To celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee we bring you 60 Queen Elizabeth II facts.
1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They are: Victoria (63 years), George III (59 years), Henry III (56 years), Edward III (50 years) and James VI of Scotland (James I of England) (58 years)
2. The Queen is the fortieth monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.
3. Since 1952 The Queen has given Royal Assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.
4. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular audiences to 12 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 1997-2007, Gordon Brown 2007-2010 and David Cameron 2010 – present
5. Tony Blair was the first Prime Minister to have been born during The Queen’s reign. He was born in early May, 1953 – a month before the Coronation.
6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
7. 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).
8. There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during The Queen’s reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI).
9. The Queen has received two Popes on visits to the UK (Pope John Paul II in 1982 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010). Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1982 was the first Papal visit to the United Kingdom for over 450 years. Her Majesty has officially visited the Vatican three times in her reign – in 1961 visiting Pope John XXIII and in 1980 and 2000 visiting Pope John Paul II.
10. The Queen is currently patron of over 600 charities and organisations, over 400 of which she has held since 1952.
11. Since 1952, The Queen has conferred over 404,500 honours and awards.
12. The Queen has personally held over 610 Investitures.
13. The first Investiture of the Queen’s reign took place at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1952. The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman, of The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.
14. The Queen has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.
15. The Queen has sent over 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.
16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary.
17. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during The Queen’s reign.
18. The Queen has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI
19. In 60 years, The Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 State Visits, to 116 different countries.
20. Many of The Queen’s official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on 16th April 1953 and was commissioned for service on 7th January 1954. It was de-commissioned in December, 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on Royal and official duties.
21. The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when Her Majesty embarked with the Duke of Edinburgh on the 1st 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 the 9th August 1997 for a visit to Arran in Scotland.
22. In 60 years, The Queen has often travelled to her major Realms. Her Majesty has visited Australia 16 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.
23. The Queen’s official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to The Peoples’ Republic of China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.
24. Unusual live gifts given to The Queen on foreign tours include: two tortoises given to The Queen in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called “Jumbo” given to Her Majesty by the President of Cameroon in 1972 to mark The Queen’s Silver Wedding, and two black beavers given to The Queen after a Royal visit to Canada.
25. 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 to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen re-joined the tour in Indonesia.
26. Her Majesty’s first Commonwealth tour, as Queen, began on 24 November 1953, and included visits to Canada, 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.
27. The Queen made an historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British Monarch since Irish independence (King George V’s had visited in 1911).
28. There have been 102 inward State Visits from 1952 to the end of 2011 (up to and including Turkey in November 2011).
29. The first football match The Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.
30. 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.
31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 Cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.
32. 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.
33. The Queen has attended 35 Royal Variety performances.
34. The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.
35. Since it was launched to mark The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to over 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included local scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.
36. Over the course of the reign, almost a one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Debutante Presentation Parties in 1958).
37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.
38. 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 as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.
39. 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.
40. 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. The new Queen’s Gallery was redeveloped and re-opened in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.
41. 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. In 2002 The Queen made her 50th Christmas Broadcast and in 2004 The Queen issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British Armed Forces.
42. 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 the world. In 2006 the Christmas Broadcast was first made available to download as a podcast.
43. The Queen launched the British Monarchy’s official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).
44. The Queen hosts “theme days” and Receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for Young People and the Performing Arts and for Explorers. Other themes have included Publishing, Broadcasting, Tourism, Emergency Services, Maritime Day, Music, Young Achievers, British Design, and Pioneers.
45. In an average year, The Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.
46. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on the 21st April, 1926, was christened on the 29th May, 1926 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on the 28th March, 1942 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.
47. The Queen learnt to drive in 1945.
48. 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.
49. The Queen’s real birthday is on 21st April, but it is celebrated officially in June.
50. During the Silver Jubilee year, The Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on the 17th May. During her Golden Jubilee year The Queen toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on 1st May.
51. The Queen’s first foreign tour of the Silver Jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The first foreign tour of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.
52. The Queen has 30 godchildren and she also has a stairlift at Buckingham palace.
53. 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. Her Majesty currently has three corgis – Monty, Willow and Holly.
54. 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. There have been 11 dorgis – Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
55. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 64 years. They were married on 20th November, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen’s wedding dress was designed by 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.
56. 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.
57. The wedding of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne had been married.
58. 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 King Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.
59. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The Queen, who was aged 85 on Accession Day in 2012, is the oldest monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.
60. There have been only three Diamond Jubilees of Heads of State celebrated throughout the world during The Queen’s reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now a part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986.