60 curious facts about Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth celebrated the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne on Monday. To mark the occasion, Liam O'Brien uncovers 60 curious facts about Her Majesty

Cartoon / Rod Emmerson
Cartoon / Rod Emmerson

1 On a state visit to Brazil in 1968, the Queen was given two sloths. The animal gifts she receives tend to be placed in zoos, though a horse donated by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was housed in the Royal Mews.

2 The Queen costs the public purse £36.2 million ($68.7 million) each year, including £359,000 paid directly by the Government to Prince Philip.

3 Since 1952, the Queen has given royal assent to more than 3500 Acts of Parliament.

4 Each morning, the Queen's breakfast table is laid out with cornflakes and porridge oats in Tupperware containers, yoghurt and two kinds of marmalade - light and dark.

5 A royal footman who poured whisky into the corgis' water as a party trick was rewarded with a salary cut and a demotion.

6 When she crossed a corgi with a dachshund to create the dorgi, the Queen perhaps unwittingly began the craze for designer cross-breeds.

7 The Queen is patron of more than 600 charities and organisations.

8 The Queen is the first monarch to have seen three of her children divorce.

9 Britain's monarchy is the most expensive in Europe. Spain's royal family get a comparatively meagre £7 million each year.

10 The Queen is thought to be worth about £300 million, making her the 257th richest person in the United Kingdom.

11 All 5300 breeding pairs of mute swan in Britain are officially owned by the Queen.

12 "Fishes Royal" applies to all sturgeon, whales, porpoises and dolphins in the water around the UK. Like swans, they also officially belong to the Queen.

13 The Queen sent her first email in 1976 from an army base.

14 The top video on Her Majesty's official YouTube Channel is a clip of Prince William and Kate leaving Buckingham Palace in an Aston Martin.

15 At an official photocall marking the end of 2009's G20 summit, Her Majesty reacted to Silvio Berlusconi hollering "Mr Obama!" at the United States President by snapping: "What is it? Why does he have to shout?"

16 The Queen was educated by her governess Marion Crawford, to whom she gave the nickname "Crawfie".

17 Crawford's services were not enough to grant her everlasting favour with the royals, however. In 1950, she published a book titled The Little Princesses, recounting the time she spent with Elizabeth and Margaret. The royals were apparently furious.

18 There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during the Queen's reign - Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams. There have also been six Popes - Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

19 Should the royal chauffeur take a day off, the Queen is quite capable of driving herself. She learned to drive in 1945.

20 The Royal Train comes with chefs, lace-trimmed pillows, and a "no bumpy track" rule during the Queen's 7.30am bath.

21 According to former Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas, the Queen is a Gunners fan. The first football match the Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.

22 When Her Majesty visited Centre Court's Royal Box for an Andy Murray match in 2010, it ended a 33-year Wimbledon snub.

23 When former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating dared to put an arm round his royal overlord, the press branded him "the Lizard of Oz".

24 The Queen's vocal range is as yet untested, but a recording of a concert to celebrate her Golden Jubilee titled Party at the Palace sold 100,000 copies in its first week of release, making the Queen the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a gold disc.

25 Her Majesty has endured 36 Royal Variety Performances.

26 Diageo, the world's biggest distiller, is selling 60 decanters of Scotch whisky for £100,000 apiece for the Diamond Jubilee.

27 According to Margaret Rhodes, the Queen's cousin, HM's alcohol intake never varies. She takes a gin and Dubonnet before lunch, with a slice of lemon and a lot of ice. She will take wine with lunch and a dry Martini and a glass of champagne in the evening. That comes to six units a day, which would make Her Majesty a binge drinker by Government standards.

28 On a state visit to Australia in 1954, during an argument with Prince Philip, the Queen was filmed "hurling shoes, threats and sporting equipment, and venting the sort of regal fury that, in another age, would have cost someone their head", according to writer Robert Hardman. "I'm sorry for that little interlude," she later said, "but, as you know, it happens in every marriage."

29 The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.

30 A message of the Queen's congratulations to Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing was microfilmed and deposited in a metal container on the satellite's surface.

31 What gives the Queen the giggles? Ali G impressions, according to Prince William.

32 The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

33 The Queen, the official head of the Church of England, first entered a mosque in July 2002, at Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

34 During the past 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 78 state visits, to 116 countries.

35 She's also received 102 inward state visits from 1952 to the end of 2011, the last being Turkey in November.

36 The first "royal walkabouts", designed so the Queen could meet the public, took place in Australia and New Zealand in 1970.

37 She has broadcast a Christmas message every year since her coronation in 1952, except in 1969.

38 The Queen was born on April 21, 1926, but her official birthday is celebrated in June.

39 The Royal Collection, which includes 150,000 paintings by the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian and Raphael, is held in trust by the Queen for the nation.

40 The monarch has answered about 3 million items of correspondence and more than 175,000 telegrams sent to centenarians in Britain and the Commonwealth.

41 The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign, painted in a variety of styles. Lucian Freud's 2001 depiction divided critics and was slated by the tabloids.

42 During the past 60 years almost 1 million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with 8000 people a year heading through the gates.

43 Owing to the collapse of the Empire the Queen has presided over the loss of sovereignty of more countries than any of her predecessors.

44 Since 1952, the Queen has conferred more than 404,500 honours and awards.

45 The Queen's first portrait was painted in 1933, when she was 7, and the most recent was for Rolf Harris in 2005.

46 During her reign the Queen has visited Canada 22 times, Australia 18 times, New Zealand 10 times and Jamaica six times.

47 The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards.

48 The Queen became the first monarch to open the doors of Buckingham Palace to the public in 1993. She needed the cash for the repair of Windsor Castle after a fire.

49 The design of Britain's first-class stamp is to be updated for the Jubilee. The traditional gold will be replaced with a blue colour scheme and the words "Diamond Jubilee" highlighted in iridescent ink.

50 It's been forecast that the four-day holiday for the jubilee will hit the economy with up to a 0.5 per cent reduction in GDP, despite the boost to tourism and retail.

51 The Queen has seen 12 different Prime Ministers during her reign - from Sir Winston Churchill to David Cameron.

52 Apparently, it has always been the Queen's dream to see one of her horses win the Epsom Derby. Aureole came second in 1953, and last year Carlton House managed third.

53 The Queen's racing colours are a purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. They were adopted from those used by Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.

54 The Queen and Prince Philip have been married for a whopping 64 years.

55 Queen Victoria was the last, and previously the only, British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee.

56 The Queen has bought a lot of christening gifts thanks to her huge list of 30 godchildren.

57 The only time the sovereign has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a visit to Australia and Indonesia when she was called back to Britain when a snap general election was called.

58 The Queen's official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 14sq km with a population of 596, to China, 9.6 million sq km with a population of 1.34 billion.

59 In May last year the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland since Irish independence.

60 The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on official visits.

- Independent

- NZ Herald

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