Nine years before Queen Elizabeth II put on the Crown Jewels and flourished the ‘royal wave’ from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, she was an 18-year-old mechanic in the army. In honour of her birthday, we’ve got some more fun facts about the Queen… one of which is that it isn’t even her birthday!
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926. Why do we celebrate her birthday in June? Because she’s the Queen! She has two birthdays: one privately and the other publicly on the second Saturday of June, which was a tradition that started in 1748 with King George II. Her birthplace now happens to be a fancy Cantonese restaurant.
Princess Lilibet was originally the niece of the future king of England, with no expectation to be Queen. Yet the heir to the throne, Edward, abdicated to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson. Edward’s little brother (Elizabeth’s father), George VI, was the ‘spare heir’ and was crowned king. Princess Elizabeth then became the heiress presumptive. She ascended the throne at 25 and was crowned two years later.
In World War II, Queen Elizabeth served as a mechanic and driver. At the age of 18, she became the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member. Prior to that, when the war broke out, she desperately wanted to help — so she made her first public radio broadcast to the children of the Commonwealth… at 14.
Speaking of driving in the war, Her Majesty doesn’t need driver’s licence to drive (or a seatbelt!). In fact, she doesn’t even need a passport, as they are issued in her name. She can show a coin or banknotes with her image to get through Customs. Imagine getting stuck with only a pocketful of rupiah trying to check out of Bali…
Elizabeth met Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in 1934 when she was 8 and he was 13. He started corresponded with her at age 18 after joining the British Royal Navy. When King George VI (Elizabeth’s father) granted permission for them to marry, he abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became Philip Mountbatten. She married him on 20 November 1947… adorable.
Queen Elizabeth II was coronated on 2 June 1953 at the age of 27. Twenty million people around the world watched it on TV… oh the pressure! Standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the ceremony, it was the first time she took her trademark royal wave out for a spin. Lizzy had two young children at the time of coronation, then bore two more as queen. It gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘working mum’.
The Queen is both the oldest and the longest reigning monarch in British History. Fourteen UK Prime Ministers have served her, including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Over 170 leaders have served her throughout the Commonwealth, among them are Sco-Mo and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.
The Queen of England owns six royal residences around the country, including Buckingham Palace in London and Windsor Castle in Berkshire. She acquired her first home at the tender age of six — it was gifted by the people of Wales. Located on the grounds of the Windsor Royal lodge, it was an architect-designed cottage by Edmund Willmott and called Y Bwthyn Bach, or The Little House.
British punk band, Sex Pistols, wrote a song about her called ‘God Save the Queen’ in 1977 during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Radios refused to play the song as it was regarded as a public assault on the Queen and the “fascist regime” (as they put it). That didn’t stop it from reaching Number 1 on the charts! Youths of the world had her face on posters plastered over bedroom walls.
Another fun fact about the Queen is that she always dresses in bright colours. This isn’t because she’s a Teletubbies fan… it’s so she stands out in the crowd and her royal subjects can all proclaim, “I saw the Queen!”. Undoubtedly, those bold primary colours also work well on television.
Her Majesty’s husband will never be a king. A woman who marries the king becomes queen upon her husband’s reign, which includes Kate Middleton. But it doesn’t work the other way around in the royal ranking. Prince Philip was also forced to take his wife’s name, Windsor, when she was crowned, but Elizabeth and Phillip later agreed to their children having the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.
Elizabeth enjoys a glass of champagne nightly… and a dry martini. Plus a sip or two of her go-to cocktail ‘gin and Dubonnet’ before lunch (yes, before). Oh, and a little wine with lunch. As Queen for 67 years… mother of four… grandmother of eight… leader of millions… we think she’s earned it. Yas queen!