Queen Elizabeth II has become the UK’s longest serving monarch – overtaking Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years, seven months and two days. Queen Victoria was Elizabeth II’s great great grandmother !
When Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, Stalin was still leader of the USSR and Truman President of the US. Let’s see if you knew about these true facts…
The Queen served during WWII
The Queen is the only living head of state in the world to have served during World War II and she was the only female member of the British royal family to do so. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service when she was 18 and learned how to drive a military truck, during which time she also acquired some serious engine-fixing skills.
The Queen has two birthdays
The Queen doesn’t just celebrate one birthday a year like regular folk, oh no; as well as probably getting better presents than you (she got her first corgi, Susan, for her 18th), she also gets twice as many birthdays. She was actually born on April 21, but her “official” birthday is held in early June on a Saturday, during which she hits the town for the Trooping the Colour parade.
The Queen owns all the swans in Britain
A lot of people think the Queen owns all the swans in Britain, but this isn’t technically true. According to the official website of the British Monarchy, “the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries”. She still owns more swans than the average person.
Queen Elizabeth II is also the Queen of hats
Her majesty has had 5,000 hats protecting her pate during her reign and her selection has been remarkably diverse. She is one of the richest women in the world, but she wears her favourite hats 20 or 30 times. Occasionally, the queen chooses to wear a chapeau only once, such as the one worn for the millennium celebration
The Queen has been showcasting magnificent hats for decades, working closely with her stylists over the years, making the role of Royal Milliner one of the most prestigious positions in fashion.
The Queen and James Bond
She can fix an engine in the blink of an eye, she can fire a gun and she’s pals with James Bond – as the evident suggests, the queen is basically a secret agent. More seriously the Queen appeared in a clip at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, which saw Daniel Craig escorting Her Majesty out of Buckingham Palace and into a helicopter, before the pair made a grand entrance by skydiving into the Olympic Stadium (the Queen may have used a stunt double for that last bit, but it’s impossible to be sure).
The Queen’s three stand Pearl necklaces
Never without her pearls ! Pearl necklaces are part of The Queen’s daily uniform, and a three strand version is her favourite for public events. In her book The Queen’s Jewels, Leslie Field lists three different triple strand necklaces:
A gift from her grandfather, King George V
One The Queen had made from graduated family pearls
A gift for her coronation in 1953 from the Emir of Qatar, with a diamond clasp
The Queen does not need a passport to travel
Yes, that’s right : because all passports in Britain are technically issued in the Queen’s name. “As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one,” according to royal.gov.uk. “All other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales, have passports.”