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8 Things You May Not Know About Queen Elizabeth II

8 Things You May Not Know About Queen Elizabeth II

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1. She doesn’t have a passport.

Despite being history’s most widely traveled head of state—she has reportedly visited 116 countries during her reign—Elizabeth does not hold a passport. Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license, though she has been known to take joyrides around her various estates in her Range Rover.

2. She has two different birthdays.

The reigning British monarch was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York on April 21, 1926. However, each Commonwealth country traditionally celebrates her birthday on a designated day in May or June. In the United Kingdom, for instance, it falls on the first, second or third Saturday in June. Britain has officially marked its sovereign’s birthday since 1748, when the event was merged with the annual “Trooping the Colour” ceremony and parade. Elizabeth spends her real birthday enjoying private festivities with her family.

3. She drove a truck during World War II.

After months of begging her father to let his heir pitch in, Elizabeth—then an 18-year-old princess—joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. Known as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, she donned a pair of coveralls and trained in London as a mechanic and military truck driver. The queen remains the only female member of the royal family to have entered the armed forces and is the only living head of state who served in World War II.

4. She paid for her wedding dress with ration coupons.

Princess Elizabeth married her third cousin Philip Mountbatten, formerly prince of Greece and Denmark, on November 20, 1947.

Held during the postwar recovery years, their wedding was a relatively understated affair, at least compared to the lavish union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981. With austerity measures still in effect, Elizabeth had to save up ration coupons to purchase the material for her wedding dress, an ivory satin gown designed by Norman Hartnell and encrusted with 10,000 white pearls.

READ MORE: Glorious Behind the Scenes Photos of Queen Elizabeth's 1947 Wedding

5. She didn’t take her husband’s name.

Elizabeth’s father, George VI, was born into the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, but during World War I the family name was changed to Windsor amid anti-German sentiment. Similarly, her husband Prince Philip dropped his father’s Germanic surname, Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, and adopted that of his maternal grandparents, Mountbatten, during their engagement.

But when Elizabeth ascended the throne, her mother and Prime Minister Winston Churchill did everything in their power to prevent the queen and her line from becoming the House of Mountbatten. They succeeded, but several years later Elizabeth proclaimed that some of her descendants would carry the name Mountbatten-Windsor—probably in an attempt to placate her fuming husband.

6. She sent an email in 1976.

On March 26, 1976, Queen Elizabeth sent her first email while taking part in a network technology demonstration at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, a research facility in Malvern, England. The message was transmitted over ARPANET, the forerunner of the modern internet. She is considered the first head of state to have used electronic mail.

7. She was shot at by a teenager.

During her birthday celebration on June 13, 1981, shots rang out as Elizabeth rode her horse in a parade near Buckingham Palace. Marcus Sarjeant, a 17-year-old who idolized the assassins of John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, had fired six blank shots in the queen’s direction. Swiftly subdued by police, the teen would spend three years in a psychiatric prison. Elizabeth, meanwhile, merely calmed her startled horse and resumed her procession.

8. She once woke up to find a stalker in her bedroom.

On July 9, 1982, a 31-year-old psychiatric patient named Michael Fagan scaled a Buckingham Palace drainpipe and sauntered into Elizabeth’s chambers. The sleeping monarch awoke to find a strange man perched on the edge of her bed, dripping blood from where he had cut his hand while wandering the palace’s dark corridors.

Initially unable to reach the police, Elizabeth engaged Fagan in conversation for at least 10 minutes, listening to him chat about his personal problems and relationship with his four children. Finally, a footman roused from his slumber seized the loquacious intruder. It turned out that Fagan, who was ordered to spend six months in a mental hospital, had also crept into the royal residence weeks earlier, making off with a bottle of Prince Charles’ white wine.

READ MORE: Queen Elizabeth's Reign: Then and Now - Photos

READ MORE: The Devastating Mining Disaster That Became Elizabeth II's Biggest Regret

Queen Elizabeth II news: 9 details you didn't know about Queen's spectacular coronation

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Queen Elizabeth II, 95, was just 27 years old at her coronation. The spectacular Westminster Abbey ceremony was held on June 2 1953 and took 16 months to plan. It was the first of its kind to be broadcast on television and while it remains one of the most significant events in recent British royal history, there are some fascinating details and extraordinary facts about it that even the most avid royal watchers may not know.

Related articles has rounded up nine extraordinary details about the Queen's coronation you may have missed.

34 Things You Didn't Know About Queen Elizabeth

A collection of facts proving Her Majesty has both a love of life and an untouchable sense of humor.

&ldquoYou have to be able to see that figure in a lemon coat and hat from far away,&rdquo Hugo Vickers, the Queen&rsquos biographer, told the New York Times. Here she is in a lime green suit for her 90th birthday celebration.

Here, she hands out money at the Derby Cathedral in Derby, United Kingdom.

Every night before bed, she enjoys some bubbly. She once said, "For me, heaven is likely to be a bit of a come-down."

She also never needs a passport when traveling around the world.

The Queen got behind the wheel of a truck&mdashit's how she learned to drive.

The Queen earned that distinction in 2015, when she surpassed Queen Victoria's 63 years, seven months and two days on the throne.

Another indication of her long reign.

She has been given a number of interesting animals such as an elephant, two tortoises, a jaguar, and a pair of beavers.

She has also visited Australia 16 times.

Here she shakes the hand of a war veteran at her "Not Forgotten" Garden Party, a charity event to support ex service personnel.

Seen here toasting Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos.

The event is known as Trooping the Colour, and famously features the royal family taking part in a procession through London and waving from the Buckingham Palace balcony.

At the unveiling of the new street sign, "Marché aux Fleurs Reine Elizabeth II."

The Queen and Prince Philip revisited Broadlands on their 60th anniversary, where they spent their wedding night.

Here, she receives a Letter of Credence from The Ambassador of Georgia Dr Revaz Gachechiladze.

She is also on Twitter and Instagram, represented by @theroyalfamily, an account run by palace staffers.

And you thought you sent out a lot of holiday well-wishes.

Her first corgi, Susan, was a gift for her 18th birthday in 1944. Her last corgi, Whisper, died in 2018 she currently cares for two dorgis (corgi- dachshund mixes), Candy and Vulcan.

When one of her corgis mated with Princess Margaret's dachshund, Pipkin, she found herself the proud owner of a dorgi.

According to reports at the time.

The Queen and Prince Philip at the state opening of the British Parliament in 1977.

A Royal Collection Trust exhibition explored the monarch's visual legacy, placing official portraits by the likes of Cecil Beaton and Lucian Freud alongside Andy Warhol screenprints.

According to laws set forth over eight centuries ago, the reigning monarch holds "the right to claim ownership" over all "unmarked mute swans swimming in open waters." These days the monarch doesn't really go around claiming swans, but the Queen does celebrate an annual "Swan Upping," in which the Queen&rsquos official Swan Marker counts all the swans in a portion of the River Thames.

Princess Elizabeth with her younger sister, Princess Margaret Rose, holding a pigeon.

She also saw the Terracotta Army soldier statues during her stay.

Pictured here is the Her Majesty with Queen Anne-marie of Greece and Her Majesty's new goddaughter, Princess Theodora.

As early as the 12th century, the British monarchy laid claim to "all mute swans" in the country, according to the official royal family website. Back then, the birds were considered a delicacy.

Today, the Queen doesn't eat those swans, but she technically still owns them. Every year, the Queen's Swan Marker (actual job title) leads a multi-day census called the Swan Upping to count the birds and check up on their health.

Plus, thanks to the 1324 statute, the queen can also claim ownership of all "fishes royal" — that means any sturgeon, dolphins, whales, and porpoises that reside in the waters around the UK.

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Staying in touch

The Queen has answered more than three-and-a-half million items of correspondence during her reign so far, and has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth. She has also sent more than 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

The Queen has penned more than 45,000 Christmas cards during her reign, and has given out upwards of 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff.

Strange gifts

The Queen has, during her reign, received a number of unusual gifts – some of them live animals. According to The British Monarchy website, these include two tortoises given to her during a tour of the Seychelles in 1972 a seven-year-old bull elephant called Jumbo, presented by the president of Cameroon in 1972 to mark the Queen’s Silver wedding anniversary and two black beavers during a royal visit to Canada. The animals were placed in the care of London Zoo.

Other curious gifts received by the Queen include a pair of cowboy boots (during a visit to the US) sunglasses, pineapples and 7kg of prawns.

Pooch pals

The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign. The first, Susan, was given to her as an 18th-birthday present in 1944. It has been reported that Susan accompanied the Queen on her honeymoon – to Broadlands, Hampshire, and Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate – in 1947. Many of the corgis since owned by the Queen were direct descendants from Susan.

Elizabeth’s love of dogs is similar to that of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who owned a number of German dachshunds and later in life Scottish collies, which she gave the name of Noble.

Ships ahoy

Elizabeth has launched 23 ships during her lifetime, the first being HMS Vanguard on 30 November 1944, in Clydebank, Scotland, when she was Princess Elizabeth.

The first ship Elizabeth launched as queen, on 16 April 1953, was the Britannia, which was also from Clydebank. Other ships launched by the Queen include Elizabeth 2 in 1967, and Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

Royal assent

For a bill to become an act of law, it must first be passed by both the houses of Lords and Commons, and then receive royal assent from the Queen.

Since 1952, the Queen has given royal assent to more than 3,500 acts of parliament.

Prime ministerial

The queen has, over the course of her reign, held regular evening meetings with 12 British prime ministers: Winston Churchill (1951–55) Sir Anthony Eden (1955–57) Harold Macmillan (1957–63) Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963–64) and Harold Wilson (1964–70 and 1974–76).

The Queen also met regularly with Edward Heath (1970–74) James Callaghan (1976–79) Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) John Major (1990–97) Tony Blair (1997–2007) and Gordon Brown (2007–10). The tradition continued with prime minister David Cameron (2010–2016) – the pair usually met on a Wednesday evening.

Tony Blair was the first prime minister to have been born during Elizabeth’s reign – in May 1953, just a month before the Queen’s coronation.

Interestingly, there have also been 14 US presidents during the queen’s reign: Harry S Truman (1945–53) Dwight D Eisenhower (1953–61) John F Kennedy (1961–63) Lyndon B Johnson (1963–69) Richard Nixon (1969–74) Gerald Ford (1974–77) Jimmy Carter (1977–81) Ronald Reagan (1981–89) George H W Bush (1989–93) Bill Clinton (1993–2001) George W Bush (2001–09) Barack Obama (2009–2017) Donald Trump (2017–2020) and Joe Biden (2020–present).


Elizabeth II is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England on Christmas Day 1066. She is also the oldest monarch to have celebrated a Golden Jubilee (in 2002 at the age of 76) – the youngest was James VI and I, at the age of 51. Elizabeth was also the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary, on 20 November 2007, and her platinum wedding anniversary on 20 November 2017.

Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are: Victoria, who reigned for 63 years George III (59 years) Henry III (56 years) Edward III (50 years) and James VI and I (58 years).

Facts courtesy of The Royal Family website, Time magazine, Vanity Fair and the Independent

This article was first published by HistoryExtra in September 2015

Theirs is a marriage based on love

Getty Images

Royals have traditionally married their royal relatives for two reasons. First, they’re not commoners. Second, weddings between royals tend to forge and strengthen political alliances between ruling families. But like her parents before her, Elizabeth and Philip married solely for love (King George VI had to ask several times for his wife’s hand before she finally agreed to marry him and his royal lifestyle). “I ask nothing more than that Philip and I should be as happy as my father and mother have been,” Elizabeth stated at her wedding breakfast. “Our daughter is marrying the man she loves,” noted the King.

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The duke was by Queen Elizabeth's side to the very end, through a 73-year marriage, four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Here are eight facts to know about the incredible life of Prince Philip.

1. He was related to Greek royalty.

In 1921 Prince Philip was born not in the United Kingdom but in Greece, as the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg.

Philip, who had four older sisters, was the nephew of then-King Constantine I of Greece.

Philip's family though was of German, Danish and Russian descent. His family was exiled from Greece when he was a baby, and he spent some of his childhood in France.

Growing up, Philip would spend his school holidays with his British uncles or his grandmother, Princess Victoria, who lived in Kensington Palace.

He was known as Prince Philip of Greece until he became a British subject in 1947 and dropped his titles, becoming Philip Mountbatten. He was met with animosity from some members of British high society who considered him foreign and penniless, and therefore not considered a good match for the princess.

Upon his marriage to Elizabeth in 1947, he became the Duke of Edinburgh.

One decade later, in 1957, the queen made Philip a “Prince of the United Kingdom.”

2. He first met Queen Elizabeth at a wedding.

Philip first met his future wife at a wedding in 1934, but they had their first meeting of significance in 1939 when then-Princess Elizabeth visited the Naval War College.

Philip was a student at the college, which Elizabeth visited with her family.

Seven years later, in 1946, Philip proposed to Elizabeth, which raised concerns with her family that she was too young to be married.

Their engagement was announced the next year and Philip and Elizabeth wed on Nov. 20, 1947, when he was 25 and she was 21.

Philip told a friend at the time of their wedding, "This is my destiny -- to support my wife in what lies ahead for her.”

Five decades later, in 1997, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, Queen Elizabeth described Philip as her "strength and stay."

3. He and the queen shared a great-great grandmother.

Queen Victoria was the great-great grandmother of both Philip and Queen Elizabeth.

Philip was a direct descendant of Princess Alice, the third child of Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria's oldest son, who became King Edward VII, according to the royal family's website.

4. He carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements.

Philip was the longest-serving British consort and was a devoted companion to the queen, accompanying her on official engagements well into his old age.

When he officially retired from royal duties in 2017 at age 96, he had completed more than 22,000 solo engagements since 1952, given 5,496 speeches in his travels to more than 76 countries, authored 14 books, served as patron to 785 organizations and made 637 solo overseas visits, according to Buckingham Palace.

5. He was a World War II veteran and pioneer of conservation.

Philip joined the British Navy in 1939 and served in the Mediterranean, Pacific and Indian Oceans during World War II.

His active service in the Navy ended when his wife became queen in 1952, though Philip continued to hold several royal military appointments.

In his role as the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip became a passionate conservationist and was the founding president of the Worldwide Wildlife Fund, a global conservation organization.

In 1959, he also launched the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which was "aimed at encouraging young people to serve their communities" and "experience adventure," according to the royal family's website.

More than 60 years later, the award operates in more than 140 countries.

6. He was the first royal interviewed on television.

Philip made history in 1961 when he became the first member of the royal family to be interviewed on television, by the BBC's Richard Dimbleby.

He was also the behind-the-scenes force lobbying for Queen Elizabeth's coronation to be televised, and was instrumental in his family's involvement in the 1969 documentary "Royal Family" that was broadcast on TVs across England.

7. He had a pilot's license.

Prince Philip was a man of many hobbies, including flying.

He earned his Royal Air Force (RAF) wings in 1953, followed by his helicopter wings in 1956 and then his private pilot's license in 1959. By his last flight in 1997, Philip had flown nearly 6,000 hours in 59 different types of aircraft, according to the royal family's website.

He also loved carriage driving, painting, playing polo and cricket, shooting, deer stalking and sailing.

8. He was fiercely protective of his grandsons William and Harry.

Philip, who encouraged his oldest son Prince Charles to marry Princess Diana, became fiercely protective of the couple's sons, Princes William and Harry, after Diana died in a 1997 car crash in Paris.

Philip took the reins of the family in the wake of Diana's death and was a stalwart force for Queen Elizabeth, who was criticized for remaining at Balmoral with William and Harry.

Philip's concern was protecting his grandsons from the intense scrutiny by the press and allowing them to grieve for their mother in the aftermath of her tragic death.

When Downing Street officials suggested that William and Harry might walk in a procession behind their mother's coffin, an anguished Philip reportedly bellowed into the phone, "F--- off. We are talking about two boys who have just lost their mother."

Philip ultimately put aside his personal feelings and told young William and Harry, "I'll walk if you walk."

10 Things You Should Never Do in Front of the Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth has met hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in her lifetime. But one must remember when meeting Her Majesty, there are just certain things you shouldn't do in order to avoid looking rude or offending her.

Protocol says anyone meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time should wait for her to extend her hand first. And even afterwards, contact should be kept to a minimum. That means hugs and kisses are a major no no.

As soon as the Queen enters the room, everyone must stand to greet her and should not sit down until she does. Only then is it polite to take a rest.

If you're a citizen of the United States, you can simply shake hands, but in Great Britain, men and women must bow or curtsy. When Angelina Jolie, who is a US citizen met the Queen, you see she did a little of all three, because it's better to be safe than sorry!

A.k.a. dress to impress. If there's a dress code, follow it. And never, under any circumstances, show up in flip-flops, torn jeans or a super revealing outfit.

Bringing a gift is a must, but it should always be appropriate for the occasion. For instance, if the Queen visits your hometown, it's common to give her something that is from there and indicative of your culture.

Even though you might feel like you've known the Queen your whole life, remember: she doesn't know you. When you first meet her, address her as "Your Majesty." Use "Ma'am" the rest of the time, except when you say farewell, which should be "Your Majesty" once again.

When around the Queen, you should follow the same rule some people use for kids, which is "little children should be seen and not heard." This allows for the Queen to carry the conversation &mdash or put it to a stop, if she so desires.

When walking with the Queen, keep the same pace as her. This ensures you're alongside her and can introduce her as needed when moving from room to room.

It's customary that the Queen should take the first bite at the table and when she's done eating, you should be too.

This is what Queen Elizabeth did during World War II

Though many children, especially those from noble families, were sent into hiding during World War II, this was not the case for Princess Elizabeth, according to Biography. The British government did encourage the king's wife and daughters to relocate to Canada, but the then-queen put her foot down. "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave," she is famously known to have said.

Princess Elizabeth and her sister instead moved not far outside of London, to Windsor Castle. The young princess wanted to do her part for her nation by helping with the war efforts, but her parents initially prohibited her from enlisting in the military due to tradition. Elizabeth stood firm, and she was finally given permission in 1945. The 19-year-old princess ended up joining the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service where she received mechanic training. Upon finishing her course, she worked as a mechanic with much "gusto," per Biography. The media dubbed her "Princess Auto Mechanic," and her parents grew incredibly proud of her efforts.

Queen Elizabeth had this to say about her mother after she passed

The Brits are known for their "stiff upper lip" approach to all things emotional, but in the wake of her mother's passing, Queen Elizabeth shared some very moving words. As noted by Hello! magazine, Queen Elizabeth addressed the public via a television broadcast. Dressed in all black, she thanked them for their unwavering support.

"Ever since my beloved mother died over a week ago I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of affection which has accompanied her death," she said. "My family and I always knew what she meant for the people of this country . but the extent of the tribute that huge numbers of you have paid my mother in the last few days has been overwhelming."

The queen then said that she and her family had found "great comfort" in the support and kindness that they had received in the wake of the Queen Mother's death, and while it was a period of mourning for the nation, she was blessed to have spent so much time with the monarch. "She had an infectious zest for living, and this remained with her until the very end."