s not a great girl for celebrating birthdays.”

Arbiter also said that the Queen sees a sampling of the birthday cards she’s sent and that the Palace sends replies to any letter sent with a return address. By the way, it’s a “no-no,” he said, to send gifts, which will either be returned to the sender or forwarded on to a charity.

Other Commonwealth countries, noted the CBC, can choose the days on which they mark the monarch’s birthday. Traditionally, Canada celebrates the day on the same day it observes Queen Victoria’s birthday, on the last Monday before May 27.