Reigning over Britain (as well as 15 other Commonwealth Realms) for almost 66 years, Queen Elizabeth II is our longest reigning monarch – and at 92 years old, is the oldest to have celebrated a Golden Jubilee. She’s famed all over the world and resides in one of the most famous buildings in Britain…but how well do you really know our Queen? Here are seven of the most bizarre powers you (probably) didn’t know she had:
1. She owns all the swans and dolphins in Britian
Yep, that’s right. Though she only exercises this rule on particular stretches of The Thames (the Queen claimed ownership of 88 swans along the river in 2005), technically any unmarked swan on open water throughout Britain does, by default, belong to her. More bizarrely, the Queen can also claim ownership of any underwater animal found within three miles of Britain’s coast. So should you come across any stray porpoises, you’d better hand them over sharp.
2. She doesn’t need a driving licence or passport
Dubious as we are that Liz will be climbing aboard a Ryanair flight any time soon, should she choose to do so, she doesn’t actually require a passport. Because all UK passports are issued in her name, it makes it pretty redundant that she carry one; and for that same reason, she doesn’t actually need a driving license either (though she did thankfully receive lessons…albeit during World War II)
3. She’s exempt from any prosecutions
Because the UK courts are under the power of the Sovereign, and so every trial is essentially ‘The Queen versus’ the accused, should the Queen commit a crime, technically she cannot prosecute herself, and so is immune from any charge.
4. Buckingham Palace has it’s own private Cash Machine
As confirmed by head of Coutts, the world-renowned bank with a ballroom on The Strand, Buckingham Palace does in fact have it’s own ATM in the basement. We can’t help but wonder who has the job of stocking up the cash…perhaps they’re hiring…?
5. She is exempt from paying tax
Though the Monarch isn’t obligated to pay towards UK tax, the Queen has been doing so voluntarily since 1992. We don’t know exactly how much the Queen opts to pay (nor how much she’s actually worth), but Prince Charles has been voluntarily paying 40% of his income as per income tax standards since 1993.
6. She is head of a religion
The Sovereign also holds the very grand responsibilty of ‘Defender of the Faith’, which means the Queen has a specific role in both The Church of England, and The Church of Scotland. Due to Henry VIII breaking from the Roman Catholic Church and declaring himself Supreme Head of The Church of England in the 1500s, our current Monarch inherited the role. The relationship with The Church of Scotland is quite different however, and Queen Elizabeth is merely a member, rather than the Head.
6. She can sack the entire Australian Government if she wishes
Because Her Majesty is also the reigning Monarch in Australia, her Australian representative is the Governor-General, who is in turn responsible for summoning and/or dissolving parliament. Theoretically, the Queen could instruct the Governor-General to fire the Prime Minister – if he refused, she could simply hire a new Governor-General. Confused? So are we.