What You Don’t Know About Queen Elizabeth04/09/2021
Queen Elizabeth is perhaps one of the most recognizable figures in the world. She has been on the throne for decades and has guided Great Britain through years of war, triumphs, scandals, and prime ministers. She has had four children and is a grandmother and a great-grandmother. To say she is beloved is an understatement — she is, without question, an international icon with fans across the world.
But who is Elizabeth? We all know her as the queen, as the reigning monarch, as the leader of The Firm, but who is she as a human being, as a mother, as a friend? We’ve all seen photo after photo of her in her wonderfully colorful ensembles and have watched her rule the British Commonwealth, but so many of us have just seen her as a figurehead, not as a corgi enthusiast or as a war veteran. There’s a lot of information about the queen that has gone under the radar, so we’re bringing it back into the spotlight. Ready to learn more about the person wearing the crown? Here’s what you didn’t know about Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth was just 8 when she met Prince Philip
Not a lot of people can say that they knew their spouse for most of their life, but Queen Elizabeth can. As noted by Brides, Elizabeth — who was not being groomed to take the throne, as there were heirs in between her and the crown — met her late husband, Prince Philip, in 1934 when she was just 8 years old. They met at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece, and the seed of their love was planted.
Their paths crossed again when Elizabeth was 13 and Philip was 18, when the royal family was visiting the Royal Naval College. Philip was training as a cadet, and apparently, there were instant sparks between them. Elizabeth’s governess, Marion Crawford, wrote that the princess “never took her eyes off” of Philip, and despite her gaze not being met by his at the time (apparently, he didn’t “pay her any special attention”), it was meant to be. “She never looked at anyone else,” Margaret Rhodes, Elizabeth’s cousin, said, as noted by Vanity Fair. And clearly their marriage was built to last, because they were married for over 70 years.
Queen Elizabeth gave her first address to Great Britain as an early teen
Queen Elizabeth has addressed Great Britain countless times, but she was called to speak to the country for the first time as a young teen. As noted by the National World War II Museum, Elizabeth — like many children in London — was sent away from the city during the war, adding distance between them and the heavy bombing the city was experiencing. She and her sister, Princess Margaret, retreated to Windsor Castle, and it was in the castle’s drawing room where she addressed the nation for the first time during the BBC‘s Children’s Hour.
“Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all,” she said, in an attempt to lend support to those experiencing the war firsthand. “To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy.” Elizabeth was just 13 when she left for Windsor Castle, making her eloquent words that much more impressive.
The queen was a mechanic and military truck driver during World War II
The queen has never been one to wait around when the going gets tough, and that was certainly the case during the second world war. As noted by History.com, Elizabeth pleaded with her father to let her contribute to the war effort, so when she was 18 years old, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Her official title within the WATS was Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, and she began her training in London. The queen, during war time, became a military truck driver and a mechanic, and if that doesn’t scream badass, we don’t know what does.
To this day, Queen Elizabeth is the only female member within the British royal family to have served in the military, and she remains the only surviving head of state in the world who actively served during the second world war. Elizabeth continued to conform to the scarcity and demand of wartime even after her service came to an end, and she used ration coupons to purchase the material needed for her wedding gown, as austerity measures were still in place in 1947 (the year she was married). What an icon.
How Queen Elizabeth really felt about Winston Churchill
Queen Elizabeth has had standing appointments with the United Kingdom’s prime minister throughout her reign, but one made a lasting impression. As noted by British Heritage Travel, the queen has met with 15 prime ministers, but it was Winston Churchill who truly impacted her. The meetings between Elizabeth and Churchill often lasted as long as two hours, with conversations ranging from their personal lives to political concerns. According to politician Roy Jenkins, Churchill had a “near idolatry” for the queen and for the royal family as a whole, evident by the close relationship that he shared with Elizabeth.
When Churchill retired in 1955, Queen Elizabeth sent him a handwritten letter, expressing to him that never would another prime minister “be able to hold the place of my first prime minister, to whom both my husband and I owe so much.” When Queen Elizabeth attended Churchill’s funeral in 1965, she went against standard procedure and marked her attendance before his family arrived (protocol is that the queen is always the last person to arrive at an event). The respect they shared for each other was, indeed, for life.
Queen Elizabeth has met many U.S. presidents during her reign
Queen Elizabeth may not be a political figure, but she has immense influence on the world stage, so it makes sense that she has met U.S. presidents. As noted by CNN, 12 presidents have been elected since Elizabeth ascended the throne — she has met all but two of them, Lyndon B. Johnson and current U.S. president Joe Biden, whom she is hosting in the summer of 2021. Unsurprisingly, the presidents who have met Queen Elizabeth have raved about her.
“She’s a highly intelligent woman who knows a lot about the world,” former U.S. president Bill Clinton said about her, having met her more than once while he was in office. “I always marvel when we meet at what a keen judge she is of human events. I think she’s a very impressive person.” His sentiments were seconded by Barack Obama, who was very clear with his thoughts on the monarch. “There’s one last thing that I should mention that I love about Great Britain, and that is the Queen,” he said.
The only U.S. president who met Queen Elizabeth while she was still Princess Elizabeth was Harry Truman.
This is how much the queen is worth
Life as a royal looks a lot like crowns and castles, so it’s a wonder how much Queen Elizabeth is worth. As noted by the Independent, the public pay just shy of $50 million a year to support the queen, and about $500,000 of that once went directly to Prince Philip. The British royal family is the most expensive royal institution in Europe, and the queen herself is reportedly worth about $412 million. Of course, she is the patron of over 600 organizations and charities, so she really is a working public figure.
But as you may have figured, the queen’s personal wealth only accounts for a fraction of the wealth of the royal family. As noted by Forbes, the crown is worth about $28 billion, and a lot of that wealth comes from assets and real estate. The Crown Estate is worth $19.5 billion, the Duchy of Cornwall is worth $1.3 billion, Kensington Palace is worth $630 million, the Crown Estate in Scotland is worth $592 million, and of course, Buckingham Palace is worth $4.9 billion. Forbes also noted that the queen likely has an additional $500 million in personal assets.
Queen Elizabeth doesn't have a passport or a driver's license
Here’s something that is very interesting — the queen doesn’t hold a passport or a driver’s license, and yes, there is reasoning behind both. As noted by History.com, Queen Elizabeth has traveled to more than 115 countries while the United Kingdom’s reigning monarch, and no, she doesn’t have a passport full of stamps. Every passport in Great Britain is issued in Queen Elizabeth’s name, so naturally, she doesn’t really need one herself. Similarly, she doesn’t need a driver’s license, and that hasn’t stopped her from getting behind the driver’s wheel and taking her Jaguar or Range Rover for a spin.
As noted by Metro UK, the queen has been spotted on a number of occasions just barely seeing over the top of the driver’s wheel in her green Jaguar, and honestly, the photos are just iconic. On one such occasion, the queen, who was 91 at the time, drove through Windsor Park in her Jag after having attended a church service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints. Looks like her experience as a military truck driver stuck.
Queen Elizabeth reportedly has a favorite child, and it's not who you'd expect
Any fan of The Crown knows that an entire episode was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth figuring out who her favorite child was, and apparently, the estimation wasn’t far off. As noted by Harper’s Bazaar, the queen reportedly holds her son Prince Andrew in higher regard than her other children. Apparently, the queen and Prince Charles have had a pretty strained relationship over the years — given his divorce from Diana Spencer and the pressures of him one day ascending to the throne — and despite Andrew’s turbulent past, he has a special place in the queen’s heart.
There are a couple reasons as to why that might be. As noted by The Telegraph, Elizabeth had far more time to engage with Andrew when he was a child than she did when raising Charles. She picked him up from school, took part in parent activities, and even wrote to her cousin when Andrew was born and said, “The baby is adorable … All in all, he’s going to be terribly spoilt by all of us, I’m sure.” Elizabeth’s marriage was also reportedly “re-booted” after Andrew’s birth, which could also contribute to his favorite status (via History Extra).
Throughout the years, Queen Elizabeth's family has come up with many nicknames for her
Queen Elizabeth has a number of enduring pet names given to her by her family. As noted by Harper’s Bazaar, one of the queen’s oldest nicknames is “Lilibet.” She reportedly couldn’t pronounce her name when she was little, so her father, King George VI, used her own slip-up and turned it into an enduring nickname. It has also been heard through the grapevine that Prince Philip called Elizabeth “Cabbage,” although we’re not entirely sure why.
Of course, the queen has picked up a number of nicknames as she has occupied the role of grandmother and great-grandmother, and these enduring pet names might be the best ones yet. As noted by the Daily Mail, Prince William used to call his grandmother “Gary.” Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, William fell over while in Buckingham Palace as a young child and called out for “Gary.” A guest didn’t know who he was talking about, but the queen simply said, “I’m Gary. He hasn’t learned to say Granny yet.”
William’s own child Prince George calls the queen “Gan Gan,” adding to her long list of nicknames.
You won't believe how many corgis Queen Elizabeth has owned in her lifetime
Where there’s the queen, there’s typically a corgi, and that is not by accident. As noted by The Washington Post, Queen Elizabeth has owned 30 corgis in her lifetime, having loved the dog breed since she was little. In fact, the queen bred corgis for a number of years and had a royal line of the breed. When her last royal corgi, Willow, passed away, it was a huge blow.
“She has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow’s death than any of them,” an insider at Buckingham Palace told the Daily Mail. Willow was far more than a dog, but was “a significant thread” that tied the queen all the way back to her years as a teenager with her parents. The source added, “It really does feel like the end of an era,” noting, “For many, many years she bred and raised corgis and to think that the last one has now gone is something of a milestone.”
The queen is fluent in this language
Queen Elizabeth might be the ruler of the British Commonwealth, but her intelligence goes far beyond her capacity as a monarch. As noted by Harper’s Bazaar, the queen is fluent in French, having picked up the language as a child due to her French and Belgian governesses, and when she made a speech at France’s 2014 State Banquet and read her speech in both English and French, she surprised a number of people with her abilities.
Having the ability to speak fluent French is “a skill which has stood The Queen in good stead,” according to the royal website. “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.” It would not be surprising if the queen knew a few German phrases too, since her husband was fluent in the language (via Express).
Queen Elizabeth technically owns all the dolphins and swans that swim in U.K. waters
This is maybe the most random detail about Queen Elizabeth, but she owns all the whales, dolphins, sturgeons, and swans that swim in British waters and there is a whole historical explanation. As noted by Reader’s Digest, the swan is a symbol of Britain’s monarchy, and, as such, the queen owns all swans that swim on “certain stretches of the Thames [River] and its surrounding tributaries.”
Now moving on to dolphins because, yes, it does sound weird that the queen of England owns all the dolphins that swim in U.K. waters. As noted by Time, a statute dating all the way back to 1324 states that the ruler of England “shall have … whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm.” Yes, all these years later, the statute is still in place, so all porpoises, dolphins, whales, and sturgeons under the queen’s ownership are known as “fishes royal.” If any one of the mammals is captured within three miles of Great Britain, or if one washes up to shore, it can be claimed on the queen’s behalf.
This is the Queen Elizabeth's cocktail order
If you know anything about the Brits, then you know that a good cup of English tea is a staple in every home. There’s tea in the morning, tea in the afternoon, tea when it’s hot, cold, raining, sunny, you name it. And while it’s safe to assume that Queen Elizabeth partakes in the grand tradition of English tea drinking, she has a staple cocktail regiment every day that she does not waver on. Yes, the queen has the same alcoholic beverages every day like clockwork, and if that’s not goals, we don’t know what is.
The queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, revealed the monarch’s go-to cocktails, and they don’t disappoint. As noted by the Independent, Elizabeth has a gin and Dubonnet drink, accompanied with lemon and ice, before lunch. With lunch, she’ll have a dry Martini, and then she finishes off the evening with a glass of champagne. By the United Kingdom’s government standards, the queen might qualify as a “binge drinker,” given that she has six alcoholic units per day, but it doesn’t seem like she’ll waver from tradition any time soon.
Need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning? Queen Elizabeth doesn't
There are some very odd traditions within the royal institution, and with those traditions comes the people who fulfill certain roles. For instance, there is Her Majesty’s Botanist and an Astronomer Royal. There’s the Keeper of the Queen’s Stamps (literally someone overseeing the queen’s stamp collection) and a Royal Shoe Wearer — yes, someone on the Queen Elizabeth’s staff wears her shoes so that she doesn’t have to go through the uncomfortable break-in period herself. But of all the jobs that are close to the queen, the oddest might be the Piper to the Sovereign.
As noted by Business Insider, the role was invented in 1843 by Queen Victoria, and every morning at 9 a.m., a piper plays the bagpipes under the queen’s window for 15 minutes. So there’s really no need for the queen to ever set an alarm clock, because the piper will play every weekday morning like clockwork, ushering the new day in with the (delightful? annoying? charming? screeching?) sounds of the bagpipes.
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