Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving British monarch in history. Now 91 years old, she has overseen the rule of 13 different Prime Ministers since she ascended the throne in 1952, from Sir Winston Churchill to Theresa May, as well as six Popes.
You probably knew all that, but did you know that the Queen still has dreams even in the tenth decade of her life, or that she has 30 godchildren? Read up on twelve fascinating aspects of Queen Elizabeth’s life you might not have known about.
1. Elizabeth, the protector of animals
All whales, porpoises and dolphins in UK waters technically belong to the Queen, as do all swans in Britain’s parks. Hurting a swan may actually result in the perpetrator going to prison!
On a visit to Brazil in 1968, she was given two sloths and she also used to own a corgi crossed dachshund. Still, it is Queen Elizabeth’s love of horses that the monarch is especially well known for; most of the animals given to her as present end up in a zoo, except for a horse given to her by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, which she kept.
The Queen is the patron of over 600 charities, the work of which ranges from lifeboats to art, and to the British Red Cross.
3. Marriage bust-ups
Like any other couple, Elizabeth and Prince Philip have reportedly had their own share of fighting, most of which has never made it to the headlines. One notable exception happened during the visit to Australia in 1954, when Elizabeth threw shoes, sports equipment and some bad language at her husband.
“I’m sorry for that little interlude,” she said at the time, “but, as you know, it happens in every marriage”.
4. Driving licence
The Queen learned to drive back in 1945, so if the royal chauffeur took the day off sick, she could technically drive herself, although protocol would never allow for this to happen.
5. The cost
One of the biggest argument for anti-monarchists in Britain is the large cost of the privilege of having a royal family. The Queen costs around $47,8 million of taxpayer money annually, despite her being worth around $339 million, which makes her the 257th richest person in the UK.
Elizabeth reportedly sent her first email in 1976, at least two decades before most of her compatriots. She has also undertaken 261 official overseas visits, which includes 78 state visits to 116 different countries during her reign.
The places she’s visited most often are Canada (22 times), Australia (18 times), New Zealand (10 times) and Jamaica (6 times).
129 known portraits of the Queen exist, of which Lucian Freud’s 2001 work is probably the most famous, but also one of the most controversial. The one in the picture is the work of David Dawson.
8. Christmas cards
In addition to receiving uncountable cards during the holiday season, Elizabeth and Prince Philip have also sent out around 45,000 of their own Christmas cards during their reign!
Since 1952, the Queen has given out more than 404,000 honors and awards to people involved in fields ranging from charity work through services to entertainment and sport.
10. The Palace
She became the first monarch to open Buckingham Palace up to the public. Back in 1993, the Palace was opened in order to raise funds for the repair of Windsor Castle after the fire which had engulfed it a year earlier.
11. Queen Elizabeth’s dream
At age 91, the Queen reportedly still has an unfulfilled dream: she wants to see one of the horses that she owns win the Epsom Derby, a prestigious horse race in the UK, as so far they’ve only managed to place as runner-up and third.
12. Remembrance Sunday
The Queen has laid a commemoration wreath on Remembrance Sunday every year, except during her pregnancies.