20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Queen Elizabeth II
Dubbed by a historian as ‘Elizabeth The Silent,’ the life of Britain’s longest reigning monarch is far from quiet.
She’s exempt from the usual documentation
The Queen can drive without a license, because they’re all actually issued in her name in the United Kingdom, according to Express. On her over 250 international visits to over 100 countries, she’s never needed a passport, for the same reason. Oh, and she’s exempt from taxes, but still voluntarily pays income and capital gains taxes. Here’s a complete list of all the laws she doesn’t have to follow.
She owns exotic animals
The rumors are true—Queen Elizabeth II really does own all the swans in the United Kingdom. Every year, she has a team row through the River Thames in London to count the babies. In 2018, her “swan uppers” counted 108 cygnets. She also can lay claim to any “fishes royal”—dolphins, whales, porpoises, and sturgeons—caught in British waters. You won’t believe these bizarre animals Queen Elizabeth has received as gifts.
Her iconic handbag is holding some secrets
When you’re a queen, you don’t really need to drag a purse with you, considering you have staff waiting on you hand and foot. She reportedly doesn’t carry money (just a lipstick, mirror, and other essentials), so her bag’s main purpose is to send messages to her staff. When her bag goes on the floor, it’s a cry for help for a lady-in-waiting to save her from a dreadful conversation. If she puts her purse on the table during dinner, that’s a hint that she’d like the meal to wrap up pronto. Learn about these other secret messages Queen Elizabeth II sends her staff.
She was a hands-off mother
Queen Elizabeth wasn’t an uncaring mother, but she wasn’t exactly a warm-and-fuzzy mom. She notoriously left five-year-old Prince Charles and three-year-old Princess Anne back in England when she and Prince Philip went on a six-month tour of the Commonwealth in 1954. When she got back, she and Philip greeted kids not with big bear hugs, but with prim and proper handshakes. The parents later sent Charles to boarding school, despite the fact that he was miserable and bullied there, and Princess Anne admitted in a 2002 interview that their mom had time “limitations” when they were growing up, adding that Elizabeth cared for her four kids “in exactly the same way as any other mother did.”
She hates garlic
One thing you’ll never, ever see on the menu (if Queen Elizabeth has anything to say about it): garlic. Her former royal chef Darren McGrady told Recipes Plus that Her Majesty wasn’t picky, but hated garlicky food or anything with too much onion. Camilla Parker Bowles later confirmed on MasterChef Australia that “garlic is a no-no” for the royal family because they don’t want bad breath while meeting and greeting. Find out about these other foods Queen Elizabeth never eats.
She never went to school
Queen Elizabeth never went to prep school, and she doesn’t have a college degree. But she still got quite the education from her tutors at home. She learned constitutional history and law under Henry Marten, who was vice provost of Eton College and had the Archbishop of Canterbury as a religion teacher.
She paid for her wedding dress with coupons
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip tied the knot in 1947 when the United Kingdom was still recovering from World War II. The country had rationing measures in place, and not even the future queen was exempt from using ration coupons to pay for items. Elizabeth saved up her own coupons, plus received an extra 200 from the government, to pay for the satin dress studded with crystals and pearls. Hundreds of British subjects tried sending her their own coupons to pay for her big day, but she sent them back; after all, transferring the vouchers would have been illegal.
She can be surprisingly frugal
Living royally doesn’t have to mean over-the-top extravagance. Queen Elizabeth II is a fan of eating Special K cereal and leftovers, and her waste-not mindset means she’d rather fix and reuse items like sheets and gloves than toss them in the trash. She’s also known for “outfit recycling” (read: re-wearing her clothes), not only for her everyday getups, but for some of her more iconic pieces. Even her Coronation dress has been dug out of the closet—she’s worn it six times. You’ll be able to relate to these other 15 surprisingly frugal habits of the royal family.
She has a poet who she pays in wine
Ever since the 17th century, a poet laureate has been part of the British royal staff. Going along with tradition, Queen Elizabeth’s current poet, Carol Ann Duffy, is paid in a “butt of sack”: 720 bottles of sherry. Duffy re-gifts some of those bottles back to the Queen at Christmas and gives her £5,750 yearly stipend to the Poetry Society. Don’t miss these other 13 bizarre royal jobs that actually exist.
She was one of the first heads of state to send an email
In 1976, ARPANET (the precursor to the Internet) hadn’t been in the United Kingdom for long. So when she pressed a few buttons to send an email at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in England, she was ahead of her time. The username her message was sent from HME2—short for Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, of course. Next, check out these other 50 things you never knew about the British royal family.