Perhaps the most famous monarch in the world, Queen Elizabeth II ruled over the United Kingdom as well as a 53-member Commonwealth, for more than 70 years.
Born at her maternal grandparents’ house in Mayfair, London (17 Bruton Street to be exact!) on the 21st of April 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was never intended to be heir to the throne.
Her father’s brother, King Edward VIII, was the heir to the United Kingdom and it was not until Elizabeth was 10 that her uncle abdicated – giving up his claim to the throne – and her father succeeded as King George VI, making Elizabeth next in line.
Known to her close family as ‘Lilibet’ Queen Elizabeth grew up incredibly close to her mother, father, and her sister Margaret.
King George VI often referred to his family as “we four.”
As a child Elizabeth was described by Winston Churchill as “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.”
Her cousin declared that she was “a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved.”
In 1939 when Elizabeth was 13 and with her family on a visit to Dartmouth she met her eighteen-year-old distant cousin Prince Philip Mountbatten – the man she would marry 8 years later.
Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast at age 14 in 1940, speaking of the efforts the public were making the keep the spirits of soldiers fighting in World War II high.
It is reported that when the war was ended, both Elizabeth and Margaret secretly went out amongst the public in London, mingling anonymously with those who were celebrating all over the capital.
Whilst she and her husband were visiting Kenya in 1952, Elizabeth’s father died. She was informed of this – and her accession to the throne – while she was abroad.
Elizabeth returned to the United Kingdom, exiting the aircraft that brought her home dressed in somber mourning clothes.
She was welcomed home by Winston Churchill in a meeting that was filmed and shown all over the world.
The public rallied around the young Queen, remarking on her impressive composure during her homecoming as well as taking on the mantle of ruler of the United Kingdom and the relatively young age of only twenty-five.
On the 2nd of June 1953, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation was broadcast internationally.
The first coronation ceremony to ever be filmed for public consumption, the iconic act of the crown being placed on the young queen’s head is familiar the world over.
In the lead up to the coronation, the Queen wore her Imperial State Crown as she went about her daily business to get used to the fit and weight.
The entire coronation took 16 months of preparation and no detail was overlooked.
For example, the gown she wore was decorated with English Tudor roses, Scots thistles, Welsh leeks, Irish shamrocks, Australian wattle, Canadian maple leaves, New Zealand silver fern, South African protea, Indian lotus flowers and Pakistani wheat, cotton and jute.
This dress, cleverly incorporating symbolism from commonwealth countries, also bore a secretly sewn four-leaf clover resting on the dress’ left hand side, where Elizabeth’s hand would be resting throughout the day.
However, popular and recognised as she may have been, there are still a few things that you probably didn’t know about the Queen and consequently her husband.
The Queen Liked to Drink
According to her cousin, Margaret Rhodes, the Queen enjoyed a tipple every day.
Gin before lunch, wine with her meal, and a dry martini and a glass of champagne every evening. Sounds good to us!
The Queen Was the actual Richest person in the World !
She was thought to be worth around £300 million, but surprisingly, this makes her only the 257th richest person in the U.K. She is even behind J. K. Rowling. Queen Elizabeth II’s extravagant jewelry collection alone is estimated to be worth “half a billion,” and includes over 23,000 gemstones — but who’s going to inherit it?
The likely fact is the Sovereign was heir to trillions of dollars.
Her Handbag Did More than Carry Her Belongings.
The Queen famously uses her handbag to signal to her staff that she was tired of speaking to somebody and wished to move on.
She Broke Records
The Queen was the longest-living British monarch as well as the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
She Had 4 Children
Although her eldest child, King Charles III, is relatively well-known not many know that the Queen actually had a total of four children.
They are King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. Born in 1948, 1950, 1960, and 1964 respectively.
The Queen Had 2 Birthdays
She celebrated her real birthday on 21st April but the United Kingdom as a whole celebrated her ‘official’ birthday every year in June.
She was an Animal Breeder.
Her Majesty bred corgis, Labradors, cocker spaniels and horses!
She Sent out Christmas Cards Every Year.
It’s estimated that she and Prince Philip had sent out over 45,000 Christmas cards throughout her reign.
She Refused to Let an Asteroid Be Named after Her.
Apparently, the Queen thought this would not be appropriate for a woman of her caliber but she did consent to let the asteroid be named after her dogs!
In 1992 the asteroid was officially named Shandless-McCord Beta.
Her Marriage to Prince Philip was not all roses and sunshine
In 1954, during a visit to Australia, the Queen was filmed throwing shoes, threats, and sporting equipment at Prince Philip after an argument.
Later she was quoted saying, “I’m sorry for that little interlude but, as you know, it happens in every marriage.”
In his book, Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II, Philip Eade writes that the duke was known as “The Naked Waiter.” It was rumored that he enjoyed “rip-roaring stag parties.” Allegedly Prince Philip once served dinner to some guests wearing only a mask and a tiny lace apron.
There were also whispers that the prince’s wild streak included other women.
Though The Crown never says so explicitly, the series does allude to the fact that the prince enjoyed the company of other women. He was rumored to have had an affair with stage performer Patricia Kirkwood when the queen was eight months pregnant. The rumor ruined Kirwood’s career after the duke entered the dancer’s dressing room and they were seen having dinner and dancing into the early morning hours.
The duke also had a close friendship with Sacha Hamilton, Duchess of Abercorn. According to Icons the pair were seen holding hands in the Bahamas. The duchess tried to clarify their friendship, but she only made it worse. “It’s complicated and at the same time quite simple,” she told reporters. “[Philip] needs a playmate and someone to share his intellectual pursuits.”
The Baltimore Sun also reported via Vanity Fair that Prince Philip was “romantically involved with an unnamed woman whom he met on a regular basis in the West End apartment of a society photographer.”
Despite all of these reports and rumors, Prince Philip has adamantly denied all accusations of infidelity.
Privately, he will say, ‘How could I?’” Mike Parker, the duke’s first Private Secretary told The Telegraph in 2004. “‘I’ve had a detective in my company, night and day, since 1947.’”
Still, no marriage or relationship is perfect. During his 50th anniversary celebration with the queen in 1997, the duke said, “I think the main lesson we have learnt is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient in any happy marriage… You can take it from me; the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”
Dark Secrets You Never Knew About Prince Philip’s Life
After standing by Queen Elizabeth II’s side for 70 years, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, officially retired from his royal duties. The 97-year-old has been known for his off-the-wall comments and his naval service, but if you get into the details of his childhood and earlier years, then you’ll learn that Prince Philip has come quite a long way.
When Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth wed in 1947, the Greek Prince was seen as fairly undesirable by the British people. Despite his royal heritage, the prince’s sordid past certainly raised some eyebrows. Though Netflix’s The Crown addresses some of Prince Philip’s past, here are the dark secrets you probably never knew about his life.
In exile from the beginning
Prince Philip was born in 1921 to Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. His father Prince Andrew was the King of Greece’s brother.
However, when Prince Philip turned 1, his uncle was effectively removed from the throne, and the family was forced to flee. Prince Philip was carried away in a fruit crate.
A prince with no name
As is the case with many royals, Prince Philip had no last name. In boarding school, he was merely called Philip of Greece. When he got to school, he was bullied because he had no surname.
When he became a British citizen just before marrying Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip took his maternal uncle, Dickie Mountbatten’s, last name.
A playboy for a father
After fleeing from Greece, Prince Philip’s dad, Prince Andrew abandoned his family and spent the rest of his days with his mistresses in the south of France.
Prince Philip rarely saw him, and it greatly affected how he parented his children. Prince Philip is known as a devoted father.
A mother with a mental illness
Prince Philip’s mother, Alice Battenberg, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria (making Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth distant cousins). Princess Alice was strikingly beautiful but completely deaf. She learned to hide her disability by reading lips in multiple languages.
When Prince Philip was 9 years old, his mother was committed to a mental institution and “diagnosed” with something called, “neurotic-pre-psychotic libidinous condition.” Sigmund Freud treated Princess Alice, and under his recommendation, she was subjected to “an exposure of the gonads to X-rays, in order to accelerate the menopause.” She was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Prince Philip wasn’t reunited with his mother until 1967 when she lived out the last days of her life in Buckingham Palace.
During his formative years, Prince Philip attended Gordonstoun school in rural Scotland. It was a challenging experience for him. He had to get up at 6 a.m., learn to sail, take cold showers, run, read on his back for an hour each day, and do manual labor.
Prince Philip later wrote, “Children may be indulged at home, but school is expected to be a Spartan and disciplined experience in the process of developing into self-controlled, considerate and independent adults.”
Prince Philip later sent his son, Prince Charles, to the same school, despite Queen Elizabeth’s objections. Season 2 of The Crown goes into great detail about both the father and son’s experiences.
Prince Philip was the youngest of five siblings; his four sisters were much older than him when he was born. By the time he was 10 years old, all of his sisters were married to German aristocrats some were even Nazis.
When Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth just after the end of World War II, many people were quick to bring up the Nazi ties. Not one of the princes’ family members received an invitation to his wedding.
A plane crash
When Prince Philip was on break from Gordonstoun, he often stayed in Germany with his favorite sister, Cecile. Unfortunately, when he was 16, Cecile, her husband, and their two children were killed in a plane crash.
Another tragedy strikes
A few months after his sister, Cecile, and her family were killed in a plane crash, Prince Philip’s uncle and guardian, George Mountbatten, the second Marquess of Milford Haven, suddenly died of cancer.
Gordonstoun Headmaster, Kurt Hahn, broke the news to the prince both times. He reportedly said, “His sorrow was that of a man.”
Before his uncle’s death, Prince Philip often lived with his Uncle Georgie Mountbatten and his wife Nada, the great-granddaughter of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Nada was extremely eccentric. Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt was her lover, and she once ordered a bathtub of champagne to soothe her feet after winning a Charleston dancing contest in Cannes, France.
After Prince Philip’s Uncle Georgie died, his Uncle Dickie Mountbatten finished raising him.
British citizens weren’t the only people concerned about Prince Philip’s marriage to Queen Elizabeth. The queen’s uncle, David Bowes-Lyon, had it in for Philip right from the start.
Queen Elizabeth’s mother also privately referred to Prince Philip as “The Hun” and she didn’t believe he was a gentleman.
The naked waiter
Prince Philip was a part of a notorious lunch club who reportedly enjoyed “rip-roaring stag parties.” It was rumored that Prince Philip once served dinner to some guests wearing only a mask and a tiny lace apron.
He was known as “The Naked Waiter.”
A duke first and a prince later
Just before Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth wed, he became the Duke of Edinburgh. A decade later, he became His Royal Highness the Prince Philip. After Queen Elizabeth stepped into her role after her father’s death, the young couple’s life changed drastically. Prince Philip was a naval man who struggled with following his wife’s lead, and he had to define a role for himself.
Over the years, Prince Philip has overseen the couple’s personal properties and made the major decisions regarding his children’s education.
Putting his foot in his mouth
Though the British royal family is known for their decorum, Prince Philip has always been known to speak boldly and without much of a filter. Though his frank speech used to be deemed as offensive, he was indulged a lot more as time passed.
When he met activist Malala Yousafzai in 2013 to discuss why education was so important, he reportedly said, “People want children to go to school to get them out of the house.” We see no lies here.
A shocking rumor
Over his 70 years in the public eye, Prince Philip has been plagued by one major scandal. After Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997 along with her lover Dodi Fayed, Fayed’s father Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Fayed, claimed that Prince Philip had ordered Princess Diana’s death.
Historian Carolyn Harris said of the rumor, “There have been extensive investigations concerning the death of Diana, and those allegations of foul play have never been substantiated.”
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