C20th Royal History
80 Facts About H.M Queen Elizabeth II
A list of 80 key facts about The Queen released to mark her 80th
birthday. These historical facts are reprinted from the
Press Office publication of 10 April 2006.
1. Queen Elizabeth II is the fortieth monarch since William the
Conqueror obtained the crown of England.
2. In 2002, at 76 years of age, The Queen was the oldest monarch to
celebrate a Golden Jubilee. The youngest was James I (James VI of
Scotland) at 51 years.
3. Since 1952, The Queen has conferred over 387,700 honours and
4. The Queen has personally held over 540 Investitures.
5. The Queen speaks fluent French and often uses the language for
Audiences and State Visits. Her Majesty does not require an interpreter.
6. The Queen has received over 3 million items of correspondence
during her reign.
7. Over the course of the reign, around 1.1 million people have
attended Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of
Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Presentation Parties in 1958).
8. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular Tuesday evening
audiences to 10 British Prime Ministers. They are: Winston Churchill
1951-55, Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57, Harold Macmillan 1957-63, Sir Alec
Douglas-Home 1963-64, Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76, Edward Heath
1970-74, James Callaghan 1976-79, Margaret Thatcher 1979-90, John Major
1990-97, Tony Blair 1997-present.
9. Tony Blair is the first Prime Minister to have been born during
The Queen's reign. He was born in early May 1953 - a month before the
10. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh introduced small, informal
luncheon parties at Buckingham Palace to meet distinguished people from
all professions, trades and vocations. The first lunch was held on 11th
May 1956 and the tradition continues to this day. There are usually 6-8
guests and two members of the Household attending.
11. The Queen is patron of more than 620 charities and organisations.
12. During her reign, The Queen has undertaken over 256 official
overseas visits to 129 different countries.
13. Many of The Queen's official tours were undertaken on the Royal
Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on 16 April 1953 and was
commissioned for service on 7 January 1954. It was de-commissioned in
December 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million
miles on Royal and official duties.
14. The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when she
embarked with the Duke of Edinburgh on 1 May 1954 at Tobruk for the
final stage of their Commonwealth Tour returning to the Pool of London.
The last time The Queen was on board Britannia for an official visit was
on 9 August 1997 for a visit to Arran.
15. The Queen has visited Australia 15 times, Canada 23 times,
Jamaica six times and New Zealand 10 times. Her Majesty most recently
visited Australia in March 2006 to open the Commonwealth Games in
16. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, Her Majesty has
visited Edinburgh nearly every year, taking up residence in the Palace
of Holyroodhouse during Holyrood Week.
17. During her reign, The Queen has received many unusual gifts
including a variety of live animals. The more unusual animals have been
placed in the care of the London zoo, among them jaguars and sloths from
Brazil, and two black beavers from Canada. The Queen has also received
gifts of pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees
and 7kg of prawns. Right - Gift of a Maori Feather Cape.
18. The Queen has sent around 100,000 telegrams to centenarians in
the UK and the Commonwealth.
19. The Queen has sent more than 280,000 telegrams to couples in the
UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years)
20. The Queen's real birthday is on April 21, but it is celebrated
officially in June.
21. The Queen has attended 34 Royal Variety performances.
22. The Queen has opened 15 bridges in the United Kingdom during her
23. The Queen has given over 91 State banquets during her reign.
24. Since 1952, The Queen has undertaken
78 State Visits accompanied
by The Duke of Edinburgh with the most recent being to Singapore in
25. The Queen has launched 23 ships in her lifetime. The first was
HMS Vanguard which she launched, as Princess Elizabeth, on November 30
1944 in Clydebank. The first ship which she launched as Queen was Her
Majesty's Yacht Britannia, which was also launched from Clydebank.
26. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent about 37,500
Christmas cards during The Queen's reign.
27. The Queen has given out about 78,000 Christmas puddings to staff
continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI. In addition,
The Queen gives all her staff a gift at Christmas time.
28. Every year The Queen sends Christmas trees to Westminster Abbey,
Wellington Barracks, St Paul's Cathedral, St Giles, Edinburgh, The
Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, Crathie Church and local schools and churches
in the Sandringham area.
29. The Queen learnt to drive in 1945 when she joined the Army.
30. The Queen was a Girl Guide (1937) and Sea Ranger (1943).
31. Princess Elizabeth travelled on the London Underground for the
first time in May 1939 with her governess Marion Crawford and Princess
32. The Queen is a keen photographer and enjoys taking photographs of
her family. The Duke of York is also a keen photographer and has taken a
number of photographs of The Queen, including an official photograph for
Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee in 2002.
33. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on 21 April 1926,
was christened on 29 May 1926 in the private chapel at Buckingham
Palace, and was confirmed on 28 March 1942 in the private chapel at
34. With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, The Queen became the
first reigning Sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had
her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.
35. The Queen has 30 godchildren.
36. The first football match The Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup
37. The Queen has taken the salute 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.
38. The Queen has sat for 139 official portraits during her lifetime,
two of which were with The Duke of Edinburgh. The most recent sitting
was for Rolf Harris (2005). Her Majesty was just seven years old when
she sat for her first portrait in 1933, which was commissioned by her
mother and painted by the Hungarian artist Philip Alexius de László.
39. The Queen sat for the first and only hologram portrait in 2003.
40. There have been 11 sculptures of The Queen. The most recent was
in 2005 by Miss Angela Conner for St George's Chapel, Windsor.
41. The first 'Royal walkabout' took place during the visit by The
Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970.
The practice was introduced to allow them to meet a greater number of
people, not simply officials and dignitaries.
42. In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the
Royal Family was made, and shown on the eve of the Investiture of Prince
Charles as Prince of Wales.
43. An important innovation during The Queen's reign was the opening
in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the
Royal Collection. The brainchild of The Duke of Edinburgh, the new
Queen's Gallery occupied the space of the Palace's bomb-damaged private
chapel. It was the first time that parts of the Palace had been opened
to the general public.
44. The only time The Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was
in 1974 during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. The Queen was called
back from Australia when a general election was called suddenly.
Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen
re-joined the tour in Indonesia.
45. The Queen has opened Parliament every year except 1959 and 1963,
when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
46. The Queen went on her first State Visit as Princess Elizabeth, to
South Africa with her mother and father, then King and Queen, from
February to May 1947. The tour included Rhodesia and Bechuanaland,
Swaziland and Basutoland (now Lesotho). The Princess celebrated her 21st
birthday in Cape Town. Her Majesty's first State Visit as Queen was
technically to Kenya, as King George VI died and The Queen acceded the
throne during the tour. The tour had to be abandoned.
Right - Gift of Flame Lily Brooch Rhodesia 1947.
47. The Queen's first Commonwealth tour began on 24 November 1953,
and included visits to Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New
Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya,
Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles.
48. The Queen was the first British Monarch to visit China when she
visited in 1986.
49. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth
every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film 'Royal
Family' was shown and a written message from The Queen issued.
50. In 1953, The Queen made the first Christmas Broadcast from
overseas, (rather than from the UK), broadcasting live from New Zealand.
The first televised broadcast was in 1957, made live. The first
pre-recorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmission around
51. The Queen sent a message of congratulations to Apollo 11
astronauts for the first moon landing on the 21st July,1969. The message
was micro-filmed and deposited on the moon in a metal container.
52. The Queen has met the following astronauts at Buckingham Palace:
a. The first astronaut to go into space - Russian - Major Yuri
b. The first woman in space - Russian - Mrs Valentina Tereschkova
c. The first man on the moon - American - Neil Armstrong - and the
other American astronauts, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin.
53. The Queen sent her first email in 1976 from an Army base.
54. There have been six Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen's
reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan,
Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams).
55. History was made in 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited Britain,
the first Pope to do so for 450 years. The Queen, Titular Head of the
Church of England, received him at Buckingham Palace.
56. The Queen first visited a mosque in the UK for the first time in
Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire in July 2002.
57. The Queen has attended 50 Royal Maundy services during her reign
at more than 39 different cathedrals. The Queen has only missed four
services - two for official tours and two for the births of Prince
Andrew and Prince Edward.
58. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign,
starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A
good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. The
Queen currently has five corgis, Emma, Linnet, Monty, Holly and Willow.
59. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the "dorgi"
when one of Her Majesty's corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin
which belonged to Princess Margaret. The Queen currently has four dorgis,
Cider, Berry, Candy and Vulcan.
60. As well as corgis and dorgis, The Queen also breeds and trains
Labradors and Cocker Spaniels at Sandringham. There is a special
Sandringham strain of black Labrador founded in 1911.
61. The Queen takes a keen interest in horses and racing. Her
Majesty's first pony was given to her by her grandfather, King George V,
when she was four years old. This was a Shetland pony called Peggy. The
Queen continues to ride at Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor.
62. The Queen also takes a keen interest in horse breeding. Horses
bred at the Royal studs over the last 200 years have won virtually every
major race in Britain. The Queen has about 25 horses in training each
63. The Queen's racing colours are: Purple body with gold braid,
Scarlet sleeves and Black velvet cap with gold fringe.
64. The Queen continues the Royal Family's long association with
racing pigeons which began in 1886 when King Leopold II of Belgium made
a gift of racing pigeons to the British Royal Family. In 1990, one of
The Queen's birds took part in the Pau race, coming first in the Section
5th Open and was subsequently named "Sandringham Lightning". In
recognition of her interest in the sport, The Queen is Patron of a
number of racing societies, including the Royal Pigeon Racing
65. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were married on 20 November
1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen's wedding dress was designed by Sir
Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline,
in the Canmore factory, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms
at Lullingstone Castle.
66. The Queen's dressmakers over the years have included Sir Hardy
Amies, Sir Norman Hartnell, Karl-Ludwig Couture and Maureen Rose. The
Queen's milliners have been Frederick Fox, Philip Somerville and Marie
67. The Queen's wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold
which came from the Clogau St David's mine near Dolgellau. The official
wedding cake was made by McVitie and Price Ltd, using ingredients given
as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.
68. The Queen has an extensive collection of jewellery, most of which
are Crown Jewels, some inherited and some gifts, including the largest
pink diamond in the world. Some well known pieces include; a brooch of
diamonds forming a spray of wattle presented by the Australian
Government in 1954; and a necklace of large square cut aquamarines and
diamonds with earrings as a gift in Coronation year by the Ambassador of
Brazil, which The Queen wore on the French State visit in 2004.
Right - Gift from Australia of Wattle diamond brooch
69. 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 an official visit.
70. The Queen has visited the sets of a number of popular British
soap operas including Coronation Street, East Enders and Emmerdale.
71. In 1997, The Queen launched Buckingham Palace's first official
72. In 1998, The Queen introduced "theme days" to promote and
celebrate aspects of British culture. The first theme day was "City Day"
focusing on financial institutions. Other themes have included
Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day,
Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.
73. In June, 2002, The Queen hosted the first public concerts in the
garden of Buckingham Palace to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. The Queen
attended both the classical and pop concerts. The 'Party at the Palace'
pop concert was one of the most watched pop concerts in history,
attracting around 200 million viewers all over the world.
74. The Queen is the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a
gold disc from the recording industry. 100,000 copies of the CD of the
'Party at the Palace', produced by EMI, were sold within the first week
75. The Queen hosted the first women-only event "Women of
Achievement" at Buckingham Palace in March, 2004.
76. In November 2004, The Queen invited the cast of Les Miserables in
the West End to perform for French President Jacques Chirac at Windsor
Castle. It was the first time the cast of a West End musical had
performed at a Royal residence.
77. As a young girl, The Queen acted in a number of Pantomimes during
World War Two including playing the part of Prince Florizel in
Cinderella in 1941. These pantomimes took place every year in the
Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle.
78. In 2005, The Queen claimed ownership of 88 cygnets on the river
Thames. They are looked after by the Swan Marker. The first Royal Swan
Keeper was appointed around the 12th Century.
79. Technically The Queen still owns the sturgeons, whales and
dolphins in the waters around the UK. A statute from 1324, at the time
of the reign of King Edward II , states that: "Also the King shall have
... whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the
realm." This statute is still valid today, and sturgeons, porpoises,
whales and dolphins are recognised as 'Fishes Royal'. When captured
within three miles of UK shores, or washed ashore either dead or alive,
they may be claimed on behalf of the Crown. Generally, when brought into
port, a sturgeon is sold in the usual way, and the purchaser, as a
gesture of loyalty, requests the honour of its being accepted by The
80. In summer 2005, The Queen opened the first "children's trail" in
the Buckingham Palace garden for the Summer Opening.
These facts make ideal material for use in
See details of the latest fashion exhibition of
Queen & Commonwealth: The Royal Tour
to be held at Buckingham Palace in 2009. The exhibition 26 July - 30
Sept 2009 will bring together 28 dresses worn by Her Majesty on
Commonwealth tours over the past six decades. The exhibition
includes evening gowns and daywear by the royal couturiers Norman
Hartnell, Hardy Amies and Ian Thomas.
See details of a now past royal fashion exhibition 'Dress for the Occasion' of 80 of her Her Majesty’s evening dresses and personal
jewellery. The fashion history exhibition which began at the Summer Opening of
Palace in 2006 showed fashion history of a revered and modern Queen's important
often bejewelled gowns.
Dress for the Occasion exhibition ran until September 24 2006 at
Buckingham Palace State Rooms, London SW1 (020-7766 7300.
Updated July 2009
TO TOP OF PAGE
Link to State
Apartments, Kensington Palace web site where royal ceremonial robes are
Jubilee Colouring In Pictures of the Coronation
Go straight back to Hartnell's Design
of the Queen's Wedding Dress
If you like this page then please share it with your friends
For more information about the Royal Clothes click on the titles below:-
Sitemap TO TOP OF PAGE