Her late royal highness enjoyed every moment of her existence to the utmost extent. And even before she ascended the throne as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch following the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II’s life was filled with royal adventure and intrigue.
The stately nonagenarian savoured a drink (or two). From meeting Prince Philip, who died aged 99 in April 2021, at age 8 to learning to drive at 18 while serving in World War II, the nonagenarian experienced the good life.
Here is a list of the ten most interesting, lesser-known facts about the 96-year-old late queen.
She was educated privately at home.
Her eminence was knowledgeable in international affairs, theology, constitutional history, and law, yet she never attended college. The queen, then known as Princess Elizabeth, and her younger sister Princess Margaret were home-schooled by Britain’s top instructors, including Eton College provost Henry Marten. Archbishop of Canterbury taught the budding queen faith, while her governesses taught her French.
She was driving without a licence.
Queen Elizabeth II learnt to drive at 18 as a wartime mechanic.
The queen liked to put on a pair of sunglasses and a silk Hermès head scarf and take a joyride in her Jaguar or Range Rover. She had no licence. At 18, Princess Elizabeth insisted on joining the army during World War II and learnt to drive as a mechanic. Her highness didn’t need a licence, licence plates, or a passport for international travel.
She bought her wedding dress with coupons
The would-be Queen of England wore a magnificent fit-and-flare Norman Hartnell gown for her betrothal to Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947. Due to the country’s financial difficulties after the war, the British government instituted rationing coupons to ensure that each citizen had access to “fair portions” of food, goods, and materials, including the silks, tulle, and chiffon required to make the queen’s wedding gown.
Her nick name around the house was Cabbage.
During her 74-year marriage to Prince Philip, Elizabeth was reportedly called “Cabbage” inside Buckingham Palace. Robert Lacey, a British biographer and historical consultant for Netflix’s “The Crown,” confirmed in 2006 that the prince often called his wife “kale.” Some have speculated that the pet name comes from the French term “mon petit chou,” which translates to “my little cabbage” or “my tiny darling.” However, it’s unknown why Prince Philip, her majesty’s third cousin from Corfu, Greece, picked the nutritious-sounding nickname. Their robust affection shone through.
She carried money that had been ironed.
Queen Elizabeth rarely appeared without her distinctive Launer purse. Her Majesty never carried cash in her bags, but she carried an ironed and folded bill for church contributions. Due to her face being on bills in 33 nations, money was never an issue for the queen, who was valued at $50 billion, or $10 billion more than Coca Cola. In 2015, she spent $8 million on a three-bedroom Manhattan condo.
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She began each day by practising her bagpipe playing.
The royal bagpiper played for 15 minutes outside the monarch’s window each morning at 9 a.m. Queen Victoria began the ritual in the mid-1800s at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Holyroodhouse, and Balmoral, Scotland. Who needs an alarm clock when you’ve got excellent musicians on staff?
Even in the morning, she enjoyed drinking champagne and cocktails.
The queen drank day and night. Former royal chef Darren McGrady said in 2017 that the queen started each day with a gin and Dubonnet cocktail with lemon and ice. After being awakened by bagpipes, a drink probably hit the spot. Her royal highness drank wine or Champagne with her lean-protein lunch of grilled fish, chicken, or dove. Before retiring for the night, Queen Elizabeth would have a dry martini and Champagne. Her Majesty also liked Bacardi rum, Gordon’s gin, Bulmers cider, and Pimm’s liqueur.
She desired a speaking part with Bond.
The silver-haired monarch appeared in the opening images of the 2012 London Olympics. When the director of the 007-centric comedy asked for the queen’s permission to use her likeness, she reacted by offering to appear in the clip and have a speaking role, royal dresser Angela Kelly recalled in her 2019 biography, “The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe.” In the play, the queen recited “Good evening, “Mr. Bond” before boarding a chopper. A number of Elizabeth’s corgi pups made it into the short video.
She duped folks with her headgear.
Queen Elizabeth was a fashionista who paired bright outfits with eye-catching hats. Rachel Trevor-Morgan of St. James’s, London, made each headpiece. Elizabeth’s love of bright, elaborate hats wasn’t just about haute couture – she made them for the people. Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the monarch’s daughter-in-law, noted in “The Queen at 90” that she has to stand out so people can claim they spotted The Queen’s hat as she passed. Elizabeth didn’t want Chatty Cathys in and around Buckingham Palace to know what colour outfit or accessories she planned to wear to an important function, so she planted “decoy” hats throughout her estate to keep essential parts of her impending looks a mystery.
She ruled the whales, dolphins, and comatose swans.
Queen Elizabeth kept and bred about 30 corgis. Her father, King George VI, got the royal family’s first corgi, Dookie, in 1933. When Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the queen’s corgis, she was credited with creating “the dorgi.”