This memory was one of the Queen's most 'proud' moments

The Queen was one of the first of her age to receive this honor from the Royal Life Saving Society

The Queen speaks with staff during a visit to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down science park on October 15, 2020 near Salisbury, England.
(Image credit: Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth has racked up quite the list of achievements over the years, but in a recent video call with the Royal Life Saving Society, she shared one, in particular, she holds close to her heart.

Back in 1941, the Queen (then Princess) and her sister Princess Margaret took swimming lessons at a club in London. Her dedication to her lessons though earned her a special award, which she proudly shared during her chat with the Royal Life Saving Society—one of the U.K.'s leading providers for water safety and drowning prevention education.

At just 14-years-old, Queen Elizabeth earned her junior respiration award, and at the time, it held major significance. 80 years ago, she was the first teen ever to receive the award, which came as a surprise to the Queen.

"I didn't realize I was the first one—I just did it and had to work very hard for it," she said on the call.

She was so excited to receive the award when it occurred that she even sewed the badge onto her swimsuit.

"It was a great achievement, and I was very proud to wear the badge on the front of my swimming suit. It was very grand, I thought," she added.

Years later, the official Royal Family Twitter account couldn't help but share photos from the event, including one of the Queen proudly wearing the badge.

"This helped to establish lifesaving and resuscitation qualifications across the network of nations," they captioned the Tweet, recognizing the impact her award had for future years to come.

See more

After reminiscing over the past, the Queen also took the opportunity to present Dr. Stephen Beerman with the King Edward VII Cup. Every two years, this award is given to one lucky person in recognition of outstanding contributions to drowning prevention. 

"I'm very delighted to be able to present you with this cup–a very large cup, which one day you might see if you come to London," she said to Dr. Beerman.  

For over 40 years, Dr. Beerman has highlighted drowning as a major public health issue, which has led him to conduct research in various countries that have been hit the hardest. He even took it a step further and implemented Canada's first Drowning Prevention Plan.

Others who joined the call also included Clive Holland, the deputy President of the Royal Life Saving Society, as well as lifesavers Tanner Gorille from Cape Town, South Africa, and Sarah Downs from Exeter, U.K.

Tanner and Sarah both shared with the Queen their own personal rescue efforts and had the honor of receiving the Society's Russell Medal for saving a life through resuscitation. Each year the award is given to someone under the age of 18 who demonstrates bravery and quick-thinking under pressure.

The Queen's video call comes not too long after the United Nations strives to adopt a historic Resolution on Drowning Prevention. This resolution will be a formal acknowledgment that drowning is one of the biggest causes of preventable deaths in the world. Led by Bangladesh and Ireland, this resolution will also develop specific actions for each country to take in order to help prevent drownings. It will also introduce the first annual World Drowning Prevention Day, which is set to take place on July 25 of this year.


Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.