15 Stories About Elizabeth II That You've Never Heard
Whether you've been following the British royal family's exploits for years or you're just a big fan of The Crown, you may think that you know a lot about Queen Elizabeth II. She is, after all, the longest reigning monarch in British history. She may have done a lot of queening, but she keeps a lot of it under wraps. Here are some little-known facts about the Queen and her life as a royal.
She Loves The Sound Of Bagpipes In The Morning
Many of us prefer to wake up to the soothing sound of music instead of the harsh sound of an alarm. Queen Elizabeth II is no different, except perhaps for her choice of genre. The Queen reportedly loves the sound of bagpipes in the morning, so much so that she employs a royal bagpiper to play outside her bedroom window every day from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.
She Has No Formal Education
Although members of the royal family receive nothing but the finest education, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Margaret, never attended school. Instead, the young sisters were taught at home by private tutors. When her father ascended the throne in 1936 and the full weight of her future responsibilities hit her, Elizabeth decided that even her elite tutors were insufficient. She enlisted the help of Henry Marten, the vice provost of Eton College, to instruct her in law and constitutional history, two areas that she felt were important to master as a future monarch.
A Long Romance
Elizabeth was just 13 years old when she began crushing on her 18-year-old third cousin, Prince Philip of Greece. Within a few years, the couple began a romance, but they didn't wed until Elizabeth was 21 years old. This year, Elizabeth and Philip will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary.
She Had A Wardrobe Malfunction On Her Wedding Day
Even royals have occasional wardrobe malfunctions. On her wedding day, Elizabeth's diamond tiara broke, and the official court jeweler had to be called in to fix it. Elizabeth was reportedly a good sport about the incident, refusing to take it as an ominous warning about her forthcoming marriage. After the quick fix, she donned the tiara for her trip down the aisle.
She Has Traded Crowns For Hats
In the last few decades, Queen Elizabeth is more likely to be seen wearing an oversize hat than a crown. She has a most impressive collection of hats, most of which are, like her outfits, brightly colored. It's no flight of fancy: Since the Queen is petite, she always wears bright colors because she wants to make sure that her loyal followers can spot her in a crowd.
For Most Brits, She's The Only Monarch They've Ever Known
Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for so long that only about 19% of Brits have ever lived under a different ruler. To put that in perspective, England has had 14 different Prime Ministers and the United States has had 13 presidents since 1952, but there can be only one queen.
She Has A Royal Shoe Breaker-Inner
As anyone who couldn't wait to bust out a new pair for a night out knows, shoes have to be worn a few times before they are comfortable. As the Queen, Elizabeth cannot be seen kicking off a pair of stiff shoes or even swapping them out for a sensible pair, nor can she endure painful blisters. Since she has enough money to pay anyone to do anything, she pays someone to break in her shoes for her. The Craigslist ad must have sounded incredible.
She Still Has A Champion
In ancient time, members of the royal family had a designated person who fought in their place in duels or challenges. Although we are beyond dueling to solve our problems, this tradition is still in place today. Ever since the Norman Conquest of 1066, the master of the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire has also served as the Honorable King or Queen's Champion. The current champion is Francis John Fane Marmion Dymoke, but if anyone actually expects him to duel for the Queen, they're in for a bad time. The elderly accountant and former sheriff is presumably not in fighting shape.
Technically, The Queen Owns All The Swans And Dolphins In The U.K.
In medieval times, mute swans were considered a delicacy, and the British monarchy declared that all the mute swans in the United Kingdom would forever be the property of the head of the royal family. Queen Elizabeth isn't as fond of the taste of swans, but she's still responsible for the health of the kingdom's mute swan population. She commands a Swan Marker, who leads an annual event called the Swan Upping in which he or she inventories all the swans in the country and monitors their health. We can also thank a medieval charter, dating back to 1324, for the fact that the reigning monarch also owns all the "fishes royal" in the waters surrounding the U.K. Included in this group are dolphins, whales, and sturgeons.
The Queen Is An Animal Lover, But She Prefers Land Mammals
Like most wealthy people, Queen Elizabeth loves horses and dogs. She's owned more than 30 Corgis, her favorite breed of dog, the first being a dog named Susan that was given to her by her father on her 18th birthday. Many of the Queen's royal Corgis descended from this first beloved pup. Queen Elizabeth is also responsible for introducing a new designer dog breed, a Corgi-Dachshund hybrid called the "Dorgi."
The Queen Has Money, Just Not as Much as You Think
While it's true that the Queen is an obscenely wealthy woman, she doesn't even come close to being the richest person in the U.K. (That honor goes to a pair of sibling British-Indian businessmen, Gopichand Hinduja and Srichand Hinduja.) Still, being royal comes with some financial advantages. The Queen is not required to pay taxes, but Elizabeth II chooses to do so anyway, filing her return just like the rest of us plebs every year since 1993. Generally, the Queen doesn't need to carry cash around, but if she did need some, there is a private ATM inside Buckingham Palace. It was placed there by one of the U.K.'s most prestigious banks, Coutts.
She Uses Her Purse As A Secret Signal System
Queen Elizabeth II has reportedly worked out a secret method of signaling her staff during functions based on where she places her purse. If, during a dinner, she sets her handbag on the table, that is a signal to her staff that she is ready for the meal to wrap up. If the Queen places her purse on the floor, that means she wants to be rescued from the people she is speaking with. Shifting her purse to the opposite side during a meeting means that the Queen is bored and looking for an excuse to leave the meeting.
She Doesn't Have a Driver's License, But She Drives
As Queen, Elizabeth does not need a driver's license or a passport like us commoners. She hasn't let her lack of a license prevent her from driving, though. In fact, in her younger days, she was said to be quite a speed demon. One time, she drove Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around her country estate in a Land Rover, much to his surprise.
Even Her Sleep Aids Are Fancy
Studies show that a glass a wine a day is good for your health, and Queen Elizabeth II has taken this to heart. It has been said that she enjoys a glass of champagne every night before bed as a way to help her unwind. Perhaps it is the key to her longevity.