Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s longest reigning monarch and one of the most famous, well respected, and untouchable figures of the past century. Born in 1926 as Elizabeth Alexandra Mary to The Duke and Duchess of York (who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), she grew up in London with her sister, Princess Margaret. From her time spent serving in WWII to taking the throne in 1952 and becoming a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, the Queen has lived much of her life in the public eye. Even so, there’s still plenty you probably didn’t know about her royal majesty. See through 30 fun facts about Queen Elizabeth II.
Her nicknames include “Lilibet” and “Cabbage.”
She got the nickname “Lilibet” when she was young and couldn’t pronounce her name. King George VI used to talk about his daughters, saying “Lilibet is my pride. Margaret is my joy.”
It has also been reported that Prince Philip lovingly refers to his wife as “Cabbage.”
She studied constitutional history and law.
The Queen was tutored at home by Britain’s besttutors. She studied constitutional history and law as preparation for her future role, and took lessons in religion from the Archbishop of Canterbury. She was also taught by the vice provost of Eton College.
She served in WWII.
QEII joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, where she trained to be a mechanic. She was the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member.
She met Prince Philip when she was 8-years-old.
Although they attended many of the same events as young children, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip met officially in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Prince George, Duke of Kent.
She had eight bridesmaids.
The Queen had a rather large bridal party. The eight bridesmaids that she chose were Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, Pamela Mountbatten, Margaret Elphinstone, and Diana Bowes-Lyon.
She learned how to drive in 1945.
The Queen learned how to drive during her time in the army, and if often spotted out taking herself for joy rides in her Range Rover or Jaguar.
She has made five official visits to the United States during her reign.
The Queen has made five official state visits to the US during her reign thus far—in 1957, 1976, 1983, 1991 and 2007.
She has owned over 30 Corgis.
The Queen has famously loved Welsh Corgis ever since she was young. She has owned over 30 of the dogs and even bred them herself.
Prince George calls her “Gan-Gan.”
Kate Middleton says that her eldest son, Prince George, calls his great grandmother ‘Gan Gan.’
According to PopSugar, “Gan-Gan” is a “designation that generations of royals have used to describe their great-grandmothers.”
She speaks fluent French.
Queen Elizabeth II learned to speak French at a young age from French and Belgian governesses. She often speaks in the country’s language when visiting, and even shocked many when she delivered an address at the State Banquet in 2014 speaking French.
According to the official royal website, “It is a skill which has stood The Queen in good stead, as she often has cause to use it when speaking to ambassadors and heads of state from French-speaking countries, and when visiting French-speaking areas of Canada.”
Norman Hartnell designed her wedding and coronation gowns.
British designer Norman Hartnell designed some of The Queen’s most iconic dresses, including her coronation dress and wedding gown. Hartnell was officially appointed dressmaker to the royal family in 1938. He is acknowledged for creating a stylistic royal image that remains today.
Hartnell also designed Princess Margaret’s wedding dress and much of The Queen Mother’s wardrobe.
She doesn’t need a driver’s license, a license plate, or a passport.
Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need or have one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license to drive, or a license plate on her car.
She receives around 70,000 letters a year.
The Queen receives about 200-300 letters a day. She chooses a few to read herself, and then has members of her staff respond.
The official Royal website says that “The Queen is shown almost all of her correspondence on a daily basis by one of her Private Secretaries, and she takes a keen interest in the letters she receives.”
She celebrates two birthdays.
Although she was born on April 21, 1926, Queen Elizabeth II has two recognized birthdays. The first is the actual anniversary of the day she was born (April 21) and a separate day that is labeled her “official” birthday, when the weather is better, for the Trooping the Colour parade. The tradition was started in 1748 with King George II.
Her crown snapped on her wedding day.
The tiara that Queen Elizabeth II wore on her wedding day was made in 1919 for her grandmother, Queen Mary.
On the day of her wedding, as a hairdresser was securing the veil with the tiara, the antique metal frame snapped. The Queen Mother reportedly told her daughter, “we have two hours and there are other tiaras.”
She paid for her wedding dress in coupons from war.
The Queen used her rationing coupons and received a gift of 200 coupons from the British government in order to buy the material needed to create her beautiful wedding dress. The iconic dress featured a 13-foot-long train and over 10,000 seed pearls imported from the US.
Prince Philip is her third cousin.
The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, are technically third cousins related through Queen Victoria. Elizabeth and Philip are third cousins through Queen Victoria of Britain, as she was both of their great-great-grandmother. Prince Philip is related to Victoria through his maternal side, and Queen Elizabeth through her paternal side.
She owns all of the swans and dolphins in the U.K. waters.
As if her flock of Corgi’s weren’t enough pets, all of the swans and dolphins in the U.K. waters technically belong to the Queen. “As early as the twelfth century, the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans in the country because the birds were highly valued as a delicacy at banquets and feasts,” says Reader’s Digest.
The Queen also owns all of the whales and dolphins in the waters around the United Kingdom. A statute from 1324 states, “Also the King shall have whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm.” This statute is still valid today, and whales and dolphins are recognized as “fishes royal.”
She wears Essie ‘Ballet Slippers’ nail polish.
The Queen reportedly exclusively wears Essie famous pale pink shade ‘Ballet Slippers.’
In 1989, Queen Elizabeth’s hairdresser wrote a letterrequesting a bottle of the polish be sent to Buckingham Palace, and the Queen has been wearing it ever since.
She owns an apartment in NYC.
It has been reported the Her Majesty purchased an $8 million, 3,000-square-foot modern penthouse in United Nations Plaza in New York City in 2015. The building is designed by architect Norman Foster, who was knighted by the Queen herself in 1990.
She has 30 Godchildren.
Queen Elizabeth II has a grand total of 30 godchildren. Her long list of godchildren include Guy Nevill, the son of Lord Rupert Nevill and Lady Camilla Wallop, Princess Theodora of Greece, daughter of Constantine II and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark, and James Ogilvy, son of Right Honourable Sir Angus Ogilvy and HRH Princess Alexandra of Great Britain.
She has a glass of champagne each night.
The Queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, opened up to The Independent about Her Majesty’s drinking habits. “She takes a gin and Dubonnet before lunch, with a slice of lemon and a lot of ice. She will take wine with lunch and a dry Martini and a glass of champagne in the evening.”
Her purse is used to signal her staff.
The Queen is never spotted without her handbag, and it’s not just to store her belongings. Her Majesty uses her purse as a way to signal her staff.
It is said that if she places her bag on the table, it means that she wants to leave within five minutes. If she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation and wants to be rescued.
She recieves exotic animals as gifts.
The Queen receives many gifts, and some of the craziest include the animals she gets. She has received everything including horses, cows, elephants, kangaroos, swans, crocodiles, sloths and jaguars. She often donates the animals to the London Zoo.
She hosted Buckingham Palace’s first ever women-only event.
In 2004, The Queen hosted a “Women of Achievement” luncheon at Buckingham Palace. The event was the first ever women-only function to take place at the palace. Women from business, politics, fashion and the arts were invited over to lunch with Her Majesty. Guests included J.K. Rowling, Charlotte Church, Twiggy, Marjorie Wallace, Kate Moss, and more.
She has a personal poet.
The Queen has an official “Poet Laureate,” which is an honorary position appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom. Carol Ann Duffy was made the first female Poet Laureate in 2009. She often writes poems for special royal events, like the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, or the Queen’s 6oth anniversary of her coronation.
She has sat for over 129 portraits during her reign.
Due to her long reign, The Queen has sat for many official portraits, and has sat for 129 since becoming queen. Artist like Pietro Annigoni of Florence have painted her, and in 2012 artist Chris Levine created the first ever holographic portrait of her.
Artist John Wonnacott, who painted the royal family in 2000 told the Telegraph, “One thing all artists will tell you is that the Queen does not sit still. And you really cannot say, ‘Ma’am will you please bloody well sit still.'”
She made a cameo with James Bond.
For the 2012 Olympics, The Queen (and her corgis!) made a cameo in a James Bond sequence. She joined actor Daniel Craig on board a helicopter for a hilarious 6-minute action sequence.
She is the longest reigning monarch in British history.
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch when she surpassed the reign of her great-great-grandmother Victoria. She is also the first monarch to celebrate the Sapphire Jubilee, which marks 65 years on the throne.
She wakes up to a bagpiper every morning.
Of course the Queen doesn’t use and old alarm clock. She is woken up each morning by a bagpiper, who plays outside of her window for 15 minutes every morning at 9 am. The player is known as “Piper to the Sovereign.”