70 facts about the Queen to celebrate 70 monumental years on the throne

Does the Queen own all the swans in England? How many languages does she speak? We celebrate 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II with 70 fun facts

70 facts about the Queen to celebrate her 70th year on the throne
(Image credit: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

2022 is a monumental year in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty is celebrating a historic Platinum Jubilee, serving on the throne for 70 years. This makes her the longest-serving British monarch and one of the longest-serving monarchs internationally. To celebrate 70 triumphant years, let’s look at 70 facts about Her Majesty and her monumental reign.

1. Her reign has made history

Serving for 70 years, Her Majesty the Queen is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She has surpassed Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months.

It is understood that France’s Louis XIV was the longest reigning monarch in history, having served for 72 years.

Internationally, the Queen now ties Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and Johann II of Liechtenstein with a 70-year reign.

70 years on the throne makes Her Majesty one of the longest serving monarchs in history

(Image credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

2. How tall is the Queen?

Her Majesty stands at a petite 5’3“, according to estimates.

3. Does the Queen own all the swans in the UK?

It is true that all swans in the UK waters technically belong to the Queen.

It goes back to an old custom, dating as early as the twelfth century, where the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans in the country because the birds were highly valued as a delicacy at banquets and feasts.

However, today, Her Majesty only exercises ownership of swans on certain stretches and tributaries of the River Thames around Windsor.

4. But that’s not all, the Queen also owns all the dolphins in UK waters

The Queen also owns all of the whales and dolphins in the waters around the United Kingdom. A statute from 1324 states, “…the King shall have whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm."

This statute is still valid today, and whales and dolphins are recognized as "fishes royal."

The Queen does own all swans and dolphins in UK waters

(Image credit: SANG TAN/AFP via Getty Images)

5. Why does the Queen have two birthdays?

Another true myth about the Queen is whether she really has two birthdays. Well, it turns out she does—and so has every British monarch since 1748, but why does the Queen have two birthdays?

The Queen’s first birthday is like anybody else’s, it celebrates the day she was born (April 21).

The second is labeled her official birthday, and usually falls on the second Saturday in June. This date was chosen specifically because the weather is (expected to be) better, and therefore better suited for the Trooping the Colour parade. This tradition was started in 1748 with King George I.

6. The Queen uses her purse to send messages

The Queen is never spotted without her handbag, and it's not just to store her belongings. Her Majesty uses her purse as a way to signal her staff.

It is said that if she places her bag on the table, it means that she wants to leave within five minutes. If she puts her bag on the floor, it shows she’s not enjoying the conversation and wants to be rescued.

The Queen's handbag is more than just an accessory

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

7. She receives plenty of strange gifts, including exotic animals

The Queen receives many gifts, and some of the craziest include the animals she gets. She has received everything including horses, cows, elephants, kangaroos, swans, crocodiles, sloths and jaguars. 

Her Majesty is known to donate the animals to the London Zoo.

8. The Queen does send a birthday card to anyone turning 100

Another myth that turns out to be true, the Queen sends congratulatory messages to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday, and every year thereafter.

Letters are sent to those celebrating their 60th, 65th, and 70th wedding anniversaries. The message is pre-written, however, it is believed that the Queen herself signs each card.

9. You cannot turn your back on the Queen

It is considered rude to turn away from the Queen—you are expected to back out of a room while still facing in her direction.

Another rule you must follow is standing when the Queen enters the room. You may only sit once she has sat down herself.

10. The Queen gets quite the wake-up call every morning

Her Majesty wakes up to a bagpiper every morning.

A bagpiper plays outside of her window for 15 minutes every morning at 9am. The player is known as "Piper to the Sovereign."

The Queen gets woken up by a bagpiper each morning

(Image credit: Ken Goff/Getty Images)

More fun facts about the Queen

  • 11. The Queen speaks fluent French—according to the official royal website, "It is a skill which has stood The Queen in good stead, as she often has cause to use it when speaking to ambassadors and heads of state from French-speaking countries, and when visiting French-speaking areas of Canada."
  • 12. She has owned over 30 Corgis—her favorite dog breed, the Queen has even bred Welsh Corgis.
  • 13. She first met Prince Philip aged just 8-years-old—the pair who would go on to have an incredible 73-year marriage met officially for the first time in 1934 at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Prince George, Duke of Kent.
  • 14. The Queen didn’t go to school—but she was still very educated, having been tutored in constitutional history and law.
  • 15. She’s the only person who doesn’t need a license to drive—Her Majesty doesn’t require a driver’s license to drive, or a license plate on her car.

The Queen is only the person who can drive without a license

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
  • 16. The Queen doesn’t need a passport—since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need or have one.
  • 17. The Queen has a personal poet—the Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by the monarch of the United Kingdom. They will write bespoke poems for special royal events, like royal weddings, funerals, and coronations.
  • 18. She has 30 Godchildren—imagine finding out your godparents are royalty? Well, Queen Elizabeth is Godmother to 30 children, including Princess Theodora of Greece.
  • 19. She receives around 300 letters per day—it’s thought Her Majesty gets around 200 to 300 letters a day. She chooses a few to read herself, and then has members of her staff respond. The official Royal website says that "The Queen is shown almost all of her correspondence on a daily basis by one of her Private Secretaries, and she takes a keen interest in the letters she receives."
  • 20. She used to enjoy a glass of Champagne each night—Her Majesty was said to enjoy a dry martini and glass of champagne each night, but it was reported she was urged by doctors to give up alcohol to ensure she stays in good health.

Fun facts about the Queen when she was younger

21. She was the first female royal to join the Armed Services as a full-time member

The Queen was the first female to serve in the military as a full time member

(Image credit: Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Serving in World War Two, the Queen joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, where she trained to be a mechanic.

22. She and sister, Princess Margaret, once partied in the streets of London

Elizabeth and Margaret got their parents' permission to join the crowds celebrating the end of World War II on May 8, 1945. The Queen has recalled the evening as one of the most memorable in her life.

"I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief," she said in 1985, according to a post shared on the official Royal Family Instagram.

Elizabeth and Margaret's wild night among the masses was dramatized in the movie, "A Royal Night Out."

Facts about the Queen’s wedding to Prince Philip

  • 23. Her tiara snapped on the day—luckily, the royal jewelry house, Garrard, was on standby to help repair the broken tiara.
  • 24. She bought her wedding with coupons—always one to play her part, Her Majesty expected no special treatment and used ration coupons to pay for materials for her wedding day outfit. 
  • 25. She had eight bridesmaids—Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, The Hon. Pamela Mountbatten, The Hon. Margaret Elpinstone and Diana Bowes-Lyon.
  • 26. 2000 guests attended—including The King of Iraq, Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and The Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Elisabeth of Luxembourg.
  • 27. The ceremony was recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio to 200 million people around the world.
  • 28. Her wedding dress was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell—the designer submitted various designs, with the winning design approved less than three months before the wedding.
  • 29. The Queen was sent over 2500 gifts, including one from Gandhi.
  • 30. The Queen’s wedding cake was over nine feet tall.

The Queen had a disaster on her wedding day, snapping the Queen Mary Fringe tiara

(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

31. The Queen has many hobbies, most notably horse racing

The Queen has owned hundreds of racehorses down the years and has claimed more than 1600 race wins. Because of her well-known love for the sport, she will receive a special tribute at this year's Epsom Derby

32. Her Majesty has sent a message to the moon

Ahead of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, dozens of world leaders were invited to write "messages of goodwill" that were transferred onto a small silicon disc. That disc is still sitting on the surface of the moon—Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin placed it just below the American flag they planted at the landing site, according to NASA.

"On behalf of the British people I salute the skill and courage which have brought man to the moon," the Queen wrote in her moon message. "May this endeavor increase the knowledge and wellbeing of mankind."

33. The Queen has been wearing the same nail polish since 1989

Apparently, the Queen's nail polish of choice is Essie's classic pale pink polish Ballet Slipper, which currently retails for just $7.

Essie says that, in 1989, Queen Elizabeth's hairdresser wrote a letter to nail polish-mogul Essie Weingarten requesting a bottle of the classic shade. The Queen refused to wear any other color.

More fun facts about the Queen’s style and beauty traditions

  • 34. Her Majesty always carries a bespoke umbrella from Fulton Umbrellas and has one in every color.
  • 35. The Queen does her own makeup every single day of the year except for one: that of her annual Christmas message broadcast.
  • 36. The Queen has five dressers who help plan her trademark colorful outfits.
  • 37. The Queen and her dressers follow a color palette or theme each season. Her senior dresser, Angela Kelly, revealed spring is for softer colors and florals. Summer means light fabrics in bold colors with stronger floral patterns. Fall is for cashmere and other wools in a cooler color palette. And winter is for velvet and wool in gold, royal blue, and dark purple.
  • 38. Her shoes are always broken in for her by Angela.
  • 39.  Proving she is conscious of the concerns of the times, the Queen ditched fur and no longer wears vintage fur pieces.
  • 40. The Queen is said to own 200 handbags by Launer, her preferred styles being the Royale and the black patent Traviata.

The Queen has many style secrets and customs she keeps to.

(Image credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

41. Her Majesty doesn’t have a surname

The Queen's official title is "Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith."

When signing her name on documents, she signs her first name followed by the initial "R" instead of a last name. The "R" stands for "regina," which means "queen" in Latin. 

42. She can't be prosecuted or compelled to give evidence in court

A statement on the royal family website reads, "Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign [...] the Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law."

43. Her Majesty doesn’t need to pay taxes, but she chooses to

The Queen voluntarily pays a sum equivalent to income tax on her private income and income from the Privy Purse (which includes the Duchy of Lancaster) that is not used for official purposes.

44. The Queen has her own Barbie doll

The Queen received her very own Barbie for the Platinum Jubilee

(Image credit: Mattel)

To celebrate the monarch's birthday and 70 years on the throne, Barbie released a royal doll made in the image of Queen Elizabeth to celebrate.

45. Her reign has seen 14 different US presidents and 15 British Prime Ministers

These have included Winston Churchill and Harold Wilson in the UK and John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama in the US. 

46. The Queen invented a new dog breed

The Queen is credited with creating the dorgi—a dachshund-corgi mix.

This hybrid came about when one of her corgis mated with her sister Princess Margaret's dachshund Pipkin.

47. She only carries cash one day per week

The Queen only carries cash in her purse on Sundays so she can donate money to her church.

  • 48. She owns around 200 racing pigeons.
  • 49. She was the first British monarch to visit China, in 1986.
  • 50. In March 2004, she hosted Buckingham Palace's first women-only event, "Women of Achievement." Guests included J.K. Rowling, Charlotte Church, Twiggy, Marjorie Wallace, Kate Moss, and more.
  • 51. The Queen made a James Bond cameo in 2012, starring in a hilarious action sequence with Daniel Craig.
  • 52. The Queen has access to a private ATM at Buckingham Palace—it's provided by Coutts, one of Britain's most prestigious banks.
  • 53. The Queen is known as Lilibet to her close friends and family—The nickname was coined when then-Princess Elizabeth was just a toddler and couldn’t pronounce her own name properly. Prince Philip called her the nickname too, and Harry and Meghan later honored Her Majesty by naming their daughter after her.
  • 54. She has never given an interview in her entire reign—apart from official appearances, the Queen has never given any press interviews, which fits into her motto, “never explain, never complain.”
  • 55. She hates garlic—her former royal chef Darren McGrady told Recipes Plus that Her Majesty wasn’t picky, but hated garlicky food or anything with too much onion.
  • 56. She’s never had pizza—Her Majesty apparently has never had a pizza, according to Darren. In a 2020 interview with The Telegraph, Darren said the queen is strict about staying healthy and avoids carbohydrates. "When she dines on her own, she's very disciplined. No starch is the rule. No potatoes, rice, or pasta for dinner. Just usually something like grilled sole with vegetables and salad."

The Queen is known to be selective about her dining customs

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
  • 57. Her first dog was called Susan.
  • 58. In a touching gesture, on her 80th birthday she invited a bunch of guests who were also turning 80 to Buckingham Palace for a party.
  • 59. In 1982, an intruder managed to break into Buckingham Palace and enter the Queen’s bedroom. They had a 10-minute conversation before she called security.
  • 60. Even though you’re not supposed to touch Her Majesty, she can be relaxed about this rule, famously hugging Michelle Obama when the former First Lady visited in 2009.

The Queen isn't meant to be touched, however, Michelle Obama famously hugged Her Majesty

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

61. The Queen might be an Arsenal fan

She must remain politically neutral but there have been a few exchanges alluding to the Queen supposedly supporting Arsenal Football Club. 

Politician Jeremy Corbyn said in a speech, “Now, we know the Queen is absolutely above politics. She may be above football, too, but many locals harbor this quite secret view that she’s actually, privately, a Gooner” (the local term for Arsenal fans). 

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas has also claimed that Her Majesty told him she was “a fan” of the team during a reception at Buckingham Palace in 2007.

  • 62. The Queen supposedly weighs her guests at Christmas—this is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s when King Edward VII would have guests weigh themselves before and after their visits. Guests who ate enough and enjoyed themselves were expected to gain three pounds.
  • 63. She has a sharp sense of humor—despite being the monarch for 70 years, everyone who meets the Queen commends her for her cheeky sense of humor. Prince Harry even singled out his grandmother's "great sense of humor" as her best quality.
  • 64. Her Majesty loves the theater—the Queen loves musicals like Showboat, Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun, her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Anson, revealed on a BBC program celebrating her 90th birthday.
  • 65. She can recite one-liners from her favorite show—journalist Phil Jones revealed that Her Majesty told him her favorite program was the sitcom The Kumars at No 42 and she proceeded to recite some of the one-liners from the series.
  • 66. She watches her favorite film with her grandchildrenit was revealed Her Majesty loves the movie Flash Gordon and watches it regularly with her grandchildren. 
  • 67. She’s only been photographed wearing pants once—this was way back in 1970.
  • 68. She only wears Hermés' scarves.
  • 69. She prefers bright colors for a touching reason—Daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, revealed in the documentary The Queen at 90Her Majesty wears bright colors so everyone can claim they saw her. "She needs to stand out for people to say ‘I saw the Queen’. Don’t forget when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, 10, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen’s hat as she went past.”
  • 70. Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most popular public figures in history—In a YouGov poll, she was unanimously voted as the most popular Royal and was described by fans as hardworking, respected, and dignified. She was also voted "more famous than God" by children under 10 in 2007.
Jack Slater

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.