Eleven things you might not know about Queen Elizabeth II

By Marilynn McLachlan

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Photo / AP
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II. Photo / AP

As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 88th year, we take a look at the more unusual moments that have shaped her life and made her of one of the most powerful and memorable women in the world.

1. She was born by Caesarean section

Born at 2.40am on April 21, 1926, to Prince Albert, Duke of York and his wife Elizabeth, Duchess of York, her birth was not without its difficulties. At 10am her doctors issued a statement saying that after a consultation had taken place a "certain line of treatment" was required. That was doctor-speak for Caesarean section.

2. Her nickname is Lilibet

Named Elizabeth (after her mother) Alexandra (after George V's mother who had died months earlier) Mary (after her paternal grandmother) she is known to those close to her as Lilibet.

3. She fell in love at the age of 13

When she met her future husband Prince Philip at 13 - a man who was her third cousin - she was captivated by the foreign prince's good looks. Her governess, Marion "Crawfie" Crawford would later write that she "never took her eyes off him," although he "did not pay her any special attention".

4. She gave her first radio broadcast at 14

With many children sent away from England because of the war, Princess Elizabeth - joined by her younger sister Margaret - spoke during a radio Children's Hour to those who were displaced. "We want, on behalf of all the children at home, to send you our love and best wishes to you and your kind hosts as well," she stated in a soft and tender voice.

You can listen to the broadcast here.


Photo / AP

5. She drove trucks during World War II

As an 18-year-old princess, Elizabeth was keen to help out in the war efforts and joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. She became the only female of the royal family to have entered the armed forces. She trained as both a mechanic and military truck driver and after five months was promoted to honorary Junior Commander.

6. She had to hide her engagement until she was 21

A romantic Philip proposed to Elizabeth when she was 20 but the engagement was to be kept secret until after her 21st birthday. In a romantic letter, he reflected upon all the good things in his life, especially "to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly".

Photos: Royal visits over the ages

7. Her relationship with Philip was controversial

Their union was not without its controversies; Prince Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, converted to Anglicanism and changed his name to his mother's British family, becoming Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. Before the wedding took place, he became Duke of Edinburgh and therefore His Royal Highness.

8. She had to use ration coupons for her wedding dress

Their wedding was held on 20 November at Westminster Abbey. Because there were still rations from the war, the Princess required coupons to buy the material for her gown - many of the coupons were gifted to her from brides-to-be from around the country. Designed by Norman Hartwell, the dress was decorated with crystals and 10,000 pearls.

9. She has been fired at by a teenager

Marcus Sarjeant, 17, who idolised the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, fired six shots during the Queen's Trooping the Colour birthday celebrations in 1981.

Police found a note written by Sarjeant, stating that "I am going to stun and mystify the world. I will become the most famous teenager in the world."

Although the police later discovered that the shots were blank, he was sentenced to five years in prison and was released in three. He then changed his name and has started a new life.


Photo / AP

10. An intruder has invaded her bedroom

On July 9 1982, Michael Fagan scaled the walls of Buckingham Palace, climbed up a drainpipe, wandered around the palace and then entered the Queen's bedroom. It was the biggest security breach in 800 years.

Fagan triggered two alarms during his palace walkabout, but Police turned them off because they thought they were accidentally set off. The Queen awoke to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, his hand bleeding from a cut he had sustained from tripping up as he wandered the palace. She left the room immediately and he was soon apprehended by a footman. He was later sent to a psychiatric institution for six months.

11. She holds a BAFTA Award

At the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Daniel Craig, acting as secret agent James Bond, met the Queen, who was playing herself, in a special video. A year later, she was presented with an honorary BAFTA award in recognition of her outstanding patronage of the film and television industries.

You can view the James Bond video here.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth II's Christmas message in 2013

Video

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