The 70 year reign of the Queen has come to an end, and while the world is mourning her death, it’s also celebrating her life and time on the throne.
We’ve put together a list of some fun and interesting facts about Queen Elizabeth II and her reign, some of which you may know- and others you may not.
She and her sister Margaret once partied in the streets of London
Normally of course the heir to the throne and her sister going out into London amongst crowds of people would not be easily allowed by the Palace, but if there’s one occasion that would be an exception, it’s the end of World War II- Victory in Europe Day saw huge celebrations in London, and the young Elizabeth convinced her father George to allow her to go out just for one night and take part in the historic event. Despite opposition from her mother, she and Margaret were granted their wish, and managed to remain incognito. This chapter in her life, which the Queen has called one of the most memorable moments she experienced was dramatised in the film A Royal Night Out (though there is some doubt as to how accurate it is)
Her favourite foods included scrambled eggs, salmon and a special chocolate biscuit dessert
The Queen attended and hosted countless banquets as monarch, and there were some foods she was particularly fond of. Scrambled eggs and salmon were the breakfast of choice on special occasions, though the more usual meal was a bowl of Special K. Her favourite lunches were cheese and tomato sandwiches, or alternatively fish or chicken for a bigger meal. For a private dinner- grilled fish and a salad. While the Queen adhered quite strictly to a simple diet (with Prince Phillip having had a stronger interest in new dishes), that doesn’t mean she didn’t like to indulge herself occasionally- she had a fondness for a chocolate biscuit cake specially made for her, and also apparently was a fan of hamburgers- though she preferred them without a bun.
She liked tea- but not scones
Being the monarch of the UK, the Queen of course was a big fan of tea, particularly enjoying an Earl Grey, her favourite brand being Twinnings according to reports. She was known to sometimes makes her own cups rather than getting someone else to do it, including for visiting world leaders, and on occassion made cups of tea for builders working on renovations in the Palace. The British stereotypes didn’t extend to scones though – the Queen preferred to accompany tea with biscuits.
Oh, and the idea that royals stick out their pinky as they sip from a cup is apparently nonsense: “I have never seen that happen once” remarked the Queen’s personal butler Grant Harold.
Since ascending the throne, the Queen has had 15 prime ministers (with Harold Wilson holding the position twice) and seen 14 US presidents in office.
Since 1952, the Prime Ministers have been Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callahan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, with her appointing of Truss being one of her last acts as monarch.
In the same span, the Presidents were Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. She met all of them while on the throne, save Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry Truman, the latter of whom she only met while she was still a princess.
She owned over 30 different corgis
The Queen is known for her association with the dog breed, and for good reason: she owned over 30 of them. She first owned a corgi, named Susan at 18 years old. She also introduced the Dorgi, a cross between a corgi and a dachshund. Corgis and dorgis aren’t the only dog breeds she kept though: she also kept a cocker-spaniel called Lissy
She immediately accepted her London 2012 Olympics appearance (and kept it as a surprise for the rest of the family)
It’s hard to believe it’s already a decade since the 2012 Olympics, and the Opening Ceremony, which was viewed with low expectations in some circles of the press in the months beforehand, but was a huge success. It had plenty of amazing moments, but one topped them all to become one of the most memorable moments in Olympic Ceremony history: The Queen appearing alongside James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) in a helicopter, and then “skydiving” into the stadium. While she of course didn’t actually jump, she was keen to appear in the short film and found the idea amusing- and she only agreed to it if she could speak as well. When asked if she would like to have a line in it, she replied “‘Of course I must say something. After all, he is coming to rescue me.” She was also asked if she wanted to say “Good evening, James” or “Good evening, Mr. Bond”, and having attended several Bond premieres in her time, chose the more faithful second option.
She enjoyed travelling the globe
You’d certainly hope that a modern monarch would enjoy visiting countries to carry out duties, and the Queen certainly did: she made some 290 official state trips during her reign. She particularly enjoyed Malta, where she lived for a short while before her accession, South Africa, where she made her first trip abroad and later became good friends with Nelson Mandela, Canada, which she visited 27 times as monarch, Kenya, where she first became Queen, and France- she was fluent in French, and became “a true friend to France” as Emmanuel Macron put it.
She was worth a lot- but not the most in Britain
The Queen is thought to have personally been worth around £400,000,000, which while a lot is pretty far from the richest person in the country. There’s also plenty she owned as sovereign on behalf of the nation, but not as her own private property. She also used a private ATM within Buckingham Palace provided by prestigious bank Coutts. Her wealth as sovereign will be passed down to Charles, but the full private, personal wealth and inheritance of the Queen is not fully known, and her will looks to remain secret.
She owned an iPod (or two)
The Queen’s iPod was a matter of media speculation for several years following the Apple device’s release, and she was first reported to own one in 2005. But she definitely did also acquire one from Barack Obama, who gifted her a silver iPod classic upon visiting in 2009. Some of the British press responded with anger at Obama’s gift which they saw as disrespectful, but the Queen was known to be a music fan, and often saw the value in promoting new technologies, so likely enjoyed it. A photo of the Royal iPod also appeared several years later in the background of a photo of the Queen in Balmoral, so it certainly seemed to get some use.
She had quite a broad taste in music
But what might the Queen have had on her iPod? The Queen was interested in music from a range of genres and was known to play the piano and enjoy singing. She liked plenty of classical music and traditional hymns, but also enjoyed a good show tune- with Oklahoma! being a particular favourite. She also listened to military music, Elton John, and The Beach Boys (California Girls being her fave). She also reportedly enjoyed ABBA, and The Beatles: she was keen to embrace their music as an example of British influence in the world, giving each of them MBEs and both Paul and Ringo knighthoods. McCartney himself commented on the Queen’s level headedness in an interview: “She’s down to earth.”
She was apparently a fan of Wii Sports
People young and old became obsessed with the Nintendo Wii when it released in the mid 2000s, and while Her Majesty probably wasn’t spending long nights playing Smash Bros or Donkey Kong, she did try her hand at Wii Sports, and was reported to have found the bowling mini game to be “thoroughly enjoyable.” The console was owned by William who was gifted it by Kate- and the palace was also sent a 24 karat gold Wii by game company THQ as a publicity stunt, though due to palace protocol the Queen never used it and it was eventually sold for charitable causes.
The Queen never went to school- but still did plenty of studying
Perhaps unsurprisingly the Queen never attended a formal school, but she was tutored at home. She didn’t just study “How to put a crown on”, but was taught about constitutional history and law by the vice provost of Eton College. She also took lessons in religion from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
She served in WWII
The royals have a long history of serving militarily as part of their public service, and the Queen was no exception, doing her part for the war effort. She was 13 when the war began in September 1939, and when she turned 18 in 1944 she was determined to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), which was the Women’s Branch of the British Army. She wasn’t given a special rank and instead worked her way up as a mechanic, and was by all accounts proficient in her role, much like her grandsons William and Harry in Afghanistan. Earlier in the war, she made broadcasts to boost the morale of children forced to evacuate Britain’s cities, and she, King George VI and her mother decided to stay put during the Blitz to show solidarity with the rest of the country, despite five high explosive bombs hitting Buckingham Palace during the early stages of Nazi Germany’s bombing campaign, which was seen as highly symbolic.
She made some pretty good quotes in her time
The Queen has made plenty of speeches and statements over the years, and several quotes have been attributed to her:
“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future“- From her 2008 Christmas speech in the midst of the Financial Crisis
“It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.”– From her 1957 Christmas speech
“If I am asked what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction, I am for it.”– On family and marriage
“If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.”– On why she wears a colourful wardrobe
“Thank you for making me feel so old”– In response to Justin Trudeau toasting her long reign
“We must be seen to be believed“- On why royal tours and visits are important
“Grief is the price we pay for love”– From a message to New York following the 9/11 attacks