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- Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch in history.
- She’s ruled over the United Kingdom as a constitutional monarch since her 1953 coronation.
- The queen and her family are frequently in the news – but there are some facts about Queen Elizabeth II that might fly under the radar.
Queen Elizabeth II has had quite a career.
Not only is she the longest-reigning British monarch in history – she’s also the longest-reigning current monarch in the world, and the longest-serving current head of state. On Saturday, April 21, she turns 92 years old.
She’s the first UK monarch to ever celebrate a sapphire jubilee, which marked her 65-year reign in 2017. CNN reported that, should the queen still be reigning on February 6, 2022, she will be the first British monarch to celebrate a platinum jubilee.
Her career was recently fictionalized in the Netflix historical drama series “The Crown,” and the royal family is often in the news. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few facts out there about the queen that you might not have heard before.
Here’s a look at some surprising facts about Queen Elizabeth II:
Elizabeth was a favorite of her grandfather, King George V.
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In”Queen and Country: The Fifty-year Reign of Elizabeth II,” biographer William Shawcross wrote that the monarch made for “a surprisingly playful figure” who loved to play games with his first female grandchild. British politician Winston Churchill also reportedly described her as “a character.”
The queen has at least two family nicknames — “Lilibet” and “cabbage.”
- Wikimedia Commons
Shawcross wrote in “Queen and Country: The Fifty-year Reign of Elizabeth II“ that her grandfather coined “Lilibet.” The family nickname also may have arisen from the way Queen Elizabeth II pronounced her own name as a small child.
Town and Country reported that the queen’s husband Prince Philip also may affectionately refer to her as “cabbage” – possibly a twist on the popular French pet name “mon petit chou,” which means both “my little cabbage” and “my little pastry puff.”
Elizabeth II reportedly made the first ever royal transatlantic telephone call in 1939.
The 13-year-old called her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who were touring Canada at the time, according to“I Never Knew That About Royal Britain“
Queen Elizabeth reportedly fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark when she was 13.
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“Fifty Years the Queen: A Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Her Golden Jubilee” biographers Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli mark the summer of 1939 as the beginning of her romantic interest; the then-18-year-old Royal Navy midshipman escorted Elizabeth and her sister Margaret on a tour of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.
For her 1953 coronation, the queen’s coronation gown featured symbolic embroidery that reflected the Commonwealth at the time.
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Biographer Robert Lacey wrote in “Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II” that the dress featured the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the Irish shamrock, the Welsh leek, the Australian wattle, the Canadian maple leaf, the New Zealander silver fern, the South African protea, the Indian and Ceylonese lotus flowers, and the Pakistani jute.
The queen was the victim of one of the worst royal security breaches in modern history.
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On the night of July 9, 1982, she awoke to discover Michael Fagan in her bedroom, the BBC reported. Fagan had reportedly managed to dodge guards and electronic alarms, according to UPI. A security alarm that the queen pressed didn’t go off, as it wasn’t properly set up. A footman who had been out walking the queen’s corgis subsequently returned and subdued Fagan, according BBC.
Queen Elizabeth is the first-ever head of state to open not one, but two Olympic Games in two different countries.
She helped to kick off the 1976 Montreal Games, according to the Montreal Gazette. The queen also made a splashy appearance in the 2012 Summer Games, starring with James Bond actor Daniel Craig in an action-packed short film run during the opening games, Business Insider reported.
The finances of Queen Elizabeth and her son and heir Prince Charles were scrutinized after their names appeared in the leaked Paradise Papers.
The leak revealed that millions of dollars from The Duchy of Lancaster and The Duchy of Cornwall – private estates belonging to the royals – had been invested offshore. Spokespeople from both duchies denied wrongdoing and pointed to the fact both royals voluntarily pay taxes on their incomes, Business Insider previously reported.