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90 facts about The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II (Anthony Devlin / PA)
Queen Elizabeth II (Anthony Devlin / PA)
  1. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, London, on April 21, 1926, and christened on May 29, 1926, at Buckingham Palace.
  2. She spent much of her early life living at 145 Piccadilly, her parents’ London house.
  3. HM’s first pony, a Shetland called Peggy, was given to her by King George V when she was four, starting a lifelong passion for horses.
  4. She attends the Derby at Epsom, one of the classic flat races in Britain, and the Summer Race Meeting at Ascot.
  5. In the grounds of her parents’ country home, Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, Princess Elizabeth had her own small house, Y Bwthyn Bach (The Little Cottage).
  6. She was educated at home along with younger sister Princess Margaret.
  7. She had lessons on religion from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  8. Princess Elizabeth was a Girl Guide and later a Sea Ranger.
  9. She made her first public speech in October 1940 when she was 14, in a live radio broadcast to children.
  10. She made her first public engagement at 16, inspecting the Grenadier Guards of which she was Colonel-in-Chief.
  11. At Christmas time during the Second World War the young princesses put on pantomimes for their family and members of the Royal Household.
  12. During the Second World War Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, reached the rank of Junior Commander in the ATS having passed as a fully qualified driver.
  13. The Queen became next in line to the throne after the abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII in 1936.
  14. She received news of her father’s death while staying in a remote part of Kenya.
  15. Her coronation was the first time the ceremony had been televised.
  16. During her first official tour of Scotland in 1944 she opened the recently built Aberdeen Sailors’ Home.
  17. Before her wedding to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in 1947, she collected clothing coupons for her dress.
  18. Along with her sister, Princess Margaret, she attended her parents’ coronation in 1937.
  19. Her first child, Prince Charles, was born in 1948. Princess Anne followed two years later.
  20. In 1960, when Prince Andrew was born, the Queen became the first reigning sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria in 1857.
  21. The Queen celebrates two birthdays a year: her actual birthday on April 21 and her official birthday on a Saturday in June.
  22. In 1965 she made the first visit by a British monarch to Germany for 52 years.
  23. When she invested Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969 the ceremony was watched by a worldwide audience of 200 million people.
  24. In 1970 during a visit to New Zealand the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh went on the first ‘walkabout’, to meet as many people as possible.
  25. Even when she is away from London she gets official papers to keep her up to date.
  26. During her Silver Jubilee year of 1977, she travelled 56,000 miles around the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
  27. She launched the British Monarchy website in 1997.
  28. She is patron of more than 600 charities.
  29. On the eve of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 she broadcast to the nation, paying tribute to her life and work.
  30. In July 1999 she opened the Scottish Parliament, describing the occasion as “the threshold of a new constitutional age”.
  31. The Queen sat for her first (and only) holographic portrait in 2003.
  32. In 2011, Her Majesty undertook a historic visit to Ireland, the first visit by a British monarch since Ireland gained independence.
  33. In 2012 the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years on the throne.
  34. She has four children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
  35. She usually spends her actual birthday privately, but on her official birthday, is joined by other members of the Royal Family at Trooping the Colour.
  36. She enjoys Scottish country dancing and hosts the Gillies’ Balls, for neighbours, estate and castle staff at Balmoral each year.
  37. She usually spends Christmas with her family at Sandringham in Norfolk.
  38. If you are writing to the Queen it’s traditional to open with ‘Madam’ and close the letter with the ‘I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant’. But officials say you should write in whatever style you feel comfortable with.
  39. The Queen sends cards to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year thereafter, and to those celebrating their diamond wedding (60th), 65th, 70th wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter.
  40. Stewart Parvin, the youngest of Her Majesty’s dress designers, trained at Edinburgh College of Art. He began to design for the Queen in 2000 and continues to do so.
  41. The first ship launched by the Queen was the Britannia on April 16, 1953.
  42. She has distributed Maundy money on all but four occasions since 1952: two for official tours and two for the births of her youngest sons.
  43. During the Queen’s reign there have been seven Archbishops of Canterbury and seven Popes.
  44. She had her first portrait painted in 1933, aged seven.
  45. Some Scots objected to her being styled Elizabeth II as no Elizabeth had ever been Queen of Scots. A few pillar boxes bearing the legend EIIR were blown up in protest.
  46. Her accession forced the then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill to issue a new decree proclaiming that the monarch would be known in future by whichever is the higher number on both sides of the border (so if ever a James becomes king he’ll be James VIII, even though only two have held the throne in England).
  47. The Company of Archers is the Queen’s official bodyguard in Scotland.
  48. Every year since 1947 Pringle of Scotland has sent the Queen an item of knitwear and every year, she has written a thank you letter.
  49. During her reign, the Queen has been the head of state of 32 different Commonwealth realms. That number is now down to 16.
  50. There have been 12 UK Prime Ministers during her reign.
  51. The Queen gives a weekly audience to the Prime Minister at which she has a right and a duty to express her views on government matters. If either the Queen or the prime minister is not available to meet, then they will speak by telephone.
  52. The Queen also receives a weekly report from the Scottish Parliament on its business, and has regular audiences with the Scottish First Minister to keep up to date with Scottish affairs.
  53. The Queen is literally “above the law” as civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign. However, Buckingham Palace stresses she is careful to ensure all her activities are carried out “in strict accordance with the law”.
  54. The Queen’s wedding dress was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.
  55. Her wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David’s mine, near Dolgellau.
  56. The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror won the crown of England in 1066.
  57. On September 10, 2015, she became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, eclipsing the 63 years and 216 days of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria (1837-1901).
  58. The Queen is now the world’s oldest monarch following the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, aged 90, in January 2015.
  59. The Queen speaks fluent French and often uses the language for audiences and state visits. Her Majesty does not require an interpreter.
  60. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh introduced small, informal lunch parties at Buckingham Palace to meet distinguished people from all professions, trades and vocations. The first
    lunch was held on May 11, 1956, and the tradition continues to this day. There are usually six to eight guests and two members of the Household attending.
  61. The Queen has received many unusual gifts including a variety of live animals. The more unusual animals have been placed in the care of London Zoo, among them
    jaguars and sloths from Brazil, and two black beavers from Canada.
  62. Every year the Queen sends Christmas trees to Westminster Abbey, Wellington Barracks, St Paul’s Cathedral, St Giles in Edinburgh, Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, Crathie Church and local schools and churches in the Sandringham area.
  63. As a child, the then Princess Elizabeth occasionally used the London Underground, travelling with her sister Princess Margaret and her governess Marion Crawford.
  64. The Queen is a keen photographer and enjoys taking photographs of her family.
  65. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film Royal Family was shown and a written message from the Queen issued.
  66. The Queen sent a message of congratulations to Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing on the July 21, 1969. The message was micro-filmed and deposited on the moon in a metal container.
  67. The Queen sent her first email in 1976 from an Army base.
  68. She stopped dyeing her hair in 1990.
  69. The Queen’s racing colours are: Purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. She has on average 25 horses in training each season.
  70. The Queen races pigeons, continuing a Royal Family tradition dating back to the 1880s. In recognition of her interest in the sport, the Queen is patron of a number of racing societies, including the Royal Pigeon Racing Association.
  71. The Queen is the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a gold disc from the recording industry. Around 100,000 copies of Party At The Palace, a CD of the Buckingham Palace concert to mark her Golden Jubilee, were sold within the first week of release.
  72. Technically, the Queen can claim ownership of any sturgeon, porpoises, whales and dolphins that are caught or washed ashore on Britain’s beaches. This is from the ‘Royal Fish’ statute from 1324 that has never been rescinded.
  73. The Queen does not own all the swans in Britain, as is often assumed. It was traditionally the case that the monarch retained ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water in the UK but the Queen only exercises this right on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries.
  74. Apart from the Royal Family, fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge, are the only other people permitted to eat an unmarked mute swan, which they are granted royal favour to do on June 25 each year.
  75. The Queen’s christening gown was woven by Janet Sutherland, the daughter of a coal miner from Falkirk, in 1841. First worn by Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, it was worn by all royal babies up until 2004, when it was deemed too fragile for further use and a replica was made.
  76. The Queen and Prince Philip are third cousins.
  77. The Queen knitted socks for servicemen during the Second World War. It was a pastime she picked up from her father, George VI, who was a prodigious knitter.
  78. In the 1950s she moved her weekly audience with the Prime Minister back an hour so that she could be with her children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, at bathtime.
  79. To celebrate her coronation in a country still under rationing, the Government announced special food concessions to encourage street parties. Everyone could have an extra pound (500 grams) of sugar and four ounces (125 grams) of margarine or cooking fat.
  80. In 1958 the Queen visited a coal mine for the first time at Rothes Colliery in Thornton, Fife. Dressed in a miner’s uniform complete with a hard hat and lamp, she spent 40 minutes underground, bent double at times as she crept toward the coal face.
  81. When the Queen opened Britain’s first subscriber trunk dialling (STD) telephone exchange in 1958 her first
    call using just an area code was to the Lord Provost in Edinburgh.
  82. The Queen rarely wears a large-brimmed hat in public as she believes the crowds that come to see her should have a good view of her.
  83. In September 1967 the Queen launched the QEII in Clydebank.
  84. The Queen became a grandmother in 1977, her Silver Jubilee year, when Princess Anne gave birth to a son, Peter.
  85. Although she has visited more countries than any other British monarch, the Queen doesn’t have a passport.
  86. A lover of dogs since an early age, the Queen instituted a corgi breeding programme at Windsor Castle in the 1950s and introduced a new breed – the dorgi (a corgi/dachshund cross). She now has two corgis, Holly and Willow, and two dorgis, Candy and Vulcan.
  87. Madame Tussauds has showcased 23 different waxworks of Her Majesty to date.
  88. She’s one of the most photographed women in the world.
  89. The Queen became a great-grandmother for the first time on December 29, 2010, when Peter Phillips’ wife Autumn gave birth to a daughter, Savannah Anne Kathleen, at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
  90. In Papua New Guinea’s pidgin Tok Pisin language she is known as “Missus Kwin” or “Mama belong big family”